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Laptops: best Quality/Price?

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Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Sehiro » Fri Sep 26, 2014 6:19 am

Hi, I don't know much about pc components or trademarks so I would like your opinion.

Basically I will change my pc in the next 6 months and would like to know if the deal is good, or if there is a better one. (Quality/price is bigger, even at lower or higher prices)

I will need it for studying (slides, documents and books), surfing the web (especially videos), editing music (garageband), video editing (yet to learn how, maybe with Blender), gaming (as best as possible, but I know that laptops may have a hard time).

So imo it seems I'll need a jack-of-all-trades laptop... (At least 1tera memory, probably 8gb ram, good graphic card, good cpu (how many cores though?) and good interface for wifi)
If it could have also webcam, bluetooth and a good screen it'd be nice.
Uh also it should stay alive for more than 6 years. I don't plan to change it.

Given so many "restrictions" I found a couple options, but maybe you know better? Also any suggestions about the brand more in general?
I would gladly listen to your opinion on my requirements too, I may have made some misjudgments.


The ones I found:

Dell Inspiron 15-5547 (749Euros, first choice)
- 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4510U processor (4M Cache up to 3.1 GHz)
- DDR3L of 8 GB and 2 DIMM (2 x 4 GB) at 1.600 MHz
- SATA 1 Tb (5.400rpm)
- AMD Radeon™ HD R7 M265 2GB DDR3
- Intel® Centrino® Wireless-AC 3160 + Bluetooth 4.0


Dell Inspiron 15-7537 (799Euros)
- 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4510U processor (4M Cache, up to 3.1 GHz)
- DDR3L of 8 GB and 2 DIMM (2 x 4 GB) at 1.600 MHz
- SATA 1 Tb (5.400rpm)
- Graphic card Intel® HD 4400
- Intel(r) Wireless-N 7260 BGN at 2,4 GHz + Bluetooth 4.0


The dino I have:
Hp Compaq nc6120 (from 2006)
- Intel Pentium M processor 1.73Ghz
- Ram 1.24gb (It was less, but I bought a new one)
- Hard disk 100gb
- Graphic card Unknown
- Wireless Unknown (Bought it apart, but can't remember)
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby EPR89 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:39 am

Wow!
I got a Dell Inspiron 7537 two days ago.

I went with the more expensive variant, though, because it has a Geforce GT 750M (2GB DDR5) and 16GB RAM (which is total overkill. 8 GB is perfectly fine.). I am pretty sure that this is the most expensive setup on the Dell website. With the support options I chose it was a bit over 1100€. The discount they give customers brought it down close to 1000 again. I just played the Crysis demo on all high settings at 1080p with decent performance and am currently plowing through Far Cry 2 with evertyhing maxed out. In Overgrowth I get right around 50-60 fps on the maps I have payed so far. I think Turner's Castle was around 30 fps, but I had post processing activated and Vsync on, both things I don't usually use. The load times were amazing, thanks to the hybrid harddrive.
One thing you need to consider is that this thing comes with a glossy screen. If you plan on using it outside or in a similar environment you will have a hard time. The display itself is amazing (compared to my previous laptop), but just keep this in mind. A matte screen would definitely be nice. I'm not sure how future proof the graphics solution is. It also has a touch screen. I don't imagine I'll ever really use it, but it's nice to have, I guess.

The i7 and the hybrid harddrive are definitely a good choice. Low power consumption, good performance, especially with Windows 8.1. Booting this thing up is really joy when you are used to having to wait for ages. You hit the power button and BOOM! There is your desktop.

If you can find benchmarks of the systems it will be pretty helpful for you. Comparing systems with different graphics cards is difficult to do on paper because the architecture used by different manufacturers is just so different. I don't think there will be a huge difference between the two systems, but with Dell you usually pay for what you get. For gaming, a dedicated GPU might be better. But like, I said: I'm not sure how the integrated solution stacks up against the R7. It may actually be a bit better in this case. The HD 4400 is pretty good for an integrated solution from what I've read. But benchmarks on otherwise similar systems are the only surefire way to find out.
I'm guessing that you should be alright right now either way, if you accept that some of the higher end titles won't run extremely well on the highest settings, but I don't think it will hold up all that well over six years.Then again, at the pace this technology runs through generations, nothing will.

One last thing: some people I know have overlooked stuff like this and were generally not pleased when they found out. Many modern laptops (the Inspiron 15 included) have no DVD drive. This saves a whole lot of space, but those guys thought any PC wold automatically have one. If you use physical discs a lot and don't want to save them as ISOs and use virtual drives to run them or use product keys to download them online, prepare to invest a bit of money into an external disc drive. They aren't really expensive. Many business laptops come with "out of date" slots and physical drives. Dell's business models have the name Latitude, if you want to check them out. Personally, I didn't find the missing disc drive to be problematic. The few older games I have I will either buy on sale at GOG, Humble Store or Steam at some point, or I'll go the virtual route. Or I'll install them to a portable harddrive.

My experience with using one of these for a few days: The build quality is amazing. It's pretty slim, not too heavy, the aluminium case is super sturdy and looks nice. The keyboard is a bit smaller than what I'm used to, but you get a numpad and everything you need. The keys are a bit shallow, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. The display can be a problem in situations where there is a dark image on the screen and the lighting conditions make for strong reflections.

I think both of your choices will work great for what you are planning to do. So the deciding factor should be gaming performance. And I really can't help you with that, since reliable information on this can only be reached via benchmarks in real applications. Look for ones that use games you'd like to play.
Keep in mind that if you buy from the official Dell website you usually get a discount and options for customer support. For example, I have gotten myself 3 Year In-Home Service, which means that in that time period if something happens to my system, I call customer support and they will send someone to my door to fix it. Really useful if this is your learning tool.

Sorry that tis has turned out as a novel sized piece. But I definitely can recommend Dell and this laptop brand. I would go for the 7537. But I'm biased, because I have one and I have upgraded from a multimedia laptop from 2009 to this ultrabook. So I don't think I qualify as an objective source right now. But the 7000 series is Dell's high end branch. So I assume it has a few more things going for it that are not immediately apparent from the general specs.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Endoperez » Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:00 am

If you use Blender for 3D, numpad is super useful. You can also plug in a separate USB one.

Nr of USB ports is very important.

Are the games you want to play graphically intensive? Civ or strategy games, for example, are easier to run.

If you want it to last, have it cleaned regularly. Dust buildup -> heat -> not a good thing. You can treat the symptom with a cooling pad, or the cause.

6 years is maybe too much - laptops are not as hardy as desktops.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Sehiro » Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:19 am

@EPR I don't mind the length of your post, it was quite informative.

I checked out again the one you bought (with all the extras you mentioned) and have to say that is definitely a fine piece of laptop, but it's a bit off budget. I surely consider it as an option, but this will be discussed in the family (I don't work yet, so this is an investment my parents will look into). Maybe the Christmas sales will bring down the price a bit.
The main upgrades are the hybrid disk drive, the ram and the graphic card.
Definitely nice ones. Without considering that it has the Wireless-N 7260 BGN, which should be better than the centrino, if I understood well.
Basically it would be the evolution of the 5547 for everything but the processor.

You mentioned more than a couple interesting things:
- the glossy screen: yes, it'd be nice to have an opaque one, but it's not necessarily a requirement, because I'll use it indoor.
- the touchscreen: as you said, a nice add, but not a requirement.
- the cd driver: I do not usually use it (never actually), but maybe to install some programs my dad has it'd be useful. I have to check if we have a portable cd driver somewhere. I think we have.
- the numpad: I forgot to say that I do not use it and that the presence of a numpad seems to me like a disadvantage because it shifts both keyboard and mouse pad to the left (I'm right handed) and increases the size.
I perfectly understand why you prefer it, but I don't require it, I prefer otherwise to say the truth. This brings up another topic:
- the size: I will bring the laptop around a lot in my backpack, everyday 9km (5.6miles) by bicycle, up and downhill. The one I have weights around 2.7kg (6pounds) and is slightly less than 15inches. I wouldn't mind a smaller one, because I'll use it in the uni and the "desks" are really small.

Tl;dr: Is maybe better to choose a smaller and "weaker" laptop which will last less but also cost less and allow me to do my stuff except hardcore gaming?
If yes, which brand/model?


P.s. I don't mind playing just old games. E.g. I would like to play again Shinobi for game gear (1991), or daggerfall. Maybe FFxii (2006) on emulator. The most requiring games I would play are OG and AVP (2010).
Or warframe http://store.steampowered.com/app/230410/.
As far as I know, running OG at 30fps is pretty damn good for a laptop.

P.p.s. daggerfall is free here: http://www.elderscrolls.com/daggerfall/


EDIT: Endo, you ninja'd me. :P
Thank you for telling me of Blender numpad requirement. As someone who never used it before, this is very welcome.
True about the nr of usb ports, I guess 3-4 will do the trick: one for mouse, others for eventual hard disks, usb sticks. No external keyboard.
5547 has 3 usb ports, 7547 has 4. My current pc has 4, but I use only 2.
Thanks for the suggestion of cleaning it, will do.
Also, you made me think about battery life: I don't need a powerful battery as I'll work always with plugs around.
For the lasting thing, I may disagree xD: My current pc has now 8 years, and my previous one (still works) has 19. I used it until last year to write high school final thesis. Then I needed to read some unsupported formats of doc and ppt so I had to change it for this one.

My old pc is a toshiba from 1995. Is toshiba still nowadays a valid trademark?
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Endoperez » Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:57 am

USB slots:

1) what do you always want to have in?

1 for mouse.
1 for cooling pad is a nice bonus, might extend either the range of games you can play without it overheating or the lifetime.

2) what do you want to have in occassionally? how often do you want to have more than one of these plugged in at once? switching between them can be a pain.

1 for a large backup USB drive where you can store important stuff, and stuff that you don't need ATM but you want to store for later use
1 for moving files to or from your computer: USB drive, camera, phone, music player...
1 for numpad, game controller, drawing tablet or other peripheral you use for one application.

In my case, I have mouse, cooling pad and wireless modem plugged in at all times. I have 3 USB slots. I had to get a cooling pad that's also a USB hub, and that's not a perfect solution either.

------

The numpad for Blender isn't a requirement, but it's useful. There's basically 4 keys you use that I really want to have when I use Blender, but F4-F10 keys are unused by default, so you just have to redefine them. Not a problem as long as you know about it.


Basically, numpad is used to control your view. Not your model or anything, but what you see and where your camera looks at, how, and from what direction. Movie editing in Blender is not affected at all, because that's a 2D screen - the movie clips aren't floating in a 3D space or anything. :D

Details: show
Numpad 1, 3, 7 (=corners) rotate the 3D view to match side, front and top views. This is useful because most things have some sort of a straight center line going through at least one axis. You can also reverse

Numpad dot . zooms to your selection - "frame selected in view". Very useful, it often shows you exactly what you want to see.

Numpad 4 and 6 rotate the view sideways, as if you were strafing in an FPS while keeping your view centered around the object. 2 and 8 do the same thing up and down. So if you start from the "front" position and press 8 a few times, you arrive at the "top" position. If you start from the "front" and press 4, you arrive at the "left" position.
This is handy if you want to rotate the view in specific degrees, e.g. for previewing the model from different angles, but you can just use the mouse for that so it's not as important.

Numpad 5 changes between ortographic view mode (no perspective - kinda like isometric stuff) and perspective view mode (vanishing points and all that). Ortographic is sometimes better for modeling, perspective is usually better for previewing the end result.

+ and - signs are used in hotkey combinations, but you have those in the non-numpad keyboard as well, so it shouldn't be a problem.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Sehiro » Sat Sep 27, 2014 5:44 am

I need just the mouse always plugged in. I occasionally link a hard disk for back ups or a usb for volatile storage of not very important files.
I wouldn't use a cooling pad, just because it's another weight to bring around...

I don't have a tablet, a controller, a webcam or a camera to plug in. Only the phone, but very rarely.
The most of my file transfers occur online (slides download) and the wireless router is quite distant 40mt (43 yards), old (3 years of 24/7 use) and busy (10-20 people at same time, peak at 35)so I need quite a good wifi set up.

Given these additional info is better to check out cheaper 13-14 inches laptops?
(E.g. Dell Inspiron 14 7437 (699euro) http://www.dell.com/uk/p/inspiron-14-7437/pd?oc=cn74311)

------------------------

Thank you very much for the blender explanation. I see how a numpad in very very useful in case of 3d models.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby tazygill » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:35 am

There's basically 4 keys you use that I really want to have when I use Blender, but F4-F10 keys are unused by default, so you just have to redefine them. Not a problem as long as you know about it.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby BlueCyberDemon » Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:55 am

I got a good laptop that might suits you for the stuff you might need.
I suggest you "ASUS N56J Series", its the best laptop i have

CPU: Intel Quad Core i7 - 4700 HQ, 2.4 GHz
Memory: 8 GB
HDD: 1 TB
Graphic Card: NIVIDIA GeForce GTX 760m
OS: Supports Windows 8.1 and up
USB 3.0 (10 Times faster than 2.0)
Wi-Fi: 360* Wireless Coverage

Perfect for Gaming, Perfect for Graphical Projects, and a good sound quality that comes with a SonicMaster Premium.

I hope this is the laptop you've been looking for. wish you the best!
Last edited by BlueCyberDemon on Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Sehiro » Sun Oct 26, 2014 6:22 pm

Thank you, it looks very cool, just a bit pricey. Still it's a very valid option.
I'll keep an eye out for eventual discounts for this model, it's definitely worth the hunt.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Sehiro » Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:41 pm

Hi guys, there is an occasion in my hometown for Christmas, it is this laptop here:

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c04503316&tmp_task=prodinfoCategory&cc=us&dlc=en&lc=en&product=7450938

For 600Euros, which is 733$, which is 469£.

Will I ever find a better deal?

P.s. There is time pressure, this deal will go off in less than a week and there are limited supplies.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Endoperez » Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:58 pm

Not my area of expertise, sorry. :/ The CPU and graphics card should be enough for most uses.

I think you would definitely be able to find a better deal. However, how much value do you put on having a laptop you can use during Christmas and spring and which you can get used to and not have to worry about, versus being able to save some money? You might not be able to find the better deal in months.

If it's a good value for your money, it's worth it, even if it's not the best deal you could've found.
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Re: Laptops: best Quality/Price?

Postby Sehiro » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:27 am

That's a good point. Buying it and getting this thought out of the way is actually what my father suggests (so I can focus on studing xD).
I honestly think too it'd be good to find something now, as free time and price drops are coincident.

My biggest worry is that it is an overkill for what I'll do with it, being a medicine student (I just need to look at slides, pdf, videos, maybe some 3d programs for anatomy).
I mean, It's true that this quality pc will be ok for years to come, but isn't the same thing true for an i3 or an i5 too?

Will an i3 be able to go on without problems (related to new programs and various updates) for 5years or more?
Will an i5 do it?
Or is it better to go for the best today to have a good laptop also tomorrow?

Thanks for the help
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