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Thread: Buying a laptop

  1. #1
    ********* Scotland Saltire's Avatar
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    Buying a laptop

    Hi Folks,

    Can any of you please advise on what sort of specs that I should be looking at for buying a laptop? It would probably be used for some web design (HTML coding and maybe some low-end graphic design)

    Is processor/RAM a big deal? Is it worth packing the RAM in with a slow processor? I'm on a pretty tight budget out here in Australia (although with the exchange rate a laptop is pretty cheap here compared to home )

    I look forward to seeing some of your replies

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    I recently (March) got a laptop for the same reasons. I figured that speed didn't matter as much as RAM because I'm not doing any mobile video editing.

    I would get at least a 650MHz P3 processor (I say P3 only because they have Speedstep (reduces MHzs when running on battery power), while Celerons don't), 64MB RAM (more if you're using Win2k), a 10GB HD, and a 14.1" screen.

    I dunno what type of web stuff you'll be doing, but personally, I chose to install Linux on my laptop so I could use all of my server tools (apache, mod_perl, mysql) even when I can't get on my server. If you are only doing HTML then Windows would be fine.

    RAM is probably the most important thing in a laptop, especially if you're using it for web development. You'll probably want to have Win2k because of its Hibernate feature (saves memory to disk and shuts down) and that takes up at least 64MB RAM by itself. You'd be best off with 128; then, you can have an editor, IE, IIS, and the OS all running together without swapping.

    I have a Dell Inspiron 4000 650MHz P3 with 128MB RAM and a 10GB HD. It was about $1800 total. That's pretty cheap as far as laptops go. What's your budget, exactly?

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    Laptops are a lot cheaper than they used to be. You can get a laptop that rivals a decent desktop for not too much money.

    If you can afford it, try around 800MHz with 256MB of RAM. 600MHz with 192 MB of RAM would also work. If you won't be using anything like Photoshop, you could definately drop the RAM on both of those configurations.

    You could survive on a 500MHz/128MB lappy, and that would save you quite a bit of money too.

    If you could give us some figures on what you are willing to spend, we would be able to help you quite a bit more.

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    Originally posted by qslack
    You'll probably want to have Win2k because of its Hibernate feature (saves memory to disk and shuts down) and that takes up at least 64MB RAM by itself.
    Hibernating doesn't require RAM, does it? It does require as much free hard drive space as you have RAM, though. If you had 512MB of RAM crammed in there, you'd need 512MB free to hibernate, etc.

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    I meant to say that Win2k takes up about 64MB itself. I sort of worded it ambiguously...stupid English

    When I first got my laptop it came with 64MB RAM but I quickly decided that wasn't enough. At a local computer store they were having a sale on laptop RAM so I got 64MB for $15. Too bad they were out of 128MB sticks ($40).

    Sometimes I wish I had more RAM. Mozilla itself can take up 70-80MB a lot of times...but 128MB should be fine for most things.

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    ********* Scotland Saltire's Avatar
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    Welcome back to SPF Aidan.

    My budget just now would be around $1,300 AUD. I was looking at a Toshiba Satellite Pro 40CX (I think) but am looking round various auctions and stuff to hopefully pick up a bargain. Anyway, please keep posting any info you think may be of value!

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    Originally posted by Saltire
    Welcome back to SPF Aidan.
    I never really left SPF. I have been very quiet recently, but I have been a lurker. Glad you noticed though, and thanks!
    Originally posted by Saltire
    My budget just now would be around $1,300 AUD.
    Could you give that to us in USD?

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    ********* Scotland Saltire's Avatar
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    $674 USD - not much I know, but a fair bit here

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    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    Saltire...

    How goes Australia?

    You should definitely consider an AMD laptop, the prices are quite a bit lower than Intel's the power is nearly as good (mobile wise at least).

    I'm sure you know this, but if you plan on using Photoshop at all, then RAM is MUCH more important than the fastest processor.
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    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Hi Saltire

    You could also try avoiding the big names such as Dell, I love my Dell but you do pay quite a bit for the name.

  11. #11
    ********* Scotland Saltire's Avatar
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    I will definitely be considering AMD -- that is the make of processor I have in my machine at home and they do top Pentiums (but lets not start a flame about AMD + Intel)

    I am not really all that bothered about the make, but I would prefer a Toshiba or something rather than a make that has very little dominance in the laptop market.

    Creole: Aussie is great, thanks for asking -- having a bit of trouble picking up the jobs though...

  12. #12
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    I have a Toshiba Satellite 500 Mhz with 128 MB of ram..although I would not recommend getting a toshiba laptop at all.

    Supports terriable..

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    SitePoint Co-founder Matt Mickiewicz's Avatar
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    Let us know what you decide on.

    For the record, I'm running a Dell Inspiron 7500 as my main computer. 128MB RAM, 18 GIG Hard Drive, killer 15" screen, 8MB Video Card. I Love it :-)

    It's travelled the world with me and has never let me down.
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    Database Jedi MattR's Avatar
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    I have a Dell Inspiron 8000 and it is, in a word, killer!

    The screen is huge (15"), lots of RAM (256MB), large HD (20GB), fast CPU (850MHz) and has everything I need (wireless, 100baseT, 56K, etc.).

    I highly recommend one, although it is VERY heavy if you are carrying it around.

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    ********* Scotland Saltire's Avatar
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    Hi Folks,

    Thanks for all your help so far. I have a Notebook Auction to attend tomorrow evening (Thu) so wish me luck in hopefully bringing home a laptop on Fri!

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    ********* Scotland Saltire's Avatar
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    What are IBM Thinkpads like?

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    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    DO you know, everyone keeps going on about support etc, but I have NEVER had to sue them, so if you are concerned with price then get the best system fot eh money you have, don't worry too much about the name!

    PS I do love my Dell though, and I agree it si heavy but you should see the screen on it. I have a mobile office on little wheels though so I don't usually have to worry about carrying it.

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    SitePoint Zealot
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    I have both an IBM Thinkpad and a Compaq Armada laptop both are quite useful and lots of RAM definitely comes into play as soon as you want to start playing with images, servers and so on.

    My main point is to try and get a bigger name brand because they offer good support - by that I mean HW support. The HDD failed in the IBM (thank god for CD burners) and was replaced within 3 days, considering I live no where near a major centre that is excellent. With laptop parts costing quite a bit more than desktop stuff warrenty support is a very important thing to look at.

    I agree that (from what I have heard in Australia anyway) that Toshiba support is not the best. I have found both IBM and Compaq to be excellent.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomatoe is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.


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