what laptop should I buy?
November 6, 2018 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Long time Apple user, now don't care but don't understand my other options. Seeking device mostly used for word processing, internet, movies, very light Steam gaming, reading Feedly, and playing music (can it link to my Sonos speaker?). I don't think I want to go Chromebook, but...? I want to buy used or refurbished for environment reasons but cheap also good.

Feel free to point me to other threads, I searched but didn't quite find my question.
posted by latkes to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Wirecutter has good recommendations:

The Best Cheap Gaming Laptop (unfortunately their top pick is discontinued)

Best Laptop Under $500 (A Chromebook but they have a cheap Windows pick)

TechRadar has a longer list: The best laptop 2018: our pick of the 15 best laptops you can buy this year - I'd go with their #2 pick, the Dell XPS 13 (starts @ $850) , but they have lots of options depending on what price point you have and what features you want.
posted by GuyZero at 5:38 PM on November 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Best Cheap Gaming Laptop (unfortunately their top pick is discontinued)

Still basically available as the G5. It's good for way more than light steam gaming; I routinely play Fallout 4 on my Dell 7567 (last year's or the year before's basic model of that), at 1080p with mediumish settings.

If you're used to tiny wee macbook airs it would seem shockingly large.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:00 PM on November 6, 2018

MacBook Air just got a redesign last week - 100% recycled aluminum.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:18 AM on November 7, 2018

Is there any specific OS you're interested in?
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:28 AM on November 7, 2018

Is there any specific OS you're interested in?

That would be awesome as a hardcore nerd pick-up line.
posted by Construction Concern at 6:21 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

TechRadar reviews the new MacBook Air.

Basically, if you're looking for a more modern Mac laptop replacement, choose this. It just started sales in the USA and Europe today, but all the reviews are very positive.
posted by blob at 7:00 AM on November 7, 2018

Re OS and Macs: I have always been a mac person. A couple years ago I switched to an Android phone and am perfectly happy with it and much happier with the price. Now that it's time to give up my laptop, I'm ready to give up Apple too, given the price difference. But I don't have a lot of experience with non-mac environments, except on my phone I guess. Also I use Windows in the workplace. So I'm not attached to a specific OS, but want something cheaper that does the basic stuff I want to do fairly well. I'm unlikely to buy the new MacBook Air because I don't want to spend that much and there's nothing really holding me to Macs anymore (I think iTunes was what killed my love).
posted by latkes at 7:37 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

With computers, you (somewhat) get what you pay for. You should figure out what you want to spend then start looking at what that price will get you.

In the end, I'd still compare that to the MacBook Air, and give that a consideration. It may be more expensive, but I've found that Macs last much longer and with fewer headaches than PCs. So your overall cost is better. And they have refurbished ones available too.

I hear you on being ambivalent about Apple, but... A good friend of mine was previously immersed in Apple, and needed to buy a laptop. She was constrained by budget and got a decent Windows laptop for about $600. She's continually frustrated by it. It needs updates all the time which lock her out of the computer; working in Windows 10 is very different from what she's used to. It is always just slow and feels a lot clunkier than what she was used to.
posted by hydra77 at 8:53 AM on November 7, 2018

So I am equally comfortable with Macs & PCs and yeah, Mac computers just hold up much, much better. Both in terms of physical build quality and OS updates (minus some older apps that stopped working on Mojave, boo). My daughter is using my wife's old 2010 Macbook Air and it still works like a million bucks. Get a Macbook Air. You could save a few $ buy getting the Macbook (not Pro or Air) but the single USB-C port is a pain in the butt if you need to do anything.

The real trouble with windows laptops is that unless you get to try one hands on there's always some random corner that's been cut that you end up hating. I got an expensive Alienware laptop for gaming and it's really great (yes, it's huge and heavy but that's expected) but... the trackpad is beyond awful. Like worse than the first PC trackpad I used 20+ years ago. So, so terrible. And there's simply no reason for it to be this way.

Buy a Macbook Air, go enjoy a boba tea with the time you would have spent comparing PC laptop models.
posted by GuyZero at 9:03 AM on November 7, 2018

If you're looking for used, you can get a decent ThinkPad for very cheap. There's a well-known Buyer's Guide online to help you figure out what are good models, and what are reasonable prices. I just bought an X230 on eBay for $215 that's working quite well for my needs--it's a few years old but has an SSD and 8 GB RAM, it doesn't feel at all slow.
posted by vasi at 2:13 AM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

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