Buying a goodbut not TOO expensive laptop. Watch

Elbow Patches
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Report Thread starter 5 years ago
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Hi all,

so I'm starting my PGCE (teacher training) this year and need to buy a new laptop to take to uni. As a Physics teacher I want it to handle anything I can throw at it (digital editing, simulations, data analysis) for work plus entertainment at home.

I started out with a budget around the £400 mark, but though that can get 8Gb ram and 1Tb hard drive, those deals are for older processors, so then I decided to go for '4th generation'. The difference between an intel i3 and a top of the range i7 quad core is about £90 so I convinced myself it's worth it, as well as going for 16Gb ram. So I'm now looking at around £700 from some 'independent' sites like pcspecialist who allow you to build your own and end up being a few hundred less than if I got the same direct from the manufacturer. So I'm just about to finalise my order but with a few last decisions:

Do I need a graphics card? The intel i7 range has a graphics media accelerator 4600 instead, and I don't intend to use this for gaming (not much), but will the lack of a graphics card stop me using anything other than games? Say if I want to edit a video or use a 3d modeller to create an animation, will it still work without a graphics card?

HDD or solid state drives? My pcs and laptops in the past have all eventually died because of something physically wrong with the hard drive. Should I get a 1Tb HDD or maybe 500 with another 250 SD?

Has anyone here got a laptop from Box, Novatech, Chillblast or PCSpecialist? They all offer similar deals that meet my requirements.

Sorry for the long post, but I like to be detailed. All and any opinions welcome!

~EP
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Jamie73
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I haven't ordered from those sites but I can give you a bit more information about the graphics and hard drive question.

The 4th gen Haswell chips no longer utilize the older HD 4000 chipsets and have been upgraded with the HD 4400 and HD 4600 chipsets which have an average increase of around 30% in graphics performance than the older 4000 chipsets. If you are going to be using applications that are graphic intensive then you would be better of looking for a laptop that comes with a discrete graphics card. One example of a decent discrete graphics card would be the Nvidia GeForce GT 735M.

The 735M has a lot more memory speed and a dedicated 2048MB of onboard RAM so it will not use RAM from the system like an integrated graphics chipset does. Video Editing and 3D Modelling can be incredibly resource demanding and even dedicated graphics cards on desktops can struggle with the heavy demand. I wouldn't recommend a laptop for 3d modelling, one because of the mobile processing power and two the graphics card will never be able to compete with a dedicated card in a desktop.

Video Editing and 3D Modelling will require large amounts of space to save files, particularly if you're editing and saving high quality video files. The HDD will be cheaper with more space available but the SSD will be able to download/transfer and open applications faster because of the controller built into the SSD rather than the platter that data is read from on the HDD. If you have the budget and the upgrade ability, the SSD will prove to be incredibly efficient in not only data related tasks but also for application execution tasks like programs you install and the OS boot/shutdown time itself.

If you send a list of the specifications and hardware you have chosen, I would happily give you more information on it.
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