I'm looking for a solid general purpose laptop, What really has me baffled is what CPU architecture to look at. I am unsure about what the best fit will be, I want something that will handle moderate programming and older engineering software. I have no problem upgrading the RAM/Hard drive if they prove to be too small/slow, and the GPU only needs to be able to handle light previous gen games and the light loads off of Quartus and Matlab. I don't know whether the core i3/i5/Core 2 is a better fit, or whatever AMD has available. CPU and build quality are definitely the most important things to me.
1) What is your budget?
Anywhere between $400-$600
3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.
4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
I'm not too particular, build quality is important
5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
Absolutely, I figure this is my best shot in this price range.
6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
Basic documentation work, some work in Quartus, Multisim, Matlab, none of the work is overly graphics dependent
7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
This laptop will be glued to me, I'll be carrying it with me everyday
8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?
Possibly, but they will be older games that I've bought off steam sales and want to get through, like KOTOR, Trine, braid and the like, nothing too intensive.
9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
3+ would be acceptable
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?
Buying it without seeing it is fine
11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista or Windows 7), Mac OS, Linux, etc.
Win 7, but it doesn't have to have it installed, I can provide the OS
12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer? Keep in mind screen size in conjunction with resolution will play a large role in overall viewing comfort level. Everyone is different. Some like really small text, while others like their text big and easy to read. Click here for Screen resolution information.
I'm not picky about the resolution
13) Do you want a Glossy/reflective screen or a Matte/non-glossy screen?
Screen doesn't matter too much, I won't be working in overly bright environments.
Build Quality and Design
14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
Not really, functionality is key
15) When are you buying this laptop?
The next couple of weeks
16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
At least 2-3 years
17) How much hard drive space do you need; 80GB to 640GB? Do you want a SSD drive?
I can always upgrade the HD later, so at least 80GB, but beyond that isn't too important.
18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a CDRW/DVD-ROM, DVD Burner or Blu-Ray drive?
An optical would be nice, it doesn't need to be a burner or blu-ray.
As you have mentioned that you will need some CPU oomph for some programs, having the i5 would be better. The Turbo boost feature is something you can take advantage of. The i3 have this feature missing.
The Vostro is a cheaper line of laptops made predominantly of plastic unlike the Latitudes. Build quality is not as good as on the Latitudes.
Should I even consider looking at options from AMD (the A-series I suppose)? Are there other manufacturers who provide option similar in price point to the Dell (say from newegg outlet) with a similar build quality? I know Dell does such a large volume of sales that they can push their price point to a smaller margin, so I'm curious if looking at other manufacturers will be worthwhile, or if they'll be of similar quality but just a bit more expensive.
The problem with the A series of APUs is that they are not available in the smaller form factor(15.6" and above only for the A8). They offer really good multithreaded performance, but if you need single threaded brilliance, then Intel is the only way to go. Trinity is going to be available from the 15-16th of May. These are an improvement over the existing Llano series. But I have no idea about the laptops that are going to carry this chip. The Intel Ivybridge laptops will be available from June with some lower end i3 chips available only from July.
Since I'm looking into refurb stuff I suppose my only interest in the new chips is if there will be a price drop on the older models, but i'm not sure this will affect the refurb stock price very much.
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