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I need advice on buying my first laptop


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#1 Nathan_Sama

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:31 PM

I plan on getting a laptop to replace my desktop, but I don't know whether to get this Compaq ( http://www.amazon.co...p/dp/B0031RFTEQ ) at walmart or just wait for another paycheck or two to get one. Theres an HP laptop right next to the Compaq at walmart that has me confused because it costs $100 more but the only difference between the two is that the Compaq has 2GBs of system memory while the HP has 3GBs. Other than that, the two laptops look exactly the same.

I would like to know what would be a good brand, and what kind of processor or just what computer I would generally serve the purposes I need for it. I don't know the difference between AMD and Intel processors or what difference 1 or 2 GBs of System memory would accomplish. My current Desktop is an Emachine, and it quite frankly pisses me off. It is constantly slow, gives me continuous run time errors, and its just a pain in the neck waiting on things to open or close only to receive a non-responsive script error :bomb:. Considering it packs an AMD, I am having second thoughts on the Compaq/HP. Hard drive space isn't a large factor for me considering I have a 500GB Seagate Expansion External Hard drive.


I plan on using the laptop for school work, internet, storing photos, watching videos, and storing music. I'd like to be able to play games on this, like maybe Fallout 3, or using Steam or something, but if its gonna affect the price tremendously, then I don't need to do gaming.

My immediate price range is $300-$400, but I could possibly wait for a $500-$700 one. Then again, there isn't any real rush.

I gave as much info that I could think of, but if there are any other questions that may aid in my inquiry, please ask them :D


#2 kilm

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:27 PM

You shouldn't really bother with graphic intensive games if you don't buy a laptop specifically for gaming. You can still play stuff like Plants vs Zombies or Peggle, but Fallout 3 type games might stutter or suffer severe performance issues.

You don't really need to know or care about what's the difference between Intel or AMD if all you're going to use it for is general computing needs. Just know bigger numbers = better performance. A $100 increase for a gig of ram extra isn't really worth it, IMO. You won't really need more than 2 gigs of ram. Look at battery life, sturdiness, customer support. Really, the biggest thing to look at is to make sure the reviews are positive and whichever laptop you're looking at suffers few problems (every laptop will have its problems, just find one that has the least). If you are looking for something cheap, just get something cheap. Especially if all you'll be doing is "school work, internet, storing photos, watching videos, and storing music." The extra dollars you put in isn't going to be worth it unless you go all out.

E-machines are quite easily the worst brand of computers to buy. Stay away... but lesson learned, I suppose.

Best brands to look at are probably IBM, Dell, HP... I don't know too many people with positive Compaq experience.

#3 Brownjohn

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:46 PM

If you want an inexpensive gaming laptop, check out the Alienware m11x. It starts at $799. Otherwise, if you want something inexpensive, Toshiba, Sony, and Asus are the best.

Here's a couple reviews on the m11x from engadget and kotaku.
To each his own.

#4 TwelveVolt

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 02:50 PM

Best brands to look at are probably IBM, Dell, HP... I don't know too many people with positive Compaq experience.

Psst. Compaq is made by HP. :-$ ;)

Anyway, you won't get good "gaming" performance unless you spend around $800 or more. You'll find laptops with graphics cards that would run newer games at lower settings for 5-600. General schoolwork, photos and videos... you'll be fine with a $400 laptop, just don't expect blazing speed.

Try http://www.notebookreview.com/ they've got a pretty helpful community. I imagine they'd recommend a Dell in your price range.

You also might check the dell outlet. It has refurbs and computers that people custom ordered and cancelled at decent prices.

#5 jkam

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:04 PM

I've been doing some research lately because I'm considering selling my netbook and getting something that can play some newer games. I've been hearing some good things about Asus. They seem to have hit a combination of power and price that doesn't sacrifice too much. This one is priced at $730 but for what you get seems pretty sweet:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Asus+-+Laptop+with+Intel%26%23174%3B+Core%26%23153%3B2+Duo+Processor+-+Black/9701931.p?id=1218153002507&skuId=9701931

Might be worth saving a little more coin to buy something like this.

I'd say the base Alienware M11x is also a contender at $800. You get a little less at that price overall though in regards to RAM and Disk Space. The processor upgrade might not be worth it though anyway as they are pretty comparable: http://ark.intel.com...ids=42791,43568, The graphics card is more powerful though.

Overall really consider what you want to use it for and go from there. If you can live without gaming the price will be less. Definitely consider battery life and read some reviews. Not all laptops are built the same....even from the same company.

Edited by jkam, 15 April 2010 - 03:17 PM.

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#6 kilm

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:23 PM

Psst. Compaq is made by HP. :-$ ;)


Spoiler


#7 Nathan_Sama

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 11:43 PM

http://www.amazon.co...=nosim/11234-20

Would this be good? I think it can run Fallout 3 on the lowest settings..


#8 JanusZeal2

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:02 AM

Nathan_Sama, depending on what you want to do with your old eMachines desktop after you buy the laptop, you might try putting Linux on it either in dual-boot mode or as the only OS. (I'd suggest Ubuntu or Linux Mint). You might find that the performance of the machine improves greatly after that, and you could still use it as a backup work machine.

#9 aznguyen316

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 01:21 PM

If you want an inexpensive gaming laptop, check out the Alienware m11x. It starts at $799. Otherwise, if you want something inexpensive, Toshiba, Sony, and Asus are the best.

Here's a couple reviews on the m11x from engadget and kotaku.


This! I have the M11x and it's awesome. Portable, battery life, awesome gfx card for such a small machine. It can play any game I've thrown at it, BFBC2, Metro 2033 albeit lows and avg 25FPS with those games, still very playable. Affordable too, don't get thrown off by the ULV 1.3Ghz C2D, it can be bios overclocked with one setting and bam 1.6Ghz. Also Best Buy sells this now for $899, with upgrades that's $100 cheaper than on Dell's site. Plus many applications out there now allow for GPU usage and since the 335m in a nice card, it helps in encoding etc. good luck!
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#10 TwelveVolt

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 02:53 PM

Is the m11x big enough as a "full time" computer though? Seems like it's a little small for doing schoolwork on.

#11 DarkRider23

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 04:43 PM

Is the m11x big enough as a "full time" computer though? Seems like it's a little small for doing schoolwork on.


I do my school work on a 13" and think it's too big... I don't know how big people want laptops to be. They are supposed to be small and portable, not these giant 17" monsters.

I'm kind of pissed though. I bought my XPS M1330 about 8 months back. Had I known that there was a M11x coming I would have waited for that. I paid ~$1250 for my XPS and a fully built M11x on Dell's website would have run me $1450. The difference between the 2 laptops is minimal, but I did want a smaller laptop... Oh well.

Granted, my processor would have taken a hit. I would have gone from a 2.5 GHz Core 2 Due processor to an overclocked 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo. I would have gotten 4 more GB of ram, but I don't think I would need 8 GB. Any reason why the M11x's processor is worse? I'm not saying it's bad, but the M1330 had the option for a better processor, so why don't they give the M11x an option too? Maybe they were trying to make it the laptop cheaper for consumers?

#12 TwelveVolt

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 04:56 PM

I do my school work on a 13" and think it's too big... I don't know how big people want laptops to be. They are supposed to be small and portable, not these giant 17" monsters.

It doesn't need to be giant, but things like keyboard size and screen real estate come into play with smaller laptops. You can't type very efficiently on a cramped keyboard. And if you're doing stuff like graphic design/photo editing, the small screen can be a liability. If this is the OP's primary computer, those needs or others need to be considered.

I'm kind of pissed though. I bought my XPS M1330 about 8 months back. Had I known that there was a M11x coming I would have waited for that. I paid ~$1250 for my XPS and a fully built M11x on Dell's website would have run me $1450. The difference between the 2 laptops is minimal, but I did want a smaller laptop... Oh well.

Granted, my processor would have taken a hit. I would have gone from a 2.5 GHz Core 2 Due processor to an overclocked 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo. I would have gotten 4 more GB of ram, but I don't think I would need 8 GB. Any reason why the M11x's processor is better? I'm not saying it's bad, but the M1330 had the option for a better processor, so why don't they give the M11x an option too?

I think they needed to stay with a lower power processor because of the size. Faster processor equals the need for a bigger heatsink, which might not have been possible in the small chassis. Battery life was probably a consideration also.

Edited by Lawyers Guns N Money, 16 April 2010 - 05:25 PM.


#13 DarkRider23

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 05:07 PM

Didn 't think of the graphic design and photo editing. I never do any of that stuff, but your are right there. As for the cramped keyboard, to each his own. I can type fine on a small keyboard. It'll take me a while to get used to it, but I'll eventually get the hang of it.

That's too bad about the M11x's processor. I think it would have been better if they bumped up the screen size just a bit. 11.5" is an almost perfect size IMO, but they should have had a 13" option. 13" is the highest I will ever go.