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Ask Slashdot: How To Shop For a Laptop? 732

Posted by Soulskill
from the compare-and-contrast dept.
jakooistra writes "My sister recently asked me for a laptop recommendation. I said, 'Sure, what are techie brothers for,' and diligently started my search for her perfect laptop. Two days later, I feel like I've aged two years. Every laptop vendor seems to want to sell a dozen different, poorly-differentiated models, with no real way of finding out what is customizable without following each model to its own customization page. And there are so many vendors! How am I, as a consumer, supposed to find what I need? Is there a website, hiding somewhere I just can't find, that tracks all the multivariate versions and upgrade choices in an easily searchable database?"
jakooistra adds a few criteria, in case you have specific laptop suggestions: "It needs a good CPU, but we almost don't care about the GPU (HD 3000 graphics are acceptable). A model that doesn't get very hot would be nice. We'd like an SSD and an internal optical drive. A 15"-17" screen at 1366x768 or higher would be ideal. Budget is around $1,500, but could go up to $2,000 if it's really worth it."
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Ask Slashdot: How To Shop For a Laptop?

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  • Business only! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @06:57PM (#40123941)

    Do not buy a consumer laptop, make sure you shop around in the Business/Small Business areas of leading manufacturers (HP, Lenovo, Dell).

    • Re:Business only! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dan East (318230) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:08PM (#40124037) Homepage Journal

      Do not buy a consumer laptop, make sure you shop around in the Business/Small Business areas of leading manufacturers (HP, Lenovo, Dell).

      That's funny, because in a recent Slashdot discussion about laptops the exact opposite was recommended - business grade laptops are typically priced higher for essentially the same hardware you get in the "consumer" grade.

      • Re:Business only! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dan East (318230) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:10PM (#40124059) Homepage Journal

        I'm actually referencing a slashdot comment from another story. I've gone mad. Oh well.

        http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2861513&cid=40052379 [slashdot.org]

        • I agree with the AC above; in my experience, it's worth getting a business-level laptop rather than the consumer grade. The consumer grade laptops are often cheaper for the same specs, but they're often not as good. The construction is often bad, and the components cheap. The designs are often focused on looking cool and flashy to people who don't know any better, with lots of media shortcut buttons and glowy lights, whereas business designs are simpler and more effective.

          That's not to say that you can'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because you are paying for a longer warranty, the manufacturers aren't stupid, they put better parts and have higher QC in the machines with longer warranties.

      • Re:Business only! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bhtooefr (649901) <{bhtooefr} {at} {bhtooefr.org}> on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:23PM (#40124187) Homepage Journal

        And the comment you linked to runs contrary to my experience.

        The real business grade laptops - not just from a manufacturer's business line, but the ones that are considered high-end - tend to be built from more durable materials, tend to be designed for easier service, tend to be documented better, and tend to have better support.

        Workstation-class, and one step down as far as position in the model range (which often shares hardware with the workstation class, but often with a dual-core and either integrated graphics or a low-end GPU), tend to count as those.

      • Re:Business only! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Archangel Michael (180766) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @08:10PM (#40124513) Journal

        I tell people to buy the least expensive acceptable model. Save the $ for the next purchase or else something worthwhile. My reason? Laptops, cheap ones, usually will do everything people want. AND when the crap goes south in a year, after the warranty is gone, you won't be as heart broken as if you spent upwards of $2000 for a really really nice laptop with all the bells and whistles.

        Right now, you can get a Core i3 2.3 Ghz with 4-6 GB ram for about $500-600. Really, what more is a non-techie gonna need? I get people dropbox or box or some other cloud storage for their "stuff", and quite frankly, most people will be just fine with something like that. There are exceptions, but really, most people would be fine with that.

        At that price range, you can buy 3 laptops for the price of the Macs people are recommending above.

        • Re:Business only! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:30PM (#40125003) Homepage

          There is a lot to say about this approach. The only extra thing you tend to have to do is to wipe the drive and install a clean OS image (Windows of your particular flavor or Linux). Get rid of the shovelware and weirdo 'utilities' manufacturers still foist on the unsuspecting.

          Most people doing word processing, Internet, an occasional picture or movie don't need anything built in the last half decade. That's why tablets work for a lot of people, horsepower wise.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      More precisely, pick a MODEL which people who support FLEETS of business machines consider high quality.

      I'm sure someone current on that can chime in.

    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:48PM (#40124373)
      I only buy Lenovo laptops. Nobody was ever fired for buying Chinese!
    • Full disclosure, I sell these where I work, but the Toshiba Tecra series ticks all the boxes you mentioned. There is an SSD model, fairly standard GPU, Core i5 processors, and optical drives. Battery life is a bit better, too, being as you're not wasting power spinning metal platters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @06:57PM (#40123943)

    Pick MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, then pick a size. Done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jo42 (227475)

      That's one thing that all of the other 'tarded manufacturers just cannot get right. Low profit margins? Make more models! Model not selling well? Make more permutations and combinations of the model! Still not selling? Slap on (even) more stickers, make the keyboard glow, add all sorts of other shinny eye candy and faggy arsed shite stuff to it.

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:02PM (#40124855) Homepage

        You should also understand that manufacturers *want* to confuse you. They want it to be unclear what the difference is between different models. they want it to be difficult to comparison shop. They want to offer a super-cheap model so that the people who will simply buy the cheapest thing they can will have something to buy, but they don't want you to know what's wrong with their cheapo laptop. They want to offer a super expensive laptop, but they don't want you to know that there's a cheaper laptop available that will still do everything that you want. Instead they want you to buy something more expensive than what you need for fear that you're missing something.

        Essentially, they don't want you to be too informed, because an informed consumer doesn't buy crap that they don't want or need.

    • by Savantissimo (893682) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:56PM (#40124429) Journal

      If you decide on Mac, it's probably worth waiting a few weeks - there will be a new MacBook Pro out soon. (The old model is already getting discounted; mid-June to early July expected ship date). It should be lighter and will have the new version of the OS (Mountain Lion) is expected to be released at the same time. OTOH the new model is rumored to not have an optical drive. (Which isn't really a practical drawback in my opinion. The extra battery space will be more useful. Get an external backup drive for extra storage instead.)

      • by Savantissimo (893682) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @08:30PM (#40124643) Journal

        More specifics: 15-inch to be top model, with a 2560 x 1600 retina display. (old model was 1440 by 900) Performance will be nearly 20% higher than the old model, with a 2.7GHz 4-core Ivy Bridge processor. See the Geekbench [geekbench.ca] entry for benchmarks and components. No Ethernet jack, the new model is too thin but it will have USB 3.0, and a converter dongle to Ethernet is available. Nvidia graphics chip is likely. The higher-res screen has an extra $92 parts cost which will likely be passed on, plus profit.

  • Pink one. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @06:57PM (#40123947)

    Get a pink one. She'll be happy.

    • by hedronist (233240)
      You must know my sister! She went on for 45 minutes about what she did and did not want, but then said it just *had* to be available in pink! I was thinking of getting her a cheapo Toshiba and can of spray paint.
      • by hazem (472289)

        I think it was some Dell laptops I saw last year that had changeable lids. I don't know if they still sell them.

    • There are laptop comparison websites around ... the one I like best is http://pricespy.co.nz/category.php?k=353 [pricespy.co.nz] but of course it depends on your location. Try searching for "laptop comparison" if you want such a meta-search for products.

    • Re:Pink one. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RedBear (207369) <redbear@redbea[ ]t.com ['rne' in gap]> on Sunday May 27, 2012 @01:14AM (#40126277) Homepage

      Get a pink one. She'll be happy.

      You say that to be funny, but in fact that is another of the many reasons that I always just tell people these days to buy a Mac. Since they only make a few different models of laptops and they don't change the form factor sometimes for years, there is an EXTENSIVE amount of really nice after market accessories available for Macs, including hard cases in various colors, tons of different "skins" and some very nice keyboard protector options. Great for protecting the laptop inside and out, and great for those who like to customize what their computer looks like. A few PC manufacturers sell colored laptops, mainly their cheap consumer models, but guess what? It will always be that color. With the cases and skins widely available for Macs, you can change your laptop's looks as often as you want, and keep the thing looking like new for years even in harsh environments like school/college.

      Plus there's the fact that if we can learn to get our damn techie egos out of the way we might realize a couple of things. Firstly, the specs really don't matter much anymore unless you're doing something like hardcore gaming or video processing. Normal people never hit the limits of even low end processors and GPUs these days. Secondly, most non-techie people will actually prefer using Mac OS X, which is yet another reason to get her a Mac.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one anymore who just plain got tired of trying to find a decent PC laptop out of the hundreds being marketed. You go to the Apple store and you just decide how big a screen you want, and whether you want an optical drive. That's pretty much it. No matter how anti-Apple you may be, you do have to wonder why there are so many people besides me who are answering this question with "Just buy a Mac."

      They're damn good computers. Period.

  • does the operating system matter? (or is it just assumed that you want windows)

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:01PM (#40123983) Homepage

    Since you're buying a laptop, presumably you want to be able to carry it around. If you plan to do a lot of traveling on foot, you'll want a lighter laptop than someone who drives most of the time. Keep in mind that larger laptops tend offer more performance at a smaller price.

    Once you've nailed down the physical dimensions you're looking for, you can try to maximize the price/performance ratio from there.

  • Acer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tiffany352 (2485630)
    If you plan on running that isn't OEM Windows or want it to last for more than a year, DO NOT GET AN ACER. I thought that, maybe, they used extremely shoddy parts and had bad ACPI support for only the cheap models. I was wrong. I've had this laptop for about a month and the fan is already dying on me... Next month it'll be the usb ports, like my sister's and cousin's laptops..
  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:02PM (#40123993)

    Step 1 is to figure out what your absolute demands are so as to narrow your choice already. This includes budgeting, what you'll be using the thing for, etc. Sounds like you've already done this.

    Step 2: Walk into a store.
    No, seriously. It's all good and well to spec out a machine on the web and then say "this one's perfect!". But then you get it and... the casing feels weird, the way the keyboard types makes you cringe, the glossy screen you thought would be nice and sharp is really just reflecting the bright windows behind you when you sit at your desk, the backslash is situated next to the shift key, the audio quality can be called poor at best and while you intend to use headphones most of the time it's really just not acceptable, and whenever you glance at something else, you can't help but notice some weird fuzzy...moving..jittery.. things on the screen that you can't quite see when you look straight at it but you swear they're there (and they are - hello, temporal dithering - load up the LCD test webpage if possible if you care about the screen).

    So go to a store and test the machines in person. THEN go back to the internet to find the best deal / customization options if you really want.. or, if you've pretty much found the one you want, get it at the store (yeah, you could save some bucks - but the store did provide you the service of allowing a hands-on.. might as well reward them, within reason).

    Your budget is pretty high for a computer that doesn't need to have much graphical prowess, by the way.

  • Dell XPS has the features your looking for, just got an I7, 256GB SSD, and 17" screen for around $1300 or so. And no the manufactures websites are tangled messes of models with no easy way to compare features between different classes of laptops, it's even better when price differ wildly between models with almost the exact same features.

    Apple does make it easier by giving you far fewer choices in a case like this (unless they don't have what you want).

  • Lenovo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stlava (1736430)

    Get her a Lenovo business laptop. Yes, they are a little bit pricey but you get what you pay for.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Check the Thinkpad forums and Notebook Review to find out if there are any models with problems.

      I like my T61 (with 8GB RAM and 500GB hard disk added later) but I checked before buying and got the Intel graphics chip to avoid video problems.

  • $299.00 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by F34nor (321515) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:06PM (#40124023)

    Lenvo B575 with a AMD APU. Does everything I want, cheap enough to throw it out the window if it doesn't.

  • by a_ghostwheel (699776) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:07PM (#40124033)
    1) If Apple is OK - do consider them. Quality wise not many other notebooks will come close. 2) I suggest looking at screen first and foremost. Vast majority of notebooks have rather bad 768p TN panels. If you will limit your choice to at least 1600x900 or above (assuming 15") choice will become easier since you will look only at few models. And it is still doable within your price range if you stay away from Sony.
  • by gQuigs (913879) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:10PM (#40124051) Homepage

    both have nice websites with the obvious base choices for you being:
    https://zareason.com/shop/Strata-6770.html [zareason.com]
    Stock at $849
    with a 160GB SSD comes to $1,148

    and for me the winner would be:

    https://www.system76.com/laptops/model/gazp7 [system76.com]
    3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor
    Stock at $899
    With 180 GB SSD comes $1178

    Btw, for what you are asking for, your budget seems high actually :).

    • by gQuigs (913879)

      I forgot to mention ZaReason also has a sale page, with some great steals sometimes, they occasionally put laptops there as well..
      https://zareason.com/shop/Sale/ [zareason.com]

      My only actual experience with one of the above vendors is ZaReason and it was a desktop (my current desktop working very nicely still).

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:10PM (#40124057) Homepage

    Select between Lenovo(Thinkpad) and Apple refurbished, then drill down to whatever models fit the criteria. Then do a favor for them and get them to have the longest warranty obtainable. For Lenovo, this would be 5-year(?, maximum may be 4) onsite service. For Apple, whatever Applecare does is going to have to do.

    Either company has some thin and stylish laptops in that price range. Lenovo just happens to make them more maintenance friendly.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:11PM (#40124069)

    Honestly, for $1500 the Macbook Pro or MBA will suit you very well, even if you don't intend to run OS X. The machines are well built and come with a decent warranty and will last for a long time. They also have pretty high resale value.

    If you want to run Windows or Linux then dual booting is a snap (you can blow away the OS X partition completely if you like).

    If you do go this route though, I advise that you wait until after Apple's WWDC keynote on June 11th - the strong likelihood is that the 2012 versions of the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air will be announced, so even if you want a current 2011 one, if you wait you can either get a new one for the same price, or a 2011 for a discount.

    • by subreality (157447) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @04:35AM (#40126937)

      Counterpoint: Don't buy a MacBook Pro except if you want OS X. The EFI BIOS is a pain. I spent unreasonable amounts of time holding down magic "alt-apple-whatever" key combinations and rebooting trying to figure out WTF was wrong with the thing. It's MUCH nicer to have a computer that has a BIOS setup screen where you can just go tell it which drive to boot from and which simply gives you an error message when something is wrong. And the whole mess of conflicting partition tables... don't get me started.

      I've also found the hardware to be not-so-good. All the components are great, of course, but Apple very much prefers to make the case pretty at the expense of repair. For example: on a thinkpad you open it up by removing five screws from the bottom and pulling off the palm rest and keyboard. Easy. On a MBP, I had to take out no fewer than two dozen screws and pry up a dozen little plastic clips around the edges where the metal top meets the metal side... And they never quite go back together again just right. And for documentation of the procedure? Thinkpads have a detailed service manual; the Mac has ZERO documentation and you're stuck reading online howtos which never seem to cover exactly your model. You're supposed to take it to the store if you want something fixed.

      I'm also not happy with the all aluminum design. It looks good, but I'm pretty rough on laptops - I'm in a fabrication shop a lot and shit happens. My MacBook Pro was turning into a scraped and dented beater. My Thinkpad (metal frame, plastic skin) has taken just as many drops to the concrete floor and bangs into equipment, and it's in much better shape (almost like new) even after several years of abuse.

      As implied above, I'm now very fond of Thinkpads. For the OP, here's the quick summary of Thinkpad models:

      First character:
      X - Ultralight
      T - Standard size
      W - Workstation

      Second:
      2 - 12"
      4 - 14"
      5 - 15"
      7 - 17"

      So a T5xx is a standard-frame 15" laptop.

      Real Thinkpads ALWAYS have this keyboard: http://www.xbitlabs.com/images/mobile/lenovo-thinkpad-t61/keyboard.jpg [xbitlabs.com] . Note, seven rows counting up the left side; three volume buttons; round power button; pgup/pgdn above and below each other. Here's a fake Thinkpad: http://www.unitedgadget.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ThinkPad-X100e-Keyboard.jpg [unitedgadget.com] - chiclet keys, six rows, no dedicated volume buttons, etc.

      There are two reasons you care: 1, this keyboard is great; 2, what's underneath is built like a Thinkpad, not an Ideapad dressed up in black and sold through business channels. Lenovo has done themselves a huge disservice by diluting the Thinkpad brand this way, but fortunately the real ones are very easy to spot once you recognize the keyboard. There are a bunch of other things that change too, but this one's the easiest to spot.

  • If you want to get a quick lay of the land, visit a Microsoft Store if you are able to locate one nearby. Despite the popular antipathy on /. towards M$, the stores stock a very good representative sample of consumer laptops that are functional, powerful, aesthetically slick (what little of that exists in the Windows world), and a good value for money. There are popular consumer electronics stores like Fry's, Best Buy etc., but last I was inside one of those, I didn't get a sense that their selections did
  • Really, the biggest difference between laptops is the brand. Typically, more expensive laptops are better built laptops.

    Dells tend to break after a year. HP's, 6 months if you do anything other than leave them in one spot on your desk, a year otherwise.

    Lenovo's are basically rebranded IBMs, and are typically decently constructed. I've had good luck with Fujitsu as well, but only for their tablet notebooks (higher end).

    Mac's are higher priced, and higher end, but are also built well.

    Once you've figured out w
  • We're at the point where any laptop on the market will do 99% of what she's likely to need. Unless she has some REALLY specialized needs, anything on the shelf will run the software she wants just fine.

    Take her to a store a good selection and let her choose from what's available. If it feels shoddy, skip it. Otherwise any name brand laptop will likely keep her happy.

    Probably the only thing I would add is to look at maxing out the RAM - never a bad thing. And, as suggested, lighter is better. For t
  • At least for me, the ideal setup is a badass desktop for srs bsns + a cheapo netbook or tablet for when you need the mobility. It will probably cost less than a good laptop.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:25PM (#40124205)

    Holy crap, that's a horrible idea.

    I almost bought an Asus G55. Fifteen inch screen, full 1920x1080 resolution, and just around $1500. Only reason I didn't end up buying it was because I was mislead by the pre-order page to believe that it had two hard drive bays as well as the optical drive bay. Apparently Asus removed that feature without notifying resellers, because I got an email weeks later telling me the machine I'd configured was impossible - I got upgraded to the larger G75 instead.

    Now, that particular machine would be terrible for light office/home use. But I've used 1366x768 screens - they are *terrible*, and when you're spending a grand and a half on a laptop, they're completely underspec.

    Try to get at least a 1600x900 screen. Seriously. That's just about the most important advice I can give you.

  • by Junta (36770) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:31PM (#40124251)

    Notably you should try to find a way to actually touch and hold your choice. Particularly your relative may not realize what a 17" laptop would mean for portability.

    After having a few laptops ranging from 12 to 17 inches over time, I've found 14" to be what I feel to be a good compromise. 1600x900 display at least. When reasonable, I use an external 22" monitor at 1920x1200, but I wouldn't want to drag aronud the requisite bulk and weight of a 17" laptop again...

  • ,,, so the most cost effective way to get a quality laptop is to buy a factory brand. Just search for Clevo and/or Compal which are the factories' house brands. RJ Tech is one reseller where you can get them.

  • I'm also looking for one. Does anyone have any suggestions for a 12/13" laptop that can withstand some knocks and falls? I haven't found one that isn't designed for taking on the Dakar trip and therefore cost $2000+.

  • Do what I did - realise old laptop is no longer up to the job; notice Aldi has a laptop on special the next week at AU$600 with suitable specs (in particular, 8GB RAM); figure "I can return it for any reason within 60 days so might as well see if it's suitable"; grab the third of four available at the store; get it home; realise it has a matte screen; go "Woohoo!".

    A couple of days later (following a fair bit of tweaking) I had a new work laptop that I'm very happy with.

  • by SensitiveMale (155605) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:47PM (#40124367)

    no other choice. Save a ton of money and get great warranties

  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:35PM (#40125039) Homepage

    If you are lucky enough to have one of these [microcenter.com]very cool stores near you they are a great place to shop and buy tech. The prices are good, and for a brick and mortar operation they are sometimes awesome -- and the staff is usually informed. They also sell online. But a lot of stuff is in-store only. I have to drive for an hour to get to mine, but it is worth it. You could take your sister with you.

    I go into consumer coma in the store near me (Rockville MD). I imagine it is like being in an online operation's warehouse. I just bought components for an Ivy Bridge desktop build. They beat Newegg on the prices of the main components, MoBo and CPU, but Newegg was cheaper for the smaller boards. Cables etc were also reasonable at Microcenter (Unlike Best Buy where the prices of cables and cords are usurious). Laptop selection was also good, but I wasn't buying.

    As for comparison tips. I look at likely products with lots of reviews to take advantage of the hive mind. Then the percentage of good to bad reviews for a given product. Then I read a few good and a few bad. Sometimes a bad review of an otherwise good product will expose a deal killer for me. This is not the end all be all of a buying decision, but not all reviews are astroturfed.

    Last thing about a laptop buy. Teach your sis to take care of it. Don't run it on a pillow. Don't flop it on a table like a text book. Or slam it shut like a car door. Put it in its case to travel. And follow good practice with the battery (even Lions need some thought.) And wipe it down from time to time. Silicon has a soul and likes to be kept clean.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:30PM (#40125355)

    Younger, less tech savvy buyers are going to base more of their critique of a laptop on form factor since they won't be stressing the hardware. Let her look at the aesthetics of laptops, keyboard feel, color, screen size, and weight. You should then *secondarily* back up her decision if the hardware and vendor are suitable.

    Really, hardware is so beyond what laymen users need nowadays that I wouldn't trust making a laptop decision based on a list of components.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:00AM (#40126447)
    How is one supposed to shop for a graphics card in a laptop? From my experience 2 years ago, it seems that if you don't make your own desktop, pick out a graphics card from a spreadsheet, and order it from newegg, it could be a real lemon. The other suggestion I've heard is price: spend enough and you'll get a decent laptop. Is one supposed to look at a benchmark list to see what graphics cards are decent?
  • 5 basic steps. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cgenman (325138) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @02:14AM (#40126493) Homepage

    Step 1: The biggest problem with laptops are generally reliability. Figure out the reliable brands. Apple, Dell, Toshiba, and oddly Asus generally do well there, and Sony & HP are usually close to last. Start at those manufacturer sites.

    Step 2: The major differentiation is in CPU type & Speed. Is it a quad-core i7? an i3? If you're doing video editing or realtime code debugging, you need a top level i7. For gaming, an i5 is fine, and for everyone else an i3 is AOK. Note: Everyone offers laptops in whatever screen size you want. So pick your screen size and ignore the rest. Also, ignore anything over 8 lbs. The weight is never worth it.

    Step 3: GPU. If you need a gaming processor, configure the biggest the manufacturer offers. This can never be upgraded, there are no real options, and you can't get it later. So get it. If you don't need gaming, then Great! Nothing else uses the bloody thing, so don't bother.

    Step 4: Battery length. It's usually worth splurging on the biggest battery you can find, so configure that into the build. Everyone has a "long" one that lasts about the same length. Look for manufacturers who have battery settings that keep the charge withing 20% min and 80% max... This will greatly extend the lifespan of that extra 100 bucks.

    Step 5: Now figure out which setup is the closest to what you want, and go for it! Why haven't I mentioned RAM, Hard drive, software, or other optional extras? Because buying this from the manufacturer is flushing money down the toilet. Buy these after-market.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Oh, and avoid anything that's too "new" or "clever." 99.99% of these in laptops are showy Sharper-Image Catalog junk. Multitouch touchpads on non-macs are utterly useless, hybrid drives are terrible to debug, those finger scanners are crap, etc. Anything in hardware too new or flashy is going to be unsupported, and likely junk. Meat and potatoes is what you're after, and keep the flash for your software.

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