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Lap top Computers

Buying one.

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Erfolg29/09/2020 13:07:09
11827 forum posts
1354 photos

I am being urged to buy a Laptop.

When working I had (at least) two of the things, I found two when moving house, which went into the skip, as they were not capable of handling much in the way of graphics, and rather low in memory. The input methods were limited

It has struck me that little ages faster than a computer. Memory sticks seem common, but are they being replaced? Interacting wirelessly with the WiFi seems to be common? What else is now normal, that a dinosaur probably is unaware of.

What do actually need, and its capability?

I play games on my Xbox360. I want to drive my laser cutter from it. I will probably use the Inter-net via the laptop.

I see apparently current Laptops from as little as circa £400 some as much as £1,500.

Where should I be looking, for what, at what price point? Any ideas?

Plummet29/09/2020 13:24:08
1422 forum posts
41 photos

A lot of the more expensive laptops are optimised for either size or for gaming. As I have no need for a super slim laptop or the flashy graphics gamers want I suggest that you can ignore these top-end computers.

I use Linux not Windows, so I can live with a much less powerful machine and still get reasonable performance.

So when I have bought laptops I have often gone for end-of-line models. I get them from a proper dealer tha can provide proper support, and I avoid the well known high street names as my experiences with them is dire.

Hope this helps.


Erfolg29/09/2020 14:06:01
11827 forum posts
1354 photos

Thank you for your reply Plummet, much appreciated.

I have just been looking at a Lenovo IdeaPad D330 10.1" Touch 2-in-1 Laptops

I noted that it did not have an Optical Drive, it struck me that the cutter I have purchased comes with a CD for the software. Initially I dismissed the Lenovo, then thought of purchasing an external optical drive, then I thought, perhaps I could use the drive on my PC to copy the program to a Memory Stick, which I could plug into a Laptop, with no drive. Is this possible, or am I missing something?

Shaun Walsh29/09/2020 15:08:04
440 forum posts
50 photos

Personally I wouldn't buy anything with less than a 15" screen but then my eyesight isn't what it was.

Recently bought 2 laptops, one for me and one for my wife.

First has an AMD Ryzen 3 processor and a 1 TB hard drive with 4GB of memory which wasn't enough to run windows 10 easiiy so I added another 4GB and it's fine now.

The second was a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 with an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of memory and a 128 GB SSD.

The first has more storage the second boots faster due to the SSD, If I need more storage I can add a second SSD as there is room in the motherboard.

Laptops with optical drives are getting harder to find but USB optical drives are cheap now.

Just make sure that whatever you buy has a processor fast enough to run the cutter (do you use CAD software too?), a minimum of 8GBof memory and enough storage space for programs, files etc. An RJ45 port is good too in case you have wifi problems you can cable direct to the modem. USB 3 ports, the more the merrier and an SD card slot is good too.

Take a look at Argos, John Lewis and Ebuyer.

Martin_K29/09/2020 15:10:10
205 forum posts


Don't fall into the trap of 'looking down the wrong end of the telescope'. The starting point for buying a computer is;

* What am I going to use it for? (e.g. application software to be run, peripherals to be connected).
* How am I going to work? (e.g. where is it to be located, do I expect to move it).

Choice of device type comes after.

Form factors exist beyond desktop, laptop, tablet, e.g. small that mount on the back of a monitor.

If you have a home network (even if only the 'hub' supplied by your ISP) you should be able to move files between devices without need of physical media.

Robin Colbourne29/09/2020 15:14:53
697 forum posts
17 photos

Whatever you do, go large and go fast. Small screens, small, fiddly keyboards and slow processors all cause lots of stress you don't need. A 15 or 17" screen, an i5 processor and an HD screen, are achievable for under £700.

A solid state had drive (SSD) speeds up initial boot up. 1 Terrabyte of hard drive memory is fairly normal. and you want as much Random Access Memory as possible.

This looks pretty good: Currys Dell Inspiron 17" Laptop

You will appreciate spending a bit more, long after you remember just how much it was! Think of how many hours you are likely to spend on it. The difference in cost per hour is minimal.

Keith Berriman29/09/2020 15:48:58
796 forum posts
13 photos

Hi Erfolg. I would suggest going to a local computer shop if you have one more than going to the likes of Currys/PC world they just want to sell you a computer they get the best commission on with a high spec for gaming that you will not need

john davidson 129/09/2020 16:10:39
71 forum posts

I have had a Lenovo Ideapad 110 for two years and I can't fault it, it has a disc drive which i think you said was wanted in your spec,

regards John

Peter Christy29/09/2020 16:17:45
1905 forum posts

I have found that Currys/PCWorld are OK, PROVIDED you know exactly what you want! Their prices are good, their advice and know-how lamentable!

If you need advice, go to a specialist supplier, but expect to pay a premium.

Lots of good advice above, especially regarding screens! Like many, my eyesight is not what it once was, but I did buy a smaller laptop for reasons of portability. I also do a lot of video editing - not always on the laptop, but if I'm travelling..., and the one I specified had better colour rendition than the normal ones. Useful for colour balancing...

Smaller screens *can* be OK, but you need at least 1080 vertical resolution. Best advice is 15" as a compromise between portability and screen, 17" if portability is of lesser importance. Also, look for an easily replaceable battery! Internal batteries can be difficult to replace, and if you look after your laptop it will probably outlast several batteries!

Since you are posting here, you obviously have access to some kind of computer. Does that have an optical drive? Software is usually fairly easy to swap between optical and memory sticks, but operating systems can be finicky! I run Linux, and have never had a problem with loading software from memory sticks, not even the OS.

The Dell suggested by Robin C above is a good spec, Intel I5 processor, SSD for the OS and a big "spinning rust" disk as well for bulk storage. They also do an AMD version version for the same money that is *slightly* higher specced Bigger SSD and twice as much RAM!: **LINK**

Its Hewlett-Packard, so a well known brand. Be warned though: If you go to Currys, decide what you want, and don't be swayed by the sales-person (see Keith's comments above!) wink.

Also, watch out for them trying to sell you unnecessary extended warranties! You are already well protected by the manufacturers warranty and your consumer rights. Most electronic gear will either break down very early in its life or very, very late, and any extended warranty will not protect you against either!

Best of luck!

P.S. Both the Dell and HP have a DVD drive built in! (According to the specs!)




Edited By Peter Christy on 29/09/2020 16:22:17

MaxG29/09/2020 16:33:26
181 forum posts
5 photos

I recently bought a new laptop, my first, as I'd had some issues with my previous desktop which was like me getting long in the tooth.

I bought from John Lewis over the net. HP Pavilion, 15" screen, 8 gig of ram and a 500g SSD drive, I5 10th gen processor. Very pleased with it so far.

I didn't bother with a touch screen and I can't say I miss that facility. My wife's laptop has it but it doesn't do any thing for me when I have to use it.

I use it with an ethernet cable that I previously used with my desktop. I have thus switched the WiFi off unless I move it around to other locations.

It lacks an optical drive but I can get one easily when I get around to it.

I had a 1TB external drive handy so I copied all the contents of "My Docs" from the desktop and now use this as my files source via the USB connectors. Very useful as it means I lost nothing in the transfer.

As far as I know the two drives in the old desktop are OK, 1TB and 500G, so I intend to get a couple of caddies to put these in and use them via USB.

Most laptops seem to lack connectors so one thing you may find is that it is worth getting a USB hub that only uses on socket on the computer but gives you several USB sockets of various generations to plug other things in.

I also use a wired mouse with it as I don't get on with the pad. Tried a wireless mouse but gave up on that as it ate batteries and seemed to always have switched itself off when I wanted to use it!!!

I agree with other posters that go as big as you can with the screen, I found 17" screens with the other things I required much too expensive so I settled on 15". Took a little getting used to as with the desktop I had a 23" screen.

Hope some of the above provides some thoughts for you. Good luck in your search and selection.

Good luck also with sorting out all the settings so it works how you want. That took me several days and I am still tweaking!



Nigel R29/09/2020 16:56:11
4173 forum posts
698 photos


My strategy was;

Start with budget of 600.

Purchase whatever the Dell return and refurb shop had, that looked good. I ended up this time with an Inspiron something or other with decent size screen and SSD.

The tactic has worked out quite well for me several times. Prices are usually around 10 or 15% below high street shops.

Gary Murphy 129/09/2020 16:57:44
477 forum posts
22 photos

I am no pc/laptop expert. When I bought my laptop to replace the HUGE pc stuck in the corner I asked for advice.

I went with a Lenovo Z51-70, good spec apx 4years ago.

I can give 2 bits of advice, will never buy a Lenovo again, the customer service when needed was next to zero.

If buying from PC world and the "know how" backup,expect very long waits,pre covid AND talking to many guys before you get to the guy who knows his stuff.

I am looking at replacing mine due to it playing up now, a Lenovo. I will buy from John lewis/waitrose and not a Lenovo.

These are only my personal findings.

Frank Skilbeck29/09/2020 17:24:41
4845 forum posts
107 photos

I've just replaced the hard drive with an SSD in my Sony Vaio, which I bought in 2012, was reasonably good spec then with a Core i5 processor and Radeon graphics. It's OK running flight simulators and all my work stuff (viewing 3D models etc) Mine has a 17" screen so is OK on it's own, but at home I have a 24" monitor, running as an extended screen

Shame Sony stopped making them, this is my second (I has an earlier one from a company I worked for) and find them very reliable.

+1 for SSDs mine, running Win10, now boots up in no time at all, with the earlier mechanical drive I could go and make a cup of tea smiley

Erfolg29/09/2020 17:54:14
11827 forum posts
1354 photos

I have just realised another must.

Needs a camera and microphone for Zoom meetings, as I am guessing that in the future some BMFA meetings will be done via ZOOM/

Robin Colbourne29/09/2020 18:42:44
697 forum posts
17 photos

I bought a laptop from John Lewis a few years ago and found that they included a two year warranty for the same price that PC World charged for the same laptop with only a one year warranty. I placed my order on Saturday evening, and it was ready to collect in my local Waitrose on the Sunday morning, barely 12 hours later!

If you 're also looking at refurbished machines (with a year's warranty), and would be happy with a 15" screen, this one at £299 looks OK. You can have it with a 480GB Solid State Drive for only £369.
HP ProBook 655 G1 AMD A10 Quad Core

Peter Christy29/09/2020 21:52:26
1905 forum posts

Erf: Most laptops come with camera and mic as standard these days - certainly the HP one I mentioned does. I didn't check the Dell, but I'd be very surprised if it wasn't so equipped.



Ben B29/09/2020 22:50:23
1461 forum posts
4 photos

Minimum 8gb ram and preferably more.

250gb ssd minimum and better if more. I wouldn't worry about old ssd or m.2

If new cpu/apu I'd go team red (AMD) but anything more than 2 gen old and I'd go team blue (Intel).

Personally I'd go refurbed buisness spec over new domestic. Should be able to get a nice i5 for reasonable money.

I run three laptops and one desktop. My favourite (if for no other reason than portability) is an i5 Thinkpad. Screen is small but works f nicely.

Bought my wife a nice Lenovo intel based laptop with 1tb and 16gb on a i9 cpu. Cost flipping arm and leg though.

Middling is the key unless you're burning money. You'll be limited by the lowest common denominator so don't go crazy on ram and ssd if cpu can't hack it.

Geoff S30/09/2020 00:47:58
3827 forum posts
49 photos

Because I'm at home most of the time I prefer a desk top. I have a 24" display and full size keyboard and mouse (both of which need relplacing because they're worn out). My wife has her own desk top, too. As we've never had a TV in all 53 years of our married life our PCs are all our video entertainment.

With a desk top I can easily both repair and update as required. My HD failed last year and I just replaced it - fortunately had a reasonably up to date system image file fr all my software and my data were all backed up anyway. The HD is 2 TB and I have an additional 250 MB SSD which I tend to use for back up. I aso have a standalone HD for 'real' back up.

We do have an old Dell laptop to use when we're away in the camper but it's rarely used. A laptop we bought new failed completely (can't remember the make). I eventually managed to get it apart hoping the power supply was a separate unit but alas not. The fault was a burned out surface mount chip on the motherboard so unrepairable and motherboards unobtainable.

So, unless you need a portable PC, I'd go for a desk top.


Gary Murphy 130/09/2020 09:26:41
477 forum posts
22 photos

I am looking at new laptop also, I found the intel chip selection confusing. i5 and i7 but then also "gen" after the title.

I was seeing new machines for sale with older slower i7 the a i5!

I have decided to go with AMD this time

Shaun Walsh30/09/2020 10:03:59
440 forum posts
50 photos

You can compare the performance of different CPUs here.


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