Advice on a new laptop



  • My current laptop turns four years old in just over a week (same birthday as me), and it's still functional but showing its age - it's seen pretty heavy use. So I'm looking for a new one soon and as I don't know much about hardware, I wondered if any of you knowledgeable folks could give me any recommendations or advice on what to look for.

    Use cases:

    • Fairly heavy internet. This is the main thing I'll use it for.
    • Word processing etc. Also important but that shouldn't be a problem if it can handle everything else.
    • Some development. I don't do a lot of programming outside work but I like to have my tools set up and be able to use them when I feel like it.
    • Some gaming. Nothing with fancy graphics: I actively dislike and avoid games with shiny modern realistic graphics. Currently I have Minecraft and FTL. If it can run both of those (not concurrently) I'll be happy.
    • DVDs and streaming TV.
    • I don't have space to set up a dock and I prefer to use it on my lap while sitting somewhere comfy.

    Budget: looking to spend £500-£800. I could go up to £1000 if I felt it was enough improvement to be worth it.

    Considerations:

    • Hard drive space: 500GB should be plenty. If more then fine; less might be an issue.
    • Good performance with the uses above. Doesn't need to be absolutely the best possible but a reasonable compromise of good but not too expensive.
    • Screen and keyboard need to be decent as I'll mostly be using it without peripherals or with only a mouse. Touchpad is less important but still would like a decent one.
    • Size: not less than 15" screen but the lighter the better. Doesn't need to be ultra-portable but I'm willing to pay a little more for a little less weight.
    • I need a DVD drive. (I don't care about blu-ray.)
    • I don't want to fuss about with hardware or OS, and I want an OS I'm familiar with (which means Windows. Not 8.)

    Nice to have:

    • Battery life. Obviously the higher the better, but only if it doesn't add too much weight. I'll rarely be away from a power socket.
    • When I do use a mouse with it, I'll use it left-handed. This means if it has a fan on the left like most laptops, it'll blow directly onto my hand, and that gets very uncomfortable whenever it heats up. Fan on the back or the right would be awesome. I'd pay more for that within reason, but not compromise on other requirements or it.

    Don't care about:

    • Graphics card: as I said, I don't play games with demanding graphics. Whatever is standard should be fine.
    • Touchscreen/tablet mode. In fact I'd prefer it without.
    • Colour/appearance.

    Not sure about:

    • SSD vs HDD: should I care? My only experience with an SSD has much higher specs in general than what I'm used to so I don't know how much difference it makes. I've seen some machines with both, is that best of both worlds or a false compromise?
    • Processor: what should I look for that'll be good without being excessive for my requirements and adding to the price tag?
    • RAM: not really sure how much I need. Again, good but not excessive & expensive
    • Brand. Any you recommend? Any you'd avoid? Or is it all variable and depends on the model?
    • Do my requirements and budget roughly match or should I revise my expectations?
    • Anything else you think I've overlooked?

  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    SSD vs HDD: should I care?

    Yes: you may struggle to get a laptop with an SSD large enough for your budget. HDD though, you'll get well above what you want.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Processor: what should I look for that'll be good without being excessive for my requirements and adding to the price tag?

    Others will probably chime in with better advice, but a Core i5 is a good balance between performance and price.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    RAM: not really sure how much I need.

    As much as you can afford: you can never have too much RAM.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Do my requirements and budget roughly match or should I revise my expectations?

    I think you'll find it quite easy to find a suitable laptop for your budget ;)

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I don't want to fuss about with hardware or OS, and I want an OS I'm familiar with (which means Windows. Not 8.)

    All new laptops have Windows 10 on them anyway. Except MacBooks, obviously, but you're not looking for one of them anyway.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Touchscreen/tablet mode. In fact I'd prefer it without.

    In the price range you're looking at, laptops with decent spec will typically have normal screens.



  • @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    SSD vs HDD: should I care? My only experience with an SSD has much higher specs in general than what I'm used to so I don't know how much difference it makes. I've seen some machines with both, is that best of both worlds or a false compromise?

    YES. SSD is a must.

    RAM: not really sure how much I need. Again, good but not excessive & expensive

    8GB min.

    Anything else you think I've overlooked?

    IMO laptops are kind of like cars, in that most of them lose value quite quickly after purchase. You can probably get much better bang for your buck if you buy used.



  • @raceprouk said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Yes: you may struggle to get a laptop with an SSD large enough for your budget. HDD though, you'll get well above what you want.

    Aren't single SSDs up to a terabyte by now, in 2.5" form factor? My most recent work laptop came with a 500GB SSD. Though in my experience for the consumer market they like selling big numbers, so they'd rather sell 2TB of spinning rust with a 16gb SSD cache. Something always makes me squeamish of such setups, though that may be unfounded. I have a NAS for bulk storage so I have no need for spinning rust. Then again I don't use laptops either, privately.


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @cartman82 said in Advice on a new laptop:

    YES. SSD is a must.

    I've yet to see a laptop with an SSD larger than 256GB that wasn't also a squillion dollars, and @CarrieVS's looking for at least 500GB.


  • BINNED

    @cartman82 said in Advice on a new laptop:

    You can probably get much better bang for your buck if you buy used

    Also, look at refurb. You'll get a current model laptop, with a sizeable discount, and with more QA testing than non-refurb ones.



  • @raceprouk said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I've yet to see a laptop with an SSD larger than 256GB that wasn't also a squillion dollars, and @CarrieVS's looking for at least 500GB.

    If she gives up on the stupid DVD, she can have a 256GB system HDD and put in a large secondary drive in the caddy.

    Also, maybe if she buys used, she can fit 512GB in the price range.



  • @raceprouk said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I've yet to see a laptop with an SSD larger than 256GB that wasn't also a squillion dollars, and @CarrieVS's looking for at least 500GB.

    Is this an unreasonable expectation? I said 500GB because that's enough to know I'm not going to fill it up and it seemed to be standard-to-good four years ago, from what I remember. Do you guys mostly find that 256GB is enough for all your stuff or else how do you deal with it? External drives?

    @cartman82 said in Advice on a new laptop:

    You can probably get much better bang for your buck if you buy used.

    @jaloopa said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Also, look at refurb. You'll get a current model laptop, with a sizeable discount, and with more QA testing than non-refurb ones.

    I'm pretty wary of used. I want something that's going to last (even if used worked out cheaper in £/year, I'd rather not have to get everything set up how I like it and get used to a new machine more often) and I'm not really keen on someone else having done I don't know what to it.

    Refurb might be worth considering. It makes me nervous because someone's messed with it and/or someone presumably had a problem with it and returned it. But I guess they make sure they're working right. Is this to all intents and purposes as good as new? Any downsides?


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Do you guys mostly find that 256GB is enough for all your stuff or else how do you deal with it?

    I'm a little atypical when it comes to storage requirements: I have a large games collection, a sizeable media library, and I dabble in video editing, so I need plenty of terabytes. At the moment, I'm using a mix of internal and external hard drives on my desktop, but I'm going to be replacing it soon, and will likely move what I can to internal drives.



  • @raceprouk I'm really not keen on external drives (see "mostly use it on my lap;" can't really have stuff hanging off it in normal use).


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs That's what I thought :slight_smile:

    How much storage do you have on your current laptop, and is it enough?


  • BINNED

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Is this to all intents and purposes as good as new? Any downsides?

    Here's a good article I found

    They disassemble each one, checking for damaged components, battery function, screen quality, power supply, loose connections, hard drive and optical drive. If a seller does not follow a process like this, the product isn't really refurbished; it's used.

    As long as you get it with a decent warranty you probably won't notice much difference, and it's arguable that the failure rate is less because any issues have been diagnosed and fixed



  • @raceprouk 500GB and it's ample. I think I've got it around half full last time I checked - but my storage requirements are more likely to go up than down in the next four years, so "just about what I'm currently using" would have me struggling. If there's an increment around halfway between 256 and 500 I'd happily take that.

    @Jaloopa thanks, I'll have a read.


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    @pleegwat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Aren't single SSDs up to a terabyte by now, in 2.5" form factor?

    My laptop has a 2TB NVMe SSD, but that was pretty expensive.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Graphics card: as I said, I don't play games with demanding graphics. Whatever is standard should be fine.

    If it's a recent-ish Intel processor, the built-in graphics is likely to be more than sufficient, so avoiding discrete graphics will probably keep weight and cost down while boosting battery life, without hindering you at all.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    SSD vs HDD: should I care? My only experience with an SSD has much higher specs in general than what I'm used to so I don't know how much difference it makes. I've seen some machines with both, is that best of both worlds or a false compromise?

    Enough SSD for programs at least, with data on either. I think all-SSD should keep weight and power usage down, too, but I'm not certain.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Processor: what should I look for that'll be good without being excessive for my requirements and adding to the price tag?

    Something with built-in graphics from the last two years, for the reasons I mentioned re:graphics card.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    RAM: not really sure how much I need. Again, good but not excessive & expensive

    My preference is always for max, but I'm weird. Maybe use task manager to see what you usually use, and then just add a small bit for future bloat?

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Brand. Any you recommend? Any you'd avoid? Or is it all variable and depends on the model?

    My recent Lenovo has been pretty good, nothing to complain about so far*. My grandparents and mom have Dells and seem content with them, mostly.


    • Except that the "Wacom penabled" thing has a systematic error in tracking, but that's not relevant to you, and I haven't contacted them yet to see whether it's a particular defect of my machine or more general.

  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    If there's an increment around halfway between 256 and 500 I'd happily take that.

    I think there used to be a 320GB option, but looking now, the smallest spinning rust drives you can get in new laptops today is 500GB, and 1TB is pretty common, even in cheap-ass POS laptops.



  • @raceprouk But do they make 320GB SSDs?

    I've also seen laptops that seem to come with both an SSD and some spinning rust. Anyone know anything about that and what the downsides are (other than "a single SSD with the same total space would be better if you could afford it")?


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    But do they make 320GB SSDs?

    Not that I've seen: they always seem to be a power of 2.



  • @raceprouk said in Advice on a new laptop:

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    But do they make 320GB SSDs?

    Not that I've seen: they always seem to be a power of 2.

    Not really. They advertise themselves as 512*109, not 512*230


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Use cases:

    Fairly heavy internet. This is the main thing I'll use it for.
    Word processing etc. Also important but that shouldn't be a problem if it can handle everything else.
    Some development. I don't do a lot of programming outside work but I like to have my tools set up and be able to use them when I feel like it.
    Some gaming. Nothing with fancy graphics: I actively dislike and avoid games with shiny modern realistic graphics. Currently I have Minecraft and FTL. If it can run both of those (not concurrently) I'll be happy.
    DVDs and streaming TV.
    I don't have space to set up a dock and I prefer to use it on my lap while sitting somewhere comfy.

    Budget: looking to spend £500-£800. I could go up to £1000 if I felt it was enough improvement to be worth it.

    my recommendation:

    then if your budget will stretch grab one of these:
    and swap HDDs. it's lenovo, all you'll need for that is a #0 phillips.

    then either reinstall Windows from scratch on the new disk (my recommendation) or use a disk cloning software to move the preinstalled.

    Lenovo's good kit. i recommend it.

    in fact i'd recommend the X1 Carbon more, but that's over 1000$, misses out on the internal DVD reader and doesn't allow for dedicated graphics card. Though USB3 dvd readers are like 40$ or 20$ if you wait for a sale these days, and if minecraft and FTL are the caliber of games you'll be playing the intel integrated graphics will probably keep up with that decently.



  • @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    if your budget will stretch grab [SSD]
    and swap HDDs. it's lenovo, all you'll need for that is a #0 phillips.
    then either reinstall Windows from scratch on the new disk (my recommendation) or use a disk cloning software to move the preinstalled.

    I'm really not keen at all on meddling with either the hardware or the OS. I wouldn't know what I was doing, and that's stressful.

    @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    i'd recommend the X1 Carbon more, but that's over 1000$, misses out on the internal DVD reader and doesn't allow for dedicated graphics card. Though USB3 dvd readers are like 40$ or 20$ if you wait for a sale these days, and if minecraft and FTL are the caliber of games you'll be playing the intel integrated graphics will probably keep up with that decently.

    If it's a significant improvement over the best $1000 offering, then my budget would stretch, and I did say dedicated graphics wasn't a concern. DVD reader is the biggest issue; I could look into external but that's probably going to be annoying due to the "use it on my lap" thing (yes, that applies to watching films too, pour scorn if you wish).


  • BINNED

    One alternative to the large storage issue would be to have a small SSD and get some sort of NAS or other networked external storage (simplest solution would be to keep your old laptop, attach a big external drive to it and share it on your network). Obviously, that only works if you don't tend to need access to the files when away from home


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I wouldn't know what I was doing, and that's stressful.

    i understand that, but for serious the process for swapping harddrives is like lego, unscrew the standard philips screws, pop open the back, swap the drives and close the back back up.

    you could also find a geek and bribe them with a bag of M&Ms and an ear to listen to them talk while they do the swap if that makes you more comfortable.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    If it's a significant improvement over the best $1000 offering, then my budget would stretch

    i'd say it's a hell of a big improvement, but at 1500+ configured what i'd consider decent that's a hell of a jump, so it might not be the best bang for your buck.

    Laptops are..... well they're not quite as cookie cutter as desktops so i can't give as firm a recommendation as i could for a desktop. I think the X1 Carbon is the better choice but that's becaiuse i'm using my usage patterns to make the determination. :-)

    @jaloopa said in Advice on a new laptop:

    simplest solution would be to keep your old laptop, attach a big external drive to it and share it on your network

    oooh! that would allow you to throw https://www.plex.tv/ on the laptop and then you just have to use https://handbrake.fr/ to rip the DVDs onto the external drive and then you can watch the movies on the laptop without the external drive! :-)



  • And reinstalling an OS? I haven't the faintest idea of what even could go wrong, let alone how to handle it if it does. Part of my requirements was no messing with the hardware or OS. I know most of you guys are a lot more savvy than I am about those kind of things but for me, with my skills and my anxiety, if it doesn't work out of the box it's not worth the stress to me.

    @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    i'd say it's a hell of a big improvement, but at 1500+ configured what i'd consider decent that's a hell of a jump, so it might not be the best bang for your buck.

    I followed the link briefly and saw $1150, which is well within my absolute maximum of £1000. $1500 is a bit much.

    Not interested in having to set up a network (I do not know the first thing...), deal with networking issues whenever they crop up (enough trouble in my current situation trying to keep internet connection), or keep another machine around (I store my laptop on my bedroom floor because there's nowhere else to put it) and presumably leave it always on, to say nothing of not being able to use it properly whenever I travel. Thanks for the suggestion but it won't suit me.

    Is a HDD really not a feasible option? I mean, does it become an insurmountable bottleneck once you get the rest of the specs over a certain point? Alternatively, can anyone answer my question about laptops that come with both? I've definitely seen that when I was browsing options the other day, or did I imagine it?


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    And reinstalling an OS?

    The Windows installer is pretty good, and guides you through the process quite nicely. The only difficult question is when it asks about hardware partitions, at which point you just click the option that says "Use ALL the drive!" ;)


  • BINNED

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Is a HDD really not a feasible option?

    It's one of those things that if you've used the faster option a lot it feels like a real step back to go back to, but if you don't know what you're missing it's not really a problem. The main thing I've noticed since changing to SSD is boot times.

    In your case, as you want a decent amount of storage and aren't going all money no object uber performance, I'd say you'd be fine with a HDD.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    can anyone answer my question about laptops that come with both?

    Are you talking about hybrid drives? Sometimes called SSHDs. As in one drive that's partly HDD and partly SSD

    I've never used one but AIUI, the performance is somewhere between HDD and SSD (as you'd expect) and whatever magic goes on under the scenes is transparent so it just appears as one drive in Windows. I'd imagine the extra complexity might mean a higher failure rate, but I could also be completely wrong on that



  • @jaloopa said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Are you talking about hybrid drives? Sometimes called SSHDs. As in one drive that's partly HDD and partly SSD

    Probably. It just said something like "Hard drive: xxx SSD and yyy HDD". I'll do some research but otherwise it sounds like HDD is probably what I want. I don't mind waiting a couple of minutes for boot as long as performance is good enough once it's on.


  • BINNED

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    reinstalling an OS? I haven't the faintest idea of what even could go wrong, let alone how to handle it if it does

    As @RaceProUK said, the process isn't too different to any other installer. Pick some options, click next a few times, wait and you're done. I understand the aversion to it if it's your first time and you're doing it on your main PC though.

    If you want to see for yourself, I'd say reinstall on your old laptop once you've got all your data backed up off it


  • BINNED

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Hard drive: xxx SSD and yyy HDD

    That sounds more like the computer has a C and D drive, which is not overly common in laptops due to the space constraints. If it is that, then you can have Windows and anything you need to load fast on the SSD (a lot of people tend to put their most demanding or most played games on SSD), and the hard drive for things that aren't affected as much by the speed, like videos, pictures, documents etc. The worst part is finding all the settings to make things like your user directory live on the HDD, plus the various tools that will insist on cluttering up C anyway



  • @jaloopa It's not just the actual process, which would be stressful but then over and done with, it's the fact that if anything goes wrong with the computer (at any point in the next four years or however long it lasts) after I've done things to it that I don't understand (this applies to OS or hardware), I will have to worry that I f*cked it up, and not know how to fix it.

    I know this is irrational, but that's anxiety for you. My computer is hugely important to me and I really could do with it not being a source of anxiety.


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    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    DVD reader is the biggest issue; I could look into external but that's probably going to be annoying due to the "use it on my lap" thing (yes, that applies to watching films too, pour scorn if you wish).

    These days my preference is to rip it to the drive and then watch it later. DVDs can just be straight copied, but Blu-Rays seem to require special software (MakeMKV is what I use).


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    @jaloopa said in Advice on a new laptop:

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Hard drive: xxx SSD and yyy HDD

    That sounds more like the computer has a C and D drive, which is not overly common in laptops due to the space constraints. If it is that, then you can have Windows and anything you need to load fast on the SSD (a lot of people tend to put their most demanding or most played games on SSD), and the hard drive for things that aren't affected as much by the speed, like videos, pictures, documents etc. The worst part is finding all the settings to make things like your user directory live on the HDD, plus the various tools that will insist on cluttering up C anyway

    It's something to be careful about, though: 64 GB is not necessarily enough for C. I'd say 128 GB minimum these days. It'll be fine for a while, but past experience says that even keeping it to the OS and programs, stuff - Windows in particular - eventually starts becomes too big for it.


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    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Is a HDD really not a feasible option? I mean, does it become an insurmountable bottleneck once you get the rest of the specs over a certain point?

    SSDs can be a massive speed boost over HDDs, but HDDs will still perform as well as ever. SSDs also have the advantage of not relying as much on physical stability to avoid problems (i.e., you can knock it around a bit more without worrying about damaging the disk). I think, but am not sure, that because the SSD doesn't relying on moving parts it can also be more energy efficient, and they should also be lighter in weight. Of course, the downside is they still cost a lot more per byte.

    But like I said, HDDs will still perform as you expect.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Alternatively, can anyone answer my question about laptops that come with both? I've definitely seen that when I was browsing options the other day, or did I imagine it?

    They should still be around, but they're probably more common in larger laptops which have the extra space for them (esp. if you want to combine them with an internal optical drive). Like others have mentioned, put programs on the SSD, non-speed-critical data on the HDD, and you should be good to go. Just be sure the SSD is big enough (see my previous post) - the installation may grow more than you expect over time.

    However it may cost more to do it that way, and you'll probably lose battery life too.


    Your questions brought to mind another point: from purchasing some laptops for myself and family over the past few years, there seems to be a trend toward doing away with optical drives, at least on the non-performance-oriented models, so you may have a tough time finding one with it.


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    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Anyone know anything about that and what the downsides are (other than "a single SSD with the same total space would be better if you could afford it")?

    Downsides are you're gonna run out of space on the system drive super easily... Especially since it's usually something like a 128gb SSD and 1tb HDD. I would definitely recommend an SSD, at least 500GB based on your usage. It might up the price to the top of your range, but it's well worth it for the hassle.


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    @dreikin said in Advice on a new laptop:

    SSDs can be a massive speed boost over HDDs, but HDDs will still perform as well as ever. SSDs also have the advantage of not relying as much on physical stability to avoid problems (i.e., you can knock it around a bit more without worrying about damaging the disk). I think, but am not sure, that because the SSD doesn't relying on moving parts it can also be more energy efficient, and they should also be lighter in weight.

    Correct on all counts - it's nice having an SSD cause I don't have to worry about physically breaking the disk by being stupid with my computer. It even took a tumble down the stairs (I tripped while carrying it!) and it's working fine. They're also much lighter and a fair bit more energy-efficient.

    @dreikin said in Advice on a new laptop:

    They should still be around, but they're probably more common in larger laptops which have the extra space for them

    Yea, they're only viable on larger laptops that have 2 spots (although a lot of laptops nowadays come with both SATA and an M.2 spot, but M.2 is still super expensive.)

    @dreikin said in Advice on a new laptop:

    there seems to be a trend toward doing away with optical drives, at least on the non-performance-oriented models, so you may have a tough time finding one with it.

    Also correct - most new laptops that aren't gaming oriented come without optical drives.


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    @jaloopa said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I've never used one but AIUI, the performance is somewhere between HDD and SSD

    IME, the performance of "hybrid" drives is much closer to "HDD" than "SSD". I barely even noticed a difference between a hybrid and a regular spinning rust drive...



  • @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I need a DVD drive. (I don't care about blu-ray.)

    Really? That''s REALLY gonna limit your selection. Would a $25 USB-connected DVD drive work?

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Touchscreen/tablet mode. In fact I'd prefer it without.

    Most decent laptops have touchscreens now simply because they're cheap to install and it's another bulletpoint on the feature list. If you don't like it, just don't touch it.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    SSD vs HDD: should I care? My only experience with an SSD has much higher specs in general than what I'm used to so I don't know how much difference it makes. I've seen some machines with both, is that best of both worlds or a false compromise?

    You should care. SSD makes ALL the performance difference.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Processor: what should I look for that'll be good without being excessive for my requirements and adding to the price tag?

    Based on your requirements (and having no clue what Minecraft requires), I'd say: pretty much anything.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    RAM: not really sure how much I need. Again, good but not excessive & expensive

    Unless you're going to run VMs, anything over 8 GB will be wasted. At least as long as Windows 10 is current.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Brand. Any you recommend? Any you'd avoid? Or is it all variable and depends on the model?

    I like Acer.



  • @cartman82 said in Advice on a new laptop:

    If she gives up on the stupid DVD, she can have a 256GB system HDD and put in a large secondary drive in the caddy.
    Also, maybe if she buys used, she can fit 512GB in the price range.

    Another factor: SSDs are WAY more reliable than spinning HDs. If you want the laptop to last 4 years, guaranteed, an SSD will give you that while a spinning HD will crap-out 18 months in.



  • @dreikin said in Advice on a new laptop:

    My preference is always for max, but I'm weird.

    People are giving bad RAM advice.

    You do not need more than 8 GB unless you know you're going to be doing something memory-wasteful, like running virtual machines.

    Go find an 8 GB machine. Start up 15 applications, then start up a big AAA game. You still won't have come close to filling up active memory. Try it.


  • BINNED

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    People are giving bad RAM advice.

    Geeks always love to advise getting as much RAM as possible. Even in the days of 32 bit Windows you could find any number of people recommending over 4GB if your motherboard supported it



  • @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Lenovo's good kit. i recommend it.

    Lenovo has keyboard nipples, a demented way of arranging backspace/delete keys, and a caps lock that can't be disabled. (They somehow broke the built-in Windows 10 feature to disable "double-click shift does backspace".) They also shipped security-hole-ridden shit only a couple years ago.

    Lenovo has a good reputation (somehow?), but every one I've touched has been kind of crap. I will say this: they're pretty durable.

    @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    in fact i'd recommend the X1 Carbon more,

    That's the exact model all my bitches are about. Recommending the X1 Carbon's demented keyboard to a person who's explicitly said they aren't going to be using an external keyboard is criminal.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    DVD reader is the biggest issue; I could look into external but that's probably going to be annoying due to the "use it on my lap" thing (yes, that applies to watching films too, pour scorn if you wish).

    I said this before but you'd have SO many options if you got rid of the DVD drive. SO many. (For example, BTW, that X1 Carbon Accalia just recommended because she's terrible at recommending laptops, is an ultrabook with no DVD drive.)


  • BINNED

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    I said this before but you'd have SO many options if you got rid of the DVD drive. SO many.

    If it's about watching DVDs, an external drive to rip them to a big hard drive might be a much better option



  • @sloosecannon said in Advice on a new laptop:

    IME, the performance of "hybrid" drives is much closer to "HDD" than "SSD". I barely even noticed a difference between a hybrid and a regular spinning rust drive...

    Yeah. Seriously, they are not good products.


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @jaloopa said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Even in the days of 32 bit Windows you could find any number of people recommending over 4GB if your motherboard supported it

    Were those people by any chance sellers of RAM modules?


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    And reinstalling an OS?

    for lenovo products it's pretty painless, and since you're keeping the spinning rust if it fails horribly you just swap them back and nothing happened. then we can help you figure out what went wrong and you can try again (or finding the aforementioned local geek is still an option)

    But of course it's all about comfort level. if you aren't comfortable with that step then you're not comfortable iwth it and we'll try a different approach.

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    $1500 is a bit much.

    A bit, yeah. I personally think it's worth it though. but obviously i'm not you so..... :-)

    @carrievs said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Is a HDD really not a feasible option?

    there are performance implciations, but in day to day you'll mostly notice it on application startup, once things are loaded there won't be too much to it. and if you treat the laptop carefully while using it longevity won't be too much of an issue.

    SSDs are awesomer than HDDs but HDDs get the jorb done, just as they always have.

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Recommending the X1 Carbon's demented keyboard to a person who's explicitly said they aren't going to be using an external keyboard is criminal.

    as usual. You and I disagree on that score, the keyboard is absolutely fine. But you're welcome to continue being wrong about it if you want, it's your choice. :-)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    @dreikin said in Advice on a new laptop:

    My preference is always for max, but I'm weird.

    People are giving bad RAM advice.

    You do not need more than 8 GB unless you know you're going to be doing something memory-wasteful, like running virtual machines.

    Go find an 8 GB machine. Start up 15 applications, then start up a big AAA game. You still won't have come close to filling up active memory. Try it.

    Which is why I added the "but I'm weird" part. I thought I also said something about 8gb, but I guess I forgot so I'll say it now: you probably don't want less than 8, but 8-16 should be fine if you're not doing anything particularly RAM intensive.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Go find an 8 GB machine. Start up 15 applications, then start up a big AAA game. You still won't have come close to filling up active memory. Try it.

    I did. Started swapping immediately...

    For reference:

    0_1500561321771_3b5a1734-f391-42d8-9160-b3df5e1fcf50-image.png

    That's without a game running.


  • The Cold Doesn't Bother Us Anyway

    @sloosecannon said in Advice on a new laptop:

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Go find an 8 GB machine. Start up 15 applications, then start up a big AAA game. You still won't have come close to filling up active memory. Try it.

    I did. Started swapping immediately...

    what AAA game did you choose? i've got 64GB (because i had more money than sense, comes in handy for VMs though) in my gaming rig and some AAA games will cheerfully fill that whole memory up and still want more (i'm looking at you Ashes ofthe Singurlarity.... or are you an indie game that's fooling me into thinking it's tripple A? with the fall of quality of AAA games and the rise of the indie market it's sometimes hard to tell these days)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    They somehow broke the built-in Windows 10 feature to disable "double-click shift does backspace"

    That's the first I've ever heard of that. It's sounds like the kind of thing that could leave even power users in utter confusion as to what just happened.



  • @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    as usual. You and I disagree on that score, the keyboard is absolutely fine.

    Even if you're ok with the terrible placement of backspace and delete, the lack of physical function keys (and the virtual ones not working a third of the time), you can't recommend a laptop where the option to turn off caps lock does not work. The X1 Carbon's keyboard is literally, objectively, broken. You're recommending a product that does not work.

    Anyway I don't want to get off topic, but Lenovo sucks. It's cheap Chinese shit, and the only reason anybody recommends it is:

    • They're crazy people who actually LIKE keyboard nipples, or
    • They remember Lenovo of 10 years back when IBM was in charge of production.

  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @accalia said in Advice on a new laptop:

    @sloosecannon said in Advice on a new laptop:

    @blakeyrat said in Advice on a new laptop:

    Go find an 8 GB machine. Start up 15 applications, then start up a big AAA game. You still won't have come close to filling up active memory. Try it.

    I did. Started swapping immediately...

    what AAA game did you choose? i've got 64GB (because i had more money than sense, comes in handy for VMs though) in my gaming rig and some AAA games will cheerfully fill that whole memory up and still want more (i'm looking at you Ashes ofthe Singurlarity.... or are you an indie game that's fooling me into thinking it's tripple A? with the fall of quality of AAA games and the rise of the indie market it's sometimes hard to tell these days)

    GTAV (It's the only one installed on my laptop right now).

    I mean, my memory usage might be a little high (although right now, all I have open is Chrome, Discord, and Twitch). But I'm already at 50% usage without a game running.

    Minecraft uses a ton of RAM, but that's because I play modded. I can barely run it on this machine after closing everything. No idea how much vanilla eats up.


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