Best Laptop for £500 and same for £1000?

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LucidMinds
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username612415
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(Original post by JRHewett)
Can anyone possibly recommend some of the best laptops (preferably windows) which I could get for £500 or £1000.

Also, what would be the distinctive differences between hardware to justify the additional £500 expenditure on any higher end model?

Thanks, If you need me to elaborate on what I need etc I'm happy to do so. I'm going to be studying a Computer Science degree, so I guess that will dictate which one I ultimately go for to a certain extent.

Thanks
What will you be using it for? What features are most important to you? What screen size do you want? There's not really a single "best" at any point, difference laptops will be made to cater to different people.
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LucidMinds
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#4
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(Original post by JRHewett)
Updated my original post. Cheers for the speedy response!
To answer your processor question first, whether or not there's a big difference between an i5 or i7 is largely based on where about on the price scale you sit. Core i5 laptop CPUs only come in dual core variants, while mobile Core i7 CPUs come in dual core and quad core versions. This is as opposed to Intel's desktop CPUs, where the i5s are all quad core and the i7s come in quad, hex and octa core variants. So if you find a laptop on the cheaper end of your price range with an i7, it is most likely a dual core version (you can tell it's a quad core if the processor number ends in HQ or MQ. The technical differences between the dual core i5 and i7s is fairly minimal, certainly not enough to create a significant performance gap. As you start climbing towards £1000, however, you'll start finding quad core i7s in laptops that offer a substantial performance increase (assuming you're doing tasks that can utilise that extra power of course). So if you go cheap, an i5 will be perfectly fine compared to a low end i7 if it means being able to get better specs elsewhere.

But yeah, back to your original question. At £500 there's no real front runner, you'll find laptops from many brands offering a moderately similar bunch of specs- a 5th gen Core i5 CPU, 6-8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drives (with a smattering of laptops with hybrid drives or a small SSD) and 15" 900p-1080p displays. Shop around and you'll probably find a decent handful of models matching that description from various retailers.

Past £600 things start diverging a bit, but things go in two main directions- slim and portable or big and powerful. The former covers the traditional "ultrabook" category, with laptops getting really slim and gaining high resolution displays, all-SSD/flash storage and above average battery life. On the downside, they all tend to pack low voltage i5/i7 CPUs (quad core processors mean more power consumption, meaning reduced battery life and increased heat output, so they aren't popular in ultrabooks) and either integrated or very low-end dedicated GPUs. Most manufacturers offer some variety of ultrabook, off the top of my head there's the HP Spectre, Asus Zenbook, Dell XPS, and Lenovo Yoga product lines (Samsung, Toshiba and Acer also probably make them, but I'm notnfamiliar with their product ranges). I also know you said you were ideally after Windows, but if you have access to student discount the Retina MacBook Pro line are very competitive in specs and price to ultrabooks from other brands, if that was what's putting you off.

The other direction is more powerful laptops, which typically means a quad core i7 and a powerful dedicated GPU. Here selection is both more limited, yet at the same time there's a lot more choice, as weird as that sounds! It's more limited in that there are fewer manufacturers making "proper" gaming/workstation grade laptops at reasonable price points (Alienware is the obvious example here, grossly overpriced for underpowered hardware), with a few mainstream brands like Asus being popular but there's a number of manufacturers specialising in this sort of hardware that pops up like MSI and Gigabyte, that offer tons of different configurations with different GPUs, RAM and storage variations. It's also at the £700+ range that custom laptops start becoming very viable, and you can choose exactly what you want in your laptop. The majority of my gaming laptop recommendations come from custom brand PCSpecialist these days, their options have huge scope for tweaking and the prices are completely in line with pre-made options from other brands 95% of the time. The downsides to these computers over ultrabooks is, of course, being substantially larger and heavier and having poorer battery life.

As for specific recommendations, I would say figure out exactly what sort of tasks you'll be completing on the computer, especially at the more demanding end of the spectrum, and go.from there. Will the stuff in your course make use of a quad core processor, or utilise a GPU for rendering? Do you want to be able to cram it with tons of RAM? Or will you be doing relatively non-intensive tasks, and instead favour lengthy battery life and a more compact package? After deciding that you can look at the options available to you.
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Iqbal007
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#5
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#5
(Original post by JRHewett)
Can anyone possibly recommend some of the best laptops (preferably windows) which I could get for £500 or £1000.

Also, what would be the distinctive differences between hardware to justify the additional £500 expenditure on any higher end model?

Thanks, If you need me to elaborate on what I need etc I'm happy to do so. I'm going to be studying a Computer Science degree, so I guess that will dictate which one I ultimately go for to a certain extent.

Edit (Features I am hoping for)
Spoiler:
Show

Good display - as I'll likely be watching on-demand on the laptop.
Screen Size - 14-15, anything over 15 is a bonus (a welcomed bonus)
Processor - Was hoping for i7 (Is there much difference between the i5/i7?)
This is around my ideal memory/storage capacity -> "8GB+ DDR3 Memory with 1 TB SSHD storage" (flexible though)
Touchscreen? (A bonus, not really a deciding factor)
Webcam & Several USB ports.
Good battery life is a really big priority, but maybe that's because the one on my old Laptop is so dire, if I could get 8hours unplugged that would be sufficient, anything above is an added bonus.
I guess in general, the laptop would need to be able to deal with running a lot of software simultaneously, including emulators etc which on the laptop I have now, is particularly taxing. I'm currently running an Intel Core i3-2328 (2.20Ghz) with only 4GB of RAM. Therefore in theory this will be a significant upgrade.

Parents are suggesting a £500 budget, but even without debate I myself can get that to about £800+ if that helps.

Thanks again,
Also do check outside your usual high street shops...saveonlaptops in particular
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