I Need A Laptop Recommendation

I am in the market for a new laptop and I have been getting frustrated trying to find the things I want/need. I thought why not turn to the wonderful people at the SD for some guidance. Any help would be awesome -

Here is what I am after -

**A solid processor **- I tend to be the type of person that runs a lot of programs at the same time and run some pretty heavy programs as well (Bryce 3D, Pro Tools, etc). I need something that can keep up with that.

RAM - I am thinking maybe 4gig minimum

Hard Drive - I store most everything I use on an external, so I am not real picky on the hard drive size

Dedicated video card

HDMI Out - I know this is pretty much standard now, but I just thought I would add it

Blu-Ray - I don’t need a writer, just a Blu-Ray player

Integrated Webcam - Again, pretty standard, but I have seen plenty without

Numerical Keypad - Not a deal breaker, but would be wonderful to have

I think that is about it. I prefer to buy it on Amazon (mainly because I have a gift card there), but I am open to other stores as well.

Now for the real kicker - my budget - I am trying to stay under $800 but I could go a little more. Of course I am trying to get something as inexpensive as I can that still meet my needs.

So, am I am totally off base on what I want vs. what I can afford?

$800 can buy a lot these days. I’m positive you can find something in your budget.

What size are you looking for? There are a few standard size categories. 17" laptops are “desktop replacement”: big, heavy, but usually with a lot of performance for a good price. If you almost always keep your laptop at the same desk 17" might be the way to go. 14" and 15" are the standard medium-sized laptops; you can still get a lot of performance in a more portable package but it’ll cost a bit more.

I am looking for something in the medium range. I don’t spend a great deal of time with it out and about, most of the time I am using it on a desk or on my lap parked in my recliner. I do, however, transport it back and forth to work everyday, so I would rather it not weigh a hundred pounds or so.

I can’t believe I forgot to add the size to my list. Thanks :slight_smile:

I would think that having the 10 key is going to increase the size (and therefore weight) of the laptop. Personally, I’ve been really happy with my Sony Vaio VGN-NW280F

Here’s a newer version with the 10 key though.

You didn’t mention the operating system, I assume you want Windows?

I do want windows. I have a brand new version of Windows 7 waiting on my new laptop, so the OS is not important (as far as what version of Windows).

On that note, I would love to have a mac, but my budget just doesn’t warrant it, and a Ipad doesn’t have what I want.

I hope it’s okay if I ask about my dream machine too. If any mods are out there, I hope this can stay in GQ, because I’m not asking for recommendations based on subjective quality opinions; I’m asking for factual info, if there exists any machine meeting these specs.

The great majority of what I need “on-the-go” is simply reading and writing notes and simple documents. So I’ll settle for a text editor (.txt files) but formatted files (.rtf) is even better. Full-blown word processing (.doc, .wpd, .odt) would be nice, but I’m not picky.

Next criteria is size. A phone is too small, but I need it to fit in a pocket of my slacks or it won’t be convenient enough to take with me.

It needs some kind of physical keyboard (not on-screen) but I don’t care what kind. And some sort of simple way (USB would be perfect) to transfer these files to and from my Windows PC. I do NOT need any kind of internet access.

Price is also important to me, but I could save up for it if I need to. My main question is whether anything like this exists. Nowadays it seems like everything smaller than a laptop is designed for kids who want to just watch movies and videos and text messages all day. I need something that is convenient and portable, but designed for serious writing.


I’ve found CNET’s recommendations to be reliable. They seem to update them often also.

Now that I have a bit more time to answer your questions…

Like I mentioned (briefly) before, you probably want something like an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7. You might actually be happy with slower core i3 processors if they’re a significant upgrade over what you have now. But if I were you I’d try to get the fastest processor that still fits in your budget – probably an i5 of some sort. You can get a laptop with a quad-core i7, but that might not be in your budget. I don’t think that AMD has anything competitive for medium to high performance laptops, though I could be wrong. Avoid anything Atom, Pentium Dual-Core, Celeron, or AMD Neo.

Don’t worry about this much, since it’s cheap and easy to upgrade RAM yourself. I.e. if you find a laptop that’s perfect but it only comes with 2 gig, you can buy another 2 gig yourself for $30. Most good laptops make it easy to upgrade RAM, usually with an access panel secured by a few screws.

I haven’t shopped for this myself so I don’t have any advice for you.

Shouldn’t be hard to find. There aren’t many recent-model laptops that don’t have an HDMI port.

Not too hard to find, but it’ll cost you a bit. If you configure a laptop yourself it’s a $100 option.

Like you said fairly standard, though it’s a ~$20 option on some configurable laptops.

Not many 15" laptops come with a separate numpad. Personally I keep a couple $5 USB numpads around for occasional use.

For OS, new laptops these days will usually come with Windows 7 Home Premium (32 or 64 bit). But since you already have a copy of Windows 7 laying around, you might save a few bucks by buying a laptops without an OS. A few business-oriented laptop manufacturers will sell you one with a ~$50 discount.

lazybratsche - thank you for the input.

I think I am leaning towards this.

Any input on that particular model?

Think I could find it cheaper anywhere?

Looks good but it doesn’t have a blu-ray drive.

I usually browse techbargains or fatwallet for particularly notable sales, and then look up reviews on cnet.

That seems to be the only thing lacking, and I don’t really NEED a Blu-Ray, it is just something I thought would be nice to have.

It’s easy (technically) to upgrade most laptops but if the laptop he buys has 2 x 1GB sticks then he can’t just sling another 2GB into it, he would need to buy 2 x 2GB sticks and take the existing RAM out, which is going to add a nice chunk of money to the total cost of the laptop, he is much better getting one with the 4GB already in it.

Are you sure you need to have discrete graphics in the laptop? Are you planning on doing any gaming with it? The trouble with discrete graphics cards in laptops is that they add to the heat problem which is not pleasant when you are using it on your lap and they drain the battery at an appreciable rate. You will have enough problems with battery life by virtue of getting a powerful laptop without making things needlessly worse.

You shouldn’t have any issues getting a laptop that ticks all your boxes but one thing to be aware of is that it is important to try the laptop out in a shop first if you are going to be doing a lot of typing. Laptop keyboards can vary quite a bit and some have (what I find to be) incredibly uncomfortable typing positions, also keep an eye out for a hard switch to disable the touchpad, there is nothing more annoying than accidentally catching the touchpad whilst typing and either moving the caret to another area of the box or deselecting the box you are typing in.

I do play games, and I have run into problems in the past with my computer not being able to handle the games. It is frustrating and I made up my mind that I will not have that problem anymore. I feel like I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.

With that being said, I am seeing a lot of comments saying that I should be able to find something that fits my requirements and is within my budget, but I can’t seem to find anything. :mad:

Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places…

I asked my sysop the same question and he recommended Lenovo for laptops. He also strongly recommended that I order a model with a flash drive (essentially the kind of memory in a USB memory stick) instead of a hard drive. He said that it was much faster loading any program. It’s smaller (at 128GB) than what you get these days, but if you are using an external drive that doesn’t matter. It does add a couple hundred bucks to the cost. That choice will not be compatible with that $800 price limit.

Don’t expect it to come immediately if you order it. I ordered it on Dec. 8, they claim they shipped it on Dec. 15, my office closed on Dec. 22 and reopened only today. It has not yet arrived.

If your office was closed from December 22 until today, it’s possible that Fedex or UPS attempted delivery on the computer and then returned it to the shipper.

Moved from GQ to IMHO.