Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 09, 2016, 11:04:55 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Last post Author Topic: I need advice: which laptop to buy?  (Read 6733 times)

brotherS

  • Master of Good Ideas
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • **
  • Posts: 2,136
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« on: January 17, 2011, 06:26:16 AM »
Hi,

I'm looking for a new 15" TFT laptop and with roughly 105282443 different models on the market, I need your help!

- what I need it for: web, office, DVD watching (no gaming, no video editing)
- ~15" TFT (I think I have 15.6" now)
- not sure if I need a LED display, I mostly use an external TFT anyway
- I really dislike those reflecting displays (I forgot what it's called)
- no idea what CPU I should aim for (my current laptop has a Pentium Dual T2330 @ 1.60 GHz, and with Vista it sometimes feels a bit sluggish)
- I'd like Windows 7, I'm not open to Linux, Apple or whatever
- lots of RAM would be good since I love to run TONS of programs at the same time (got 4 GB now)
- I'm considering one with a ~120 GB SSD drive (because of speed, energy, noise, and heat)
- I like cool and quiet computers, and while my ex gf's laptop was both of that, mine is heating up a lot more, and is thus (thanks to the fan) not as quiet.
- the fan should run continuously if needed, not "on/off/on/off/..." like in some newer models (I think it was the cheaper DELL models and some other makes)
- battery life is not so important, as I found I rarely use it where there's no plug, but I like to be able to take it along when I travel or visit someone
- weight is not important
- a price tag of up to $1000 would be ok, less than that perfect (you might be able to convince me to spend more, but I'd really prefer not to)

None of the laptops I saw being advertised over the last months came with a SSD drive, would I need to have this one custom-built? Or is there something out there that's a fit?

Any pointers or feedback welcome!

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 06:52:21 AM »

None of the laptops I saw being advertised over the last months came with a SSD drive, would I need to have this one custom-built? Or is there something out there that's a fit?

Any pointers or feedback welcome!

You should be able to install one yourself fairly easily depending on the laptop you get. The usual way most people do it is to is to purchase a caddy adapter that holds the SSD. With this arrangement, the SSD replaces the optical drive. Since you want to watch DVDs. that's not going to be a workable solution for you.
 
However, you can also replace the HD with an SSD if you can't find a laptop that comes with one. The procedure is straightforward provided the contents of your harddrive don't exceed the capacity of your SSD. If they do, you will need to do some file pruning and bakup before you can switch over.

Here's the steps:

  • image the laptop's harddrive
  • remove the HD
  • install the SSD
  • copy back the harddrive image to the SSD

That's it!

If it's a new machine, and it ships with a system recovery/reinstallation DVD (or let's you make one) the project gets even easier. In this case there's nothing to backup or clone because you haven't used the PC yet. In this case:

  • remove theHD
  • install the SSD
  • install the factory OS and applications from the OEM recovery DVD

Get yourself an external enclosure for the HD and you can put it to use as a backup device.

Some companies offer kits that contain everything (external enclosure for the old harddrive, cloning software, etc.) that you'll need to do this easily. But they add expense to an already expensive component, so it may not be worth it to you to buy a complete kit. You don't really need it. It just makes things more convenient.

There's a video that shows the process using a Kensington SSD laptop replacement kit. Watch it here. There's probably better how-to videos up on YouTube.

Luck! :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 07:32:15 AM by 40hz »

brotherS

  • Master of Good Ideas
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • **
  • Posts: 2,136
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 08:00:27 AM »
Interesting... thanks for the info and link.

Should I decide to give up the optical drive to install a SSD there (I don't watch so many DVDs, an external optical drive might be an option), is it still possible to use that as the system drive, and the original HD as backup? Will I still be able to get the full SSD speed this way?

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 08:06:34 AM »
- I'm considering one with a ~120 GB SSD drive (because of speed, energy, noise, and heat)
Most SSDs end up drawing a bit more power in total than harddrives, as they have continuous power draw, whereas harddrives spin down when not in use. Speed is definitely better, but caveat emptor: you need one of the decent SSDs, some of them are slower than harddrives under real-world scenarios. Not sure about heat, my Intel X25-E seems relatively warm to the touch - but that might be ambient heat buildup from the case.

I looked a bit around for laptops last week, and I'm a bit shocked tbh. Does everybody use that damn crappy WXGA (1280x768) resolution for ~15" monitors?
- carpe noctem

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 08:10:16 AM »
Should I decide to give up the optical drive to install a SSD there (I don't watch so many DVDs, an external optical drive might be an option), is it still possible to use that as the system drive, and the original HD as backup? Will I still be able to get the full SSD speed this way?
Personally, I'd definitely go for an external optical drive if I needed more space than available with a non-insanely priced SSD. Looking back at the last 2½ years, I've probably used my laptop's optical drive 5-10 times, max. OTOH, my laptop not being my primary system, a 120gig SSD would be quite enough :)

Anyway, you definitely do want the SSD as the main drive, hosting Windows + Apps For Great Justice speed :)
- carpe noctem

kyrathaba

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 3,120
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 08:28:13 AM »
Quote
Does everybody use that damn crappy WXGA (1280x768) resolution for ~15" monitors?

My 15" Dell Inspiron is set to 1366x768.  :P

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 08:33:02 AM »
Quote
Does everybody use that damn crappy WXGA (1280x768) resolution for ~15" monitors?

My 15" Dell Inspiron is set to 1366x768.  :P
Still has an utterly useless vertical resolution - my current laptop has whatever*800, and even that is too little.
- carpe noctem

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 08:54:01 AM »
I would never get another Dell laptop. I would go for something else like a Toshiba.

My Dell Studio has a Sony optical drive, and it has never worked properly. And I've had it replaced 2x. Beyond useless.

The ATI video has never worked right -- BSOD error with another monitor plugged in on Win x64.

Other than those 2, it's been fine. But those are 2 pretty big problems. Oh, and the caps lock light doesn't work...

I'm not the only one to have issues with Dell. Both Dell and HP rate very low on the consumer side. You can find reviews on the topic.

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

kyrathaba

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 3,120
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2011, 09:07:38 AM »
I'm relatively happy with my Inspiron, although my next laptop will be a 17".

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 09:10:26 AM »
I'm relatively happy with my Inspiron, although my next laptop will be a 17".
Personally I find 17" to be way too large for a laptop, but that's because I drag mine around a lot, rather than using it as a "mobile workstation" mostly used at home. 17 inchers are too heavy and bulky to carry around comfortably, and a 15" screen is largeenough - it's just that most of them have puny resolution, unless you go to the insane-o price levels :(
- carpe noctem

kyrathaba

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 3,120
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 09:13:18 AM »
Agreed, fodder.  I use mine mainly as a mobile workstation -- don't transport it, often.  Wish I'd gone 17".  But considering I've got a 17" HP in the closet, which needs only a replacement bezel to be functional, I can't really complain.

kreatorr

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2008
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 09:21:52 AM »
Lenovo has 15" T510 laptops starting at $880.  If you can find some coupon codes, or whenever they go on major sale, you may even get more discounts.  They are still more expensive than most other brands but the premium you pay is for the durability (roll-cage design) and some other niceties.

They have a Full HD (1920x1080) LED display option, but you gotta pony up for that +$250.

Bamse

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 410
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 09:22:47 AM »
You could look up models at Notebookcheck http://www.notebookcheck.net/ one of the better review sites for mini computers.

And then check even more at Notebookreview http://forum.notebookreview.com/ users know best.

All brands have made and do make crappy models so don't exclude whatever because of 2 year old stories - or the opposite.

When looking at reviews and perhaps ordering on that basis be careful with specs. Same model can have different spec for cpu, hd, battery, video card and whatever is in there. What you buy will only look similar to the one you read about as it is a variant with same or almost same model number. Go by unique manufacturer number to be sure. Shops should list that.

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2011, 09:31:24 AM »
hi BrotherS -
here's a possible candidate but WAY below your budget (!) - meets most of your requirements but not the SSD drive.
     Matte screen - unfortunately only 768 high (x 1366). Not super-bright but okay. (Not recommended for outdoors)
     I'm not sure about the on-off fan thing - I have used it a little - but not a lot (it's not mine). It seemd fairly quiet to me.

Lenovo ThinkPad SL510 NSLDFGE

with 6GB RAM (comes with 2 - you got to install the extra RAM) for €469
http://www.cyberport...sldfge-6-gb-ram.html

This version has no graphics card but is quieter because of that. Dont know how that suits - there is a version with card but reviews said it a bit noisy then. See this thread here for a bit of discussion about the CPU (especially the second last post).


[edit] I was working with this today and the fan does start and stop, so I guess that rules it out [/edit]
Tom
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 03:56:39 PM by tomos »

JavaJones

  • Review 2.0 Designer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,717
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 07:27:07 PM »
I just came across this rather awesome sounding Lenovo option:
http://www.tigerdire...ls.asp?EdpNo=7120341
It's only 4GB of RAM (upgradeable of course) but it's using the latest Intel "Sandy Bridge" generation of Core i7 CPU, so it's going to be very fast. It has reasonably fast discreet graphics. Weight is average, battery life OK ("up to 3 hours"), it's 15.6" with 1366x768 which is about as good as you'll get without a high-end screen (that will be hard to read without "big fonts" at that resolution and screen size anyway). Best of all IMO is it doesn't have a separate numpad and the touch pad is therefore centered and not offset (a huge complaint for me with last generation 15.6" laptops). It includes Bluetooth but no USB 3. Has both HDMI and VGA out. SSD is not that big a benefit IMHO, and not worth the cost.

Price is reasonable at $899, no tax with TigerDirect to most states. I'm contemplating buying this one myself...

- Oshyan

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2011, 07:45:37 PM »
SSD is not that big a benefit IMHO, and not worth the cost.
Have you ever used a decent SSD?

I've found that I don't notice the benefits of my SSD so much anymore... but I definitely notice whenever I'm on a machine with a harddrive. Spoil-factor :)
- carpe noctem

JavaJones

  • Review 2.0 Designer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,717
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2011, 07:47:36 PM »
Truth be told no, I have not used a newer, good SSD. But I do know how much they cost and their data storage restrictions, and I just don't personally find it worthwhile at this point. Of course it's worthwhile for some, and could be a replacement for or addition to the built-in drive on the Lenovo as well, if desired.

- Oshyan

Renegade

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 13,220
  • Tell me something you don't know...
    • View Profile
    • Renegade Minds
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2011, 08:35:33 PM »
So, any leanings so far? Figured out a few options that are looking good?
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

brotherS

  • Master of Good Ideas
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • **
  • Posts: 2,136
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2011, 01:11:02 PM »
Wow, thanks for all your feedback!

@tomos: long time no type! :-) I read that thread, but what exactly do you mean regarding the CPU? That's it's a reasonable choice?

@JavaJones: thanks, but the Lenovo Ideapad Y560 series seems to only come with a "glare" display, not "matte". (Btw, I agree, I find a touch pad that's not centered irritating too.)

Based on your feedback I'll might decide against SSD for now and get loads of RAM instead... not sure about this yet though.

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2011, 03:08:35 PM »
@tomos: long time no type! :-) I read that thread, but what exactly do you mean regarding the CPU? That's it's a reasonable choice?

that bit was not so important :)  
basically:
of the two versions of the laptop I was looking at, JavaJones noted that "the higher-numbered CPU might actually be lower performance"

_______

It's seems quite difficult to get matte screens...
Tom

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2011, 04:02:45 PM »
Based on your feedback I'll might decide against SSD for now and get loads of RAM instead... not sure about this yet though.
Well, what are your I/O workloads like?

Apart from specific workloads, I do find that my SSD speeds up stuff program launching considerably... but I'm the kind of person who seems to notice a couple hundred of milliseconds :)
- carpe noctem

brotherS

  • Master of Good Ideas
  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • **
  • Posts: 2,136
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2011, 09:47:26 AM »
I tend to have Google Chrome running all the time, with *way* too many tabs open at any given moment.  :-[ That's the highest workload on a permanent basis.

That being said, what (if any) effect would more graphic card memory have? On average I have about 20-40 program windows (Chrome, text editors, Locate, ...) open on the desktop, plus 5-10 Windows Explorer windows.

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,100
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2011, 10:28:08 AM »
In general, the more resources your computer has, the smoother any ride you plan it to do will be.

Video apps and games profit most noticeably from more RAM on your graphic card. The GPU that comes with these cards nowadays can be utilized in the more mundane tasks of a PC. But from what I read and understand is that more RAM on your graphic card will not do much in lifting your workload.

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 10,341
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2011, 03:58:58 PM »
edited my post above:

[...]
Lenovo ThinkPad SL510 NSLDFGE
[...]

[edit] I was working with this a little today. The fan does start and stop, so I guess that rules it out [/edit]
Tom

JavaJones

  • Review 2.0 Designer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,717
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: I need advice: which laptop to buy?
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2011, 05:08:27 PM »
I am so close to buying that Lenovo I linked to above...

- Oshyan