Best laptop (for me) under $1100
March 22, 2021 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a new laptop and am hoping to spend less than $1100. I've used both Macs and PC (most recently PC). I don't game, but I do stream and store a lot of music. In addition to internet stuff, I do word processing and slightly-above-basic photo editing.

I currently have a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 running Windows 10. My biggest complaint about it is that it can be really slow to switch between applications and documents. (I've done extensive troubleshooting and am not going to work more with that on this machine.)

I had Macs for a long time and then mostly have had Dells due to cost. Either is fine.

No used or refurbished.

I do basic Internet stuff (email, FB, news) and also stream from the usual sites. I'm not an audiophile, but decent speakers are nice.

I'm a writer and Word works fine with me. But I do need a processor that's super quick about opening/saving/switching between documents.

Though I back up in the cloud, I like to have my large music collection and many, many documents on a hard drive.

I protect my laptops in cases, but also wanted to note that I'm accident prone and shouldn't have anything too delicate.

I'll try to answer any questions here.

Someone is helping me buy this laptop, and our combined funds are $1100.
posted by mermaidcafe to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Slow task switching can be a sign of full memory. How much ram does your laptop have? One possibility might be to just upgrade the ram?

If you like the form factor, and you have one of the smaller Ryzen processors (a 3?), there is the same laptop with a Ryzen 7 with more cores, this could improve performance for many workloads.
posted by nickggully at 4:37 PM on March 22, 2021

The new Macbook Air is wicked fast and $1000, although it has 256 GB storage, which might be tight for your requirements (no idea how big your music collection is—mine would take up about half of that); upping that to 512 would put it over your budget.
posted by adamrice at 4:52 PM on March 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

HP Envy 13. Get the Core i7 upgrade which gives you 16GB RAM, and you should have a very fast system that's VERY capable. You don't need the 4K screen. You can put in a large microSD card that will let you carry your music library without it using up your entire 256GB SSD. While laptops won't have the best speakers, this one is supposedly tuned by Bang & Olaufsen.

HP ENVY Laptop 13-ba1097nr Currently available directly from HP $949.99.
posted by kschang at 5:05 PM on March 22, 2021

I just bought the exact HP Envy kschang linked above, have had it for a month and it’s super quick to switch between programs, I can have Slack, Discord, Obsidian, Outlook, Word, Firefox, and Teams open no problem. Word is sort of slow to close? But it seems to be an isolated Word problem rather than anything to do with the computer (switching between programs isn’t slowed at all) and it hasn’t bothered me enough to troubleshoot. Have not yet had a program freeze.

Only complaint is the webcam isn’t that great, but it works fine enough.
posted by brook horse at 5:50 PM on March 22, 2021

Get a refurbished M1 MacBook Air. You can find one within that price range. You can also find a refurbished M1 MacBook Pro within that price range. They are so fast when you lift the lid. It’s like unlocking your phone. So nice.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:55 PM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

How large is "large"? 75GB? 750GB? 7.5TB?
posted by turkeyphant at 6:55 PM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Don't be put off by refurb MacBooks from the Apple Store. Apple refurbs are certified by Apple, come with full one year warrantees, and are eligible for Apple Care. My first Mac (an early Intel MacBook Pro) was an Apple refurb and lasted for almost six years (until I could no longer upgrade the OS). I now own a refurb iPod Pro and a new M1 Air, which is snappier than any machine I've ever used.
posted by lhauser at 7:02 PM on March 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Get the M1 air. First time a computer upgrade has actually felt faster since SSDs first became available. Believe the hype.
posted by kaefer at 7:03 PM on March 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nth the M1 MacBook Air. It seems like every tech reviewer that I’ve watched and read has been blown away by it’s performance. It will easily handle many Office Documents, streaming, email, FB, and News for years to come. (To be honest that workload can also be handled by most recently released Chromebooks if you’re using the browser version of Word.)
posted by mundo at 7:44 PM on March 22, 2021

Response by poster: Not doing refurbished, period, so looking for that price range new.
posted by mermaidcafe at 8:06 PM on March 22, 2021

Response by poster: I need a lot of hard disk memory, which the MacBook Air doesn’t have, even with the upgrade.

Thanks to those of you who read my requirements; I’ll look into the HP.
posted by mermaidcafe at 8:09 PM on March 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I like the Dell XPS 13" a *lot*, but not sure if it has enough storage for you at your price point.
posted by jpziller at 4:06 PM on March 23, 2021

@jpziller -- XPS has lost quite a bit of its luster through the years. It used to be a premium line (with the Inspiron being the normal line), but nowadays it's barely any better.

With that said, with similar config to the HP Envy 13 I quoted above, i7 and 16 GB RAM, the default config is a 512GB SSD, which is twice that of the Envy 13, but the price also ballooned to $1300, and OP stated "no refurb", so outlet price is not available. That's a significant chunk of change.
posted by kschang at 7:25 PM on March 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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