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Struggling to Find a New Laptop

By andyml123
Aug 28, 2014
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  1. Hi there,

    In the last month my current laptop has pretty much died on me. I can only use it for a short period without it switching off due to overheating, and the power cable is so loose that if I move much then it loses connection and also goes dead. So I'm looking to replace it as soon as possible. My budget isn't particularly big, around £700/£750 (I'm from the UK, so pounds!), and I could really do with some help in finding something suitable.

    I only do fairly ordinary sort of things - surfing, office stuff, watching videos, a bit of light gaming, some web design, and listening to music. However, due to illness I'm currently housebound, so my laptop is even more crucial than ever as it keeps me connected to the outside world and provides a huge amount of my entertainment. So I really want to get it right!

    One of my main concerns was wanting something that was going to last. I hate the thought of having to buy another laptop in a couple of years time, so was hoping I could get something that would still be decent and working in.. well, more than 2 years time. I'd also like it to be quick! My current laptop is so slow now, so speed is important. I'm not really concerned about how it looks, portability and battery life though. As long as it can sit on my lap without being too heavy I'm not fussed. Oh, and not overheat!

    So I've been doing as much research as I can but for the life of me am unable to find something that fits my criteria and is within my budget. Every one I've looked at either has a load of reviews trashing it or is lacking in some area I'm not willing to give way on. I've tried Lenovo's (either too expensive or rubbish reviews), ASUS (same as Lenovo), Toshiba's and HP's (poor reviews), Mac's are out of my league with UK pricing, ditto for most Sony's, and I've had an Acer in the past which has put me off them completely. Which leaves me with very little. Although I fully accept reviews aren't always the best way to judge things.

    Specs I would ideally like:

    Processor: i7 (I could be persuaded i5 would be fine)
    Ram: 8GB Ram
    Hard Drive: 500GB HD (or ideally would prefer SSD, but with my budget I know it'll be tough. Probably buy one after and install it myself)
    Graphics: Integrated graphics is fine, I think..
    Screen: 14-15 inches.
    Resolution: 1600 x 900 at the least, really want 1920x1080, and maybe a touchscreen although not a deal-breaker. Also - matte, not glossy if possible.
    Not fussed about DVD drive.
    Trying to avoid a fairly flimsy, plastic build.
    Battery life isn't that essential as won't be moving it around much.
    Would like it to be cool and not get hot!

    (Going back over that I think I may be asking for far too much in regards to my budget, but here's hoping!)

    The biggest problem is not so much finding models with those specs but doing so within my budget. I don't really want to spend over £750, which is $1250 I believe, but unfortunately the prices in the US don't match up in the UK. Everything is far, far more expensive, and so limits your options massively. And as the majority of the websites are offering reviews based on US prices it becomes a bit of a nightmare.

    I've also started looking at hybrid/tablets to see if that would be more suitable for me, but I'm still as lost with those too. The new ASUS TP500 looked interesting, but I can't find it anywhere in the UK. I like the idea of a hybrid but not as my main machine, and I doubt I could afford a regular laptop AND hybrid. I even considered giving up some of my specs and getting a cheaper laptop but combining it with also getting an iPad/tablet, but can't decide if that would work or is a ridiculous idea. Basically.. I'm stumped.

    So I could really do with some help. Really any advice or recommendation would be hugely appreciated. I'm just getting really desperate to find something!

    Thanks a lot,

    - Andy
     
  2. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Maniac Posts: 459   +54

    You are not the only one finding such decisions hard. I have a second hand Sony laptop which I repaired and have fitted with an SSD drive. It's really fast compared with a standard laptop but I was horrified by how difficult it was to take the laptop apart even for cleaning. In general, laptop design has been awful and buying something at great expense which then conks out after maybe two years makes buyers wary of purchasing a replacement.

    When the next iPad launches around October I will probably be buying one. A computer is useful for plenty of tasks though so owning both seems justifiable. Perhaps you could go for a basic laptop and budget to install an SSD drive. A touch screen laptop will cost silly money but SSD's are not that dear for say 240/250Gb storage. Forget fast processors which are likely to run hot. It would be useful but probably hard to find out how easy it is to disassemble a particular laptop to reach the parts that accumulate dust and dirt. I don't know much about laptops but I have a Dell which seems very sensibly designed.

    I repaired my son's Sony laptop over a year ago but in the meantime he bought an iPad. Although the laptop is now working fine he uses the iPad for practically everything.
     
  3. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,029   +913

    Well, since you are looking for a computer with good build quality, I would look into Macs (they posses metal bodies and are very reliable). But since the prices are really inflated over there, maybe take a look at Ebay (make sure the seller has positive feedback and the product is new). If you find nothing, then we have to look for Windows-based PCs.

    I would recommend Lenovo because I have had good experiences with them in the past. I would personally avoid HP and Toshiba. I haven't tried Acer or ASUS, but I have heard good things about them.

    I wouldn't worry about flimsy plastic builds when looking at Lenovo. They are by far the most reliable business (and play sometimes) notebooks. Most have plastic builds, but they are quite rigid and shouldn't cause you trouble.

    TL;DR: get a lenovo because they are fast, reliable, and will last forever. I still have an old IBM (sold to Lenovo, but maintain the same build quality and reliability) Thinkpad from like 2004/5 and it is still running fine.

    So here are my recommendations:
    1) The Lenovo E540 seems to fit your needs perfectly. It is cheap (<£750) and is customizable. I would recommend the middle configuration since it has a 1080P screen, the CPU can be configured to whatever you like (i3 (dual-core), i5 (dual-core), or i7 (quad-core)), and you can easily configure it up to 16GB of RAM. I recommend going with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and if you game, the GT 740M (could possible decrease battery life and/or cause the PC to get hotter, so if you do not game or need a dedicated GPU, avoid it :D). You can also add in a fingerprint sensor for £10 more.
    2) If you want touch, the Lenovo E540 Touch seems to fit the build. Unfortunately though, the screen resolution is only 1366x768 and can't be customized further.
     
  4. mr.simonski

    mr.simonski TS Rookie

    I would recommend you a Dell laptop!

    I never bought Dell before, but when I was starting work in 2012 I got this new Dell XPS 14 and I really love it. It has a i7, 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. It's fast and it looks really nice. You might get it cheaper on ebay as a used device.
     
  5. andyml123

    andyml123 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the replies everyone, really appreciate it!

    bazz2004 - the idea of getting a budget laptop and iPad does appeal to me. I feel like an awful lot of what I do could be covered by the iPad, but definitely want to keep a laptop for those tasks that it just wouldn't be able to do. Getting a budget and then installing an SSD is definitely something I'm considering.

    JC713 - I did look into Mac's but for the spec's I wanted they were very pricey. I haven't tried eBay as I was quite wary of purchasing something as expensive as a laptop that way. However, I'll definitely take a look.
    The E450 does look tempting. A few questions though - I've read about Lenovo's having some wireless connectivity problems. Would it be worth getting the dual band for an extra £12? Also, would it be easy to install an SSD to a Lenovo if I wanted to at a later date?

    mr.simonski - I had a look at the Dell XPS range, and they looked great, but very expensive. A bit outside my range unfortunately.

    Thanks again everyone for all the help.
     
  6. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,029   +913

    I would get the dual band since it is becoming a standard. I would get a router that supports it to get the full effect. As for the connectivity issues, I haven't had any throughout the years. If you have any, come over to TechSpot and we will assist you! Don't hesitate. If we cannot fix the issues, Lenovo usually can.

    As for the SSD installation, I bet it is very easy. Most Lenovo's have easy-access slots on the bottom of the laptop case, unless they are abnormally thin and have soldered components. I found a video on upgrading the SSD and RAM on the Lenovo E530, but it should be very similar with the E540 since it was probably just a little spec upgrade over the E530.

    Hope this helps. It is my pleasure.

    -JC
     
  7. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Maniac Posts: 459   +54

    Laptops generally have two removeable covers allowing easy upgrade of ram and the hard drive. Manufacturers don't like to miss the chance of getting extra money out of customers. I've added an SSD hard drive to both a laptop and netbook. The first was very easy but netbooks were designed NOT to be upgraded and are difficult to get inside. There are various ways to clone an existing drive or you can reinstall Windows afresh. It is well within the scope of the ordinary user and there's plenty of support available.
     
  8. chip igmo

    chip igmo TS Member Posts: 51

    Toshiba Satellite S55-B5289 15.6" Laptop microcenter u.s.
    I can't find the product on Toshiba U.K..
    some Toshiba Satellite laptops.
     
  9. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,029   +913

    As much as I want to agree with you, I just can't recommend Toshiba. Some people like them but the inability to upgrade the drivers (GPU drivers from nVidia or AMD in particular) is a deal-breaker for me personally.

    I would go with Lenovo since they are known to be reliable and it comes with a 1080P screen. A better screen is probably better than an upgraded CPU. The i5 is still REALLY powerful.
     


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