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Need Laptop Recommendation

Last response: in Laptop Tech Support
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June 2, 2011 11:48:49 PM

1. What is your budget?

$1500 or less


2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

14" screen to keep the overall package small but useable.


3. What screen resolution do you want?

I'd prefer as many lines as possible, so I prefer the 1366X900 screen options.


4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

No, this will supplement my AWESOME! desktop, when I positively, absolutely have to travel.


5. How much battery life do you need?

I want a standard battery, 4 hours comes to mind. I am willing to compromise on graphics card "horse power" to get better battery life.


6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

If I said no, you'd call me a liar. However, gaming will be a very minor, secondary function.


7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)

I do a lot of spreadsheet work, at home and on the road. Video editting will be done on my desktop.


8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

I want an SSD. I was thinking of a Crucial 128 GB SSD. Bulk storage can be via an external HDD.


9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

I've been scanning the Lenovo, Toshiba, HP and Dell web sites. There are too many out there to filter thru. There are no reliability data available.


10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

As long as possible. If it lasts less than three years, I'd say it was a waste. Five years is a goal.


11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?

I'd like Bluray for movie playback but a DVD RW is fine.


12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.

I want a robust laptop. If the keyboard falls apart, like I see so many times on the display models, I will be unhappy.


13. What country do you live in?

USA



14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

More about : laptop recommendation

a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 12:04:23 AM

Hello Mike Mills;

You're most likely to see laptop screen resolutions of 1366x768, 1600x900 or 1920x1080 (sometimes known as 'full HD')

Since you want a Blu-Ray player we should be able to fit a 1920x1080 screen into your generous $1500 budget. And manage to find you something that can play a game or two when you're not busy working.
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June 3, 2011 12:17:05 AM

Thanks for the response. I'd never though of the conflict between the 1366X900 native resolution of the 14" screens and the Bluray 1080p requirement. I guess that means Bluray is out.

I cannot have a screen larger than 14" or the overall package just gets too big and too heavy. The screens smaller than 13" are just too small to be practical when using spreadsheets. I was willing to pay for the higher resolution screen (900 versus 768 lines) because I will use and appreciate that feature ALL THE TIME.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 12:19:49 AM

Dell XPS 15" L502x laptop around ~$1365 before 20% off coupon and roughly $1095 before taxes.
That included Core i7-2630QM quad core CPU, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD and 1920x1080 LCD with GT 540M graphics with Optimus to save battery life.
Since you want a SSD I'd suggest passing on Dells 256GB $600 SSD and do a SSD upgrade yourself. You can convert the 500GB SSD to a USB external drive for backup and storage.

Crucial M4 2.5" 256GB SATA III SSD $445 or
Crucial M4 2.5" 128GB SATA III SSD $220
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 12:21:55 AM

A 14" 1600x900 LCD screen doesn't rule out having a Blu-Ray player.
It just means that you'll have 1080p HD content scaled down to 1600x900.
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June 3, 2011 1:39:13 AM

Great recommendation but I really do want to stick with the 14" screen size.

Are the Alienware laptops anything special?
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 2:02:38 AM

It could be an option for you if you're OK with the way it looks and it's slightly hefty weight - ~7lbs.
Equipped the way you want it also stands a chance of busting your budget a bit over the top as well.

Take a look and see what you think.
Alienware M14x Review @~$1375 or so equipped the way I think you might want it... and that's without a SSD.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 2:14:26 AM

Another option at about the same price - Dell Latitude E6420 Review
The major difference is the graphics card.
Alienware has a gaming GT 555M and the Latitude has a NVS 4200 which is the workstation equivalent to a GT 520M
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 2:16:15 AM

Since you do spreadsheet work - are you OK without a dedicated number pad?
That's the major reason I included the 15" laptop which is about the dividing line in number pad equipped laptops - 15" and above have them, 14" and below don't have them.
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June 3, 2011 3:30:30 AM

I am okay without a numpad. If I need to, I can get a USB numpad and plug it in. I intend to get a real wireless mouse with the tiny little USB dongle.

I don't intend to do much hard core creative work on the laptop, that's what the desktop is for. I do work on them but the regular number keys are fine.

I want a decent graphics card because I do a lot of graphing/plotting which are imbedded in the spreadsheets. I do a lot of power point graphics editing, too. These may need to be manipulated and or displayed using the video output.
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June 3, 2011 3:35:28 AM

One piece of the puzzle that's missing is reliability and durability.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 3:58:40 AM

With a new series of laptops that's always an unknown. You have a better chance on finding out something about the reliability and durability of 3 and 4yr old models for example. Even that info is pretty closely guarded as proprietary company data. Luckily it the laptop OEMs make more money if they can turn out hardware that works without needing warranty work or a recall.

Im most cases the business class (Latitude 6420) should have an edge in reliability and durability over consumer (Alienware) laptops.

You can find some minimal support for certain brands being better than others... like Asus & Toshiba being better than Dell & HP for example. And that holds true for the entire brand - not any one specific model which is what you're concerned about.
But my working theory is that in the same class and price range there isn't much difference.

A budget Asus/Toshiba should have near the same reliability/longevity as a budget Dell/HP. Same for all $600 laptops not being as reliable as the $1200 laptops.

The biggest danger to a laptops reliability/longevity is probably mishandling or damage.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 10:30:40 AM

Mike Mills said:
I want a decent graphics card because I do a lot of graphing/plotting which are imbedded in the spreadsheets. I do a lot of power point graphics editing, too. These may need to be manipulated and or displayed using the video output.
That type of 2D graphics doesn't need anything more than that very nice integrated HD 3000 Graphics that the Sandy Bridge CPUs have (which is roughly equivalent to a Geforce 310M or ATI HD5470 graphics card). In fact, it's a lot more GPU power than needed for the 2D stuff. And the HD 3000 is surprisingly good at light duty video editing and HD video playback.

Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics review
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a b D Laptop
June 3, 2011 1:43:13 PM

^ Concur. Go with a SB processor.
Also Concur with going with a HDD and doing your own upgrade to an SSD.
On weight, take Manuf specs with a grain of salt. Normally weigth can be 1 -> 2 #s heavier. They seam to exclude Battery and charger..
And Yes, blu-ray plays fine on lower resolution. Have swapped out both my laptops (15.6") DVD-RW drives with a Blu-ray Rom/DVD-RW drive.

On problem I had is that most high end Laptops tend to include a dedicated GPU, Like you I did not need.

On battery time. Verify that the laptop will allow for an extended (higher capacity) Battery. And if possible, if ordering on Line - Best prices, Try going to a brick-&- Motor store to view the screen, Don't take reviews as gosple. This is very subjective and is in the eye of the beholder!!
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June 3, 2011 5:26:12 PM

I am so dumb. I finallyy found the processor number-descriptions on the Intel web site.

If the CPU description does not say "Sandy Bridge" how does one know? Which model numbers are Sandy Bridge? Are either an i7 640M (2.8 GHz) or an i7 740QM (1.73 GHz) a Sandy Bridge processor? What are the benefits of a Sandy Bridge?
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June 3, 2011 8:09:20 PM

I haven't yet been able to find a 14" screen laptop that has a i7 Sandy Bridge CPU. I'll keep looking.
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June 3, 2011 8:20:48 PM

How does this one look?



Intel lists a 2620M CPU on their web site and they have a 2620QM. It seems an M processor has only two cores, as opposed to the four (Quad) cores of a QM CPU.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 3, 2011 9:04:11 PM

Intel Core i7-2620M dual core CPU.
Doesn't seem to offer a quad core upgrade on the 14" Tecra.
IMO the upgrade from the i5-2520M to the i7-2620M is not worth the $150 cost.

AMD Radeon HD 6450M
Check the long list of Graphics Cards just to the right of the main article. They're ranked in order of performance. Find the Radeon HD 6450 in chart (about halfway down in the Class 3 section) and notice the position of the HD 3000 graphics. They're very close in performance. Too close, IMO, to be paying extra for a discrete graphics card on top of the Integrated HD 3000 graphics of the i7-2620M CPU. It's not listed as a seperate charge, but you are paying for the extra graphics card. About $140 extra over the R840-ST8400 model.
Tecra R840-ST8400 / Tecra R840-ST8401 models

Toshiba Tecra R840 (S8430) review
For what you're paying I think you'd hope to get a slightly better score from the reviewers.
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a b D Laptop
June 5, 2011 4:23:17 PM

Read my thread, it will explain pretty much everything about laptops to you. I think it's an important thing to be able to at least understand everything that you see in stores. Knowing what you need instead of being told what you need is a great feeling when spending that kind of money, no? :sol: 
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/60098-35-general-lapt...
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June 5, 2011 5:47:25 PM

Avro Arrow, thanks for the tips and the general advice. I agree with most of that.

No offense intended but, honestly, I believe I may be beyond the level of consumer your article is targeted at. I'm not boasting, I'm just saying I do know what I want Not being a laptop person, right now I am struggling with the myriad of product names, part numbers, etc. I need specifics.

CPU power is important to me. I have spreadsheets that are so large and complicated that it takes 10 seconds to recalculate. That means everytime you change and input or edit a cell and hit <Enter>, you have to wait 10 seconds for it to recalculate (I sometimes use manual recalculate when doing lots of editing).

I do real-time 3D plotting of results while the code is running. The plotting routines, alone, often bog down the refresh of the display. In the end, the graphics presented are 2D projections but the computations behind them are in 3D. There are times when RAW horsepower really is important.

I'll be getting an SSD because load times from a 7200 rpm HDD are ridiculous (one minute or more). It's just too darned slow. It's ridiculous to say, "I want to show you something." Then have to wait 60 seconds for it to load and 60 seconds to recalulate and plot. Two minutes later, the conversation with the customer is D-E-A-D. Any longer would just be totally dysfunctional.

I totally agree that most computing should be via a powerful desktop and I have invested in that. However, I do need a powerful laptop to take those computationally-intensive spreadsheets "on the road".
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June 7, 2011 5:58:17 PM

Rightly or wrongly, I ordered a laptop. I ordered a Lenovo Y460P.



Processor 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7-2630QM Processor ( 2.00GHz 1333MHz 6MB )
Operating system Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 6550M 1GB
Total memory 8 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz
Display 14.0" HD Glare with integrated camera 1366x768
Pointing device Industry Standard Touchpad
Hard Drive 750GB 5400
Optical Drive DVD Recordable (Dual Layer)
Battery 6 Cell Lithium-Ion
Network Card Intel 1000 BGN Wireless
Bluetooth Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR
Warranty One year
Finger Print Reader None

I bought the 3 year, in-home warranty, too.


I will add an SSD upgrade when it gets here. This will take me over my budget but I think it will be a useful upgrade given the large file sizes I use.


Like I said, I am not a laptop person, so this was what I bought. How did I do?
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