Standard "New Laptop for the GF" Thread

OverOver ...laser cats?Registered User regular
I almost know there is one of these every month or so, but with the search function broken and not finding too much to go on 5 pages back, here's another.

GF's 7 year old Inspiron 6000 finally died tonight. She needs the standard web browsing/email/word processing amount of power.

She's happy with getting another Dell, but I'm thinking a Thinkpad or Toshiba might be other options. I just want to avoid grabbing the first cheap laptop that looks like it would fit her needs and end up with sub-par parts or just low end specs that aren't going to be enough.

I know practically nothing when it comes to laptop (or desktop, for that matter) hardware, but I'm thinking:

Screen: 15"
RAM: 4 GB, at least
HDD: doesn't matter, just something reliable
Processor: I'm thinking i5 level, but that's just me picking the middle. Would i3 (or equivalent) be more than enough?
Video/Sound: Onboard

Any suggestions?

Over on

Posts

  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Because someone has to do it: the current generation of Macbook Airs are great machines. Incredibly light and small, fast, and super reliable. Also not particularly expensive. There are strong rumors of a new generation coming in the next couple of months, so if she can wait that long it's a great time to buy.

    admanb on
  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    If she's just going small potatoes (IE not gaming or anything intensive) I'd get her a standard Macbook or Macbook Air. Barring that, the new Sony Vaio's look pretty slick. I'm a big fan of the 13" form factor, 15" just seems a bit too big for me as I do a lot of traveling lately.

    I have a Macbook Pro (Core 2 Duo) and truthfully they're a bit overkill for someone who doesn't want to play Starcraft 2 and Civ V.

    Iceman.USAF on


  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited May 2011
    Skoal Cat on
    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • ScudMuffinScudMuffin MarylandRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I was going to say a Macbook, but the Air is dreamy. Toshiba in the past has been a favorite of mine, but I purchased one for my mother a little over a year ago and it is physically just not holding up with the keyboard having issues and the wiring to the LCD kept disconnecting. After 3 fixes for the same thing, we got her a Macbook Pro. She's never been happier.

    But given what she will be doing on the laptop, I would say anything will work for her. Find a price range you guys are comfortable with and go to your local big box stores and see what specs she likes then go build one.

    ScudMuffin on
    XBL: Scud FTW
    PSN: ScudMuffin
  • floobiefloobie Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    If I were in that situation, I'd probably look at two things: Macbook Air or, if I were feeling a bit "experimental", I'd probably give one of those Samsung Chromebooks a try.

    floobie on
  • OverOver ...laser cats? Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Hmmm, was not expecting the overwhelming Air responses.

    Thing is, I feel she'd almost be lost on a Mac, but I'll run it by her for sure given all the positive responses for it.

    I guess the only other thing I can ask is related to the i3/i5/i7 type stuff: Would an i3 be more than enough for her? I have a strong feeling she'll want to get another Dell seeing how long the first one lasted her, so I just want to cover all my bases and make sure an i3 isn't a bad purchase to make. I've heard and read a bunch about the i7 being a little too costly for it's power, lots of people saying i5, but very little regarding the i3.

    Thanks for the responses.

    Over on
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited May 2011
    Has she looked at netbooks? Smaller than 15", but goddamn is 15" isn't huge for a laptop. Unless she is doing some regular photo editing or is very serious about video games, I see no reason why she should ignore netbooks. I love netbooks. Netbooks netbooks netbooks. 8 hour battery life and then some in a 3lbs package? Yes please.

    Skoal Cat on
    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Over wrote: »
    Hmmm, was not expecting the overwhelming Air responses.

    Thing is, I feel she'd almost be lost on a Mac, but I'll run it by her for sure given all the positive responses for it.

    I guess the only other thing I can ask is related to the i3/i5/i7 type stuff: Would an i3 be more than enough for her? I have a strong feeling she'll want to get another Dell seeing how long the first one lasted her, so I just want to cover all my bases and make sure an i3 isn't a bad purchase to make. I've heard and read a bunch about the i7 being a little too costly for it's power, lots of people saying i5, but very little regarding the i3.

    Thanks for the responses.

    i3 is fine. For what she does she'd probably be fine with a Core 2 Duo (which the current Airs have, though the next generation should have iXs)

    At least let (/make) her poke around on a Mac at an Apple store. If she's not coming into it with any prejudices she should be able to pick up the OS really quickly. Again, especially for what she uses it for.

    admanb on
  • floobiefloobie Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    For browsing/email/word processing, you really, really don't need to worry about processing power. An i3 is already overkill. A Core 2 Duo is already overkill.

    Again, I'd at least look into the Chromebooks (link: http://www.google.com/chromebook/#chromebooks).

    floobie on
  • OverOver ...laser cats? Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    She's pretty stubborn about change and learning new things on the computer for the most part, and as simple as MacOS can be, I don't think it would be worth my time to convince her.

    Re: Netbooks - I know she doesn't need a big screen, but it's what she's used too and what she's requested for the new one, so netbooks are out. She's used them before, so at least here I know she's at least tried them out and doesn't like the feel of them.

    Re: Chromebooks - I checked them out the first time, and while they look great and would most likely be perfect, I doubt she'll go for the 12" screen. I'll definitely be putting it in the lineup for her to pick from though.

    Re: Processors - Thanks for the feedback, and good to know I can go low end for it and it will be enough.

    Hopefully all of this will help her realize that when Dell offers to fix her 6+ year old laptop for $500 all-in (but only if you agree now, no talking to anyone first), it's really is just a rip off.

    Thanks again all.

    Over on
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx El Hopaness Rom Tic Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I'm in the same boat.

    I got my then GF (now wife) a netbook because she wanted something she could take with her everywhere. Well, after figuring out that portability isn't nearly as important as performance (and our 3 year old turning her ASUS netbook keyboard into a half-full scrabble board), shes been looking around. Her netbook has been acting funny, so shes been using my 17" HP Pav, which she loves but thinks it's a little too big.

    Her gaming consists of mostly Facebook applications, but she does a LOT of photo editing, sorting, storing, processing, and the like. I've recently got her hooked on Photoshop. She also has a pretty big music collection.

    I know nothing about laptop graphics chips, but I'm fairly certain that any modern embedded proc will handle Farmville just as well as my 8800M. Should I go for the i5 or i7 chip since she's so heavy into visual media? I mean, she's doing video editing, picture editing, and all kinds of stuff.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe Registered User
    edited May 2011
    What about a Lenovo X1? High build quality, small and light, and no need to mess around learning MacOS.

    JohnDoe on
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx El Hopaness Rom Tic Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I had a Thinkpad way back in the day. Do Lenovos still have that quality?

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • VeitsevVeitsev Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I had a Thinkpad way back in the day. Do Lenovos still have that quality?

    I have heard good things about the coming x1. Their T series is as good as always. However a lot of the Thinkpad Edges tend to have cheap screens. Their netbook is apparantly well built.

    As far as the OP is concerned...

    I am also in the market for a laptop and have been looking for one in the sub $1000 range.

    The best ones I found are the following

    Asus Silver 14" U41JF-A1 Review

    14" HD LED Display; 3 USB 2.0 Ports; 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro); HDMI and VGA Port; 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.0
    Intel Core i3-380M Processor 2.53GHz; 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM (2x2GB, 2 slots)
    NV 425M 1G DDR3 + Intel GMA HD (Optimus Technology) (this is a good card); 500GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
    Windows 7 Home Premium Operating System (64 bit)
    2 Year Standard Warranty and 1 Year Accidental Damage Warranty

    $808 on Amazon. The battery life is also insane for the specs (about 8 hours under normal conditions) PC Mag gave it 4 1/2 stars and their Editor's Choice.

    The Sony Vaio E-Series seems to offer bang for the buck. You can order one with upgraded graphics (ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650 GPU) which is great for that price range (about $800 w/o tax). The battery life is also decent (5 hours or so) but not as good as the Asus I mentioned. The 5650 is a better GPU however.

    This Samsung is also pretty good bang for your buck as well. Review

    When looking at Laptops keep in mind that Dell, Sony, Samsung, Asus, Apple, and Toshiba usually do a good job. I would personally stay away from Acer and HP. If you or your GF is a student she may also be eligible for discounts. Laptop manufacturers (other than Asus it seems) offer student discounts usually ranging from $100-200 off. Apple was offering a free touch with mac purchase awhile back. Dell right now is offering a free Xbox 360 4g with select laptops. If you have a AAA membership you may also be eligible for discounts from them.

    Veitsev on
    nibblersig-1.jpg
    Steam 3DS: 1160-9885-2554
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    With Apple, the free iPod Touch promotion usually starts in July (back to school sales and clearing out Touch inventory at the same time). If she can wait that long, then that's an option.

    Also, the free Xbox promotion should be popping up with other brands here shortly. Basically it's buy any Win7 computer that is $699+ and get a free Xbox. It's supposed to run through the whole summer as well.

    I'll also add that I've had no issue with HP laptops, but I do agree that you should stay away from Acer.

    a5ehren on
  • SomethingorotherSomethingorother Registered User
    edited May 2011
    My HP laptop experience -
    As a college-bound student this time last year, I bought the HP dv6 (15.6") and ordered it with a ATI mobile 5730 GPU, a core i5, and the standard 6-cell battery for a mobile gaming laptop that could take notes and write me papers. It can definitely be used for everything you guys have wanted in addition to home video editing, but you can definitely go cheaper, smaller, lighter, and more battery efficient for something that surfs the web and works with Microsoft Office type junk.

    A note on the battery life: without the ATI GPU on, it has about an hour and a half of note-taking usage off plug and then it dies. It dies within an hour if I do turn on the main GPU (and just takes goddamned notes). From what I can see around campus, the laptops with the greatest staying power don't have dedicated graphics and there is no real discerning winner of any brand or type barring netbooks with SSDs, which basically cheat here. [Additional note: I also quickly realized that it is also definitely heavier and larger than what I wanted after carrying it around everywhere with me for a year.]
    So yeah, try to think about mobility as well. Is she gonna sit in one spot all the time? It's still annoying to always need to plug this (big) fucker in all the time, just FYI. I end up using my desktop for most papers because of that, kind of sad really.

    Somethingorother on
  • floobiefloobie Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    My HP laptop experience -
    As a college-bound student this time last year, I bought the HP dv6 (15.6") and ordered it with a ATI mobile 5730 GPU, a core i5, and the standard 6-cell battery for a mobile gaming laptop that could take notes and write me papers. It can definitely be used for everything you guys have wanted in addition to home video editing, but you can definitely go cheaper, smaller, lighter, and more battery efficient for something that surfs the web and works with Microsoft Office type junk.

    A note on the battery life: without the ATI GPU on, it has about an hour and a half of note-taking usage off plug and then it dies. It dies within an hour if I do turn on the main GPU (and just takes goddamned notes). From what I can see around campus, the laptops with the greatest staying power don't have dedicated graphics and there is no real discerning winner of any brand or type barring netbooks with SSDs, which basically cheat here. [Additional note: I also quickly realized that it is also definitely heavier and larger than what I wanted after carrying it around everywhere with me for a year.]
    So yeah, try to think about mobility as well. Is she gonna sit in one spot all the time? It's still annoying to always need to plug this (big) fucker in all the time, just FYI. I end up using my desktop for most papers because of that, kind of sad really.

    1.5 hours? That's pretty terrible. Was it like that straight out of the box? Dedicated graphics definitely do put a significant dent on battery life. But, if they're switchable with something integrated, that helps immensely. For the OP's (girlfriend's) needs, though, I wouldn't bother with dedicated graphics.

    The way I see it, if you're buying a laptop for mobility, don't skimp on the mobility. Light weight, durability, strong battery life (I wouldn't tolerate anything less than 5 hours these days), and favorable dimensions should be big factors. Otherwise, you're basically overpaying for an inferior desktop, because you'll always be tethered to a wall socket, and you won't be very inclined to take it places. If you aren't buying a laptop for mobility, your money is likely better spent on a desktop.

    floobie on
  • SomethingorotherSomethingorother Registered User
    edited May 2011
    My hindsight bias compels me to agree and stress your point over 9000 times, floobie. You couldn't have said it more succinctly, though some added cursing would have set my mind at ease.

    *and yes it was like that out of the box, annoying as dick, if I do say so myself.

    Somethingorother on
  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I will third what Floobie said. My computer previous to the system I built at the beginning of this year was a high-end, 15.4" laptop. When I bought it I had to have something that was able to be moved and carried around because I was still in school, but I wasn't willing to go without performance and the ability to play games.

    Given the fact that it was necessarily going to be a compromise given my needs, it served me about as well as it possibly could have and got me back into serious PC gaming. But a relatively brief 1.5 years later I was no longer at school and therefore no longer required portability. What I was left with was a computer that was, from the beginning, far inferior to a desktop system put together for the same price, and which was now showing its age in terms of performance and gaming with pretty much no worthwhile options for upgrading. As laptops go its still a good performer outside of games and such (heck, it'll run most games made up until the past year or two pretty well), but it's relatively huge and heavy, runs very hot, and has negligible battery life. When I need a PC I can take with me there is virtually no reason not to just use the netbook I acquired along the way instead. Thus, the new desktop system I built this January.

    In retrospect I would have been better off building a desktop system (if I had had the gumption at the time) and buying a netbook at the very beginning. The two together would have only cost as much or possibly less than what I paid for my supposed super-laptop, the desktop would quite possibly have had a longer useful lifespan as a main computer and gaming machine, and the netbook would have been sufficient for all of my mobile computing needs at school.

    Gaslight on
    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
  • floobiefloobie Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I guess my main beef is with the thought process most laptop consumers go through. They want a laptop, but I get the feeling most people get too concerned with power. And I think that's a pretty big issue when mobility is so often lacking. I use a 13" aluminum Macbook from 2008 as my primary computer. It definitely isn't particularly powerful. 2.0ghz core 2 duo, 4gb of RAM (2gb until quite recently), 500gb 7200rpm hd (160gb 5400rpm originally), integrated graphics. And yet, even for the occasional game of SC2, I never really find it lacking grunt. Sure, for gaming, it doesn't compare to my gaming desktop (which is all I use the desktop for). But for absolutely anything else, I find it just as responsive, if not more so than my desktop (OS definitely makes a bit of a difference here). Just comparing specs to other laptops I could've bought at the time, often costing much less, the Macbook doesn't look too good. But, this thing STILL gets 5 hours of battery life, even after 3 years of bringing it with me to uni every day. The enclosure is in excellent condition, save for a few barely noticeable scuffs. It weighs so little I frequently checked my bag thinking I'd forgot it somewhere at school. I still adore this thing. Best computer I've ever had. And part of that is because it's the only computer I've ever had that I can bring basically anywhere without any fuss.

    That said, I do think it's possible to get a decent "jack of all trades" in a laptop. Something both mobile and powerful. But, it won't exactly be something you'll find for 500 bucks at Best Buy. So, I guess I'd argue that if you aren't willing to pay the price for something like that, you're usually (not always) better off choosing from the "extremes". Either get a cheaper but properly mobile laptop (or netbook) with less power, or just get a desktop. Or, as you've suggested, maybe even both.

    floobie on
  • Brodo FagginsBrodo Faggins Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I fix Macs for a living, and I have to say, the current generation of macbook airs and white unibody macbooks are fantastic little machines. Open up the white macbook and a macbook pro, and the innards are very similar; plus all the easily upgradeable components are right there.

    The only issue I have with them is the fact that the rubber bottom gets dirty REALLY easily, and it has all the downfalls of being made of plastic.

    The airs are slick little machines, I'd definitely get one if browsing and such were all I were to use it for. Be warned though, since the hard drives are NAND flash, if she has some kind of failure, data recovery is all but impossible. Set her up with a good backup solution.

    Brodo Faggins on
    9PZnq.png
  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I fix Macs for a living, and I have to say, the current generation of macbook airs and white unibody macbooks are fantastic little machines. Open up the white macbook and a macbook pro, and the innards are very similar; plus all the easily upgradeable components are right there.

    The only issue I have with them is the fact that the rubber bottom gets dirty REALLY easily, and it has all the downfalls of being made of plastic.

    The airs are slick little machines, I'd definitely get one if browsing and such were all I were to use it for. Be warned though, since the hard drives are NAND flash, if she has some kind of failure, data recovery is all but impossible. Set her up with a good backup solution.

    I'm waiting on the new Air's to see if I went to replace my current MBP with a newer one or an Air, but if I go with the Air I think I'll also be grabbing a time machine for just that issue.

    Also, I grabbed an SSD and threw it into my MBP a while ago. Best decision ever.

    Iceman.USAF on


Sign In or Register to comment.