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Help Buying A Laptop?

by darthmunky Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:21 pm

I need a new laptop. This is my current one. Purchased for 1200$ in 2011. I want something significantly better. If anyone here has good computer knowledge, suggestions would be so appreciated. I'm going to list some requirements:

    Budget: $500 - $1000ish
    Windows (will be re-formatting & installing Windows 7 regardless)
    Screen size between 14" and 16"
    Able to edit 1080p video/photos & run apps such as Adobe CS. So a good processor?
    USB 3.0 (as many as possible)
    HD webcam
    Headphone Jack
    Best audio quality possible
    CD/DVD burner
    SD card reader
    1TB hard drive space (2 internal 500GB drives is acceptable)
    8GB RAM or more. 12 is probably standard now?
    Long battery life
    Energy Star Certified
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by SNESdrunk Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:21 pm

All I can recommend is steer clear of Lenovo. Nothing but bad experiences with their stuff and getting anything fixed via warranty is a massive headache
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by marurun Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:34 pm

Consumer Reports considers reliability and repair data in their rankings, and the lists are topped by Sony, Apple, and Lenovo, with a few Dell. Other brands have more lower on their lists.
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by Fragems Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:55 pm

I'd say avoid MSI as well. Spent 1k on my laptop only to have the fans start to fail a year in causing massive heat issues, and then the hinges on the casing literally snapped off after two years of use :P.
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by darsparx Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:04 pm

Same for toshiba unless their quality has improved recently. Laptop I had before this mac had at least 4-5 chargers. All either had the plastic ring that went into the charging area melt off from it over heating or bent when one of the hinges started lifting out of place....didn't even bother with warranty because by the time it started having issues it was out of it...
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by isiolia Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:49 pm

I wouldn't write off Lenovo. They make a wide variety of products, and some are quite good. Generally speaking, I would suggest looking at business or workstation class machines rather than consumer models, though that'll probably stretch your budget.

Going with that, you'll probably find that more actually still offer or support Windows 7 (Dell Precisions ship with it, for example). They're also just generally built to be maintained/serviced more than consumer models. Downside tends to be that they're often sparsely equipped at their base price, and generally more expensive.

I do think some of your requirements are, perhaps, not realistic for more recent models. Many, for example, no longer incorporate an optical drive. External ones are readily available though. VGA ports are less common than having mini displayport that can be adapted to it. That sort of thing.
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by noiseredux Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:57 pm

I had bad experienes with Lenovo as well. But that was years ago. So...
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by Fragems Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:37 am

My brother has had a lenova for a few years now and it's been fine. Picked up a secondary back up which my mom now uses about a year ago used for around $150 and it's worked just fine so far.
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by Anapan Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:59 am

I have only ever used Lenovo and Toshiba for any long period of time. IMO Lenovo and Toshiba are both very solid - I use my laptops constantly tho I use them exclusively when travelling for work. I'd vouch for either of those brands, tho even a high-end Acer has solid hardware inside and out. FWIW, my cousin swears by MSI and he's got more IT diplomas than me.

Keep in mind that almost all manufacturers build laptops for all types of uses. Lenovo have ruggedized ones that can drain coffee out the bottom while they're running if you spill some in the keyboard, and they have in the past built disposable ones that can be bought cheaper than any other wifi enabled portable. I repair laptops often and it's always the budget models that fail after regular use. Every manufacturer builds the cheap ones you see in retail stores - it's their 'bread and butter' so to speak. At your price range you will not have to worry about which brand - they mostly use many of the same parts inside the case anyway.

I personally look for slightly larger laptops that can support two expansion cards - I bring along cards for USB3+Bluetooth, Digital Audio, and ESATA. I can plug whichever I need in for additional functionality.
Having never spent your budget on a laptop, I don't know what to suggest, but Lenovo's website's "build your own" is pretty cool - customize a base model while watching the price rise.

I only buy used, and upgrade them for my needs - SSD for main drive, cards do upgrades. I expect them to break without being a big deal. My server tower at home does all the heavy work - I stream from it and use it's desktop remotely to do any gruntwork I need done.

With your budget, I don't think you'd get that 1TB drive... You'll definitely want a SSD for the OS and another bay for the mechanical. That means it's gonna be over a light 15" laptop.
Last edited by Anapan on Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help Buying A Laptop?

by Tanooki Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:23 am

I can't speak for Toshiba today but when I decided to run a small business for awhile over a decade ago I had bought 5 of them for kids to use in teaching and never had an issue even after all those little kids being rough.

That said your budget seems maybe a bit unrealistic if you want something of good quality that'll last you and do what you listed as well as a requirement.

Adobe in 2015 did away with their standard package and went monthly/yearly account based, all online, all downloaded and maintained. In that time, going into the 2015 to 2016 release they did away with some serious support levels on it. It doesn't matter which Intel HD you have, even their well made 4600 or above newest stuff, Adobe will not use it. If you even try and install Photoshop CC, CS, Lightroom, etc any of it, it will tell you that your video card isn't good enough and block you out. You need a dedicated card made roughly in the last 8 years.

My wife had been using my 5 year old laptop which had HD 3000 on it, and also Windows Vista 32bit. When they did the latest update to 2017 they inched the bar up further and blocked out Vista. I had to go buy a Win8.1 key and grab the ISO from MS's servers and blow some hours on resurrecting my 9 year old Dell computer which has a quad core intel core duo q6600 cpu and 3GB of ram in it with a ATI Radeon 65XX card with 2GB of RAM so she could work again.

Don't make the mistake of getting a laptop that doesn't have a dedicated nvidia (or amd) video chip in there if you wish to use Adobe products. I just went through pissing off and on much of my day up until an hour ago redoing that old computer entirely and installing Adobe Photoshop CC+Lightroom.

My suggestion inch the budget up a few hundred dollars more. Look into a laptop builder that doesn't put bloat and crap on there that boots with it like all the big box guys do. Try and look into the Sager/Clevo laptops, they're basically like DIY tower PC building of the old days in a laptop shell. You don't even have to have them give you windows to save money on it too. Just grab whatever you can customize the cheapest as you can upgrade it later if need be. I think their lowest has the Nvidia 9XX series video chip in there, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 7200RPM hdd, and also checks off every single thing on your list in that post too as part of the frame itself under a 15" screen model.

Here's some help from the Sager choices on, the cheapest starts before customizing it $779 and 2 more at $829 (but one is DQ'd being intel HD only.) The other two have nvidia 950/960 mobile chips. ... ar&size=14

They're currently at least $100 off for black friday week sales.
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