spend my $1000 on a laptop, please.
September 19, 2010 7:12 AM   Subscribe

I have $1000-1100 to spend on a new laptop. Said laptop will be used as my work computer, but is also my computer, so I can use it as my primary machine in both places. Please spend my money.

Work is providing all necessary software (but not an operating system). Needs to be not-a-mac. Word processing, internet use, iTunes for music, something to hold lots of pictures. No heavy gaming or photo editing.

Should be pretty rugged - it's going to be hauled around a lot. Relatively portable, but I want a DVD drive attached. Prefer to buy online, but where? Direct from source? Amazon? somewhere else?

I am overwhelmed by the choices. My current work laptop, which I have to give up, is a lenovo T61. Our home laptop is a five year old Toshiba. I prefer the lenovo, but am open to all suggestions. If you could point at specific products (or give numbers), that would be helpful, because in previous questions I'm still overwhelmed when people say "get 4GB of RAM and the best processor you can afford" - I don't know what a "best processor" is. (I'm good at using machines, but building them/picking them out/etc apparently scares me).

(I don't have to spend that much money, but I'm willing to).
posted by dpx.mfx to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Minimum of 4gb RAM, 64-bit version of Windows 7, and a 250gb hard drive should suffice. The rest is gravy.

Optional choices are: a discrete video card, a solid state drive, etc.

Honestly I'd just go to new egg.com, type in your price range and select the highest rate computer there within your price range.
posted by dfriedman at 8:15 AM on September 19, 2010

4GB of RAM and any Core i5 processor. You've already stated the rest of the specs yourself.
posted by Biru at 8:16 AM on September 19, 2010

Lenovo makes some really high quality, long-lasting computers. That said, they charge a premium and something custom from Dell will give you more at a similar price. You should also consider some of the Sony VAIOs, which are beautiful and have excellent displays--for $1k you can get something pretty nice.
posted by Aanidaani at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2010

I'm based in the UK, so I'm working on a conversion of the $1000 being roughly £600. I recently purchased a laptop for a client which cost just over half that, and sounds like it would be perfectly suitable for your needs. The laptop I bought this client was an Acer Aspire 5732Z. This had a 2.2Ghz processor, 3Gb of RAM, 250Gb hard drive, plus DVD, webcam etc.

I've always recommended Acer laptops - I've hauled mine around a lot and haven't had any problems. The hinges on the screen haven't yet failed - a problem I've seen with many laptops.

As for the advice: I'd suggest that RAM is more important than processor speed, at least for the work you'll be doing. Any modern processor will do you fine, lots of laptops will come with processors over 2Ghz. Most modern processors are also dual-core, which will also help.

In some ways the ergonomics of the machine are more important than the technical specifications. For example, if you're going to be doing lots of number work (spreadsheets etc) then having a built-in numpad is very handy (a number of manufacturers have started including

As for buying it - I'd recommend places like amazon.com. I buy most of my stuff from www.ebuyer.co.uk (a UK site which doesn't appear to do USA), but I'd expect there are similar sites in the US.

Hope that has helped. I'm new to Ask Metafilter, so feel free to ask if you want any clarification.
posted by robintw at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2010

Lenovo T510 with discrete graphics. Done.
posted by killdevil at 8:26 AM on September 19, 2010

You want a Lenovo. Specifically a ThinkPad. More specifically a T or X series (T is sturdier, X is more portable).
It's maybe not 100% accurate, but--within a specific product line from a specific manufacturer--price is a decent enough indicator of processing power. Just get the most expensive processor you can afford once you've set the rest of the configuration to your needs (DVD, 4+ gigs of RAM). If you want to complicate it more than that, Core i3, i5, & i7 are all relatively new processor models, so you'll be fine with any of those. Fwiw, Core i3 is designed with efficiency and battery life in mind, i7 is more emphasis on all-out power (which comes at the expense of things like battery life) and i5 is somewhere in the middle.
If it were me, I'd get a T410 with the heftiest Core i5 i could afford and spend the next several years crowing about how reliable and awesome my computer is. Ymmv.
As an aside, if you get a pc with 4 or more gigs of RAM (and I recommend that you do), make sure it comes with Windows 7 64 (aka 64 bit edition). This will almost certainly be an automatic adjustment when you order it, but double check before finalizing your order.
Finally, I think it is easiest, especially when ordering a custom configuration, to order direct from the manufacturer, but I know plenty of people who swear by CDW or the like. I guess that's not a very helpful recommendation, but there you go.
Good luck, and enjoy your new machine!
posted by willpie at 8:30 AM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm also searching for a new laptop, with almost the same requirements as you. I'm currently going back and forth between a Toshiba Satellite M645 and an ASUS N61JV, with some other consideration of a thin and light ASUS (although I'm concerned about it getting too beat up). These both have pretty good recommendations and reviews, and the brands have some of the lowest rates of problems, according to what I can find online. I have heard from a couple of tech-support people that Lenovo's customer service isn't that great, which is primarily what keeps me from going in that direction. If anyone has advice to the contrary on that, I'd love to hear it.

I've been able to find the best prices through amazon or newegg, with the added benefit that I wouldn't have to deal with the tax-exempt process prior to purchase (which may or may not apply with your workplace).
posted by bizzyb at 8:56 AM on September 19, 2010

I really don't see the need for you to spend $1000 given your requirements. Go for a Core i5 processor with at least 4gb of ram. The laptops at the upper bound of your price range will probably have gaming graphics cards and blu ray drives (which you don't really need).

I'm a big fan of Newegg.com. Free shipping (on most products), no sales tax (to New York) and 4x the reward points through Amex Bonus Points mall FTW.

Check out this Gateway Core i5 laptop for $599, for instance.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:05 AM on September 19, 2010

My daughter bought a refurbished Macbook Pro 13" for $1089.00 and it's about the most impressive piece of hardware I've ever seen. You could pound nails with the thing if you lost your hammer.

You'd have to buy Windows 7 on top of that, but spec-wise, it's got plenty of headroom, and the build quality is just stunning.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:15 AM on September 19, 2010

If you want long battery life, portability, reliability and full features you might consider the Toshiba R 705. I am also linking to this independent reliability study published in Engadget of 30,000 laptops followed for 3 years. Asus and Toshiba rank best--Lenovo, for its reputation, does not do so well.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:17 AM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Should also add that the Toshiba is quite affordable and is very well reviewed by editors and users. I am sold. It was either this or an Ipad and I have decided on the Toshiba because of extensive travel with limited support.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:20 AM on September 19, 2010

Faced with a similar dilemma, I went with a used ThinkPad T400, on the theory that a recent ThinkPad is a lot more durable than the current selection of consumer laptops.
posted by dws at 9:53 AM on September 19, 2010

Acer/Gateway are good generally. Seonding the Inspire, which I got for one of my college-age offspring. He loves it. I have a dual-core 64 bit ASUSTek K50IJ with great battery life, pretty decent performance and IIRC a 500 GB SATA drive (plus the illuminated KB wich I needed). You should set your sights for <> If you buy Dell, go off the shelf, my even recent experience their order fulfillment is just awful.
posted by nj_subgenius at 1:45 PM on September 19, 2010

The double brackets should have rendered as 'less than $850'. I keep forgetting about carets on posts here :-(
posted by nj_subgenius at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2010

...or whatever they are
posted by nj_subgenius at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2010

ThinkPad T or X series. Check the outlet.
posted by JaneL at 6:40 AM on September 20, 2010

If you go the Lenovo route and have a Visa card, you can save quite a bit (e.g. 10% on the T series) by purchasing here. That's on top of whatever discount Lenovo is offering at the time.
posted by Pork-Chop Express at 7:53 AM on September 20, 2010

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