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xreyuk

Laptop for under

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Hey guys, 

I have an auntie who wants to buy my cousin his first laptop for christmas, as he's going to start needing one for school. Pretty much all he will be doing on it is playing Minecraft, doing school work on Microsoft Office and browsing the web.

Their budget is ?300, but if you find anything very slightly over, they may be convinced to go up, if it's worth it.

I am really struggling to find a good laptop for that price though, so far it is between the following.

Compaq PDC

Toshiba Satellite Pro C50-A15-L

HP ProBook 4545s

From what I can see, the Toshiba is the best spec, the Compaq is in the middle, and the HP Probook 4545s is the lowest spec, however the 4545s made out of aluminium so should be more solid than the two plastic offerings.

Anyone know of anything else, or got any suggestions regarding my current finds?

Help appreciated smile.gif

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I'd go for the toshiba one because it has an intel processor based on the options that you provided but on the other hand I have the probook 4530s and It's rock solid for what it does. From personal experience with probooks, I'd go for the probook 4540s because it has an intel processor which is more trouble-free than amd processor for laptops. I'm sure others (including amd fanboys, you know who you are) would say amd have improved overtime. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions and views.

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Those aren't CPU intensive workloads so don't bother with a better processor. Only thing that matters for the use case you stated is a potentially buying an SSD -- that is where your bottleneck is going to be. There was another thread where I discussed this in detail yesterday or the day before.

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Nice sharing ...!

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Thanks for your insight guys.

 

I was sort of leading towards the compaq, as it was the 'middle' option, because from my previous experience a couple of years ago working in a PC shop, I found the Toshiba's to be quite flimsily built, where as the aluminium on the HP would make me think it would be more sturdily built. Does anyone have any experience with Toshiba's build quality?

 

@PeterUK - I'll certainly pass that onto them, as they may be able to raise the extra ?30 required. What/How much benefit would the i3 give? From what I can see on the CPUBoss website, it scored the same score as the 2020M in the Toshiba laptop.

 

@Snaphat - Unfortunately, for the budget, I don't think they'll be able to get an SSD, for what he's going to use it for, I'd imagine that a normal HDD would be enough. However, I might be upgrading my SSD in the near future for larger capacity, so can recycle my current SSD (it's working flawlessly) into his laptop.

 

Any more opinions and suggestions would be greatly appreciated, but as it stands, I'm probably leaning towards the Toshiba, he's 10 years old, and won't give a hoot about graphics as long as it's playable.

 

*EDIT*

 

I've just seen the Toshiba has no optical drive, so this has put the HP Probook 4545s back in the lead. If they can get the extra ?30 together, I'll go with the HP G1 250

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the 3-2348m isn't going to make any difference for the workloads he'll be running and probably only would make a minor differences for cpu intensive tasks. It is just a 2 core procssor like 2020m. The only real effective difference is that that it has 2-way SMT support (or what intel calls hyperthreading) so it can potentially utilize the 2 cores more efficiently in come cases. It is the sort of thing that you only really see benefits though when you are pegging the cores. 

 

I suppose I should also mention that it has a slightly larger cache than the the 2020m, but don't be fooled into thinking that it will yield noticeable improvements in performance since your bottleneck is typically the HDD, not your memory.

 

For reference to HT, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simultaneous_multithreading

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Thanks again, I'll take that into consideration. What's your opinion on the AMD processor?

 

I'm now leaning away from the Toshiba as it's got no optical drive.

 

Anymore input is appreciated :)

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Don't buy -- the AMDs lagged behind for many years after the initial core i7 based processors were created by Intel (probably partially because Intel was doing illegal activities and probably partially bad management). i7s were finally the point when intel got with the program and began integrating the memory controller on-die. Prior to that there were certainly advantages to buying AMD cores since they had been doing that for some years.

 

Anyway, when AMD finally architected their new micro-architecture (bulldozer) they made the calculated move to favor parallel performance over single core performance. Unforunately, parallelism at the expensive of single core performance in consumer products isn't the greatest goal. In any case, the particular amd processor evidently has both worse single core and overall performance in benchmarks than both the intel b960 and 2020m.

 

The only real question I have is whether the on-die GPU is better than the on-die GPU you are getting in the intel offerings. Intel's offerings in that department use to be really bad compared to AMDs (prior to 3rd generation), but they shaped up in the later 2 i7 generations. The thing is though that the b960 is a second generation i7 so I 'm not entirely sure how that compares to the amd a4-4300m.

 

Ah, I found a link showing the GPU performance while typing this:

http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/156/AMD_A4-Series_for_Notebooks_A4-4300M_vs_Intel_Pentium_Dual-Core_Mobile_B960.html

 

so as I expected GPU is much better on the AMD, but the Intel is better for everything else...

 

EDIT: it is also worth noting as a point of amusement that I have heard the AMD GPU and CPU teams have a bit of intra-company political fighting (this is hearsay just for the record) according to some folk who interviewed for jobs with differing teams there.

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Thanks guys.

 

Looks like the Intel offerings are the best then, if I go for the Toshiba, they'd have to buy an external DVD drive.

 

That means they might a well just pay the ?30 extra and get the i3-2348m, and also get the DVD drive that's on the HP 250 G1.

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My partner has the ProBook 4535 and construction-wise, it feels very decent.

 

Performance is as expected for a cheap laptop, however.

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I honestly think the best option is going to be the ProBook 4545s.

The HP 250 G1 has the Intel HD 3000 GPU, which is going to be a huge step down from what the ProBook has

 

The only other alternative I would suggest is:

http://www.ebuyer.com/543489-asus-x550ca-laptop-x550ca-xo266h

 

It has an i3, which is great, it has the Intel HD 4000, which is at the same performance level as the GPU in the ProBook.

 

The reason why I suggest the ProBook is because it will get much much better battery life than that Asus.

But I guess it really comes down to if you'd rather have a faster CPU or a longer battery life.

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Battery life isn't too much of a concern, as he'll only be using the laptop at either his own house, or his nan's house, it won't be taken into school or anything like that.

 

Thanks for throwing another one into the mix though.

 

I've been put off by AMD in recent years, but it doesn't look as though that processor is too bad. 

 

Now I can't make a bloody decision!

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Too bad they don't have my laptop anywhere. It would have cost 171 to 223 euros (without vat). Assuming they didn't just do that straight casting nonsense of 1 dollar = 1 euro and rip you off like i've seen for other things.

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Compaq PDC (?299)
CPU PassMark score: 1,904
GPU PassMark score: 307
 
Toshiba Satellite Pro C50-A15-L (?299)
CPU PassMark score: 2,315
GPU PassMark score: 307
 
HP ProBook 4545s (?299)
CPU PassMark score: 1,655
GPU PassMark score: 445

HP 250 G1 (as suggested by PeterUK) (?329)
CPU PassMark score: 2,654
GPU PassMark score: 306

Asus X550CA (as suggested by Astra.Xtreme) (?320)

CPU PassMark score: 1,701
GPU PassMark score: 460

 

Higher PassMark scores are better.

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I would personally go for the Toshiba from your initial list. The full keyboard looks good, the touchpad looks like it's in a comfortable position and it's got a nice array of ports so you'd never be caught short.

 

The main negative is the battery life, it seems quite low. The description says up to 3h 30m, so god only knows what the battery life would be if you use it normally. It also has no optical drive as you say but I can't imagine that being an issue as even when I went to school everything was done via USB sticks.

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Maybe I got lucky but for 430 USD wich is 267 ? I got a Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook referbrished on Ebay.

3rd Gen corei7 2.0ghz with turbo to 3.0 ghz

4 gigs ram

128 gig SSD

Intel HD 4000

 

only thing that sucks is the monitor on mine is bad at viewing angles but at that price I won the bid at I feel I got a steal so no complaints.

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Maybe I got lucky but for 430 USD wich is 267 ? I got a Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook referbrished on Ebay.

3rd Gen corei7 2.0ghz with turbo to 3.0 ghz

4 gigs ram

128 gig SSD

Intel HD 4000

only thing that sucks is the monitor on mine is bad at viewing angles but at that price I won the bid at I feel I got a steal so no complaints.

That's a definite steal, performance-wise.

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That's a definite steal, performance-wise.

yea I hate acer but for that price I had to buy it. Thru out some low ball bid and cant believe I won it

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I like the probooks because of the service panel.

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Thanks Elliot! That makes things a bit easier to choose from.

 

I'm just not sure whether he'll need the better GPU, as he's only playing minecraft, everything else he's doing won't really need a good GPU, it'll just need decent processing power.

 

I'd imagine all of those will be sufficient to play minecraft on some sort of half decent settings?

 

@Jamesyfx - They've said they'd like him to have an optical drive because they'll give him DVD's to watch on it too.

 

Definitely looks like it's between the HP 250 G1 and the X550CA for me. Although I'll bear the Toshiba in mind because it's quite close to the G1 on performance. X550CA looks like it might be the best balance between CPU/GPU performance.

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They already have a copy of Microsoft Office that they've got through the education programme.

 

That HP you've listed has a much lower processor.

 

Thanks for your input though :)

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It is worth noting for posterity that the Asus X550CA with an i3-2365M was mislabelled with a HD4000 even though that processor does not in fact have an HD4000. It actually has a subpar HD3000. Intel doesn't even bother to state it is an HD3000 on the spec sheet because it is spec'd so poorly compared to the higher end 2nd generation i7 based processors. It may have been previously listed as GMA HD though. I'm not 100% sure. 

 

More to the point, Asus is evidently selling two versions of that laptop model with different processors in them. Unfortunately, this means there is lots of confusing as to which you are getting and what the specs are... so much so that evidently they are listing incorrect specs. There is either an i3-2365M or a 2117U processor in the laptop. Both have different specs and different on-die GPUs. E.g. one has an HD3000 based GPU and one has a HD4000 based GPU. I say "based" because Intel doesn't appear to market either as HD3000 or HD4000. Probably because they have very low clock speeds compared to higher end models.

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