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Seeking laptop purchasing advice

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Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 9, 2012 11:22:00 AM

Hello all. I have been mostly a desktop man all my life, but now that I've moved away from home for my first job and do a good bit of travelling over weekends, I'm looking for a good laptop for my lifestyle. I could really use some help in finding a good deal (bang for the buck) laptop with a couple of preferences.

Budget: TBD, but I am trying to keep it under $600. I'm also a sucker for a great deal though, so that can go up if the features/$ goes up :)  So let's say up to $900 or even $1k. But it better be a darn good bang for the buck at those levels.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
I don't have a huge preference on this. I would like to be in the 15"-17" max area though, so no netbooks or teeny-tiny laptops.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
I work in excel a lot and use multiple windows frequently, so I need a resolution that can support 2 windows and give a decent amount of viewing space to both windows. I don't think I need anything like 1920x1080, but maybe something close?

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
I'm not sure I know what this means. But essentially I need this laptop for work: Excel, email, couple non-cpu intensive software platforms, etc. I do want a strong wireless device (wirless-n?).

5. How much battery life do you need?
Battery life is not very important. 99% of laptop use will be in my home or girlfriend's.

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)?
I do actually want to play games but my demands are not that high. I play WoW casually. I like fuilidity (high fps) but I'm not a stickler for ultra settings. Smoothness > eye candy. So if I can find something that can play WoW at LOW settings but very smoothly, I will be happy. I'm not interested in many other games.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Some photo editing for website development stuff but this is a minor preference. No video editing. Possibly some MATLAB, Vizeo, PPT, photoshop. To my knowledge I do not think I will need a quad-core. I'm thinking more in the high GHz dual-core area.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
This is the kicker, I do NOT need a lot of HD space. I have plenty of space on my PC for larger files, but on this laptop I can't see myself needing more than 320GB. I could even go down to 250 or 120 I think. I would LIKE to start considering an SSD (ether stock or upgrade) for quick boot and faster responses, but I know that it's a killer on the pocket in laptops especially.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
No preference.

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

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
None.

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'm not preferential with brands. I do NOT like all the junk laptops I've seen come with that slow the bejesus out of them. From past laptop purchases will usually just install a new copy of windows on it to avoid all the junk. I'm looking for advice, so if you have a recommendation on a brand I'm open ears.

13. What country do you live in?
US.

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
See SSD above.

Best solution

a c 572 D Laptop
March 9, 2012 11:42:01 AM

Hello

I haven't seen anything in the under $600 category that can meet the majority of your requirements.

A bit higher up on the food chain: Dell XPS 17 ~$743
Core i5-2450M 2.5GHz dual core Sandy Bridge CPU, 4GB RAM, 750GB 7200rpm HDD, 17.3" 1600x900 LCD w/ GT 550M graphics. (WoW on High Graphics).
Nice speakers, optional backlit keyboard and a nice feature set for home office/home entertainment needs.
The only option I think you might want to add is the $20 Bluetooth Wireless option.

It doesn't come with a SSD at that price. But it does have a 2nd HDD/SSD drive bay that will allow you to do an upgrade on your own. You could go with a smaller SSD boot drive since it wouldnt need to be the only mass storage device.
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a c 572 D Laptop
March 9, 2012 11:53:33 AM

Review Dell XPS 17 Notebook (i7-2630QM & GT 555M) different CPU/GPU but it gives you a good idea on the laptop's style, general features and upgrade-ability.

You can find quite a few owner reviews on YouTube as well.
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March 9, 2012 12:38:42 PM

WR2 said:
Hello

I haven't seen anything in the under $600 category that can meet the majority of your requirements.

A bit higher up on the food chain: Dell XPS 17 ~$743
Core i5-2450M 2.5GHz dual core Sandy Bridge CPU, 4GB RAM, 750GB 7200rpm HDD, 17.3" 1600x900 LCD w/ GT 550M graphics. (WoW on High Graphics).
Nice speakers, optional backlit keyboard and a nice feature set for home office/home entertainment needs.
The only option I think you might want to add is the $20 Bluetooth Wireless option.

It doesn't come with a SSD at that price. But it does have a 2nd HDD/SSD drive bay that will allow you to do an upgrade on your own. You could go with a smaller SSD boot drive since it wouldnt need to be the only mass storage device.


I do like the GT 550M and the 1600x900 resolution, but I was hoping I could find something with a higher cpu speed (maybe 3.0GHz+?). Also, if I could trade the features HDD for RAM that would make it much more desirable to me. I really dont need 750GB space but I like to run several windows and maybe WoW in the background at times so I'd like to have 8GB of RAM. Laptop ram is super cheap so I know I could probably upgrade, but I would feel more comfortable knowing I'm not paying for a monster HDD.
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a c 572 D Laptop
March 9, 2012 12:49:31 PM

You could upgrade from a 2.5Ghz to 2.8Ghz dual core CPU for $270. But I can't recommend it.

You could upgrade to 8GB RAM yourself for 1/4 the price Dell wants ($100).

Getting an excellent price like that means you have limited choices in hardware options. Like, limited HDD choices.

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a c 572 D Laptop
March 9, 2012 1:06:31 PM

HP Pavilion dv7t gives you more configuration options and most of the same home office/home entertainment features as Dell XPS 17.
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March 9, 2012 1:22:25 PM

Agree with WR2 on the Dell XPS 17. I'm not a total Dell fanboy but my experience is that Dell gives you a little more bang for the buck on higher end laptops. And, now that Dell doesn't (always) relegate you to tech support in East Timor, that aspect has also improved. I'd stick with Dell here over HP.
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March 18, 2012 11:56:42 PM

Best answer selected by jkelley9.
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a c 244 D Laptop
March 19, 2012 9:33:20 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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