Viewing 36 posts - 1 through 36 (of 36 total)
  • Laptop advice
  • PJay
    Member

    I used to be the ‘go to’ person when anyone in the family wanted a computer (since getting our ZX81 back in the 80s) but I seem to have lost interest over the last few years and feel somewhat out of date.

    My Wife needs a laptop for work (running Office etc.) and we can’t really stretch beyond the £400-£500 range. I’m clueless about processors today; when I upgraded my PC years ago the general consensus seemed to be that Intel’s cores outrated AMD’s by some margin and trumped AMD’s higher core count. From snippets I’ve picked up recently I get the feeling that Intel may have dropped the ball and that the Ryzen processor outperforms its Intel equivalent.

    Some of the laptops we’ve looked at seem to be pushing Intel’s Optane technology, which is a new one on me, which seems to be cache technology meant to boost hard drive performance to SSD levels; since all the laptops had SSDs to start with would this be much of a benefit?

    Are there any ‘must have’ bargains out there or is it reasonable to assume (as I suspect) that, at a given price point, they’re all much of a muchness.

    Premier Icon andy4d
    Subscriber

    First up I am no expert and asked similar question on here a few months ago. When I was looking I found the AMD ryzen 3 or 5 to be way better than Intel at the same price point. Looking about though I was struggling to find something with 8gb RAM and a 256SSD (I felt 4gb would not last and wanted an SSD) in budget. I ended up getting a lenovo t450 of EBay with the spec I wanted for under 300. I was so happy with it I bought a second one for my son’s christmas. Might be worth considering

    Premier Icon richmars
    Subscriber

    As you say, at that price anything will work and you could reduce it a bit, go for something you like the feel of, so John Lewis or PC World. Ideally a SSD would be good.

    Premier Icon jeffl
    Subscriber

    Any recent intel core or AMD Ryzen CPU will be fine. As long as it’s got a 250gb SSD and 8gb of ram you’ll be fine.

    chewkw
    Member

    The basic you need are:
    Processor: Intel i3 or i5 (8th generation onwards). No idea about AMD Ryzen CPU
    Storage: Min 256 SSD
    RAM: 8GB

    The rest is up to you such as larger/smaller screen side etc.

    easily
    Member

    The Ask Jack column in the Guardian is good for this sort of thing. I found this, ut there might be a more recent version:
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/askjack/2019/aug/15/whats-the-best-laptop-for-a-student-for-under-500

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    at that price anything will work

    This.

    She’s running Office, not AutoCAD. You’d be hard pressed to buy something that wasn’t up to that. Get something with a nice keyboard and decent screen, anything else is gravy.

    Stick to mainstream brands. Lenovo for build quality, Dell Outlet for bargains.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    Things are that powerful these days, it doesn’t matter a great deal, just make sure the processor is decent, ie modern i3/5 or AMD equivalent, make sure you’ve got an SSD, minumum 8GB RAM (check potential to upgrade increase incase it’s needed, might not be) and enough storage. Then after that you are looking at making sure the screen is nice and that you like the form of the machine.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    minumum 8GB RAM (check potential to upgrade increase it’s needed)

    To run Office? Maybe if you’re dealing with 60,000+ row spreadsheets.

    g5604
    Member

    Second hand thinkpad x1 carbon. Proper build quality.

    Premier Icon scuttler
    Subscriber

    Upgradeable RAM because Windows 12 will only run reliably on 16GB. #scaryprediction

    tonyplym
    Member

    Dell Outlet – in my experience their “certified refurbished” models are indistinguishable from new. Always look for extra discount codes too. Note that the “Home” outlet prices include VAT by default, the “Business” outlet prices exclude VAT by default.

    baboonz
    Member

    Something with 8gb + ssd.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    Cougar

    Subscriber
    minumum 8GB RAM (check potential to upgrade increase it’s needed)

    To run Office? Maybe if you’re dealing with 60,000+ row spreadsheets.

    Wait till what ever browser gets a hold of a 4gb machine though, then add a couple of other programs. 4gb is terrible, I dunno why you think it’s fine.

    I doubt very much the machine will purely be dedicated to office…

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    4gb is terrible, I dunno why you think it’s fine.

    Because I’m typing on an 11 year old laptop right now with 4GB of RAM?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    To run Office?

    To be fair, we’ve a few machines that we have upgraded from 4gb to 8gb this year (all i3 of some kind) and it’s made a big difference to speed of O365/SharePoint.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    whilst 4GB with an SSD is a lot better than 4GB with an HDD (as paging doesn’t have such a crippling effect) given 8GB usually isn’t much of a premium I’d still say it was a sensible amount of RAM to spec.

    A nephew got a Asus Vivobook 15 (Ryen 5, 8GB RAM, 256GB) for Christmas and I was pretty impressed with it. I went to John Lewis beforehand to compare it with the equivalent spec. & price Dell Insprion 15 thinking the Dell would be a better build quality but the Asus was way better. Not only looked better (the edge screen helps there) but the screen & keyboard quality seemed better (although obviously I wasn’t able to spend an extended time typing).

    So as I usually advise on these threads, at the £400-500 price point the specs. will all be pretty similar but the screen and keyboard can make a fair difference (and it’s not always a case of which is better, it’s which you prefer) so try and see them in-store first if you can.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    8GB usually isn’t much of a premium I’d still say it was a sensible amount of RAM to spec.

    Sure, I’m not saying it’s a bad idea. My point was rather, it’s not a “minimum,” for the OP’s usage case it’s a nice-to-have.

    There’s a “what laptop” thread on here about once every two weeks, almost invariably for “web browsing, email and occasional Office use.” Then there’s multiple replies talking about SSDs, laterst-gen i7 CPUs and more dual-channel RAM than you’d have got as storage space a few years ago. If you’re on a limited budget, it’s usually overkill.

    More RAM = better in almost all circumstances, my work laptop has 8GB in it and for what I use it for it’s not enough. But if all you’re doing is writing the odd letter then I wouldn’t be ruling out systems which “only” had 4GB.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer
    Subscriber

    And all of those threads every 2 weeks (including this one) also talk about browsers hogging all the RAM. They don’t.
    The memory is there, it’s free, the OS lets the browser make use of it, because it’s there to be used, not kept unused in case something may want it later. When Office or whatever needs some, the OS reassigns it.
    8 gig, heavy user here, and my machine actually used some swap space once.

    Any i3, i5, ryzen would do for mostly office and browsing. Ryzen probably more bang for buck right now though. And RAM is cheap as chips at the moment, or was just before Christmas when I last checked. That, and soldered on, non-upgradeable RAM would be the main reason to double the requirements, not browsers “hogging” all the RAM.

    butcher
    Member

    I’m no expert on hardware, but eBuyer have some decent deals. £300 for Lenovo with Ryzen 3, 8Gb Ram, SSD.

    4gb is terrible, I dunno why you think it’s fine.

    4Gb on my Desktop running i5 with SSD. Used for video editing, photo editing, etc. I’m sure there is one, but I honestly notice no difference between that and my 2017 Macbook Pro.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    given 8GB usually isn’t much of a premium

    yip..

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    The memory is there, it’s free, the OS lets the browser make use of it, because it’s there to be used, not kept unused in case something may want it later.

    Well, quite.

    Windows memory management seems to be one of the most widely misunderstood technical subjects on the Internet, forums are awash with really bad advice and people whining about Windows being a “memory hog.” What most folk don’t seem to grasp is that Windows will utilise free RAM for things like file caches to optimise performance, but if something comes along that needs that extra RAM then it’ll dump the non-essential stuff to free up space.

    RAM is there to be used as you say, if it’s just sat there empty then it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 4GB or 64GB. High memory usage isn’t a symptom of a low memory condition, rather constantly paging out to disk is.

    Premier Icon scuttler
    Subscriber

    RAM is there to be used as you say, if it’s just sat there empty then it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 4GB or 64GB.

    As it’s 2020 and Win 7 falls off a cliff in about a week can we assume a baseline of a default build of Windows 10 Home. Do you honestly reckon 4GB is sufficient** and how quickly do you think it’ll hit paging (normal usage – browsing, videos, cloud apps, file sync/dropbox/onedrive, some document editing) bearing in mid 1) ipads have taught people to not shutdown/restart as frequently, 2) tabbed browsing can get bloaty.

    ** Not a trick question, just an understanding of how many performance issues might go away changing to 8GB.

    mattyfez
    Member

    4gn is OK for home office/surfing activities as said.

    I have 3 machines:

    Old i5 laptop, 4gb ram, old fashioned HDD.
    It’s fine for traveling with light office work, surfing etc. (once it’s booted up or woken from sleep or which takes a min but it’s only used occasionally/casually.

    Work machine
    Slightly newer i3, 10gb of mis matched ram from the parts bin. old fashioned HDD.
    As above but I need the ram for work, multiple browsers and documents open all the time, plus all the crap that’s put on work machines that I can’t turn off.
    It used to have 4gb ram, but it was constantly maxed out and paging to the slow HDD which made matters worse.

    Gaming machine
    Modern overclocked i5 with 16gb ram and SSD primary storage
    It’s fast but needed.

    Recent build for my nana,
    New generation ryzen3 (4 core/4 thread)
    8gb ram, 120gb SSD
    That absolutely flies for casual use, probably slightly over powered for a browsing machine but hey.

    A big factor is how much background gubbins is running aside from.

    Running matched /duel channel memory isn’t the be all and end all, it offers slightly better performance, but for casual home use, more ram will be better if needed, rather than getting hung up on running matched sticks.

    Running mis matched ram is fine as long as you understand that it probably won’t run in duel channel mode, unless the speed, timings and capacity are identical, if one stick is say DDR4 2400mhz, and the other say 3000mhz, both sticks will run at the lower 2400mhz

    mattyfez
    Member

    In terms of windows memory management, it will use what it wants *up to a certain level

    For example my gaming system (which is a pretty clean system in terms of running processes) will idle/surfing at around 3.8gb used ram, I’ve not checked how much it’s paging.

    Fire up a big game and that will shoot up to 10+gb.

    I once had really choppy performance playing a game, then realised I’d tabbed out of another game earlier, so it was running 2 games at once lol!

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Do you honestly reckon 4GB is sufficient**

    I’m typing right now on an 11 year old Dell Studio 1735 laptop, originally shipped with Vista and now running Windows 10 x64. 4GB of RAM, Core 2 Duo CPU, 17″ 1920×1200 display to push around and an SSD system drive (with a second spinnydisk HDD for mass storage). Taskman is showing 3.5GB used and fully a third of that is Chrome, though I do have 38 tabs open (yes really). It’s absolutely fine and though it owes me nothing at this stage it’ll be a sad day when it isn’t.

    It was starting to get a bit sluggish, but really that was CPU-locked rather than RAM. I swapped the stock CPU just before Christmas for a 2.6GHz T9500 (the fastest CPU I can install in this board, £35 from ebay and would’ve cost more than I paid for the laptop when it was new) and that problem went away.

    Would I like more RAM? Sure, and if I were doing much more than “web browsing, email and occasional Office use” then I’d probably need it. But I’m not, so I don’t. (Annoyingly, a RAM upgrade is still stupidly expensive, I don’t think many 4GB DDR2 SODIMMs were ever made. I thought I’d found the bargain of the century when I bought 8GB for £12 on ebay recently, it turned out that I can’t read and it was 4x 2GB sticks. Arse.)

    Premier Icon Dickyboy
    Subscriber

    On a slightly different tack, what’s the consensus for laptop vs all in one, quite like the idea of an all in one* for Mrs DB’s birthday but no point if it will cost ££ more than similar spec laptop with half decent screen.

    *photo display, storage & minor editing being the main use, along with usual browsing etc

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    All the downsides of a desktop, with all the downsides of a laptop? (-:

    They tend to have non-standard components so getting say a replacement PSU or motherboard down the line might be difficult, and a fault with either the PC side of things or the monitor will potentially mean replacing both (much like a laptop really). If it’s never going to move you’d probably be better off with a SFF PC and a separate screen (and even then you can hit things like weird power supplies).

    The only compelling reason I can think to go for an all-in-one is if space is limited. That or
    bragging rights aesthetics, many of them do look rather nice.

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Subscriber

    The laptop Mrs Dubs uses most often is a Dell Ultrabook, i5, 8GB/256GB SSD which I got from ebay for £425. It as cheap because it was an “unsupported” refurb.

    It’s absolute overkill for her use most of the time, but when I want to take it away on holidays it doesn’t struggle overly with big video files or images.

    Premier Icon Jamze
    Subscriber

    Amazon do Lenovo refurbs if you want something tough, sensible and easy to put more RAM in or upgrade the SSD later.

    T440

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    👍 Hard to beat a Lenovo T-series.

    I’ve not used them personally, but this lot look to be competitively priced:

    https://www.bargainhardware.co.uk/

    bear-uk
    Member

    I have just purchased a Lenovo Ideapad S540 from John Lewis for under £500. Its AMD based Ryzen 5 so quite decent.
    1st time used tonight for editing Gopro 8 black video and its performed exellently. Shame youtube uploads are pants.
    Also typing this on it.
    2 year guarantee included which is standard with JL. Free next day delivery to Safeway shops.
    Apparently upgradeable to 32gig ram but dont quote me on that, 8 fitted.
    https://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/lenovo-ideapad-ideapad-s540-14api-laptop-amd-ryzen-5-processor-8gb-ram-256gb-ssd-14-full-hd-rose-gold-3385851

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    All the downsides of a desktop, with all the downsides of a laptop?

    Hah, couldn’t agree more, I really can’t see the point in all-in-ones

    marmaduke
    Member

    +1 to used Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon. The most recent generation you can afford on eBay. Big business dump their fleets every 3 or so years and they can be found in as-new condition. Superb laptops and spares are readily available and will be for years.

    Premier Icon Dickyboy
    Subscriber

    All the downsides of a desktop, with all the downsides of a laptop?

    Thanks 👍 obvious when you think about it, seemed to suit her needs but a lappy would prob be better.

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