New Laptop

Discussion in 'hardware' started by xMarkx, Dec 13, 2010.

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  1. xMarkx

    xMarkx Registered Member

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    Hello,

    I'm considering purchasing a laptop for Christmas. This would be my first one; I have had only desktops in the past.

    I was wondering if anybody had any recommendations for specs and models of laptop. I don't know what models are good, and am unclear as to what minimum specs are required for decent performance, and what specs would be considered overkill. I would like the laptop to have a decent enough battery life.

    I was looking at the Dell Inspiron 14R [$569 plus tax] and 15R [$499 plus tax] with the:
    -Intel Core i3-370M (2.4GHz, 4Threads, 3M cache)
    -3GB DDR3 Shared Dual Channel Memory
    -320GB 5400RPM HDD
    -Intel HD Graphics
    -Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    *I've looked at some HPs, but they got worse reviews than the Dells and the Toshibas were a lot more expensive.

    What do you think of these specs (bad performance, okay, overkill)? Also, I can't configure the system for a 32-bit OS. Will this be a problem in terms of compatibility with software (I've only owned 32-bit OS in the past)?

    The 14 inch laptop is more expensive than the 15 inch (but the 15 inch is bigger so shouldn't it be more expensive??). The 14 inch battery life is quoted at ~5 hours and the 15 inch at ~4 hours; how realistic/practical are these numbers (from your experience with laptops)?

    What size laptop would you recommend? I selected the 14/15 inch models as I thought they would provide a balance between a heavy desktop replacement with bad battery life and a very small keyboard/screen.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  2. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Well, some people prefer Laptops around 10-12", for me 14" is fine and ideal (Not too small/big)
    BUT if you really move a lot i would recommend something smaller.

    It doesn't matters if it's 32 bit or 64 bit the only downside is that you won't be able to upgrade to 4 gb of ram in the future due to 32 bit limitations.

    About the specs, they look fine for casual use, such as web surfing, word processing, documents, presentations etc.
    But for intensive applications such as video editing, gaming etc. I would recommend something faster :thumb: :D

    Enjoy your laptop!
     
  3. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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    Almost all of the software will work in the x64 operating system. Though, they might be some.

    The biggest with laptops is battery life. It is not a laptop if it is connected to the charger 24/7, where the charge only last for 30-45 minutes.

    The specs you are looking at, you should be able to get either Asus or Acer with 3-4 hours battery life.

    Kind regards,

    KOR!
     
  4. xMarkx

    xMarkx Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Thanks for your responses, Noob and King.

    Do you think it's worth upgrading to the Intel Core i5 and/or 4GB of RAM (from original configuration above with Intel Core i3 with 3GB RAM) for better performance? King, are you suggesting that if I leave my laptop plugged in all the time, that will reduce my battery life to 30-45 minutes?

    The Dell Inspiron 14R has 5 hours 15 minutes of battery life (according to the Dell site), which sounds pretty decent (higher than 3-4 hours) but some reviews say the battery life is bad for this model, so does that mean Dell is fabricating false claims?

    Regards,

    Mark
     
  5. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

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    That's not my experience. My laptop is generally plugged in. However, when it is unplugged, I get the full "advertised" amount of time from the battery.

    I've read (maybe here) that it's not good for the battery to be always plugged in, but I'm not sure of that. Batteries in my my laptop generally last about 2.5 years before they start losing their ability to hold a charge.
     
  6. aladdin

    aladdin Registered Member

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  7. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

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    You can also generally get a higher capacity battery for a laptop. The standard battery for my laptop provides about 3 hours. When I replaced it, I replaced it with a high-capacity battery which gives closer to 5 hours. It is heavier and bulkier (protrudes from laptop), but the extra time is great when I need it.

    I do my battery shopping at batteries.com - been pleased with the pricing and service.
     
  8. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Hi, I will tell you few thigs from my experience.

    - go with maximum battery life, as much as you can
    - 13.3 to 14 inch is enough, bigger than that is not so portable
    - go with 64 bit
    - go with company with good waranties
    - better to get i5 rather than i3
     
  9. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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  10. xMarkx

    xMarkx Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Thanks for your responses. I've been looking around some more and the HP Pavilion dm4-1150ca (14") caught my eye at Best Buy on sale for $749.99, which is at the top of my budget. It has the i5 processer as aigle suggested and a longer battery life than the Dell Inspiron 14R. It also has 4GB RAM, 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive, Intel HD Graphics, and is only 4.4 pounds (it has a fingerprint reader too o_O how does that work?) What do you guys think of this laptop for the price?
     
  11. DVD+R

    DVD+R Registered Member

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    I run a Toshiba A660 i7 Q740 1,73Ghz with 4 GB RAM 1333Mhz and Nvidia GTX480 1GB i find this extremly fast to work with,and has no problems with any heavy software such as Adobe photoshop elements 8, It handles those with a breeze. The only upgrade i plan on this beauty is to exchange the hard drive and replace it with Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid 7200, which is 80% faster than the normal Sata 7200
     
  12. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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  13. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

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    My father recently bought a new laptop and asked for my help in choosing the machine so I compared a bunch of them. He went with an Acer Aspire 5553G that came with AMD Quod Core, 640 GB hard disk and 6 GB ram (capacity upto 12 GB). I think the price was about 800 €.

    1. Size: Bigger laptops give you greater performance, so if you don't mind lugging around the extra weight, go with bigger. My father went with a 15" display, I would probably go with even higher (bigger display = more workspace, which I need).

    2. Battery life: Most of the bigger laptops give you ~2 hours. Not great, but do-able if you plan to use it mainly plugged in i.e. you need the laptop aspect to take it on trips, and to transport it between home and office, but do not plan to use it extensively on the airplanes or otherwise while traveling. If you do need it mainly for travel, then a smaller laptop with longer battery life is probably better for you.

    3. 32- vs. 64-bit: Most Windows 7's sold are 64-bit, I think that's the way to go and the way software is developing.

    4. Memory: Check out the max memory capacity of the laptops you consider. For anything you do today 3-4 GB is enough, but for larger laptops I'd want it to have the capacity to go up to 12 or 16 GB for longevity.

    5. CPU: I'm biased in favor of Quod cores; seems like the way computers are developing (I mean, in a few years it may well be that 6 or 8 cores are standard). Intel's i7 seems the popular choice for bigger laptops, though my father went with AMD because it was better priced and about equal to or better than Intel's i5 in CPU benchmark tests. (All the equivalent i7 laptops available to him would have been considerably more expensive, ymmv). You can find pretty much all the processors rated at the site below: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/

    6. Graphics Card: For me a good card is a bonus, but not a necessity. I assume gamers need the highend cards.

    7. HDD: If you can afford it I'd get a laptop with a 64 to 128 GB SSD (for boot drive) and then a second larger regular HDD, but they are expensive.

    8. The rest: My father hoped to find a laptop with USB 3.0 capability but they aren't available yet. A touch screen would be cool too, but too rare and expensive imo. Some of the small laptops don't have CD drives, which can be inconvenient, but with a bit of effort you can do everything CD/DVD related trough USB sticks these days. Also, some of the laptops I saw had Blu-Ray compatible drives, which may or may not be something you'd like.
     
  14. Robin A.

    Robin A. Registered Member

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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  15. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    INHO for a normal day to day use i5 is enough, i7 is more than what is needed and increases cost, SSD is overkill ATM IMO. SSD is too expnsive.

    However I will go for USB 3 if I can get one.

    I will not accept low battery life( hours), never. It,s irritating when you take your laptop with you somewhere and you need to plug in the power supply because your battery finished. It,s a thing that one knows by experience. Same about the size. I think 13.3 to 14 is ideal, can be used both as portable and as a desktop replacement machine.
     
  16. Hiker

    Hiker Registered Member

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    I just bought a Dell Vostro 3500 from their oulet and saved a few hundred off Dell's aready good deals.

    http://www.technotalks.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Dell-vostro-3400.jpg

    Windows 7 Pro, i5, nVidia graphics, 3 gig RAM, 320 gig HDD @7200, internal cam/mic, 4 USB (2.0, 1 eSata), VGA, HDMI, expresscard, card reader, DVD R/W DL, fingerprint reader, aluminum case, about 3 hours on with a 6 cell battery, $600.

    http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnline...earch.aspx?brandid=2801&c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb

    new deals come in daily and go quick.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  17. xMarkx

    xMarkx Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Thanks everybody for your help. I ended up purchasing the HP Pavilion dm4.

    I have two questions now that I have bought the laptop:

    1. How do I scroll using the touchpad (is this possible, like using the touchpad as the scroll wheel on a mouse)?

    2. Is there anything specific I should be inspecting the laptop for to make sure the hardware (ram, hard drive, processor etc) is functioning correctly?

    Again, thanks for your help and Merry Christmas!
     
  18. pajenn

    pajenn Registered Member

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    Most touchpads have a bunch of lines on the right side, slide you finger across them to scroll.

    You can run a bunch of diagnostic (memtest, etc.) but I generally don't. My father's laptop had a 13 GB recovery partition and backup software that let you create a 3 DVD backup set of the laptop in its initial condition. You may have something similar. The first thing I personally do with new laptops or computers in general, is to make a backup with Acronis, Drive Snapshot, Macrium Reflect or similar, and then uninstall and remove as much of the bloatware and trialware normally included by the manufacturer as possible. I also repartitioned my father's computer to get rid of the 13 GB recovery partition and the 100 MB boot partition that came with Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit), but that was tricky.
     
  19. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    According to a few articles i read around the interwebz.
    Leaving the laptop PLUGGED in all the time does makes the Laptop battery die a lot faster because your not cycling all the cells.
    It's better to use the laptop unplugged and then charge when it's around 35-40% life that will reduce the speed the cells wear down and like once a month do a full cycle of Discharge/Charge.

    Also temperatures is very important, the hotter the enviroment the shorter the life span of the battery :D So always keep it COOL :D
     
  20. xMarkx

    xMarkx Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Thank you Noob and Pajenn for your tips. I figured out how to scroll on the touchpad, although I find it a lot easier on a mouse :p .

    For creating a back-up, I noticed that Windows 7 has the option in its Backup and Restore Center to either Create a System Image or Create a System Repair Disc. What is the difference between these two? Which would you recommend? I thought an image is an exact copy of your operating system with all files and programs that are loaded, so would that be better?

    Thanks

    Mark
     
  21. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    You need both the System Image and the System Repair Disk. You first make the System Image. The System Repair Disk is used to Restore the Image that you created in the event that for some reason your PC will not load Windows or just to Restore the Image that you created. Example: Your PC becomes infected with Malware. Then you Restore a System Image which was made when your PC was Malware-Free.

    A System Image cannot be Restored while Windows is running. That is why you must have the System Repair Disk available. The System Repair Disk also has some other tools that may be needed some day.

    Tutorials:

    Create a System Image:

    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/4241/how-to-create-a-system-image-in-windows-7/

    Create A System Repair Disk:

    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/5409/create-a-system-repair-disc-in-windows-7/
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
  22. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Just going to mention a personal experience :D
    A few months back my bro bought a netbook (Asus EEE) and it stated that it had 2GB of ram.
    But when booted it up the first time it only showed around 700mb and the netbook was almost UNUSABLE!! Only for boot up it took like 10 minutes o_O

    Later we checked the BIOS and we found there was an option that enabled the laptop to take ram to speed up "Booting" and that was the cause of all the ram lost :DD

    Now it's ultra smooth :thumb:

    So check if there are any default settings limiting your laptop.
    Also some laptops comes with software that increases the battery life by underclocking the processor and other hardware and that can slow down the laptop a lot too (Which happened to me) :thumb:
     
  23. xMarkx

    xMarkx Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Thanks for the information and links, TheKid7. I will make an image and recovery disc as soon as I finish figuring out what bloatware I want to get rid of and what I want to keep.

    Also thank you Noob for your information. I think I have disabled (via MSCONFIG) most of the software that came with the laptop. I'm not sure if any of it included underclocking software. That 10 minute boot up must have been quite the first impression of the netbook for your brother.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas!
     
  24. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Yeah, we bought an ASUS because we thought it would bring less bloatware but it's the same as other brands :rolleyes:
     
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