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Laptop replacement?

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November 16, 2012 8:29:13 AM

My parents have announced that their 2005 vintage acer laptop is starting to have a few too many 'senior moments' as they put it. They've asked my advice on a replacement (as parents do) - IMO it probably needs a bit of love, which I'll do anyway, and then ask them again.

They've set a budget of about £800(GBP) to be spent before the xmas hols (or perhaps the new years sales).

For the sort of money they've mentioned I'm comparing against Dell Inspiron 15R SE and HP Pavilion DV7. Essentially a large screen, multipurpose, media orientatated desk-top replacement - with Windows 7 - I really don't want to have to explain windows 8 to them just yet..

However given their current laptop moved off the desk once in a blue moon, I'm trying to put together an equivilent specification desktop PC, for cheaper, to allow the purchase of a 10" tablet (say a galaxy tab 2) to give a better mobile option.

So, first, can it be done? A complete, stand alone system (inc OS & monitor) for about £600 that will compete with the above mentioned laptops (that leaves about £200 for a tablet).

It'll mostly be used for web surfing, emails, a bit of word/excel/office and a bit of photo-editing. I'm also thinking that if the spec is up to it, my dad might start playing a few flight sims on it, so lightweight gaming is a possibility. I'm not going to bother with O/C or anything that might entail me having to spend 2hrs on the phone to my parents talking them through BIOS settings - they live to far away for convenience.

My over-riding criteria for the desktop system is future-proofing - I'd like it to still be viable in 8-10 years time, with a few memory, processor and harddisc upgrades perhaps.

My current parts list looks a bit like this (I'm shopping from Ebuyer for convenience):

Gigabyte GA-Z77-DS3H Socket 1155 VGA DVI HDMI 7.1 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard
http://www.ebuyer.com/386271-gigabyte-ga-z77-ds3h-socke...

Intel Core i5 3550
http://www.ebuyer.com/349025-intel-core-i5-3550-3-3ghz-...

Crucial 8Gb (2x4Gb) DDR3
http://www.ebuyer.com/342352-crucial-8gb-ddr3-1600mhz-b...

Asus HD6670 1Gb
http://www.ebuyer.com/265968-asus-hd-6670-1gb-ddr3-cvi-...

700W PSU
http://www.ebuyer.com/386117-x-power-700w-psu-x-power-7...

Antec 300 Two Case
http://www.ebuyer.com/341398-three-hundred-two-tower-ca...

LG DVD-RW
http://www.ebuyer.com/386487-lg-gh24ns90-sata-dvd-optic...

Hitatchi Deskstar 1Tb
http://www.ebuyer.com/287612-hitachi-1tb-deskstar-inter...

Philips 226V3LSB LCD LED 21.5" DVI Monitor
http://www.ebuyer.com/367831-philips-226v3lsb-lcd-led-2...

Internal Card reader
http://www.ebuyer.com/108453-all-in-1-internal-card-rea...

Cherry Keyboard
http://www.ebuyer.com/193247-cherry-stream-xt-wired-key...

(Mouse not needed)

Windows 7 Home premium



All the above comes in at about £640(GBP) - I've tried to avoid 'value' components as past experiences has shown that cheap mosly = nasty and replace within a year - especially when it's something that you have to interact with daily, like a keyboard or a case.

Can anyone suggest ways in which I can either shave the price and not loose too much in comparison with the laptops, so I can boost the functionality without busting the budget. I'm wondering if I can forego the video card for now and use the inbuilt graphics until my dad decides he wants to play games on it..?

Area's I'd like to improve are upgrading the optical drive to Blueray capable - the cheapest I can find is still £50 which means cutting back elsewhere.. And the processor, which is fairly middle-ground at the moment IMO.

Alternatively, is there another laptop out there that kicks all this into the long grass..?

Any thoughts or opinions, anyone?

More about : laptop replacement

a b D Laptop
November 16, 2012 8:52:34 AM

Wow. Actually a quintuple post. Anyway;

*No point in Z77 board if not OCing or multi-GPU.
*That PSU is utter crap in the one place where crap is most dangerous. If it was a decent one it would be overkill though.
*Processor is in no way middle ground - I wouldn't recommend anything more for a gaming rig unless you wanted to OC.
*I'd be looking at a Trinity A10 - decent iGPU, pretty powerful CPU, cheap.
Will make build.

EDIT: Add keyboard/mouse:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor (£91.91 @ Ebuyer)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4 ATX FM2 Motherboard (£59.92 @ Amazon UK)
Memory: Patriot Viper Xtreme Series, Division Vi 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£39.95 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£52.78 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case: Antec Three Hundred Two ATX Mid Tower Case (£50.40 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply (£49.98 @ Novatech)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHOS104-06 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Drive (£39.22 @ Scan.co.uk)
Monitor: LG IPS224V-PN 21.5" Monitor (£102.99 @ Amazon UK)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) (£70.45 @ CCL Computers)
Total: £557.60
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-16 11:01 GMT+0000)
November 16, 2012 9:05:11 AM

^
Well, I don't know about your parents, OP, but mine wouldn't need 1 TB storage. I'd instead get a cheap SSD. Brilliant build anyway!

EDIT: unnecessary long quote

EDIT2: made some edits

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor (£91.91 @ Ebuyer)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-DGS Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard (£52.99 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Memory: Patriot Viper Xtreme Series, Division Vi 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£39.95 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Storage: Crucial M4 64GB 2.5" Solid State Disk (£54.77 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case: Fractal Design Core 1000 MicroATX Mini Tower Case (£32.38 @ Scan.co.uk)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply (£33.96 @ Ebuyer)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHOS104-06 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Drive (£39.22 @ Scan.co.uk)
Monitor: LG IPS224V-PN 21.5" Monitor (£102.99 @ Amazon UK)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) (£70.45 @ CCL Computers)
Total: £518.62
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-16 11:08 GMT+0000)

Smaller PSU, still a good unit. Still overkill :lol: 

Added the SSD, made the mobo and case mATX. Since these parts are cheaper there's still room for a storage HDD even.
Related resources
a b D Laptop
November 16, 2012 9:11:10 AM

While I think an SSD is a good idea, 64GB is probably too small. I'd be looking for at least a 128GB. My dad uses almost a TB anyway.

Then again, my grandparents needed to be told that a word document wasn't the only file type in the universe!
November 16, 2012 9:19:37 AM

Heh, for my mum 64 GB is overkill. There's still room in the budget for a bigger SSD, so no problem.
a b D Laptop
November 16, 2012 9:26:13 AM

He did say he wanted a very future proof build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor (£91.91 @ Ebuyer)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler (£25.88 @ Ebuyer)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4 ATX FM2 Motherboard (£59.92 @ Amazon UK)
Memory: Patriot Viper Xtreme Series, Division Vi 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£39.95 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk (£80.00 @ Ebuyer)
Case: Silverstone SST-RL01B-USB 3.0 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case (£38.76 @ Scan.co.uk)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply (£35.99 @ Novatech)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHOS104-06 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Drive (£39.22 @ Scan.co.uk)
Monitor: LG IPS224V-PN 21.5" Monitor (£102.99 @ Amazon UK)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) (£70.45 @ CCL Computers)
Keyboard: Gigabyte GK-KM6150 Wired Standard Keyboard w/Optical Mouse (£9.98 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Total: £595.05
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-16 11:27 GMT+0000)
November 16, 2012 9:36:51 AM

Someone - Finneous - thanks for the comments, much food for thought.

Point taken on the PSU - I'm still finding my way having had a few bad ones in the past. I prefer to over spec these so they're not working so hard, yet can accomodate some obsolete, inefficient yet high performance hardware in later years when they're available for pennies secondhand.

I'd discounted AMD initially for a long term mid/high-performance build as I'm not sure how easy it would be to upgrade the processor a few years on - it's a strategy that's worked well on my past 2 boxes (essentially get a second-hand bleeding edge processor that's technically obsolete). I will look again at the product line though.

My parents have a fair bit of data they'd probably want to keep (they like to travel, so lots of photos), hence the TB storage. I agree SSD is the future, but that was the first to fall to my cost-saving axe.. I'd like to sell them on the idea of a NAS, but I'm still working to to convince them on Tablets.

thanks again..

G
a b D Laptop
November 16, 2012 9:45:59 AM

You can barely upgrade an intel chip currently - Ivy Bridge will be the last to use LGA1155. Unfortunately, trinity may be the last to use FM2, but we don't know.

Newer components require very little power. If you get a 450W PSU you could probably add a 7850 to the A10 and still have room to spare.
November 16, 2012 10:32:42 AM

Someone Somewhere said:
You can barely upgrade an intel chip currently - Ivy Bridge will be the last to use LGA1155. Unfortunately, trinity may be the last to use FM2, but we don't know.

Newer components require very little power. If you get a 450W PSU you could probably add a 7850 to the A10 and still have room to spare.


That's the problem I discovered first - LGA1155 has been around a while, LGA2011 is too expensive, undersupported, and likely to end up as a niche product. I think my timing is off: LGA 1150 is a while away yet. I got lucky with socket 939 back in 2005, modern processor designs seem to change sockets faster than I do underwear..

Perhaps I need to modify my thinking on power - I'm still used to accomodating old power-hungy components :) 
November 16, 2012 10:36:35 AM

I think the A10 is brilliant for your needs.
a b D Laptop
November 16, 2012 10:38:31 AM

I'd suggest waiting for 1150 if you can; kickass iGPU, reasonable upgrade path, and very frugal with power. If you can't wait, then an A10 is the next best bet.
November 16, 2012 10:43:17 AM

Upgrade path? You're unlikely to need an upgrade for years, at which point you should just buy a new mobo and CPU.
a b D Laptop
November 16, 2012 10:47:48 AM

Guess so, but it's always nice to have the option if they suddenly find themselves doing something more CPU intensive.
November 16, 2012 11:08:52 AM

I try to get my money's worth out of my PCs. My current system was built in 2005, it's predecessor was 1996. Both saw a processorand ram upgrade, and a couple of graphics cards, but the core of the system stayed unchanged. I figure this philosophy would work well with the parents.
November 22, 2012 8:09:56 AM

Okay, so the 'rents have decided to pass up a laptop and let me build them a system (much more fun IMO). They want it before the holidays, (they'll be over then to collect) so I can't wait around for Intel to release a new socket for me :( 

Despite the excellent advice here, I've decided to design around an Intel LGA1155 based system - purely due to the amount of performance headroom it affords (sorry!). Compare the cost of an A10 against a mid-range i5, and then think in 4/5years what an ivy-bridge i7 would cost second-hand. IMO that's a cheapish doubling of performance, when you'd otherwise be at a dead end with AMD.

The rest of the components were mostly selected to compete & compare with the laptops they rejected i.e. Dell Inspiron 17R SE. I've half an idea to loose the graphics card, but my dad's hinted he'd like to use it for occasional CAD work, so I think it' worth keeping some graphics grunt there (not going to splurge on a quadro or a fire-pro though)

I've also messed around with the case & form factor - apparently this box will sit on the desk, not under it, so I've found something a bit smaller and prettier than the functional slab of Antec.

Spec is below, they keyboard & mouse will end up as spares as they've already got something they like:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor (£102.20 @ Amazon UK)
Motherboard: ASRock B75 PRO3-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard (£55.99 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Memory: Patriot Intel Extreme Master, Limited Ed 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£34.99 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£50.78 @ CCL Computers)
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GT 640 2GB Video Card (£67.49 @ Scan.co.uk)
Case: Silverstone SST-PS07B MicroATX Mini Tower Case (£59.53 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply (£35.99 @ Novatech)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHOS104-06 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Drive (£25.88 @ CCL Computers)
Monitor: LG IPS224V-PN 21.5" Monitor (£102.99 @ Amazon UK)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) (£72.08 @ Scan.co.uk)
Keyboard: Gigabyte GK-KM6150 Wired Standard Keyboard w/Optical Mouse (£9.98 @ Overclockers.co.uk)
Other: Card Reader (£9.46)
Other: Logitech webcam (£17.49)
Total: £644.85
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-22 10:02 GMT+0000)

Thoughts and comments still welcome..

G
!