Buying laptop, need advice

By account73 · 10 replies
Apr 3, 2009
  1. Hey,

    In the next month or so I’m in the hunt for buying a laptop.
    I will pay up to £1000 or maybe a tiny bit more, but not much more ! have try stick to a limit.
    £1000 is an awful lot of money to me. I want to get a good one that will last me a while and do all the stuff I want it to do.
    I want to be able to render some 3D images I create using it, also I don’t play games at the moment, but from time to time I might play the odd game. I never play these new release games that require a really high spec system.

    I do know what to look out for, although help and advice is nice to get as I know there is lots I don’t know.
    I was hoping you could advice me on which brands are good? There's so many out there to choose from now, I just don’t know which are good. If there any that have a good reputation please let me know.
    Also, any websites that usually sell for good prices and deliver to England?
    I am very thankful for any help and advice you can give me. Even if it small bit of advice on something to look out for, or a specific laptop that you recommend, I will be much grateful.
  2. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Your budget equates to about $1500 US... (including shipping)
    You should be able to find many very good machines in that price range.

    I am not sure how wise it is to recommend particular brands or stores.
    But if you have questions about a particular brand, or model,
    or concerning a particular "e-tailer",
    I am sure someone will be willing to share their experience.

    As far as narrowing down to a particular laptop...
    Start with the games you want to play, and look at what they recommend as a minimum base system... then up your clock and ram by 50% (or so), and that will give you a good idea of what you need in terms of specs...

    That would be my starting point, given what you have said so far...
    Now... if the specs and the budget conflict... you have to make a choice.
    Happy hunting.
  3. Spyder_1386

    Spyder_1386 TS Booster Posts: 498

    Hey account73

    I think you should be able to get a really nice laptop for that amount! Rage (one of the experts on here) should be able to help you out real good. I'm sure he'll post something for you once he reads this thread. Good luck!

    Spyder_1368 :)
  4. account73

    account73 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Hey :)
    Thanks for your replies. England here, so I’ve been sleeping and enjoying the nice weather this morning. We actually have sun today !

    As for the games I might play. Umm it's hard to say really. At the moment I don’t play any. If I do play a game I usually play one of those free mmorpg games that you can download. They don’t usually require super high spec machines.
    The last one I played I was playing it on a 5+ year old laptop which only has 512 mb ram, integrated graphics at 62mb and 1.4 GHz processor. It played the game...badly.
    It's highly unlikely I will want play games like crysis.
    Might be thinking why I want spend so much on a laptop now ? Well I want to get a good one just in case I ever do decide play modernish games, also I want it to be able render 3d stuff i create well, so that means I need have fairly good one.

    I have been looking around and reading reviews on cnet of various laptops.
    Are Dell laptops reliable ? I was looking at the studio xps laptop, the 13 inch screen one. I could get that for around £800 and it would have 4gb ram, Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.40Ghz, 1066MHz, 3MB) and nvidia 9500 m graphics card. It seems good to me.
    Have also been looking at asus, acer and toshiba laptops. Oh and I noticed a few people here recommend gateway laptops so will have take a look at them.
    Screen size between 13inch - 16 inch is fine for me.
    Will get vista since most sell with that pre-installed on them now. If I really don’t get on with it I can use the XP cd I have and install that.

    Thanks :)
  5. B00kWyrm

    B00kWyrm TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,436   +37

    Brand Names

    As always "Your Mileage May Vary"...
    I am only reporting my experience.
    Extended warranties from folks like BestBuy (actually, the warranties are serviced through yet another company)... can pay for themselves ... if you need them... I am less inclined to get them now... though after my Toshiba results, I thought it seemed a good idea... (see below) ... While they cover things like pixel loss in your screen, or even bad batteries (even just worn out) they do not cover accident or abuse.

    Re: Gateway... :grinthumb
    I have had good experiences with Gateway, both product and service dept.
    My first was one of the early (DOS) "Handbook" models...
    My current main machine is a 4 year old Gateway that has never given a bit of trouble.
    As I said, I also have been pleased the few times I had reason to call customer support / service. (Some support/service lines are very UN "user friendly". Not so here.)
    And I am considering a Gateway tower for my next machine.

    Re: Toshiba... Mixed experience...
    Prior to my current Gateway. I had good use of my Satellite, though after three years the screen started dimming. (A common problem, with some solutions possible, including just anchoring it to a desk with an external monitor. Repair can be prohibitively expensive, unless you are into doing that kind of thing on your own... even then...)
    My sister's experience was less positive, with many annoying glitches, including improper hibernating. I think her model was similar, though not identical to mine.
    I did like some of the features of that Satellite... including both Composite and SVGA video outs... made PPT presentations very easy without a projector.

    Re: Dell... Mixed Experience...
    My wife currently has one (laptop) with which she has been very pleased.
    On the other hand, I knew someone else with a Dell Desktop/Tower who developed an issue which we were never able to resolve. ... He and I both worked on it, extensively, with disappointing support from Dell.
    (I do not remember now what the issues were; this was about 5 or 6 years ago).
    (In retrospect... I did not then know of some of the tools with which I am now familiar, and I might now be able to help him... but I have moved and he has replaced that computer, I am sure.)

    Re: Sony...
    My dad had a VAIO once... ONCE. Nice feature set, but support was lacking, and he was frustrated dealing with some issues that cropped up. Again, I do not remember any details right now.

    Others can, and likely will, weigh in on their experience with brands...

    I would close with two observations that
    1) (imho) one person's negative or mixed experiences does not mean that a brand should not be considered.
    2) Some boards offer periodic reviews of computers and peripherals of all types, and these can be helpful too.

    a third observation...
    3) A 13" screen might be noticeably and annoyingly small after a while. I like a larger display. Easier on the eyes... but then, maybe you are not dealing with presbyopia.
  6. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    I recommend the third (from top) Dell XPS M1530 configuration on this page with the following parts:
    • Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T8100 (2.10 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 3 MB L2 cache)
    • Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium SP1- English
    • 1Yr Premium Warranty Support
    • 2.0 mega pixel Camera & Tuxedo Black for CCFL Display
    • 15.4" Widescreen™ WXGA (1280x800) TFT Display (220nits) with TrueLife™
    • Biometric Fingerprint Reader with BLACK accent
    • 4096MB 667MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [2x2048]
    • 320GB Free Fall Sensor (7200RPM) Hard Drive
    • NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 8600M GT with 256MB dedicated graphic memory
    • Fixed 8x DVD+/-RW Slim Slot Load drive, including SW
    • Primary 6-cell Lithium-Ion Battery (56 WHr)
    Should easily be within your budget and give you a fantastic laptop that will last for quite a while and give you excellent performance for anything you want to do with it.
  7. account73

    account73 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Hmm yes maybe a 13inch screen would get a little annoying.
    They do a 16 inch version of the studio xps laptop, but it uses ATI graphics instead of nvidia.
    Is the 512MB ATI® Radeon™ HD 3670 graphics card as good as the 256MB nVidia® 9500m graphics card that can get with the 13inch version?

    I've had a look at the laptop you recommend, Rage.
    Is it actually as good as the studio xps versions ?

    If I went for the studio xps 13 it would have the following

    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.40Ghz, 1066MHz, 3MB)
    Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium SP1(32 BIT) - English
    1Yr Premium Warranty Support
    13.3" WXGA (1280x800) CCFL Display with TrueLife
    4096MB 1067MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM [2x2048]
    250GB (7200RPM) Serial ATA Hard Drive
    256MB nVidia® 9500m graphics card
    Internal DVD+/-RW (DVD & CD read and write) Slot Load Drive including Software
    Primary 6-cell 56 WHr Lithium Ion battery

    costing £769.00 without VAT and postage.

    The one you recommended actually costs exactly the same, but includes VAT and shipping in that price.
    The proccessor is only 2.10 GHz where's the studio xps version is 2.40 GHz, so isn’t the proccessor on the studio one better?
    Also the gfx card is a 8600m GT where's the studio one has a 9500m. They both are 256mb. Which one's actually better ? I always thought the higher number of the card meant it was newer and usually suppose be better.
    Also the memory. 4096MB 667MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM compared to the 4096MB 1067MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM on the xps studio. I presume the studio's is better because it is ddr3 and 1067mhz compared to 667mhz ?

    One last thing. If I picked 64 bit version of vista. Dell wouldn’t sell me a laptop with hardware that's not compatible with it, right?
  8. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The 9500m and 8600MGT are comparable. But the CPU on the Studio is better, and the Studio does use newer DDR3 RAM. Performance will not be significantly greater, but the Studio seems a better choice since it user newer components. The screen is much smaller however, and IMO, a 15.4-inch screen should be the minimum size you should go for.

    And as for Vista x64, Dell will make sure you have all the appropriate drivers pre-loaded when you get the laptop. Compatibility issues are very rare and I have not come across any, except if the hardware you are using is 4-5 years old, or older. This will not be an issue when it comes to any new laptop however, since all the components are current-gen.
  9. account73

    account73 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Thanks Rage =)
    I think i'm going go for a dell.
    You've all got me thinking about screen size now. I would of orginally said the studio xps 16 that has a 16 inch screen. It uses ATI graphics card though, a 512MB ATI® Radeon™ HD 3670 to be exact.
    Does anyone know if this is as good as the nvidia 9500m ? I've never had a ATI graphics card, so dont know what their like. If the radeon is as good, or around about the same as the 9500m card, then i think i will got for the studio xps 16 instead.
  10. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The 3670 is on par with the 9500m in performance.
  11. account73

    account73 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 36

    Cheers all !
    Seems like I’m going to go for a Dell studio xps 16 now I know that the ATI gfx card is as good.
    Like I said, I won’t be getting for another month or so yet, so if anyone does have others that they think I should take a look at please let me know.

    Thanks for all the help and advice guys! :) been very useful.
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