Looking to buy a mid-to-high-end laptop

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by timmac, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. timmac

    timmac DIS Veteran

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    Looking to see if any other tech junkies on here have bought a new laptop lately, or have any recommendations. I can go through by specs and find what I want, but sometimes first hand experiences with product quality are nice to have as well.

    My basic requirements:
    - Not a Mac (sorry, Apple fans)
    - Not an 'ultrabook' or 'netbook' or the like (looking for at least 15" screen, possibly bigger)
    - No firm price point, but I'm hoping to keep it under $1,000

    Again, a big part of why I'm looking for advice are things like build quality, weight, "feel", etc.

    Thanks all!
     
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  3. amylevan

    amylevan DIS Veteran

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    I can tell you that our IT guy suggests HP laptops as his preferred brand.
     
  4. Ennazus8810

    Ennazus8810 Mouseketeer

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    My husband is an IT guy and we use ASUS laptops.
     
  5. angierae

    angierae DIS Veteran

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    Asus, definitely. We've bought two and love them to pieces.
     
  6. ssawka

    ssawka DIS Veteran

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    Since you've already ruled out a Mac, my next suggestion would be to look at a Sony VAIO. That's probably the only other high-end brand I would buy. Sorry, but HP and Dell support is crap anymore! If you have a Sony store nearby I'd suggest trying them out before buying.
     
  7. megsoro

    megsoro Mouseketeer

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    Since Macs are out, I'd suggest ASUS. What will you be using the laptop for? That's the most important question. My Macbook Pro is a beast (16gb RAM, 1TB HDD) but, I shelled out that money because my work requires it (Motion Graphics Design Student here). If my work didn't require the heavy ram use, I'd be fine with a 4gb RAM 500gb laptop PC, that I could get for around $500.
     
  8. Swirly girls

    Swirly girls Mouseketeer

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    I suggest a Sony VAIO -- have 2 and have been very pleased with them.
     
  9. Joan S.

    Joan S. DIS Veteran<br><font color=blue>Needs to 'fess up

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    SAGER notebook computer. My son (25) the computer "expert" in our family has this brand that you "build" online and order. Check out their website, they have some specials going on right now. :) Joan
     
  10. curseofcurves

    curseofcurves Mouseketeer

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    Are you wanting to use it as a gaming laptop, watching and editing films, or just your standard computer stuff?

    I bought an HP a couple of years ago as a gaming laptop (for $900) it was quite good and I loved it until it failed on me. I really loved everything about it and I would have recommended HP again if you would have asked me a couple months ago. Apparently HP laptops are notorious for being manufactured in a way that makes them prone to overheating problems.

    All that said, it really depends on what you want to do with it. Asus is a perfectly fine brand and you would get a lot for your money pretty much regardless of what you're getting it for. I would stay away from Sony and Dell because you end up paying a lot for the name and less for what the system actually does. If you do want a gaming laptop, I'd suggest Sager over something like Alienware if you have any sort of budget at all. I don't know anything about Toshiba except that you can "customize" laptops on their website, which is nice if you want to sacrifice one option for more of another.

    As far as weight, you're going to have about an 8-9lb computer with a screen bigger than 15". My 17" was 9.5 lbs, which isn't bad unless you are constantly carrying it back and forth.
     
  11. timmac

    timmac DIS Veteran

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    Hello everyone, and thanks for all of the thoughts.

    Mostly it's for work related stuff, with occasional gaming or graphics/video stuff sprinkled in. My existing dual-core 4gb system that I've been using about 4 years now is just starting to show it's age, and can't handle to load I'm throwing at it any longer.

    I know pretty well the basic specs I'm after (Core-i7, 8+gb), but am still waffling on a few other things. Debating on either just a simple 750GB or a dual HD 128SSD and larger classic drive. Also, still a bit unsettled on screen size, whether a 15.x or a 17.x; I've seen a few that can go as high as full 1080p resolution, but I wouldn't want that on a 15", only a 17".

    (Would love any thoughts on the above two issues, just to help me still not make up my mind. ha!)

    I'm not too worried about support... except for basic hardware functionality; I'll be wiping the OS immediately, and probably replacing drives and/or ram eventually anyway.

    I'll look a bit more at Sager, they're new to me... I like the ability to customize :)
     
  12. ssawka

    ssawka DIS Veteran

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    I would go with the SSD. My Mac Air has it and I absolutely love it. There is almost no wait time for it to boot up. I added one to my HTPC as well. If you are just looking at Office Documents, you won't require a whole lot of space. And, if you find you are needing more, there's always external or cloud drives.

    As for screen size, I used to think that bigger is better. That was until I got the 13" Air. Now I am finding that the 13" is perfect for molbity. It makes for a very small footprint and it is so light that I barely notice that it is in my backpack.
     
  13. Fyrefly

    Fyrefly Mouseketeer

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    I have 1080p on a 15" (okay I think it's technically 15.6") and it looks gorgeous, I'm running a Dell XPS from about two years ago.

    Look into the actual performance gains you get from i7 vs i5. When I was purchasing I almost got an i7 but the i5 boosts to nearly as fast (I use mine as a gaming laptop) and the i7 killed the battery for normal use and made the thing run extraordinarily hot in reviews.

    Also 17" is HUGE. 2 inches doesnt sound like a lot but it really is if you're trying to transport it anywhere on a semi-regular basis, even moving it around the house or trying to balance it in your lap can be a hassle.

    So my advice would be to stick with the 15" and i5 if you want a bit more portability. If it's going to be sitting on your desk, then it probably doesn't matter but at that point you could get more performance for less money out of a desktop proper.
     
  14. Bell30012

    Bell30012 DIS Veteran

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    I know that you are anti-Apple but keep this in mind, all modern MacBooks are Intel based and can run Windows just as well as OS X. My DD10 has had a MacBook (white 13") since Christmas of 2006. It is dual booted OS X Lion and Windows 7. That said, I think Apple makes one of the best Windows machines.

    The cases are very durable and solid. I have an HP ProBook series laptop, a Dell Inspiron and Dell Latitude. None of them have the solid construction of my MacBook Pro or my daughter's MacBook. You could get the 11" MacBook Air for what you are looking to spend.

    You can install Windows 7 as a dual boot using Bootcamp which is free. Windows is then running in native environment and not a virtual. I resisted Apple for many years. I'm glad I went over to the white/silver side.
     
  15. HM

    HM My tag from the Tag Fairy is now too long to use.

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    My son has a Sony Vaio 17". He's a gamer and student and needed good graphics for the former and carry ability for the latter. It's working out great for him. (Maybe a little heavier than he'd like).
     
  16. timmac

    timmac DIS Veteran

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    Excellent point about heat and battery life comparing i5 vs i7, and I appreciate the first hand experience of 1080p on the 15.6 screen.

    Though I do agree apple has excellent build quality, the price point differences don't make a good value proposition (at least for me). To get the performance and features I'm after I'd be spending about 2100 on the MBP... I can match specs of component hardware on a non Mac for about half that. I don't mean that as anti apple commentary per se, but at least for me it just doesn't make sense.
     
  17. megsoro

    megsoro Mouseketeer

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    If you're comfortable upgrading yourself, buy the cheapest laptop with the processor you want. Then use a website like Newegg Tigerdirect, etc to order RAM and Hard drive upgrades. It will end up being a lot cheaper.

    17" in a beast, and not really mobile, as has been stated. I find my 15" macbook pro cumbersome, but like you, I liked the screen real estate. Remember another option- Hooking up an external monitor when you're home (for gaming, video editing, etc). Awesome HD 1080p monitors can be had under $200. Many newer laptops have HDMI ports built right in, so all you'd need is a cheap cable from Monoprice or Amazon.

    As for SSD vs HDD- How much space do your games take up? Remember, you can't completely fill your harddrive, you'll have a really sluggish computer if you do. I'm planning on putting a 500GB SSD on my macbook pro, because frankly, the performance boost from an SSD is way better than anything else I've seen. You can always use an external harddrive for working space with video files, etc. These are so small these days, I consider a laptop with an SSD and an external harddrive to be very portable.

    So my final vote would be: buy for the processor, upgrade yourself, stay 15", but possibly get an external monitor (I have a 22" ASUS), go SSD if you can. 8GB RAM is pretty good for most non adobe video editing applications, but 16GB RAM will be an awesome boost.
     
  18. JoiseyMom

    JoiseyMom <font color=orange>Have you had your SPANX today??

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    My DH is an IT guy and his go to is Dell. DD16 is using a Dell laptop DH bought 7 years ago (yes, it has been upgraded and things replaced), but it is a workhorse. I have had e HP laptops crap out on me since, and HP support is garbage. DH's last laptop was an ASUS, and he had so many problems iwth it, that they couldn't fix, so he sent it back.

    Dell has excellent support, and they come to your home! Heck he had issues with his Dell and we were flying to WDW, and they sent someone to our hotel!

    Go with Dell. Oh, also buy the laptop with an Amex or other credit card that will extend your warranty for free!
     
  19. timmac

    timmac DIS Veteran

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    All excellent suggestions. I think I'm all but convinced that 15" is better than 17" for the increased portability of it, among other things. I'm aiming at a dual HD scenario with a reasonable sized SSD for boot/apps and a larger spindle drive for larger storage needs. (It's actually not games so much as work files, graphics, and that sort of stuff that just accumulates over time) I've actually got (multiple) monitors already, that I could use if I needed... so yeah, 17" probably isn't all that necessary.

    You are 100% spot on with the suggestion to upgrade the components myself, I think. From what I've looked around, the cost of various upgrades to drives and ram especially, are at best inconsistent... and usually very over inflated.
     
  20. megsoro

    megsoro Mouseketeer

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    Yes! I upgrade all my computers myself (macs included) and have built several desktops from scratch (never a laptop though... one day, haha!)I have seen many people take out optical drives and put the second HDD or SSD there. Sometimes that is the only place to put it on a laptop.
     
  21. timmac

    timmac DIS Veteran

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    I'm hoping to get one that has two HD bays, in a perfect world, though I'm not against pulling my optical drive if needed. I too have built quite a few desktops; a laptop is a bit more challenging as you note :) I'm glad I posted on here to get a few different viewpoints, keep me from doing something crazy and all :)
     

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