Help Choosing a New PC

Hey everyone, I need help choosing a new laptop. My school is forcing me to return the one I use or else charge me an outrageous amount ($1500). I doubt it was worth that much new. So I’m on the hunt! My parents have graciously offered to pay for half as a graduation gift (yes, I’m leaving college!)

Here’s what I think I’m looking for and I’m getting over run with the amount of specs and choices out there (I don’t do well with choice).

My price range for this is about $600, I’ve heard I can get a decent system for about that much. I’m not looking to buy another laptop for a few years so for that reason it should be expandable (unless it already is packed with RAM, etc), portability is a plus. I’m alright with a 14 or 15 inch screen as it uses less power and weighs less.

So heres what i think I want:

  1. Core2Duo processor (or the AMD equivalent?) I’ve just read a bit about them and they seem to be faster, use less heat, and be more energy efficient. So I think this would be great. But what Gigahertz? I know higher is better but I’m not a really resource intensive kinda guy (at all) no photoshop here, nothing else like that.

  2. Hard drives I don’t care about, except for a good one that won’t fail. The speed average seems to be about 5300 and I’ve been ok with that so far. I don’t mind what size it is, 80 GB, etc. as I think it would be cheaper to upgrade when I want to than buy big.

  3. RAM is the same way. I can live with 1 GB just fine. I would prefer it be upgradeable to 4 so that one day when I want to, I can. Once again, I get the feeling upgrading would be cheaper than buying big.

  4. Operating systems: I’ll likely be using Linux primarily. If Vista comes with it then fine, but I don’t actually care. I also have an XP cd I may load back on should Vista ■■■■ me off (which it might do)

  5. Brand? I’ve had an HP since 2004 with few problems. Right now its suffering from a failing hard drive and a battery that refuses to charge past 50% and dies within 5 minutes if unplugged. In the last few years though I haven’t been keeping up with what brand is actually made well. Perhaps this is my biggest problem, figuring out a decent brand. If I did that I could at least narrow the field to less than 200 ish. I do think I’d like to stay away from Sony.

  6. I’d like a DVD burner to come preinstalled so I don’t have to buy an external one. If I must, then I will. I don’t know much about these so the specs aren’t that important. So long as it burns, I should be happy. But of course, faster is always better :slight_smile:

  7. Can’t really think of much else.

So what does everyone think? I’d really appreciate anything people can throw at me. I suck at choice and that is one thing available to people these days.

I’m no tech-due but…

Yes, you should buy one with at least one additional slot for RAM.

I would go for a 2 GHz dual-core (like the Core 2 Duo T7250), that should be more than enough if you’re using Windows XP and Linux, and don’t do resource intensive work. You might be fine with something around 1.5 GHz.

I guess you’ll do a dual-boot with Linux and Windows/Vista? Around 80 GB should be enough for you, unless you’re using P2P-software. Really, 40 GB is enough. I have a 40 GB that I use for programs and OS, and I’ve used 14 GB only. Maxtor or Samsung HDD’s are good (from own expeirence).

1 GB should be just fine. RAM prices will drop, so try to get a laptop with at least one extra slot. It’s very important to have enough RAM, else the PC will be very slow, because it has to use the pagefile.

I’d go for XP, Vista requires more resources. Vista is safer, but XP with a decent firewall (like CFP3) and antivirus (Avira, Avast!, AVG) is enough to eliminate all security threats.

I don’t know if it’s possible, but if it is, customize your own laptop.

I have a LG one, and it’s working very well. Not a single problem so far. You might want to get one that supports CD/DVD-RW.


I just bought the S5804 version of at Best Buy for $450 and this also seems like a great value. You can go to 2GB for ~$75 if you want to add more RAM later.

It sounds interesting, I was actually looking at that one before but I was confused about the whole processor issue? How’s the speed seem with Vista?
How about battery life?



Speed seems fine with Vista, since it was set up for that OS. Battery life is so-so, but I haven’t used any of the battery saver options. I have only had it for a couple of months, but so far it seems to do everything well. I also got a couple more years warranty from Toshiba for ~$120 just in case. If there is a Best Buy near you, go take a look at one on display along with the others.

All stuff very good to know!

Actually I’m headed out the door soon as my Grandparents get ready! (They’re visiting from NY and anxious to go out and about)

Just got back, officially more confused than ever… have to return my laptop tomorrow to school now… oy I hate shopping.

I found what looks like a great deal from a friend and wanted to get some peoples opinions.

It’s a Dell Vostro 1500.

Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5270 (1.4GHz/800Mhz FSB/2MB cache)
2 Gigs of RAM expandable to 4
256MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ 8400M GT
160 GB hard drive
8X DVD/CD burner
Intel, rather than Dell Wireless Chipset. Not sure if it is Wireless N compatible, but lets assume its not.
Media Center
Microsoft Office
Vista Premium

All this for $599, Dells Website puts it at $739 and thats without office, so quite possibly 900

My only concern for this is the core2duo processor only being rated at 1.4 GHz, that seems rather slow for todays standards but it definitely seemed fast enough to run Vista Premium when I tried it. Any opinions on this? I’m not doing anything major but I would like to multi task, possibly a few office documents, IM service, etc. without it getting overloaded.

I also worry about Wireless N but it seems routers need to be compatible to get that kind of speed and I’m 99% sure my 3 or 4 year old one is not. Is this gonna be a big thing like Wireless was or just one of those new things that flop eventually. I’d rather not have to invest in a new laptop every year if I can avoid it.

Now this is probably one I shouldn’t ask, but lets say I do get this and want to upgrade the processor to something clocked a little faster like 1.73 GHz(buy one from like New Egg or something), how difficult would that be? It still seems like I may be saving some money. I know it would be compatible but would it be a bear to install?

Thanks for any opinions.


Well, I’ve got the dell xps 1530 and i really like it, I bought it for 807€ in supersale + couponcode. Now it’s back on 1500€ (:LGH). However the vostro is for bussiness only, you won’t get it bougt from the dell site (but you told your friend sold it ?). If you’re willing to buy from their site, I recommend subscibing on their newsletter as they give you frequently -10% (:TNG).
Dell is great stuff, it comes with vista but if you call and ask them, they will give you XP.

Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5270 (1.4GHz/800Mhz FSB/2MB cache) 2 Gigs of RAM expandable to 4 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ 8400M GT 160 GB hard drive 8X DVD/CD burner Intel, rather than Dell Wireless Chipset. Not sure if it is Wireless N compatible, but lets assume its not. Media Center Microsoft Office Vista Premium
Seems quite good, the intel chipset is I think the next gen. one, so that would be fine. Vista will run good but you won't get to crysis ;D. (even I can't >:().

Hope I didn’t confuse you more (:TNG)

Seems all right, but you could use Windows XP if you don’t have any use for DirectX 10 or any other of the features in Vista. Else, Home Basic should be just as good as Premium, except you’ll get better performance. I’ve tried Home Basic in Virtualbox, and it runs just fine with 400 MB RAM.

Now I don’t know anything about changing parts of a laptop, but it shouldn’t be too hard, if you can locate it, and open the laptop. If you can’t open up the laptop, then it’ll be a little harder to change…

Don’t worry, my computer that’s 4-5 years old can only run Crysis with everything in ‘Low’ (:WIN)


What I ment was running it on High

but you told your friend sold it ?

He is selling it, I believe he owns a small business but got the laptop to use for school… dunno quite how but I checked it out and it is indeed a Vostro.

Thanks for all the replies here… I guess I still need to think about it some more.


Your definition of barely here is worlds apart from mine ;D

So are you going to reformat to XP? (:TNG)

[quote]So are you going to reformat to XP?

DONE! :BNC I actually set up a dual boot. In my free time I’m gonna work on making Vista usable by me.

Your definition of barely here is worlds apart from mine Grin

LOL I sanitized the keyboard as soon as I found that! Used it for just a month too, he sure moved fast.

Sounds like a great deal. Just a comment on CPU though-most laptops don’t use chip sockets, but surface mount/wave solder them to the motherboard so pretty much impossible for the end user to modify. But check around on the internet; not familiar with that Dell.