Laptop for simple tasks under £200. Watch

TheNamesBond.
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I require a laptop for simple tasks such as making notes for my A-Levels, browsing, internet shopping, Skype, storage for a lot of photos and relatively light to carry around.

I'm not looking for anything fancy.

Any recommendations, preferably from people who have actually used the recommended laptop would be greatly appreciated.
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LuigiMario
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that's quite a low price limit, perfect for a decent Chromebook from PC World (ASUS or ACER for ex.) but in the Chromebook system all documents are stored in Google documents cloud. Does work quite well, pretty sure there's no skype - might be a Google equivalent?, or use your phone video service.

so a cheapo PC, (avoiding supermarket melters - cheap no-names that don't work after 6 months) could be the Windows Cloud equivalent of a Chromebook

https://www.amazon.co.uk/HP-Stream-1...dp/B07F6CD958/ £199 reduced to £145 (AMZN used just for example, I don't recommend them over any other outlet) This has a tiny processor, just enough RAM to load webpages and a tiny 32GB memory card, with annual RENTAL of 1TB cloud and Office 365 (maybe there's a student deal for these somewhere)

at least this is a starting point, I'd say that Chromebook cloud based is more reliable than Windows Cloud, as MS did lose user data earlier this year and Win10 is evolving without that much beta-testing. ChromeOS based on Linux, is a lot more resilient.
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jameswhughes
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(Original post by TheNamesBond.)
I require a laptop for simple tasks such as making notes for my A-Levels, browsing, internet shopping, Skype, storage for a lot of photos and relatively light to carry around.

I'm not looking for anything fancy.

Any recommendations, preferably from people who have actually used the recommended laptop would be greatly appreciated.
Probably a Chromebook, any Windows options in the price range will be pretty terrible.
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username3973192
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Acsel or Gofre can help
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Acsel
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(Original post by TheNamesBond.)
I require a laptop for simple tasks such as making notes for my A-Levels, browsing, internet shopping, Skype, storage for a lot of photos and relatively light to carry around.

I'm not looking for anything fancy.

Any recommendations, preferably from people who have actually used the recommended laptop would be greatly appreciated.
At that price point, your options are basically Chromebooks and older used hardware. Neither are inherently good recommendations though, even if they'll do for an A Level student. Quite simply you are going to be making a ton of compromises no matter what you buy at this budget. Ranging from everything to low resolution displays, poor webcams, small storage, generally poor hardware and all sorts of other things that are going to have some impact on the tasks you've listed.

Do you already own a laptop or some other computer, or are you looking for this to be your primary device? How long are you looking for it to last, are you aiming for this device to get you through A Levels and still be decent for, say, uni afterwards?
Last edited by Acsel; 1 month ago
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westty
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(Original post by Acsel)
At that price point, your options are basically Chromebooks and older used hardware. Neither are inherently good recommendations though, even if they'll do for an A Level student. Quite simply you going to be making a ton of compromises no matter what you buy at this budget. Ranging from everything to low resolution displays, poor webcams, small storage, generally poor hardware and all sorts of other things that are going to have some impact on the tasks you've listed.

Do you already own a laptop or some other computer, or are you looking for this to be your primary device? How long are you looking for it to last, are you aiming for this device to get you through A Levels and still be decent for, say, uni afterwards?
I don't totally agree you with you on this Acsel, old hardware, circa 2014/2015 Gen CPU and hardware is still very capable of running todays software.
For doing simple tasks, social, entertainment using old hardware from those years is still more than capable. Yes, there is a minimum spec it would have to be i.e. 4GB RAM preferably 8GB, 64GB/128GB SSD and a Core i5 would be enough for what it would asked to do.

For example a used Dell Latitude E7240 12.5" Core i5 4th Gen with 8GB running windows 10 can be had for £200, and be much better than a Chromebook around the same price.

I would certainly avoid getting a HP Stream even brand new one's. Slow CPU's, awful screen, limited RAM
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Acsel
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(Original post by westty)
I don't totally agree you with you on this Acsel, old hardware, circa 2014/2015 Gen CPU and hardware is still very capable of running todays software.
For doing simple tasks, social, entertainment using old hardware from those years is still more than capable. Yes, there is a minimum spec it would have to be i.e. 4GB RAM preferably 8GB, 64GB/128GB SSD and a Core i5 would be enough for what it would asked to do.

For example a used Dell Latitude E7240 12.5" Core i5 4th Gen with 8GB running windows 10 can be had for £200, and be much better than a Chromebook around the same price.

I would certainly avoid getting a HP Stream even brand new one's. Slow CPU's, awful screen, limited RAM
I didn't say they weren't capable.
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Dunnig Kruger
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TheNamesBond. Check out what I've written on this subject in post #7 in this thread:
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=5920486

From what you've said, something like a Lenovo T450 or T460 off ebay for £150ish would be great for your needs.

I cannot stress highly enough how easy a task it is for the computer hardware to run browsing (including Internet shopping), Skype, photo storage applications. Even 8 year old laptops give instantaneous response for these tasks. A Lenovo T450 is overkill for these tasks.

I have extensive experience of Lenovo T450's as well as a number of other laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP.

The T450's are midway in weight and portability between a 15" laptop and a Lenovo x1 Carbon. If you hold a T450 with the 9 cell battery and then hold an X1 Carbon (or Dell XPS 13), you will notice that the Carbon is lighter. But the difference isn't so great that it'd be a bid deal for any young fit able bodied person. Especially when you add in the weight of the power supply and rucksack or laptop bag. If you were a 90 year old 7 stone grandmother, I'd suggest an x1 Carbon.

If the laptop comes with a 256 GB SSD hard drive, see how you go for storage space for your photos. If it comes with a mechanical hard drive or a 128 GB hard drive, it'd be a good idea to buy a 480 GB SSD for £50.

Do not buy a Chromebook, as westty has already quite rightly pointed out. They are tragically feeble computing devices.
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TheNamesBond.
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
TheNamesBond. Check out what I've written on this subject in post #7 in this thread:
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=5920486

From what you've said, something like a Lenovo T450 or T460 off ebay for £150ish would be great for your needs.

I cannot stress highly enough how easy a task it is for the computer hardware to run browsing (including Internet shopping), Skype, photo storage applications. Even 8 year old laptops give instantaneous response for these tasks. A Lenovo T450 is overkill for these tasks.

I have extensive experience of Lenovo T450's as well as a number of other laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP.

The T450's are midway in weight and portability between a 15" laptop and a Lenovo x1 Carbon. If you hold a T450 with the 9 cell battery and then hold an X1 Carbon (or Dell XPS 13), you will notice that the Carbon is lighter. But the difference isn't so great that it'd be a bid deal for any young fit able bodied person. Especially when you add in the weight of the power supply and rucksack or laptop bag. If you were a 90 year old 7 stone grandmother, I'd suggest an x1 Carbon.

If the laptop comes with a 256 GB SSD hard drive, see how you go for storage space for your photos. If it comes with a mechanical hard drive or a 128 GB hard drive, it'd be a good idea to buy a 480 GB SSD for £50.

Do not buy a Chromebook, as westty has already quite rightly pointed out. They are tragically feeble computing devices.
I'd be willing to spring an extra 150.

What about this.

Lenovo IdeaPad 320 15.6" HD Notebook - (Platinum Grey) (Intel Pentium Gold 2.3GHz (4415U), 4GB RAM, 2TB HDD, Windows 10 Home) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0792TCT..._tavZCbN3EDTS0
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Gofre
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(Original post by TheNamesBond.)
I'd be willing to spring an extra 150.

What about this.

Lenovo IdeaPad 320 15.6" HD Notebook - (Platinum Grey) (Intel Pentium Gold 2.3GHz (4415U), 4GB RAM, 2TB HDD, Windows 10 Home) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0792TCT..._tavZCbN3EDTS0
For £350 you should be looking for a Core i3 8130U or Ryzen 3 2200U processor, both for improved day to day performance and the overall longevity of the laptop. This one is pretty great for the top end of your budget, thin and light with a full HD display, but you can find cheaper options for £300-£320 you can find options with more conventional "768p" displays or chunkier bodies.

https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/comput...88774-pdt.html
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by TheNamesBond.)
I'd be willing to spring an extra 150.

What about this.

Lenovo IdeaPad 320 15.6" HD Notebook - (Platinum Grey) (Intel Pentium Gold 2.3GHz (4415U), 4GB RAM, 2TB HDD, Windows 10 Home) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0792TCT..._tavZCbN3EDTS0
Compared to a Lenovo T450, it has a bigger screen, which is good and bad. Good for having a larger screen to look at. Bad for portability.

The battery only has 40 whr, compared to a T450 with the 9 cell battery option having 95 whr.

Some T450's come with 4GB RAM, many come with 8 GB.
The CPU is a bit slower than what you'd get in a T450.
The hard drive has more capacity but is much slower for booting up and loading large applications than the corporate standard 256 GB SSD in the T450. You could always take the 2TB drive out of the Ideapad 320 and replace it with an SSD for about £40.

Windows 10 Home. I'd take that off straight away and put Windows 10 Pro on. But then I'd instantly rebuild any laptop I bought as I've not come across any sellers so far that do the sort of lean and fast software builds that I like.


With that Ideapad 320 you're paying more money for a worse laptop. It therefore makes no sense whatsoever to me to buy one.

For the sort of spec you get with that Ideapad 320, it would be OK for your very simple and easy (from the computer's point of view) requirements. However, that's the sort of specifcation you could get in a free laptop, give or take a bit.
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TheNamesBond.
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
Compared to a Lenovo T450, it has a bigger screen, which is good and bad. Good for having a larger screen to look at. Bad for portability.

The battery only has 40 whr, compared to a T450 with the 9 cell battery option having 95 whr.

Some T450's come with 4GB RAM, many come with 8 GB.
The CPU is a bit slower than what you'd get in a T450.
The hard drive has more capacity but is much slower for booting up and loading large applications than the corporate standard 256 GB SSD in the T450. You could always take the 2TB drive out of the Ideapad 320 and replace it with an SSD for about £40.

Windows 10 Home. I'd take that off straight away and put Windows 10 Pro on. But then I'd instantly rebuild any laptop I bought as I've not come across any sellers so far that do the sort of lean and fast software builds that I like.


With that Ideapad 320 you're paying more money for a worse laptop. It therefore makes no sense whatsoever to me to buy one.

For the sort of spec you get with that Ideapad 320, it would be OK for your very simple and easy (from the computer's point of view) requirements. However, that's the sort of specifcation you could get in a free laptop, give or take a bit.
Ok so just so I'm sure, you're talking about this laptop, correct?

Lenovo Thinkpad T450 Laptop, I5-5300U, 2.3GHZ, 500GB SATA Drive, 8GB RAM, With Windows 10 Professional (Renewed) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N6MZ6..._kTyZCbK4GMGPF
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Dunnig Kruger
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Right laptop, wrong price and wrong place to buy it.

This, if it sells for the right amount. BTW allow about £30 to upgrade this example to the 9 cell option
g[/s]WlMAAOSwhW5cninj&frcectupt=true]https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lenovo-Thinkpad-T450-Laptop-Intel-Core-i5-5300U-2-30GHz-8GB-240-SSD-2Xbattery/254217120364?hash=item3b30856a6c:g:WlMAAOSwhW5cninj&frcectupt=true

Or this, and again allow £30 for a the battery upgrade.
g[/s]S4UAAOSwJzpcyXb~]https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T450-Core-i5-5300U-2-30GHz-8GB-RAM-256GB-SSD-Win-10-Pro/173890065526?hash=item287ca7d476:g:S4UAAOSwJzpcyXb~

Or this IF it sells for the right price (another one to allow £30 for the battery upgrade)
g[/s]HssAAOSw83ZcyyDd&frcectupt=true]https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T460-Laptop-New-NO-RESERVE/303141976486?epid=4014104853&has h=item4694ab79a6:g:HssAAOSw83ZcyyDd&frcectupt=true
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TheNamesBond.
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Why so cheap? Seems insane that Amazon would sell near 400 when I could get it for less than 100.

Btw what does 'renewed' and 'seller refurbished' mean?

I get the idea of what the latter means but I want to be sure.
Last edited by TheNamesBond.; 1 month ago
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CuriosityYay
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Is there an option of a laptop without an OS which you can install Linux on?
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by TheNamesBond.)
Why so cheap? Seems insane that Amazon would sell near 400 when I could get it for less than 100.

Btw what does 'renewed' and 'seller refurbished' mean?

I get the idea of what the latter means but I want to be sure.
It's an ebay auction. I suspect the final selling price will be more than £100. You can use the advanced search feature in ebay to see what any particular make and model of laptop has been selling for.

But yeah, you're right about the Amazon seller at £350 and the ebay buy it now seller at £170. The insane bit is anyone buying off Amazon when they can buy off ebay. As I said, buy used business laptops off ebay. Or possibly, even better, get some contacts in IT departments, supporting large organisations and see what they're prepared to supply you with.

Renewed and seller refurbished are no big deal. They may just mean that the seller has run the built in diagnostics, which the laptop has passed, and that they used a vacuum cleaner on it, wiped the case with some furniture polish and the screen with some screen cleaner. And removed any user applied stickers from it, such as asset barcode stickers. All of which you could do yourself in a few minutes with any laptop that you acquire.

Business laptops are commodity items. They are bought by the hundreds or by the thousands. And disposed of by the hundreds or thousands.

Corporate buyers were paying Lenovo about £500 per T450 laptop with 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 9 cell high capacity batteries when they were brand new. Lenovo were very price competitive with this model. It's only fair that this price competitiveness should be reflected in what they sell for used on ebay.
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by CuriosityYay)
Is there an option of a laptop without an OS which you can install Linux on?
Every PC and laptop that I've ever seen can have Linux installed on it.

I recently bought a used HP 800 G2 business desktop for £140 off ebay. It came with nothing installed on it. I fitted a spare SSD inside it and installed a Server version of Linux on it with a few minutes of my time. If it had come with Windoze on it, it would have made no difference.

Linux is great for techie type users.

Think of any laptop hardware as a great big sandpit, in which you can draw any patterns that you want on it. You can even have giant sandpit sized stamps that put an instant pattern onto it. And if the pattern goes wrong you just rake over it and create a new pattern, or use your stamp to obliterate everything and recreate your original pattern.
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Acsel
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(Original post by CuriosityYay)
Is there an option of a laptop without an OS which you can install Linux on?
Depends what you're after, and it'd generally be better to make your own thread. Most laptops nowadays are sold with an OS. "Custom built" machines can be purchased without an OS, as in some cases can used hardware.

However you need to be pretty picky about what you buy. Put simply, Linux doesn't play well with all laptops. Support is a lot better than it used to be, but it's not uncommon to run into issues. The best approach here is when you find a laptop you like, see if anyone has actually tried to install Linux on it before. See if they ran into issues, hard to circumvent any problems, or if it just went ahead fine. Wireless card support is one particular area that's been notoriously flaky.

Of course in some cases you can just buy a laptop that comes with Linux already installed. But generally speaking the Linux or "no OS" option isn't drastically cheaper for the manufacturer, which shows just how much it actually costs them to put Windows on a machine.
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Acsel
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(Original post by TheNamesBond.)
I'd be willing to spring an extra 150.
If you're willing to spend that extra £150 and up your budget to £350, then NGL dropping an extra £20 and buying this laptop for £370 is by far the best choice.

If you were absolutely constrained by budget, then the laptop and advice Gofre gave is suitable. But if you can suddenly add £150, odds are you can make thatn £170 instead. And it's only £30 over the laptop you found on Amazon.

In terms of the why, hardware wise the Lenovo on eBuyer is a damn near perfect balance of decent hardware with good longevity, but not so powerful that you're wasting your money. The Ryzen 5 2500U is a quad core chip, and will outclass lower grade/older dual core i3, i5 or Ryzen 3 chips. Performance wise, it's near on par with an 8250U (the chip I typically recommend people look for), which in itself performs some 50% better than it's predecessor. The 8250U and 2500U are both such a substantial performance boosts over their older counterparts that it's difficult to recommend anything lower nowadays. You don't outright need that much power, but you can be safe in the knowledge that your laptop won't be outdated in a year, or it won't break a sweat if you suddenly decided to do other stuff with it. A bit of performance overhead is nice to have, and simply isn't something you'll get with an older chip or an i3 or Ryzen 3. And that's bearing in mind that the Ryzen 5 2500U is in iteself already a year and a half old, but still gets very strong recommendations, same as the i5 8250U. The same cannot be said for any of it's predecessors; even just going back an extra year to 7th gen Intel chips is a noticeable difference.

In terms of RAM, 8GB is ideal. 4GB is the bare minmium you can get away with comfortably, but 8GB is the sweet spot nowadays. Again, you won't use all of it all the time but the extra overhead is nice to have. Realistically if there were some spot in between 4GB and 8GB, that mid spot is what I'd recommend but there isn't. And when you're not really paying any more for it, having a little extra is preferable to having not enough.

A 256GB SSD should be fine. If your idea of lots of photos is different to mine then an external HDD will cover you. Internal HDDs haven't been recommended in laptops for a long time, simply because the reduced capacity of an SSD doesn't affect most people but the drastically increased speed does.

Form factor wise, the Lenovo is a good balance of lightness and practicality. At 1.8Kg it's a little on the heavy side for a 14 inch laptop (and one of the reasons it's so cheap) but it's not something that would be considered overly heavy. 14 inches is the sweet spot for screen size, slap bang in the middle of 13.3 and 15.6 inches. On the subject of the display, it's got a nice 1080p display even if it is a TN panel (another reason it's a bit cheaper). Most people will notice the resolution more than the panel type, so this would be preferable over a 1366x768 IPS panel. As an added extra (and this isn't common on modern laptops) you can utilise the Ultrabay to add an optical drive or increased battery capacity.

All things considered, this laptop blows literally everything else mentioned in this thread out of the water. While you are paying more money, you're also getting far more laptop for that money. And really it makes sense to spend a bit more, get a better device and then not have to replace it as soon because you bought a cheap piece of rubbish. Hardware wise, it's the sort of specs you'll see in laptops in the £500-600 mark. I've mentioned a few of the reasons it's comparatively cheaper, and indeed build quality is another. But unfortuntately at this price you can't expect amazing build quality. The cheapest laptops that I'd actually consider above par for build quality are Dells Inspirons, but really you don't start getting amazing build quality until you're hitting the ultrabook market with the likes of the Dell XPS or Surface Laptop. Below that, simply everything is cheap plastic and average build quality.

So all in all, if you're willing to spend £350 then stretching that budget to £370 and going for this Lenovo is the obvious, common sense choice. It's exceptionally good value for money and in the long run will work out cheaper as a result.
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TheNamesBond.
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
It's an ebay auction. I suspect the final selling price will be more than £100. You can use the advanced search feature in ebay to see what any particular make and model of laptop has been selling for.

But yeah, you're right about the Amazon seller at £350 and the ebay buy it now seller at £170. The insane bit is anyone buying off Amazon when they can buy off ebay. As I said, buy used business laptops off ebay. Or possibly, even better, get some contacts in IT departments, supporting large organisations and see what they're prepared to supply you with.

Renewed and seller refurbished are no big deal. They may just mean that the seller has run the built in diagnostics, which the laptop has passed, and that they used a vacuum cleaner on it, wiped the case with some furniture polish and the screen with some screen cleaner. And removed any user applied stickers from it, such as asset barcode stickers. All of which you could do yourself in a few minutes with any laptop that you acquire.

Business laptops are commodity items. They are bought by the hundreds or by the thousands. And disposed of by the hundreds or thousands.

Corporate buyers were paying Lenovo about £500 per T450 laptop with 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 9 cell high capacity batteries when they were brand new. Lenovo were very price competitive with this model. It's only fair that this price competitiveness should be reflected in what they sell for used on ebay.
Thanks for the input, what do you think of what Acsel has recommend compared to what you recommend, I hear it's a better option for a bit more money, curious to hear your side.
(Original post by Acsel)
If you're willing to spend that extra £150 and up your budget to £350, then NGL dropping an extra £20 and buying this laptop for £370 is by far the best choice.

If you were absolutely constrained by budget, then the laptop and advice Gofre gave is suitable. But if you can suddenly add £150, odds are you can make thatn £170 instead. And it's only £30 over the laptop you found on Amazon.

In terms of the why, hardware wise the Lenovo on eBuyer is a damn near perfect balance of decent hardware with good longevity, but not so powerful that you're wasting your money. The Ryzen 5 2500U is a quad core chip, and will outclass lower grade/older dual core i3, i5 or Ryzen 3 chips. Performance wise, it's near on par with an 8250U (the chip I typically recommend people look for), which in itself performs some 50% better than it's predecessor. The 8250U and 2500U are both such a substantial performance boosts over their older counterparts that it's difficult to recommend anything lower nowadays. You don't outright need that much power, but you can be safe in the knowledge that your laptop won't be outdated in a year, or it won't break a sweat if you suddenly decided to do other stuff with it. A bit of performance overhead is nice to have, and simply isn't something you'll get with an older chip or an i3 or Ryzen 3. And that's bearing in mind that the Ryzen 5 2500U is in iteself already a year and a half old, but still gets very strong recommendations, same as the i5 8250U. The same cannot be said for any of it's predecessors; even just going back an extra year to 7th gen Intel chips is a noticeable difference.

In terms of RAM, 8GB is ideal. 4GB is the bare minmium you can get away with comfortably, but 8GB is the sweet spot nowadays. Again, you won't use all of it all the time but the extra overhead is nice to have. Realistically if there were some spot in between 4GB and 8GB, that mid spot is what I'd recommend but there isn't. And when you're not really paying any more for it, having a little extra is preferable to having not enough.

A 256GB SSD should be fine. If your idea of lots of photos is different to mine then an external HDD will cover you. Internal HDDs haven't been recommended in laptops for a long time, simply because the reduced capacity of an SSD doesn't affect most people but the drastically increased speed does.

Form factor wise, the Lenovo is a good balance of lightness and practicality. At 1.8Kg it's a little on the heavy side for a 14 inch laptop (and one of the reasons it's so cheap) but it's not something that would be considered overly heavy. 14 inches is the sweet spot for screen size, slap bang in the middle of 13.3 and 15.6 inches. On the subject of the display, it's got a nice 1080p display even if it is a TN panel (another reason it's a bit cheaper). Most people will notice the resolution more than the panel type, so this would be preferable over a 1366x768 IPS panel. As an added extra (and this isn't common on modern laptops) you can utilise the Ultrabay to add an optical drive or increased battery capacity.

All things considered, this laptop blows literally everything else mentioned in this thread out of the water. While you are paying more money, you're also getting far more laptop for that money. And really it makes sense to spend a bit more, get a better device and then not have to replace it as soon because you bought a cheap piece of rubbish. Hardware wise, it's the sort of specs you'll see in laptops in the £500-600 mark. I've mentioned a few of the reasons it's comparatively cheaper, and indeed build quality is another. But unfortuntately at this price you can't expect amazing build quality. The cheapest laptops that I'd actually consider above par for build quality are Dells Inspirons, but really you don't start getting amazing build quality until you're hitting the ultrabook market with the likes of the Dell XPS or Surface Laptop. Below that, simply everything is cheap plastic and average build quality.

So all in all, if you're willing to spend £350 then stretching that budget to £370 and going for this Lenovo is the obvious, common sense choice. It's exceptionally good value for money and in the long run will work out cheaper as a result.
Thanks for the recommendation and the info, very helpful :borat:
Last edited by TheNamesBond.; 1 month ago
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