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Notebooks Laptop Advice

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by james-milligan, 13 May 2013.

  1. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    I will be starting uni in September and I will be wanting a laptop to take with me! I am doing an engineering course so I think it would be useful if it were capable of running CAD software. I would also like to do a bit of casual gaming on it but I assume if it can run CAD software then it can run some decent games. My budget is about £600 max, but less is desirable. It doesn't have to be perfect but ideally, it should last me for my 4 year course. My friend bought a toshiba satellite laptop and has had serious cooling issues, and it now reaches max temperature (104C) whilst doing anything slightly demanding like playing minecraft, even on a cooling stand! I don't want any problems like this but I guess with a lower budget I wont be getting the best cooling. Obviously a good battery life is ideal but as long as it isn't ridiculously short then I should be ok. I have been thinking of getting an i5 CPU and also dedicated graphics.

    Currently I am looking at these:

    Lenovo Z580

    Acer Aspire V3

    or maybe the i3 version to save money if i5 isn't worth it?

    Novatech Elite N1540 (I would install windows 7 on this myself)

    Does anyone have any experience with any of these laptops or if not then anything good or bad that you know about them? Also is windows 8 really that bad? most laptops come with it and apparently its very hard/impossible to downgrade to windows 7 :(

    Any advice in choosing a laptop would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea 'write that down in your copy book' Super Moderator

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    I've always specced Lenovo gear where possible - but generally the 'business' versions not the 'consumer' versions.

    Are you 100% against a used machine? You'd probably get a fair bit more for your ££. There are a couple of decent eBay sellers (who have shops) that sell reconditioned and second hand laptops. I'd go for an i5 :thumb:
     
  3. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    I suppose not.. What is your opinion on used machines? I've heard people saying refurbished equipment is not recommended and you should always buy new where possible. Are used/refurbished laptops likely to last as long/almost as long as if I bought a new one?
     
  4. cdb

    cdb No comment

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    I would say wait a month and see what Haswell brings.
     
  5. rici1241

    rici1241 Active Member

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    As someone using the aspire V3-571g (see sig), id recommend the i5 over the i3. Although its plenty for web browsing and word documents, the i3 really feels slow when doing anything CPU intensive. I get 3 hours battery life when doing some slightly intensive stuff (Running/ compiling code, MATLAB, etc) and about 5 hours of web browsing. The build quality isn't too bad, but there seems to be a bit of flex in parts of the body after 9 months.

    As for windows 8, mine is the windows 7 version, but I upgraded to windows 8 pro for €15.00 (upgrade offer at the time) to see what its like. Personally, I like windows 8, and think people should give it a try for at least a few weeks before deciding whether they like it or not. Its confusing at first, and you will get lost looking for things for a while, but when you learn where things are and how it should be used, windows 7 starts to feel dated.

    Also, windows 8 gave me better battery life, and made the computer feel that little bit faster.
     
  6. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea 'write that down in your copy book' Super Moderator

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    I've had a number of used machines over the years, but all ex-business stuff. You might find you have to replace the battery, but in general they're well built so will go on for ages.

    I'd have a look to see what of the "T" series Lenovo stuff you can get your hands on. BUT - if you want something that'll stand up to a bit of CAD/3D modelling, you might want to have a look at some used Dell Precision workstations?
     
  7. mrbungle

    mrbungle Undercooked chicken giver

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    There isnt allot of difference in the mobile i5's from the i3's as they are usually just dual cores with ht and turbo boost, which is all the i3's lack.
     
  8. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    I could wait a little while for Haswell but it will probably be quite expensive, resulting in me getting something from the current generation anyway. I think I will bring my desktop to uni which would probably be useful for anything like CAD if I really wanted to do it on my own computer (i5-2500K, GTX560Ti) but I also like the idea of having something reasonably powerful that I can take anywhere with me.

    Good to know that the V3 is decent, and thanks for the advice on Windows 8. I guess it would take some getting used to but if you can set it to have a desktop similar to Windows 7 then it shouldn't be too bad. The (used) dell precision laptops that are within my budget look quite old and sound outdated, apart from the Quadro graphics but even those seem to have small amounts of VRAM. Maybe that isn't important with Quadro cards, I really don't know.

    Feel free to give me a link to any laptops you think would be suitable
     
  9. cdb

    cdb No comment

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    When Haswell comes out, they might start dropping prices on the old range (ie ivybridge).
     
  10. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    Hmm, very true. I guess I'm not desperate right now so I can hang on for a bit. May as well keep looking for a laptop though and hope the prices do decrease
     
  11. fdbh96

    fdbh96 New Member

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  12. bigkingfun

    bigkingfun Tinkering addict

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    Engineering student here.
    People from my year have got a mix of Dell, Apple, Asus and Lenovo. The ones that often break is Dell, and the ones that does the job best is Lenovo.
    I am on a Lenovo T410, and can not emphasize enough how much you should by a Thinkpad.
    If it is good enough for ISS it is good enough for engineering students :)
     
  13. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    Well that's useful to know. What about the lack of dedicated graphics? Looks like I'd have to pay loads if I wanted that. Any thoughts on the Z580? Is this likely to be no where near as good as a Thinkpad in terms of durability, cooling and battery life?
     
  14. rici1241

    rici1241 Active Member

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    Another engineering student here. Most CAD software would prefer a core i5 to a low end GPU, So unless you have other uses for graphics, I wouldn't look for anything too high end. If you did want to do gaming, my laptop can get 25-30 fps in metro 2033 at lowest settings, at 1280 * 720, on DX11, or about 40 fps in world of tanks at 1366 * 768 at low. Its payable, but not the prettiest of ways to play games.

    I got my laptop for £450 from amazon, and the i3 3110m version cost ~£480 at the time, so i would advise waiting for haswell, as it will bring down ivy bridge laptop prices, or give you more performance and battery life for your money.
     
  15. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    Ok I shall wait for haswell before making any decisions :)
     
  16. Archtronics

    Archtronics Well-Known Member

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    Avoid that lenovo like the plague never seen so many of the same model come back with problems.
     
  17. bigkingfun

    bigkingfun Tinkering addict

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    That is why you should by Thinkpads.
     
  18. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

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    Oh, the price and the specs were looking so promising! :(
     

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