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Answered Another new laptop search

Gallifreyan

Established Member
Hi
My laptop has finally given out and I need to choose a new one. The choice, as ever, is bewildering with brands, components and configuarations.

What is your budget?
£500-£600

What size laptop do you want?
(In terms of screen size)
15-17"

Do you have resolution requirements?
For example "must display 1080"
No, but these days HD is standard isn't it?

Do you prefer a matte or glossy (reflective) screen?
I don't mind.

What will you be using the laptop for?
Browsing/email, photo viewing/editing, watching movies (dvds and/or streaming), light office stuff.

If you will be gaming, what games do you need to play?
N/A

How long does the battery need to last?
Not a huge issue as I won't be likely to take it far from a socket.

Does it need to be portable?
No see above

Do you require Blu-Ray?
Nice but not essential.

Do you require HDMI output?
Yes.

Do you have a preferred brand?
Open to anything.

Are there brands you would prefer to avoid?
I think some have different keyboard layouts(?).

Would you be happy with a refurbished laptop?
No

Any other details you feel necessary...

I'm always confused over the various processors/speeds, memory, dedicated graphics etc and how to configure and prioritise.
Also a decent screen and build quality.

Many thanks Darren
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
No, but these days HD is standard isn't it?

HD, 1280x720, has never been common on laptops. Computers had settled on 1024x768 as a minimum resolution before HDTV came along, so the 720 vertical height never worked very well.

Resolution also works differently on computers. TVs display the same image regardless of resolution but computer stuff is often sized in pixels so if you add more then everything shrinks but you can fit more things on screen.

So on a 1920x1080 screen you can see much more of a webpage than on a 1366x768 screen but it's harder to read because the text is smaller. Which is best really depends on personal preference.

There are scaling options of course, but they're imperfect.

Although unfortunately co-opting the TV marketing has killed off most of the choice these days, 1440x900 and 1600x900 used to be popular sizes on 15" and 17" laptops.

I'm always confused over the various processors/speeds, memory, dedicated graphics etc and how to configure and prioritise.
Also a decent screen and build quality.

Dedicated graphics is easy. None of your listed uses make significant use of them so you can ignore their presence.

Memory-wise most larger laptops have memory slots so you can always add more. Generally at the moment 4GB is adequate, 8GB is a good amount and 16GB is verging on excessive for most non-serious photo editing.

CPU-wise at £500-600 and 15"+ the overall situation should be fairly simple as you're clear of most of the budget processors there (N prefix or Atom branding) and the Ultra-low power (consumption) Core M and Y processors should be rare. The biggest difference is that you might see an HQ-suffix processors starting at a bit over £600 which are a big jump in performance.

Within the U suffix processors the i3/i5/i7 branding denotes performance, although not between different suffixes like U and HQ. In the grand scheme of things the differences are relatively small so if you're after screen and build quality you're likely better off with a higher end model with a lower processor. I'd look on anything with an i7 with suspicion.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Are there any brands which are more reliable than others or are they much the same?
I'm thinking Acer, Asus, Lenova.

Like most things these days it's more about the individual product and it's target market than the manufacturer. A mid-range business laptop from Lenovo will be more similar in build quality to a mid-range business laptop from Acer than to a low end home model from Lenovo.

Generally a business laptop like an L-series Thinkpad or Travelmate P6 will have good build quality but the screens aren't always brilliant. Not that there are many ranges at this price with a consistently good screen. Asus are usually pretty good with the Zenbooks screen-wise, but often only the 13" option is around this price.
 

Gallifreyan

Established Member
Me again!

I have been looking and am drawn towards HP. There are a few models, some pushing my budget a little.

I played around with most of these in John Lewis briefly

HP 17-x064
This one has a 6th generation i3. Is that still good? And onboard graphics.

HP 17-x103
As above but better processor and separate graphics card. Worth the extra money?

HP Pavillion 15-au129

Lenovo Ideapad 310
I looked at this one but not sure about the keyboard. The layout is a little different.

The top two HP's seem to have IPS screens which I think are better than TN.
There seems to be a lot of HP's with different designations but similar specs across retailers.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
This one has a 6th generation i3.

For 'generation' read 'minor revision'. The main thing 7th generation adds support for more versions of the latest HEVC and VP9 video formats so it'll use less CPU when playing back HDR.

As above but better processor and separate graphics card. Worth the extra money?

Nope. If it had an SSD then it might have been.

The top two HP's seem to have IPS screens which I think are better than TN.

Generally the main differences between those types of LCD are that IPS has better viewing angles but TN has less ghosting. They don't have any impact on picture otherwise, that depends on the quality of the panel.
 

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