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Thread: Getting a notebook

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    Getting a notebook

    Hiya,

    I'm going to uni in spetember and would like to take a laptop, rather than lugging a full desktop setup a few hundred miles there and back every semester. It also means that I can take it to lectures and get better notes etc.

    Basicaly I am trying to figure out what laptop to get, I did originaly want an Asus one with a 17" screen, but realisticly thats too big and too costly. I'm into gaming and so would like a machine that is capable of playing Battlefield 2 decently (currently my pc runs it ok, but not very well so most laptops will probably be an improvment ). I'm not after something that will be far more powerful than my pc, but something that will be able to run games well and also be able to run demanding computer programs. I'm going to be doing a course in computing covering all aspects of it and so will most likely be running lots of different prgrams all of which would be fairly demanding. I will also be using it for videos/films/dvds, music.

    I'm looking at spending ideally upto £1000 on one, but if it has to go slightly over then I'll have to go over, like £1200 max price, ideally staying as low as possible.

    Ideally a 15" screen, wifi, bluetooth (not hugely important), ATi/Nvida graphics, 1GB ram (although if only 512mb I don't mind personally upgrading to 1GB/2GB). something like 1.5-2.0ghz cpu, dual core or single I don't know, not something I know much about. Ideally with a DVD±RW DL (so a dual layer writer).

    Hoefully you guys here could be of some help, as there are loads of them out there, but it's hard to know what is good, especially when you've only really used PCs for many years.

    The HDD size doesn't matter too much as I plan on getting an external 300GB SATA to USB2/Firewire HDD and can easily organise that. The speaker's sound quality also does't matter hugley as I will most likely be getting a speaker system and also some headphones.

    I have been looking at Asus laptops and they seem really good, but don't know, I've also been pointed in the direction of Dell laptops, but am unsure as dell are a company I don't particuly like, but if it turns out they are going to be the best then fine, the problem I have with them is they make you 'build' the laptops and choose what you have in them, I just want a set spesification ideally....over to you guys.

    Cheers,
    FInalD
    Last edited by FInalD; 16-06-2006 at 08:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    Dell are OK, and actually having a choice of components isn't that bad a thing. However, your budget kind of has you falling between two stools. It's not really enough for a decent specc-ed XPS series, and the standard Inspirons aren't really all that brilliant in terms of graphics horsepower. Their 15" screen jobs are the 6400 series and the best you get with that is a Radeon X1400. Not a good start. The 9400s give you much better options on that front, but are 17" and would probably end up over budget. If you could live with a 17" screen, £1,174 inc VAT ex delivery on the Dell Outlet right now would get you:

    XPS M1710 Duo Processor T2300 (1.66 GHz, 2 MB L2 cache, 667 MHz FSB)
    Genuine Windows® XP Professional SP2
    System Price £938.88

    Dell recommends Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
    Operating System: Genuine Windows® XP Professional SP2
    Genuine Windows® XP Professional SP2
    Memory: 2048MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (2x1024)
    Hard Disk Drive: 120GB (5, 400 rpm) SATA Hard Drive
    Video: XPS 256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS
    NoteBook Screen: 17.0
    Modem: Internal 56K Modem
    DVD Drive: 24xCDRW/8xDVDComboDrive
    Software: Microsoft® Works® 7.0
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    The processor is the slowest core duo, BUT it's got that 7900 series graphics and 2GB RAM. That'd help.

  3. #3
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    Have you got a link for that nichomach the cheapest I could see for the M1710 was £1299, and that was with significatly lower specs.

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    It's from the outlet and not the main Dell dealership (as it were). Link here.


    As for the screen size, I'd prefer a 17" as I run on a 19" at the moment with my pc, but it's the extra weight and size that makes me a bit iffy about wanting to lug a larger laptop around a uni campus all of the time.

    I was originaly looking at this laptop but the cheapest is like £1200 and that's like right at the top of my price range. My main problem is the fact that the only laptop I have used for any decent amount of time (more than 30secs) is an HP Omnibook with like 1GB cpu 512mb ram onboard video etc.

    I don't mind if I have a laptop that is the same sort of specs as my pc (see link thing on the left) as this runs BF2 well enough, but ideally I would like to use the laptop as an upgrade (due to the fact if I bought a new PC i'd build it all myself and it'd work out at about £1k and be very, very good...especialy compared to this one ).

    Looking at the specs you have posted above (which I can't find on the webby) that does look like a very decent machine, I'd probably want to change the optical drive to a dual layer writer.

    I would do one of the 'DIY' laptops, but the base unit price is really rather high and there would be no tecnical help if something went wrong, but on the plus side it'd be exactly what I want from a laptop (someone please correct me ).
    Last edited by FInalD; 17-06-2006 at 10:45 PM.

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    Sorry about that, I am blind sometimes,

    regards exactly what you want the options for graphics for build your own are still limited, even nVidia's mxm format has lots of different versions and valiable cards are very expensive. The supply of kits in the uk is quite limited, down to a few Aopen and MSI parts, I don't think either support the newest intel pentium M architecture, apologies I have forgotten its codename thing, possibly Yonah.
    Last edited by fredered; 17-06-2006 at 11:01 PM.

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    That's cool, basicaly avoid building a laptop for a few years

    Just wanted to make sure that wasn't a sensible option, upgrading the RAM is simple (relativly) but the other components could be very hard, so it really is best if I leave that for a while.

    The main problem I have with things like computers is you can't just go into a store and try them out. Most stores have the computers (laptops/pcs) on display but off so you can't see if they would suit you, only if you like the overall look. I'd really like to test out laptops but I know it's going to pose a bit of a problem.

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    get talking to one of the sales people in PC world and if the sense some commision I am sure they would let you try some out, although their range is not that good and mainly fairly unknown manufaturers. Staples have a few as well I think, anywhere like that I am sure will let you try hem out if you chat up the salesman, but I doubt you will find asus anywhere apart from on the web.

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    I tend to find PC world a little on the lacking of knowledge side of things, I knoew more than them...I think that's why I did't get a jog there

    That is a good idea, actualy finding someone...for it to work properly ideally I would need to speak to a female member of staff

    One of the problems is that I'd want to run intensive programs that'd test the system, but obviously wouldn't be allowed to install any. Still when I get a day off work during the week I may take a trip to PCWorld/Staples and also look around for shops where I may be able to blagg a play. I know I can blag a play from Sony...but I think they are very much over priced due to being the Sony brand.

    Cheers for the advice fredered, I'll have to make my hunt more intensive.

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    What do you recon on this laptop?

    It has everything I will want, but I don't know anything about notebook graphics cards. Is the x1600 any good? I'd have thought that overall it is more powerful then my current PC and it comes in underbudget.

  10. #10
    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    The X1600's a reasonable option, especially for a display that's only 1280x768. Asus machines have a good rep for build quality, and that's a very good spec all round. Good find!

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    Having used a notebook for a few weeks now (my PC is in storage over Summer ), I wouldn't bother with a large 17" display myself. With a notebook, you find yourself sitting closer to the screen purely because you need to be able to reach the keyboard, so a smaller display doesn't feel so small. My Dell 630m that I'm using has a 14" widescreen display, but that makes it far more portable and compact. Would definitely rather have that advantage than a large display.

    Another option you have is to take your PC with you to Uni (as I did), and then buy a notebook later if you still feel you need one - possibly a cheaper, smaller non-gaming one. At least then you've got your PC for games, and your notebook if you ever what it offers. I went that route and bought this thing a week or so before I finished for Summer. Means I have a machine to use over the next 3 months, seeing as I couldn't get my PC home.

    Maybe you've already considered that one. Just thought I'd throw it out there though, could work out cheaper/more effective for you.

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    The thing is I'm lazy and also can't write brilliantly (so notes are appauling ) and taking a laptop to lectures would be a sensible thing to do, also it means I can use the WiFi anywhere around campus easily so can do work anyplace.

    If I took my PC I'd ideally want to get a new one as this one is a bit decreped, and the laptop costs around the same as a new decent pc (full system, screen etc.) It also means for moving up there and around etc. I have less to take with me, as I found with my mate that's at uni in York (I'm in Cornwall) picking him and his stuff up really fills the car up if you have a pc as it's a fairly large lump and the laptop is relativly small.

    I may end up doing the oposite of what you've done (which actually seems more sensible as you can save upthe money once you've sorted out bills etc.) once I find a place for my second year, so have the PC in the house and the laptop whever I need it.

    I do however plan on getting an external 600GB HDD aswell as a G15 keyboard and a G5 mouse effectivly 'desktopping' the laptop when I take it back to halls (mostly as I want to take the 200GB of data on my data drive with me).

    I still have till the end of September to sort out money and get a laptop, over that time I maywell realise for my first year it could be easier to do what you've done.

    I think that a 15" screen is really big enough, as you say you end up sitting closer (great for your eyes ) and also a 17" would be very heavy (over 2.5kg) and humping that round all day would not be a pleasent experience. I partially need it powerful due to wanting to cary on my game playing but also I think I'd probably be using fairly demanding programs. I also plan on keeping it for the length of my uni course (or 3 years as mostly warranties etc. only last a max of 3) so will be needing it to be at the higher spec range at the moment so that then it is the lower spec range .

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    Quote Originally Posted by FInalD
    What do you recon on this laptop?

    It has everything I will want, but I don't know anything about notebook graphics cards. Is the x1600 any good? I'd have thought that overall it is more powerful then my current PC and it comes in underbudget.
    I nearly brought it, and then I realised that portability and battery life where more important than gaming so I brought a 12" evesham instead.

    Scan have it for £999 btw.

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    I can't find anywhere on the web that says the life, all I've found is that it has an 8-cell battery and it is 71Whr, and Power4 Gear+ which means it doesn't use as much power as conventional notebooks, but nothing to say what the actual time is, 1hr/2h/3hr etc. darn the t'interweb's lack of knowledge

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    The thing is I'm lazy and also can't write brilliantly (so notes are appauling ) and taking a laptop to lectures would be a sensible thing to do, also it means I can use the WiFi anywhere around campus easily so can do work anyplace.
    To be honest, I'd be surprised if you actually make use of that ability. Perhaps your course will be different, but I can honestly say that in my first year, I never found myself really needing a notebook.

    I'm the same as you - my writing is terrible, but even if I'd had my notebook from the start of the year, I probably wouldn't have used it. Would feel slightly silly opening up a notebook in a lecture theatre while everyone is is lying back writing notes occasionally (plus we're given lecture notes so there's not much for us to do anyway!). Not trying to put you off at all, just telling you what it's like.

    As for doing work anywhere, your Uni will no doubt have computers available for students to use, probably in the library. Once you get to know people, you'll end up going there with friends, or going there because that's where all the books are. It's easier to have your work on a USB flash drive and just carry that where you need it. Although you did say you're doing a Computing degree, so perhaps you'll find your requirements are different.

    I have less to take with me, as I found with my mate that's at uni in York (I'm in Cornwall) picking him and his stuff up really fills the car up if you have a pc as it's a fairly large lump and the laptop is relativly small.
    True, but if you take your PC with you to Uni and leave it there, and then only take your notebook back home with you during holidays, it's less to carry about. Just an idea.

    I may end up doing the oposite of what you've done (which actually seems more sensible as you can save upthe money once you've sorted out bills etc.) once I find a place for my second year, so have the PC in the house and the laptop whever I need it.
    Well that's pretty much exactly what I've done anyway. My Uni is down in Bucks whereas home is in Scotland (where I am now). My PC is in storage down there with the rest of my stuff, and once we move into the house in September, that's where it'll live. If I ever come home for holidays, I can just take the notebook with me.

    Hopefully now that I'll be in a house and not quite so close to Uni in Halls, it'll start having a bit more use for Uni work, but . I really only got it as something to play with though, but it technically didn't cost me anything anyway.

    Your plan does sound like a good one - when I started Uni I considered selling my PC to get a gaming-capable notebook, but it just wasn't worth it for me at the time.

    Whatever happens, hope you find what you're looking for.

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    Thing about uni PCs is I can't stand using a computer that isn't setup how I want/like, the ones I used to use at college were all decent PCs, but I just couldn't stand working on them, I did most of my work at home throughout my college years, had no notebook, and no USB flashdrive (which the college frownd upon anyways - viruses etc.) and so I would turn up to lessons play on the net for the length of the lesson then go home and do my work.
    One of my mates had a laptop and he did the same as me, but had his work on his laptop, so could bring it in to college and work.

    I know Uni is completely different in the way you learn (ie lectures not lessons). Doing computers means I'll have access to computer labs (which should be better than library ones) but you don't get 24/7 access.

    Admitidly one major flaw in my thinking is that I'm assuming the uni will allow me to install copies of the programs I'll be needing for uni, which if they don't I'm fairly screwed This being a big part of getting a laptop as it would mean ability to work anywhere on my work not just write-ups. I suppose the other option is to contact the uni prior to going there...**looks for an email address*..

    I want to get a laptop at some point as I prefer the mobility element of them over PCs even if they aren't as powerful. I may just go up there computerless for the first couple of weeks to see about the program installability side of things as it isn't too far to go home and get my pc/send someone up with it.

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