New laptop; Where should I put my money?

By JesseM ยท 15 replies
Jan 22, 2010
  1. I've been thinking about getting a new laptop and I'm mainly wondering where I should invest my money most: video card, processor, or memory? Also, what would be my best bet for getting the most basic laptop without any of the unnecessary gadgets that come with most laptops these days (webcam, fingerprint scanner, case lights, software, etc.)? Here's the breakdown:

    What are you going to use the PC for?
    First and foremost, I am a photographer. I run programs like Photoshop, Bridge, and Premiere Pro simultaneously and would love for them to run smoothly and quickly. I'd also like a high res screen because of this (my current laptop is native 1920x1200 and I love it). I am also a casual gamer and would expect my laptop to be able to run newer games smoothly, but not necessarily with max video settings. Lastly, I will be connecting this laptop to a TV to play HD movies, preferably via HDMI but that's not too important.

    How much is your budget?
    Shooting for around $1000, but of course this will depend on what I'm getting. I'm a college student on a pretty tight budget.

    I forgot to mention; portability is not a priority, nor is the HDD size (I mostly use externals). The laptop will almost always be tethered and on my desk with a USB mouse and external speakers attached.
  2. yangly18

    yangly18 TS Rookie Posts: 217

    Do you have any intrests in a certian brand or are you looking for anything?

    EDIT: I would suggest looking at the techspot Laptop buying guide. I think you are looking for a standard laptop configuration, since you will mostly be using it for photo editing programs and a little gaming. Since you are not worried about top gaming performance, it should work out alright.
  3. JesseM

    JesseM TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 220

    Thanks yangly18. I am not particularly interested in any brands. I took a look through the buying guide, not much in there that I didn't already know. As I said before, I'm mainly wondering if I should put more money into a processor, video card, or more memory given what I'll be using the computer for, and if there are any ways of getting a laptop without all the fancy gizmos that are mostly used as a selling point like a webcam, fingerprint scanner, card reader, bluetooth, etc. I looked into ordering custom laptops but they all came with these things standard, and I'd rather spend money on a better graphics card than a crappy little integrated webcam if you know what I mean. Maybe there isn't such a thing, in which case I'll just build a new tower. But I can't be the only one who has such desires?
  4. yangly18

    yangly18 TS Rookie Posts: 217

    well, it's hard to find a laptop that doesn't come with webcam, bluetooth your case I wouldn't worry about the video card. You will want to make sure you have a good amount of RAM for all the pictures you might have open at once in editing programs and a good processer. That's where I would focus the money. You should easily be able to get 4G of RAM on a laptop cheap enough, the processor will take more though. I'm going to go to a couple of manufacturer sites and look up what kind of customization is possible to get what you want. Give me an hour or so and I'll re post some links to what I think you want.

    EDIT: also, since you are using this laptop for editing purposes, I would suggest a 250G hard drive, since I know you will have multiples of pictures and such, and I know how much that can add up, especially if you use file types that take up more space than jpg.
  5. yangly18

    yangly18 TS Rookie Posts: 217

    Alright, I went to HP first, here are a couple configurations I found, they will run you almost to your limit, but it's worth it. Note that there is no extended damage warentee included with this price, you would have to decide if you want that or not.

    Also, these MAY look like the same laptop but they are not. One is the dv6z series and the other is dv6t. dv6t is a little bit better, but not enough to really be noticable, plus dv6z is $100 cheaper.

    I will look onto Toshiba, acer, and dell next to see what they can offer.

    OH one other question-do you have any opinion on apple computers, they are good for everything photo editing, but you won't be able to game.
  6. yangly18

    yangly18 TS Rookie Posts: 217

    Toshiba offers this has a 500G hard drive, that's the only thing that I can really find that's 'wrong' with it.
    I personally don't like most of the laptops that toshiba has to offer, I looked and all of them you can not cusomize. They only had one customizable and it started at $900.

    Looks like acer doesn't even sell computers online, went to their website, just tells you to go to a store near you.

    Dell- alot of people hate on dell because they seem to break easier than other laptops and supposedly their customer service isn't that great, but here's what I found.

    EDIT: I hope these responces help you to narrow down your options. All of the laptops that I have linked will do fine for what you want, now it's up to you to figure out which one you really want. Keep in mind as well that these laptops may have different screen sizes, so take that into account when buying.

    actually, just because I am bored I will put them all in a nice list for you:

    - HP dv6z

    - HP dv6t

    - Toshiba Satellite P500-ST68X1

    - Dell Studio 15 --Change processor to the reccomended, it should up the price $150, but its alot better than the one that's on there stock.
  7. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    It is always difficult to find out the right balance when buying a notebook; and keeping in view your considerations; if it was me in such position I will look at a mix faster processor + reasonable graphics card. Perhaps something like a P8600 + 4830.
  8. JesseM

    JesseM TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 220

    Thanks a bunch yangley18, looks like you spent some time searching and I appreciate it! Never been too into HP hardware, but I liked the dv6t the most. I'm not getting a Mac.
    Thank you Archean, I'll take what you said into consideration.

    Either of you (or anyone else) had any experience with Prostar? I've customized a pretty solid rig (on paper...) on their site:
    Core 2 Duo T9600 2.80GHz/6MB L2
    ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4650 w/512MB GDDR3
    No OS and no software

    All this for $935. Since it's so inexpensive I do expect a few corners to be cut, but as long as it works and lasts I'm good with that.
  9. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    For quality build the Lenovo T61 series is excellent though I am not sure what you can get for a $1000 though they do have sales from time to time.
  10. JesseM

    JesseM TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 220

    Thanks Route44, I hadn't checked out the Lenovo laptops, although it seems that the T61 has been discontinued. It also looks like the Thinkpad line of laptops are primarily for business use (1GB ram, OpenGL video cards, etc.) which is very similar to the laptop I'm currently using (Dell Precision M70).

    I've been looking around on newegg for a while and two laptops jumped out right off the bat:

    Basically what it boils down to is for ~the same price I can choose between:
    Core i7 1.6GHz + 4GB DDR3 + GeForce GT 240M (1366 x 768)
    Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz + 4GB DDR2 + NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260M (1920 x 1080)

    Which system would you say has better bang for the buck? If you had to choose which would you pick and why?

    EDIT: I really like the higher resolution with the Core 2 Duo system, but I'm a little turned off by the DDR2 ram. Is there a big difference in speed between the DDR2 and DDR3?
  11. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,020

    If I may, I'd like to recommend this system based on past experience. It has dedicated video memory and Nvidia graphics which is a major plus over the Intel GMA.

    The links you have provided aren't working for me, however unless you are running many applications at once, the I7 isn't going to do anything for you, get the other one with a faster processor.
  12. JesseM

    JesseM TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 220

    Thanks strategic, I did like that laptop. The only drawback I can see is the native resolution is pretty lacking. Although I do often run many demanding applications at once (Adobe suite for photo/video editing) I agree with you, I'll go with a faster processor with fewer cores.

    The more I look around, the better the previously mentioned Asus is looking:
    however I'm still pretty bothered by the DDR2 ram. If anyone knows of a laptop with similar specs but with DDR3 ram please share! Thanks!
  13. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    ASUS G Series G51Vx-X3A you found is the best deal of all in my view; slightly more than your budget but you get lot more bang for your bucks. :)

    I've looked around a bit and I haven't found anything which can beat that specifications mix in this price range frankly.

    One last bit, Asus is much better built than anything HP/Lenovo etc. can throw at you (HP has the highest failure rate infact) Dell is ok in my view.
  14. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,020

    DDr3 is quicker than DDR2, no doubt. But don't let that hold you back. You need graphics power, in which I would stay away from any Intel chipset, and make sure there is dedicated ram for the video.
    The thing more important than the ram is your FSB speed, and processor.
  15. JesseM

    JesseM TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 220

    Thanks for all your help everyone, I've decided if I get a new laptop I'm going for the Asus G51Vx-X3A.
  16. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    Wohoo good choice !!

    Goodluck and have fun with it whenever you buy it :)
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