Your Opinion on laptop brands

I’m looking into buying a new laptop. I know that people have very strong opinions about the makers of laptops, and I’d like to hear them.

Here are some parameters:

I’m not buying a Mac. Sorry, and lets just not go there.

I have to have an NVIDIA graphics card - it’s a requirement for one of the software packages I use.

I will be using this for heavy computation and intensive graphical analysis. I have no interest in gaming or showing slides of my vacation. I don’t take vacations - I go to conferences.

Durability. 'Nuff said. I use my laptop as my primary workstation.
So, teeming millions. Tell me what you think about laptops.

Avoid an HP. Seemingly broad issues with hard-drive failure and using crappy components combined with horrible customer service.

There, that’s my two cents.

Avoid a Compaq. Bad piece of work, unless they’ve radically changed their ways.

I’m extremely Mac-centric so in general I don’t know much about PC laptops, but I’ve always heard good things about Sony laptops.

(PS: Mac laptops run Windows natively nowadays, they’re Intel-powered, but you knew that, right? So they’re just a different brand of PC laptop that happens also to be capable of running MacOS X if you want it. A Mac laptop is a competitively good Windows PC laptop even if you don’t)

Dell is actually pretty good at the low to mid range of laptops.

I have a Sony VAIO for my personal use at home. I’ve had it for about half a year now after having had a Compaq for 3 years. I like the VAIO a lot, especially the quality of the display. It’s also very lightweight adding to its portability.

I will* never * buy another Compaq. About a year after having bought it, I started having trouble with the AC adapter. It wouldn’t stay plugged into the laptop. I spent the next couple of years with a really thick rubber band holding it in place to force the connection. Finally even that wasn’t enough. Now maybe the fact that my sister and a colleague at work experienced the exact same problem with their Compaqs is a coincidence. But it’s an odd one if so.

I have a ThinkPad at work that I’ve had for four or five months. Seems to work okay and does the job, but is nothing spectacular.

Dell, Toshiba and IBM have been the best brands over the last 15 years that are still rated highly.
Sony has had some very bad years and HP/Compaq has not been good for years now. Stay away from Gateways. Really avoid Gateways.
Every year PC Magazine and PC World do large round ups of the best Manufacturers by category. The three I listed above have been the most consistent long term performers for laptops.

I build my own PCs and I have built 10-12 for work, but when it comes to buying laptops, I bought a Dell for my wife and helped my sister buy a Dell. I have always recommended either Dell or Toshiba. The IBM Thinkpads have usually run extra money for the same performance, but they have a great reputation and reviews.


You should try an IBM laptop and see whether you warm to the pencil-eraser doohickey it gives you in lieu of a trackpad (assuming they still use that??). It has it’s totally devoted afficionados who can’t stand trackpads (even some who like it better than a mouse and wish they could have that functionality for their desktop computer); but other people find it unusable and hate it. (Assuming once again that the laptops called “IBM” still come with the pencil-eraser doohickey): it makes the IBM laptop different and unique, and you should find out if it’s for you.

I know IBM doesn’t make its own (personal-sized) computers any more, but I haven’t heard any complaints about a quality dropoff as a consequence. My guess is that they are making them as per IBM spec and that such was part of the agreement.

They are tanks. Fragile as anvils.

The ThinkPad I have has got both. I do not care for the little mouse at all.

I think this requirement is going to limit you more than anything. IBM Thinkpads have the best reputation, but they seem to use ATI video cards. So I’d suggest looking at the systems from Alienware.

I have a Sony Vaio, and it has a Nvidia graphics card (Nvidia GeForce Go6200). I love my Vaio, its been great to me despite hauling it around campus many times over the past year. I wouldnt drop it four feet off of a table onto tile (they don’t like that much, from a friend’s experience) but otherwise its survived the usual short drops, bangs, and clunks that happen during daily use.

If you want something cheaper than a Vaio, don’t go with dell or HP. Dell’s desktops are absolutely wonderful, but their laptops aren’t that great. The parts are cheap, inside and out. My dad’s Dell laptop is on its second hard drive (and its dying again), its gone in for service three times in the past two years, and he just ordered the third new battery for the thing. My first computer was a HP, which gave me so much hell that I returned it after two days and traded it in for my Vaio.

I’ve spend a deal of time in a computer repair shop and currently work in IT. I’ve seen a LOT of laptops. IMO, and in no order, the best models I’ve seen are made by Sony, Dell, Fujitsu and Toshiba.

The worse are Compaq, HP and Gateway. I wouldn’t even consider these companies as players in the laptop field. They make low level problematic crap.

There are a few other laptop players like Averatec or generics like Enpower. I’ve not had hands on with these brands but I’d not buy one myself for the reason of getting replacement parts in the future. Try finding a battery for a 2 year old Enpower. :confused:

I have mixed feeling about the IBM notebooks. Half I’ve seen had some major problems, the other half seemed ok. I’ll let others with more time behind IBM’s speak to those.

I’ve owned various models of Sony, Fujitsu, Dell and Toshiba. My first Toshiba had a battery overheat problem and battery life went from a few hours to about 20 minutes (fully changed) in about 4 weeks. I was lucky I could return it. If I recall Toshiba owned up to this and replaced batteries for users (so I wouldn’t have been screwed if I held onto the machine)

In my office I support about 25+ Dell laptops of various models and have two different models which I use myself. My personal laptop is a Toshiba R15 tablet. Both the Dell laptops and my Toshiba have taken some amount of abuse and continue to run just fine.

While I like Toshiba, they do install a fair amount of software crap in their machines. Little bullshit utilites and services no one needs. If you go this route plan on doing yourself a favour and spend a few hours deleting stuff.

Panasonic makes The Toughbook which I’ve not spent a ton of time behind - but the time I have spent I was impressed.

I’m sorry I don’t know which video cards most of these use. It seems today most notebooks I run across use Intel and ATI chipsets. Dell’s new fancy line (the XPS) uses nvidia. We’ve a couple of those at work and they’re neat machines but they’ve both had problems (one had a dead hard drive and the other had a motherboard replaced).

The MacBook Pro uses the ATI video (the entry MacBook uses Intel) so that won’t work for the OP.

That said, we have a new MacBook Pro at the office and it is a nice little machine.

I personally really like my IBM Thinkpad R51. I use the “pencil-eraser doohickey” (technically called a Trackpoint I believe) all the time (prefering it to a mouse as my desk is cluttered enough already :slight_smile: ) and I personally stink with a track pad (also included on the system.) The track pad is like using a tiny joystick instead of a mouse. Of course if neither is for you, you could always use a USB mouse.
Also, I’ve had good experiences with IBM’s tech support for what that’s worth. They were polite and didn’t assume I already knew my computer inside out.
All and all I’d buy another IBM in a heartbeat.

Thanks much!

I’ve spec’d out a Dell, will do the same for a Sony and see how they $tack up.


Might want to put something fireproof between that laptop and your lap. :slight_smile:


Went with the Dell, anyway. Dual Processor, Big-ass SATA Hard Drive, NVIDIA Card, loaded as it can be with memory. On Sale!

Now I just need the cute little 24-inch flat-screen monitor for when I’m working at home …