Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Tips to buy a laptop?
May 21, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Need a new laptop, help me pick one.

Here are the main things I do with my PC laptop:

1) Run a bunch of light PC-only software for work

2) Design stuff with the Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop only)

3) Store and listen to music (~2000 albuns);

4) A little sound editing (Audacity), quite amateur.

5) Internet

6) Often several of the above at the same time

I want to spend around $600-$700 and I live in Canada. Size and battery life are not priorities.

Thank you so much Metafilter!
posted by TheGoodBlood to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'd check out these.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2012


I've been really happy with the Sony VAIO series of laptops, and Future Shop has an i5 machine with lots of Ram on special at the moment.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:32 AM on May 21, 2012


Thanks Blasdelb and Cool Papa Bell!

Between this Sony VAIO and this Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E530, which one would you chose? I'll try to read more about them and learn about the specs.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 10:56 AM on May 21, 2012


Thanks KokuRyo! CPB, I'm not interested in buying a Mac.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 10:57 AM on May 21, 2012


I bought my sony viao 8 years ago to go to grad school for my MLIS (I think that it's a VGN-150). I had previously only owned macs but without going into a lot of detail, suffice to say that I thought that I might have to work with some PC only software and it would be easier. This is totally superficial and subjective, but at the time, I felt that the sony viaos were the only PC laptops that were both powerful and aesthetically pleasing. 8 years later it is still my primary computer. Yes at this point I only really use it for some basic word processing and internet searches, it's slow as hell and I will be replacing it soon, but still 8 years without a major problem is pretty damn good. I use a Lenovo Thinkpad for work and am not impressed. They seem really slow, heavy in relation to the size and are butt ugly (they look like your basic dell that everyone had circa 1998).
posted by kaybdc at 11:42 AM on May 21, 2012


My Acer TravelMate, which I bought as a poor student in 2005, served me faithfully for about 5 years with almost zero problems til the day it died. Since then I've had a HP Pavilion DV6 which looks pretty but is technically very poor - constantly has small problems with the hardware and I've already had it repaired twice for overheating...
posted by EatMyHat at 12:30 PM on May 21, 2012


TheGoodBlood, one thing I will say is that in the PC laptop world, Thinkpads are second to none in terms of build quality. They're physically solid and have somewhat nicer keyboards and trackpads than is typical. They also have trackpoints, as an alternative to the trackpad. I just took delivery of a T530 this week and I absolutely love it. It's a really nice machine, very simple and plain but with lots of nice little functional touches here and there.

Keep in mind that there is *always* some sort of sale going on (even if it's only a 15% or so discount – mine was actually 25% off which I thought was pretty spiffy) and you should look around for a coupon code to bring the price down a bit. Some models will be more deeply discounted than others (the Edge series seems to usually have the best sales) and you should take that into account.

Another thing to keep in mind, price-wise, is that you're a sucker if you buy the RAM upgrades when speccing out the computer. If you need more than the base amount of RAM, buy it afterwards from NewEgg and just pop it in. You can easily save $50-$100 that way which can then be spent on other upgrades, or beer.
posted by Scientist at 12:35 AM on July 29, 2012


I woudn't say "sucker", myself - but certainly the good reason for buying extra RAM at the shop is that you really don't want to take the back off your laptop and are prepared to pay a lot extra for that.

In most cases, RAM is a user-serviceable part, TheGoodBlood, and doing what you need to do to replace it won't invalidate your warranty. So, it's worth going to somewhere like Crucial, which will tell you exactly what kind of replacement RAM you need. In this case, you'd save about $100 by getting the E530 with 4GB of RAM, buying 8GB of RAM and then swapping it in - and you could maybe sell the 2x2GB sticks you got out of the laptop for $10 or so. The E530's RAM slot is apparently very easy to access, so that's worth thinking about.

I cant get the link to the Sony VAIO you posted to work, TheGoodBlood, but on the E530, the other thing I'd strongly recommend is bumping the processor to a Core i5 - you can't upgrade the CPU later on a laptop. With a $50 upgrade there, you have a machine that will do everything you want it to do for $649US (excluding tax). And if you find it's taking too long to switch between applications (the Creative Suite stuff can be RAM-hungry), 8GB of third-party ram would be a huge help for another $50-60.

Sorry if I'm telling you things you already know...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:58 AM on July 29, 2012


« Older What methods have you used to ...   |  Social Gaming Dev Conferences ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.