Factors to consider when buying a new laptop?

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Introverted moron
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So I've had my Fujitsu laptop (see attachment), with its Window Vista operating system, for 7 years now and it is starting to show its age. Due to its slow processing speed (which may be due to the fact that I've nearly maxed out the disk space ), my patience has run out with it and I am now looking to purchase a new laptop.

However, I'm hopeless at technology and am hoping that you lot can get me clued up on what features I should be looking out for so that I'll be more immune to any hard-sell techniques.

My budget is £300 and I'm in my first year at university. I don't want touchscreen laptops or anything fancy like that. What I require is just a good, preferably relatively lightweight laptop that has decent internal memory (for storing documents, PowerPoints, pictures.....etc.) and that will last quite a while. I don't want to be buying a new laptop every couple of years so buying something durable that will still be functioning relatively optimally even after a decade is a priority.

What do people normally look for when buying laptops?
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Gofre
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Look for a third gen Core i3 processor (the CPU name will be ii3-3***) as your primary consideration as this is what will have the biggest impact on performance, there's a couple on PCWord's site for £289 and £299. 4GB of RAM is standard now and plenty for the average user. From there its just a case of looking for as much storage as you can get :yep:
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Introverted moron
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(Original post by Gofre)
Look for a third gen Core i3 processor (the CPU name will be ii3-3***) as your primary consideration as this is what will have the biggest impact on performance, there's a couple on PCWord's site for £289 and £299. 4GB of RAM is standard now and plenty for the average user. From there its just a case of looking for as much storage as you can get :yep:
Thanks for your reply.

What would you say are the top or leading brands for laptops? I was thinking of getting a HP laptop; I know I said I don't necessarily want a touchscreen laptop but the HP Envy TouchSmart 14" Touchscreen Sleekbook 4-1203sa Laptop - Silver looks good:

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptop...ommercial.html

Also, what is the average/standard battery life of a laptop?
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mfaxford
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HP should be a reasonable brand although I've not used them myself.

Battery life will decrease over time and will vary depending on the laptop spec. In general a higher performance laptop (larger screen, dedicated gpu, faster cpu) will have a shorter battery life. Lower powered laptops and notebooks/ultrabooks should have a longer battery life. I'd generally expect between 3 and 8 hours of life between charges when new, after a couple of years that could have halved (or worse).

Make sure the hard drive is large enough for what you're likely to want to store on it and still have a good margin of space free. The performance will significantly decrease if you've got less than 20% of the drive space free.

Personally I'd also work on the principle of replacing a laptop every 3-5 years. If you get longer out of it then that's a bonus but getting 10 years out of a laptop (especially if you're buying at the low end of the market) is unlikely to happen.
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Gofre
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(Original post by Introverted moron)
Thanks for your reply.

What would you say are the top or leading brands for laptops?
I personally favour Asus and Lenovo, but HP are a good manufacturer too.

I was thinking of getting a HP laptop; I know I said I don't necessarily want a touchscreen laptop but the HP Envy TouchSmart 14" Touchscreen Sleekbook 4-1203sa Laptop - Silver looks good:

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/laptop...ommercial.html
Unless I'm missing something, isn't that drastically over your budget?

Also, what is the average/standard battery life of a laptop?
It depends entirely on the specs, brand and the batteries used- more expensive laptops tend to use better batteries. For a sub-£500 laptop with a third gen i3 you can probably expect 3-4 hours from most manufacturers.
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Introverted moron
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(Original post by mfaxford)
HP should be a reasonable brand although I've not used them myself.

Battery life will decrease over time and will vary depending on the laptop spec. In general a higher performance laptop (larger screen, dedicated gpu, faster cpu) will have a shorter battery life. Lower powered laptops and notebooks/ultrabooks should have a longer battery life. I'd generally expect between 3 and 8 hours of life between charges when new, after a couple of years that could have halved (or worse).

Make sure the hard drive is large enough for what you're likely to want to store on it and still have a good margin of space free. The performance will significantly decrease if you've got less than 20% of the drive space free.

Personally I'd also work on the principle of replacing a laptop every 3-5 years. If you get longer out of it then that's a bonus but getting 10 years out of a laptop (especially if you're buying at the low end of the market) is unlikely to happen.
(Original post by Gofre)
I personally favour Asus and Lenovo, but HP are a good manufacturer too.

Unless I'm missing something, isn't that drastically over your budget?

It depends entirely on the specs, brand and the batteries used- more expensive laptops tend to use better batteries. For a sub-£500 laptop with a third gen i3 you can probably expect 3-4 hours from most manufacturers.
It is, you're right. It was reduced but it seems like that offer is gone now.

Final question: how big or small is the average hard disk drive? I'm not sure what sort of ball park I should be aiming for if I'm planning on storing hundreds of files (documents, pictures.....etc.) on it.

Thanks again.
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Gofre
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(Original post by Introverted moron)
It is, you're right. It was reduced but it seems like that offer is gone now.

Final question: how big or small is the average hard disk drive? I'm not sure what sort of ball park I should be aiming for if I'm planning on storing hundreds of files (documents, pictures.....etc.) on it.

Thanks again.
500GB is "standard" for a consumer grade notebook, but at sub-£300 you may have to settle for 320GB. I wouldn't fret about anything from 320GB upwards though, if you ever manage to fill it up storage is dirt cheap, whether that's buying a larger replacement internal drive or getting an additional external one.
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Introverted moron
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(Original post by Gofre)
500GB is "standard" for a consumer grade notebook, but at sub-£300 you may have to settle for 320GB. I wouldn't fret about anything from 320GB upwards though, if you ever manage to fill it up storage is dirt cheap, whether that's buying a larger replacement internal drive or getting an additional external one.
Ok, thanks. I know I said that would be my final question but I've noticed while browsing that some laptops have an AMD APU processor which seems to be a graphics card and processing unit loaded into one.......does this perform better or worse than a Core processor or does it not make a difference?
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Fribourg
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Personally I'd consider CPU, RAM and Hard Drive as factors for buying a laptop.
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Gofre
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(Original post by Introverted moron)
Ok, thanks. I know I said that would be my final question but I've noticed while browsing that some laptops have an AMD APU processor which seems to be a graphics card and processing unit loaded into one.......does this perform better or worse than a Core processor or does it not make a difference?
I don't rate the APUs in low end laptops particularly highly. They have a sepatate graphical processing unit (GPU), but this is not the same as being a graphics card which is usually defined by having its own, dedicated video memory. The GPUs used in AMD's APUs still have to share system memory like the standard integrated graphics used by other processors, and the results are barely any better than the equivalent Intel processor's performance for gaming, if at all, and the equivalent Core processor will be better for the majority of tasks.
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Introverted moron
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(Original post by Gofre)
I don't rate the APUs in low end laptops particularly highly. They have a sepatate graphical processing unit (GPU), but this is not the same as being a graphics card which is usually defined by having its own, dedicated video memory. The GPUs used in AMD's APUs still have to share system memory like the standard integrated graphics used by other processors, and the results are barely any better than the equivalent Intel processor's performance for gaming, if at all, and the equivalent Core processor will be better for the majority of tasks.
Thank you for that, you've been a great help.

Oh dear, I really can't be trusted with final questions ........would you buy a refurbished laptop in general? It doesn't seem to be that much cheaper but the one I want is out of stock and only the refurbished one is available. I'd be buying from PC World or Currys so would hope that there would be no major issues with it.

Thanks again. =)
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mfaxford
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(Original post by Introverted moron)
...would you buy a refurbished laptop in general? It doesn't seem to be that much cheaper but the one I want is out of stock and only the refurbished one is available. I'd be buying from PC World or Currys so would hope that there would be no major issues with it.
If I did buy a refurbished device I'd probably look at the warranty offered compared to the standard warranty. That should give an idea of how well the supplier thinks it will work. I'd tend to trust mainstream suppliers more than small places as well. I'd then balance them against the cost (both overall cost and what discount you're getting - If the price was a good deal I'd take more of a risk on the warranty / supplier)
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Freier._.lance
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(Original post by Introverted moron)
Thank you for that, you've been a great help.

Oh dear, I really can't be trusted with final questions ........would you buy a refurbished laptop in general? It doesn't seem to be that much cheaper but the one I want is out of stock and only the refurbished one is available. I'd be buying from PC World or Currys so would hope that there would be no major issues with it.

Thanks again. =)
Do not buy a refurbished laptop from PC world. Also do not fret about GPU's, from what you've said so far I doubt you need anything higher end.
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Gofre
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(Original post by Introverted moron)
Thank you for that, you've been a great help.

Oh dear, I really can't be trusted with final questions ........would you buy a refurbished laptop in general? It doesn't seem to be that much cheaper but the one I want is out of stock and only the refurbished one is available. I'd be buying from PC World or Currys so would hope that there would be no major issues with it.

Thanks again. =)
It would depend on the warranty coverage, I definitely wouldn't buy one from the likes of PCWorld because they're a pain in the first place. I'd personally wait/spend the extra for a first hand laptop unless the savings were substantial.
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