Laptop shopping on a cell phone budget
July 23, 2013 1:45 PM   Subscribe

I need a new laptop. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, so I'm trying to keep it under $350 (the less the better, though). I have a couple that I'm trying to decide between...

I use laptops for pretty basic web tasks, word processing, movie playing, and music listening. I often have two or three programs open at a time. I will probably keep the laptop for 3 or 4 years at least, so while the hardware doesn't have to be anything special, it would be nice if it wasn't outdated already.

I've been perusing sites like Ben's Bargains and I'm currently looking at a couple refurbished computers and was hoping someone could tell me which gets me the most bang for my buck. I have a vague idea of which processors etc are better when compared to each other, I just don't know whether they're worth $100 more for my purposes.

Asus K55A- specs: Intel i5-3210M 2.5GHz, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD, USB 3.0
Intel HD Graphics 4000, DVD+/-RW, 6-cell, Windows 8 x64

Inspiron 15 - 3521 (number one)
Specs: Processor: Intel Celeron 1007U Processor (1.8GHz)
Windows 8
Dell Outlet Inspiron 15 - 3521 Laptop
320 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
4GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz
8X DVD +/- RW Drive

Inspiron 15 - 3520 (number two)
Processor: Intel Pentium Dual Core B960 Processor (2.2GHz)
Windows 8 Pro
Dell Outlet Inspiron 15 - 3520 Laptop
500 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
4GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz
8X DVD +/- RW Drive
Intel HD Graphics 3000
posted by geegollygosh to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that specific model, but my SO and I have bought 2 Dells and 2 Asus computers in the last 10 years, and the Dells were okay but not as well made as the Asus machines. We're really impressed with the quality and durability of their cases, hardware, etc - and performance has been good too.
posted by jb at 2:00 PM on July 23, 2013

I see at the moment the following machine on Dell outlet:
Inspiron 15 - 3520
Processor: Intel Core 2nd generation i3-2370M Processor (2.4GHz)
Windows 8
Dell Outlet Inspiron 15 - 3520 Laptop
500 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
4GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz
8X DVD +/- RW Drive
Intel HD Graphics 3000
$329.00 - $339.00

You can take %20 off this price:
20% off any Laptop, Desktop, All-in-One or Tablet priced Up to $499 w/ code $X3GG244P$8?90

Total: $264

I think an i3 2370M beats a Celeron/Dual Code B960 Processor

I like my Dell laptops and have had 4 over the years. So far all good.
posted by nostrada at 2:18 PM on July 23, 2013

I bought this HP customized a bit (e.g., more storage/processing power), and have used it every day since then. I watch movies, run a bajillion tabs in Chrome, and have dropped it from a height of 3+ feet at least 10 times (and by dropped it I mean my dog knocked it onto the floor).

It was $430 including tax and shipping. A newer model, especially with back to school sales, should be available for around the same price or lower.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:35 PM on July 23, 2013

Alternately, consider this Latitude 3330 for $350 (from Slickdeals - promo code in the slickdeals link):

Intel Core i5 3337U 1.8GHz
13.3" 1366x768 Display
Intel HD Graphics 4000
8X DVD +/- RW Drive
Dell Wireless 1504 802.11g/n Single Band Wi-Fi Half Mini-card
6-cell Battery
Windows 7 Professional

Good deal - SSD is quite small though.
posted by hot soup at 3:10 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd get that latitude, and then the next time i had a couple of bucks to rub together i'd get something like this and forget about only having a 64gb boot drive. the SSD will make SUCH a difference.

A latitude will be built out of far higher quality materials(you know, with some metal involved in the case), a better cooling system, etc when compared to the other cheapies. It's also nice that it's not a giant 15in clunker like most cheap laptops, but still has the same resolution. I've had nothing but good experiences with lots of latitudes i've used/supported. They're just well made.

If this has to be a one time expenditure and you can't deal with only having 64gb of space for a little while(and don't have an old machine to cannibalize and put it's old drive in an external case to make an external hdd!) then i'd get the asus.

Asus machines are very well made. and inspirons have been garbage for years. especially the cheap ones. I'd be deciding between those two at this point, but also considering used machines.

For $350 you could likely snag a MUCH higher model and spec machine on craigslist. That's well in to quad core territory. I've bought and sold seriously high end laptops for close to that price. But then you're forgoing a warranty possibly, and also dealing with craigslist idiots and a used machine. I'd be hard pressed to make myself buy new in this price range however.
posted by emptythought at 3:26 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

« Older What questions should I ask my recent ex?   |   You take a picture of it, you buy it. How is this... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.