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Recommend Me a Laptop!

ZephonateZephonate Registered User regular
So, after six years of use, my MacBook Pro crapped out on me last week. Was using it normally one day, everything started slowing down to a crawl, decided to restart it, was treated to what I can only assume was the hard drive making a hissing, static, and clicking noise upon reboot. Took about forty-five minutes to reboot, after which everything moved even slower, so decided to reboot again. As the computer struggled to load, the apple screen turned into a circle with a line through it. Computer's been unusable ever since.

Much as I love Mac products, my last one was a gift, thus getting a new one would be somewhat prohibitively expensive, especially considering I made the slightly irresponsible/self-indulgent purchase of a new iPad only a week prior to all this happening. Said iPad is serving as my temporary computer in the mean time. Gets the job done, but obviously isn't ideal.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to bite bullet and do something I've been dreading for years–get a new Windows computer. As someone who has hated every OS that came after XP and is now extremely used to OSX and iOS, I need the help of you fine gents in recommending me something. Feel free to treat me like a goose, as I know nothing about which brands to avoid and the like.

Here are the things I am looking for:
  • Ample hard drive space. 1TB would be glorious, but I'll settle for something in that ballpark.
  • Something fast. I would like the days of slow computing to be behind me.
  • Laptop. Due to work, I need to be able to take my computer around with me.
  • While being able to play the latest and greatest isn't a necessity, a decent ability to handle some pretty games would be nice.
  • A quality product that (if well taken care of) will not make me have to go through this process again in another year or two.
  • As always, the further this hypothetical thing's price point is away from making me destitute, so much the better.

As a random aside, I do have interest in the Surface Pro 3. Does anyone have any impressions on it they can relate? I understand I already have a tablet computer and it's in the price range that I might as well just consider getting another Mac, but I have a weakness for shiny expensive electronics, as I'm sure is already evident. Also, if I can't find something that fits all my requirements, I am willing to make do with my iPad for a while and save for a new Mac anyway, but I'm trying to be a realist and accept that it's not financially the smartest decision, thus I'm exploring options.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
"For a few seconds Oskar saw through Eli's eyes. And what he saw was...himself. Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself. Seen with love."
--John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (Page 446).

Posts

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    I got a surface pro 3 this year. I use it for work, play, and graduate coursework and it has done damn well on all of those. It is a very expensive machine, but as one that does so many things I feel it more than justified replacing both my PC and my former laptop.

    I have the Surface Pro 3 I5core with 125gigs of storage. I also have two of the flip keyboards that come with it.
    • Games: I can play a range of games well. Civ5, Minecraft, every BattleNet game Blizzard offers, and a large number of indy and lower-range graphics Steam games run perfectly on it. You will never be able to run something like Skyrim or AAA titles on it (generally speaking), but it handles most things beautifully unless you are wanting top-end graphics.
    • Graphic Work: Photoshop and Sketchup render and run like a dream on it, and the touchpad & pen make me so very happy I replaced my wacom tablet and laptop setup with it. It takes a bit to get used to the screen size after working on a 17inch tank of a laptop, but otherwise it is fantastic for this purpose. I have only had one problem (rendering a 600dpi 4k by 8k pixel image in 3d), which was too much for the machine to handle, but that would be too much for all but my old PC to handle (if it even could).
    • Professional Work: Running multiple apps simultaneously (typically multiple web applications, word, excel and SPSS) has never given me problems. Being able to carry it with me from my work desk to the conference room or to the field and still have all of my applications is amazingly fantastic. While I still prefer my office's 3 monitor setup for large-scale statistics and datamining, for most general work it gets the job done and then some.
    • Storage: The biggest downside. 125 gigs is not a lot after a good bit of application downloads and I do have to ration my storage accordingly (mostly currently using my cloud storage). I plan on curing this with a 1TB external drive in the near future, but at the moment it is usually a triage situation where resting my computer generally has 80% of it's total storage taken up without my music or most of my graphics backups local.
    • Ports: The Surface Pro 3 has one (ONE) USB port. As any real work requires both touch screen and mouse, that means you will likely need that port for your external mouse. If you have more than one peripheral you will need to have a good USB hub from day one. This is another thing I will be solving (at the same time as my external harddrive), but it is a common problem.
    • Skype: Installing the skype app for windows 8 machines allows a pretty damn nice built in microphone and camera to get the job done well, for both gaming and work calls. I was actually pretty impressed about how good the mic was at only picking me up and not the ambient noise wherever I was working.
    • Keyboard: The flipkeyboards will be an adjustment at first, They feel flimsey and the strange felt-like texture seemed really off to me for the first day. I now love them both. The felt keeps smudges and body oils from really detracting from your work and (with the exception of a lack of a number pad) the layout has worked nicely for me in most of my gaming and work applications.
    • Battery: This is what really impressed me. Playing Heroes of the Storm for nearly 4 hours with Skype running without power before the 10% warning came up was damn impressive to me. Working on minor office work (email and word) for about 6 hours was also pretty great.

    Long story short, if you want to play elaborate games don't get this. Else it has been a fantastic and probably one of my most worthwhile purchases in a long long time.

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.

    I make Encounter Maps for Pathfinder and D&D! Check them out here: https://falleron.com/
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    to get around the port issue, just get a bluetooth mouse.

    i have a 128GB SP 2. I like it a lot. it replaced my macbook, and i have not really had any issues. for serious work you will want a separate mouse since i hate the touchpad for real things

    in regards to storage. its easy to balance it. yes you will probably want a external drive, but all the surface pro's have a high capacity micro sd slot which works seamlessly and you can install stuff to the cards. you can find them for way cheaper than the higher tier storage levels

    camo_sig.png
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Sounds like your hard drive died in the apple.

    You could always replace the hard drive in the apple and reinstall your operating system and use what you have before going down the route of a new computer.

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2010+Hard+Drive+Replacement/3030

    If you've still got the OSX CD's or USB stick that came with your laptop, that should get you started. I'm assuming it's a 2010 unibody.

    TBH, my 2010 still functions just as well as some of the newer laptops I've run across... so it may be worth your while to spend $50 to try and fix this.

    Ladies.
    Technicality
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited June 2015
    I too have a surface pro3.

    I will say that, If the surface didn't have pressure sensitive drawing abilities I would have more heavily considered a normal laptop in the price range. The surface eliminated my need to carry around a wacom if I wanted to draw, so it really added a portability element a laptop couldn't stand up to. If that wasn't a part of the equation, It was kinda pricey.

    Make sure you factor the type cover into the price, its really ludicrous that they even package a surface without one. I only disconnect the type cover when I'm using it to draw, otherwise it just generally makes sense to leave it on. If you do a lot typing when you browse the web (posting on forums, I assume) then you may find that chucking the key board to go "tablet mode" doesn't actually happen that often. Maybe that's just me, though.

    Personally, I have not really considered gaming on it. I've played a little minecraft on it, but I still think it gets a little hot about the whole ordeal.

    If I wanted to truly replace my PC with the surface, I think I would have sprung for the i7 processor. As it functions right now, its a highly adaptable portable workstation that compliments my PC, and while I don't want for more when I'm traveling for work, at home I use my main PC. I think windows 8 is a little goofy, but that will be resolved with 10, hopefully.

    Iruka on
    Enc
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    It's always easier to recommend a computer when we know what you're going to use it for. What are the programs that you typically run? When you say "work", is there anything in particular such as massive databases or Photoshop or is it the generic Microsoft Office stuff? What are the environments in which you need/want to use it? Do you always have access to a desk? Do you travel for hours on end and need good battery life?

    use cases > hardware specs

    a.k.a. Antaeus or Nubmonger

    -A digital receiver in an analog world.
  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    bowen wrote: »
    Sounds like your hard drive died in the apple.

    You could always replace the hard drive in the apple and reinstall your operating system and use what you have before going down the route of a new computer.

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2010+Hard+Drive+Replacement/3030

    If you've still got the OSX CD's or USB stick that came with your laptop, that should get you started. I'm assuming it's a 2010 unibody.

    TBH, my 2010 still functions just as well as some of the newer laptops I've run across... so it may be worth your while to spend $50 to try and fix this.

    I concur, throw an SSD and some extra RAM in it and call it a day. My 2009 13" base model got 8gb of ram and an ssd thrown in it in 2011 and still runs better than most new computers. For your 1TB, you have a few options: 1tb internal (forget SSD), 1tb (or close to) SSD internal (say goodbye to a lot of money), or small SSD internal, 1TB external (recommended option for max performance and storage)

    Wezoin on
    bowen
  • ZephonateZephonate Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    It's always easier to recommend a computer when we know what you're going to use it for. What are the programs that you typically run? When you say "work", is there anything in particular such as massive databases or Photoshop or is it the generic Microsoft Office stuff? What are the environments in which you need/want to use it? Do you always have access to a desk? Do you travel for hours on end and need good battery life?

    use cases > hardware specs

    Work-wise, I need a computer that has the suite of Microsoft Office programs, can run Photoshop decently, HDMI and/or DVI outputs for hooking it up to a projector, the capability to do some light video editing and drawing. Entertainment-wise, I need my computer to be able to download and watch videos wonderfully, download and read comics, listen to music, and be able to play games–maybe a step under what's needed for typical AAA titles. Usually have access to a desk, good battery life is always nice.

    Zephonate on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    "For a few seconds Oskar saw through Eli's eyes. And what he saw was...himself. Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself. Seen with love."
    --John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (Page 446).
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Zephonate wrote: »
    It's always easier to recommend a computer when we know what you're going to use it for. What are the programs that you typically run? When you say "work", is there anything in particular such as massive databases or Photoshop or is it the generic Microsoft Office stuff? What are the environments in which you need/want to use it? Do you always have access to a desk? Do you travel for hours on end and need good battery life?

    use cases > hardware specs

    Work-wise, I need a computer that has the suite of Microsoft Office programs, can run Photoshop decently, HDMI and/or DVI outputs for hooking it up to a projector, the capability to do some light video editing and drawing. Entertainment-wise, I need my computer to be able to download and watch videos wonderfully, download and read comics, listen to music, and be able to play games–maybe a step under what's needed for typical AAA titles. Usually have access to a desk, good battery life is always nice.

    Surface Pro 3 does not have these unless you buy the workstation dock (another 200 bucks). Sounds like you want something more like last year's gaming laptop than what the Surface will likely give you.

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.

    I make Encounter Maps for Pathfinder and D&D! Check them out here: https://falleron.com/
  • ZephonateZephonate Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Enc wrote: »
    Zephonate wrote: »
    It's always easier to recommend a computer when we know what you're going to use it for. What are the programs that you typically run? When you say "work", is there anything in particular such as massive databases or Photoshop or is it the generic Microsoft Office stuff? What are the environments in which you need/want to use it? Do you always have access to a desk? Do you travel for hours on end and need good battery life?

    use cases > hardware specs

    Work-wise, I need a computer that has the suite of Microsoft Office programs, can run Photoshop decently, HDMI and/or DVI outputs for hooking it up to a projector, the capability to do some light video editing and drawing. Entertainment-wise, I need my computer to be able to download and watch videos wonderfully, download and read comics, listen to music, and be able to play games–maybe a step under what's needed for typical AAA titles. Usually have access to a desk, good battery life is always nice.

    Surface Pro 3 does not have these unless you buy the workstation dock (another 200 bucks). Sounds like you want something more like last year's gaming laptop than what the Surface will likely give you.

    You're more than likely right. As I said, I'm pretty sure the SP3 probably isn't right for me, I just want it. Also, in addition to the aforementioned issues, the small hard drive space is something I can't really abide, even with the growing ease and portability of large externals.

    I am considering trying to replace the hard drive and RAM in my MacBook, but my only concern is if this will be putting a Band-Aid on a problem requiring stitches. If I do so, this will be the second time I've had to replace the hard drive, plus the battery is pretty much shot, there's dents in the casing, etc. Definitely showing its age.

    Zephonate on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    "For a few seconds Oskar saw through Eli's eyes. And what he saw was...himself. Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself. Seen with love."
    --John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (Page 446).
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Yeah I can agree with your reasoning. Hard drives fail about every 3-5 years (some last longer, some fail within days).

    Battery can be replaced too, but you're starting to look at a 150 repair at that point. Dents are beauty marks. ;)

    Ladies.
  • ZephonateZephonate Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    Yeah I can agree with your reasoning. Hard drives fail about every 3-5 years (some last longer, some fail within days).

    Battery can be replaced too, but you're starting to look at a 150 repair at that point. Dents are beauty marks. ;)

    While we're on the subject of hard drives, does anyone have any experiences they can relate with solid state hard drives, or the flash memory that's included in MacBook Airs? Are either of these better/worth pursuing?

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    "For a few seconds Oskar saw through Eli's eyes. And what he saw was...himself. Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself. Seen with love."
    --John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (Page 446).
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    if you buy an adaptoer you can hook up your SP3 to anything. i used mine for lectures this past semester
    a surface can totally do what you want

    camo_sig.png
    Inquisitor77
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    Yeah it sounds like you don't need much at all. Outputs don't matter as long as you have one dedicated display, as adapters will cost you like $20 each. The HDD replacement thing might be the way to go until you can save up for something, or until the prices on things like the Surface 3 Pro start dropping. The only thing I'd watch out for if you're getting a new computer is the RAM - you'll likely want at least 8 gigs, given you use Photoshop regularly. A SSD is also going to be a huge productivity boost, even if it means you have to long-term save stuff on an external (which is good practice anyway).

    a.k.a. Antaeus or Nubmonger

    -A digital receiver in an analog world.
  • Great ScottGreat Scott King of Wishful Thinking Paragon City, RIRegistered User regular
    I recently purchased a Lenovo G50-80, (15" cheap 5th-gen i5) and it's been very nice for the price. It's got a smaller battery lifetime and mushy keyboard feel but other than that I've been very happy with it.

    Intel 5500 graphics seems enough for light gaming, I can play WOW at the "high" setting (admittedly at 1366x768) at roughly 40 FPS. Most older games I've tried on it work fine.

    The major downside of any Lenovo laptop is the large amount of pre-installed programs, I ended up putting the Windows 10 Preview on it, which works fine.

    I'm unique. Just like everyone else.
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    Yeah it sounds like you don't need much at all. Outputs don't matter as long as you have one dedicated display, as adapters will cost you like $20 each. The HDD replacement thing might be the way to go until you can save up for something, or until the prices on things like the Surface 3 Pro start dropping. The only thing I'd watch out for if you're getting a new computer is the RAM - you'll likely want at least 8 gigs, given you use Photoshop regularly. A SSD is also going to be a huge productivity boost, even if it means you have to long-term save stuff on an external (which is good practice anyway).

    way cheaper for adapters. i think the amazon one i got was only like 8 bucks. but you can use the apple one if you have it

    camo_sig.png
  • ZephonateZephonate Registered User regular
    So, this is the one I have my eye on right now. Friend of mine who's good with computers said it's a great deal. Unless anyone over here has any glaring objections, I think I'm gonna order it tonight.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VFY8LY2/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    "For a few seconds Oskar saw through Eli's eyes. And what he saw was...himself. Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself. Seen with love."
    --John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (Page 446).
  • stephan5stephan5 Registered User new member
    Often overlooked feature is the size of a screen. I chose the one that is bigger than most and I for sure do not regret!

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    As a Surface Pro 3 update: runs WOW at 45 fps but Guild Wars 2 at 15 fps with similar settings.

    MYSTERY

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.

    I make Encounter Maps for Pathfinder and D&D! Check them out here: https://falleron.com/
    Geth
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