Good value laptop for garage

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by ickysmits, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. ickysmits

    ickysmits Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm looking for a laptop to use in my garage to do a simple tasks such as running ECU programming/diagnostic software, DVD repair manual, and basic browser for reference and videos. So my basic requirements are DVD/CD, WiFi, windows 7 (I have a license CD), and readability.

    I have been using a ThinkPad R61 with Core2 Duo, 14.1 WXGA+, and Vista but the screen is broken. It did ok but it struggled a bit with some functions, the hardware is worn, it can be tough to read due to size and dimness (before it broke), and it lacks features such as bluetooth. I could use it for parts and get a replacement going for around $50, but I think a few bucks more will put me into a more modern era of laptops.

    So I'd like to get suggestions on laptops that are a major step up and popular in the used market but are old enough to be bought for cheap. For example, I believe the ThinkPad T410/T510 series is a leap ahead of the R61 series but hold up better today and probably will for longer (correct me if I'm wrong) - and they sell for about $100ish on eBay all day long. What are some similar laptop models to look at?

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    $50 - $150


    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen

    3) Where will you buying this notebook?
    eBay USA, used


    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    Most any brand is fine.

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    Yes, probably exclusively. I'm also ok with refurbished laptops with no OS or hard drive.


    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    For use in my garage to do a few basic tasks such as running ECU programming/diagnostic software, DVD repair manual, a browser for reference and videos, and streaming music to speakers. My basic requirements are
    1) DVD/CD rewritable drive
    2) WiFi
    3) BlueTooth
    4) Windows 7 compatible (I have a license CD)
    5) Screen readability


    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    It will live in the garage but it needs to be somewhat portable in order to rest in precarious places while it's connected to a motorcycle via USB or propped on a workbench.


    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?
    No games


    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    A few hours are fine in order to do specific tasks, but it will be plugged in most of the time.


    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    Sight unseen is ok.


    11) What OS do you prefer?
    I have a Windows 7 CD, so no OS laptop is fine.


    Screen Specifics

    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer?
    Realistically, for my use and price I think that WXGA is going to be fine. I'll be happy with higher resolution but it might be hard to find. Also I understand sellers don't spend a lot of time describing these older, budget laptops in detail so I'll have to assume WXGA is the norm.


    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (Scroll down to see explanations.)
    Either is fine.


    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    Nope.


    15) When are you buying this laptop?
    Actively looking but holding out for a deal.


    16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
    I'm looking at older laptops so I'm looking for something with a robust design such as the older ThinkPad series.


    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need? Do you want a SSD drive?
    The minimum 60gb is enough, and no hard drive is fine too. If no hard drive then I'd like it to accept SSD.


    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner?
    Yes, DVD/CD rewritable drive is important.
     
  2. Danishblunt

    Danishblunt Notebook Virtuoso

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  3. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    WSXGA+ is my preferred resolution for a 15" notebook, but it's not the DreamColor, though I'd agree a business class notebook is more likely to held up well over the years than a consumer grade notebook. The P8700 will be significantly slower than a T410 era notebook and I believe the OP stated performance was an issue. I'd shoot for a Sandy Bridge machine if possible. Sandy Bridge offered a nice bump in performance and battery life, which doesn't happen often when Intel releases a new platform. With a $150 budget, you'll probably be relegated to a WXGA(1366x768) T520.

    If you're looking for a used ThinkPad, the Marketplace forum on ThinkPads.com is good place to shop for one. They tend to be more honest about what you're getting than eBay or CL.
     
  4. ickysmits

    ickysmits Notebook Evangelist

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    I like where your head is at suggesting an Elitebook. I used to have a newer version of the 8530W at work and it was heavy and a drag to carry around, however, it still worked after sliding around in the trunk of my car. I still wouldn't want that pig.

    But the EliteBook 8440 interests me now because it's in my price range, more portable, good resolution, and it seems robust with claims such as "This notebook is designed to meet the tough military standards (MIL-STD 810G)24 for vibration, dust, humidity, altitude, and high temperatures." I like things verified for specific conditions...at least that's more robust than consumer class and it seems like HP took over where IBM left off and Lenovo never really wanted to go. I was looking at the Lenovo T420s, which are speced well, but versions after that are nothing and they appear to get worse.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  5. ickysmits

    ickysmits Notebook Evangelist

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    This is good information and helps a lot, thank you, now I’m searching for Sandy Bridge machines. That's the kind of step up in technology I was looking for. HP has the EliteBook 8460/8560 series and Lenovo has the ThinkPad 420/520 series and either could be good if I can find a deal.
     
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