Author Topic: Most frugal laptop choice  (Read 1792 times)

Case

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Most frugal laptop choice
« on: January 09, 2019, 06:56:16 PM »
I need a basic laptop for running the software for a coffee roaster i just purchased.  The hardware requirements are not high, but it should be able to run windows smoothly.  I was simply planning to buy a refurbished dell or something like that.  Thoughts?

(Chromebook is note an option as i need windows for the software).

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 07:31:26 AM »
When I work out on the elliptical at the gym I like to play / surf the interwebs on a laptop. Since there is the very real possibility of the laptop crashing to the ground (has happened twice before) I use a laptop that is almost disposable. My go to laptop these days is the sub-$100 craigslist laptop.

ketchup

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Maenad

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 08:47:17 AM »
This is a timely topic! My laptop has something wrong with it (I'm working on the diagnosis with professionals). In surfing around on major repairs like motherboard replacements, I've found a number of people who claim a 3-year life expectancy on laptops. For something that costs over $1000, this is absolutely ridiculous!

@ketchup, thank you for the links! I'm trying to determine if the 3-year life expectancy is now considered industry standard, and then how to meet my needs the most efficiently if that's the case.

dashuk

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 08:52:35 AM »
I've done fairly well out of buying ex-corporate-lease Thinkpads from eBay. Bombproof, well-specced machines for maybe 1/10 what they would have been worth three years earlier.

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2019, 09:10:15 AM »
This is a timely topic! My laptop has something wrong with it (I'm working on the diagnosis with professionals). In surfing around on major repairs like motherboard replacements, I've found a number of people who claim a 3-year life expectancy on laptops. For something that costs over $1000, this is absolutely ridiculous!

@ketchup, thank you for the links! I'm trying to determine if the 3-year life expectancy is now considered industry standard, and then how to meet my needs the most efficiently if that's the case.
Maybe if you're abusing the hell out of the laptop every day.  Laptops these days tend to be replaced due to obsolescence more than actually breaking.  Nobody posts online about how their 4 year old laptop is still running fine, so it's easy to get scared by online horror stories.

I work in IT and we have plenty of oldish laptops still chugging along just fine at work (oldest are about 2010-era).  Maybe a hard drive failure around the 5 year mark, but that's an easy/cheap replacement.  Battery would be the other item to fail with any regularity, but even those last pretty long.  Just be sure to get a decent business-grade one (generally I recommend Dell Latitudes refurbished off the Dell Outlet), not some new $300-400 Fisher Price grade piece of crap.  The same money can get you a couple year old beast of a business-grade laptop.

My previous laptop (Dell Latitude) is from 2012 and worked fine until my sister-in-law broke the keyboard last year.  My girlfriend's old laptop (Thinkpad) was from 2010 and worked fine until my sister-in-law dropped it last year and the hard drive crapped out.  Both were only replaced due to wanting faster systems, not because there was anything wrong with them.

Our current laptops at home are 2.5 years old (hers, Dell XPS 15 9550) and 6 months old (mine, Dell XPS 13 9360), and I expect both to work until at least the 5 year mark, and probably a lot longer.

Desktop PCs have an even longer life, but if you want a laptop, you can definitely make that last too.

Syonyk

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2019, 10:29:34 AM »
You...

Wait.  You need a frugal laptop to run your coffee roaster?  :p  Please tell me this is a business expense and not your personal coffee roaster.  Alternately, how much for a pound of dark roast?

For basic control software, I'd go with a cheap netbook of some variety - you can find them, with Windows 10 Home, for $150 or $200, all day long, less if used.  They're gutless wonders, but they'll run control software reasonably well.

A better question would be, "What ports do you need?"  If the roaster is using a serial or parallel port, you're going to need something with that support.

In terms of laptop longevity, unusual failures (or bad components - nVidia 8600m, anyone?) aside, the biggest factor is how bendy the laptop is.  It used to be that consumer laptops were super flexible, and business grade laptops were quite stiff because they had an internal frame (but cost more).  Now, with the lack of CD drives and solid state drives being everywhere, smaller consumer laptops are quite stiff because they're smaller.

Basically, grab both sides of a laptop and try to twist it slightly (be gentle here).  If it's wobbly and bends, it's going to be junk, don't buy it.  If it's stiff, it should be fine.

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2019, 12:13:24 PM »

Lulee

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2019, 12:31:30 PM »
@Case I have shopped for my mom and my brother and gotten them cheap refurbed desktops on NewEgg for around $100 and they've been good.  Mom's is going on 2 years without a hitch (hers was like this https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883250464&ignorebbr=1 --- I wanted hardware I was familiar with and Windows 7 so I could support her over the phone).  They had over 15 of refurb desktops under $100 with a 4 star or higher rating.

They do have laptops too if a small form factor like the one I included a link to wouldn't work -- I prefer desktops for durability and lower prices if I can talk people into them.  I couldn't narrow the search down much more than this --- https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100006740%204016&IsNodeId=1&name=Laptops%20%2f%20Notebooks&SpeTabStoreType=97&isdeptsrh=1 --- because I wasn't sure if you wanted Win10 or if Win7 would be acceptable.  But there was a Win10 refurb Dell laptop for about $130 that might fit your needs --- https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834944666&ignorebbr=1.

I too am curious about the details regarding the coffee roaster set-up. :)


Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2019, 01:22:46 PM »
You...

Wait.  You need a frugal laptop to run your coffee roaster?  :p  Please tell me this is a business expense and not your personal coffee roaster.  Alternately, how much for a pound of dark roast?

For basic control software, I'd go with a cheap netbook of some variety - you can find them, with Windows 10 Home, for $150 or $200, all day long, less if used.  They're gutless wonders, but they'll run control software reasonably well.

A better question would be, "What ports do you need?"  If the roaster is using a serial or parallel port, you're going to need something with that support.

In terms of laptop longevity, unusual failures (or bad components - nVidia 8600m, anyone?) aside, the biggest factor is how bendy the laptop is.  It used to be that consumer laptops were super flexible, and business grade laptops were quite stiff because they had an internal frame (but cost more).  Now, with the lack of CD drives and solid state drives being everywhere, smaller consumer laptops are quite stiff because they're smaller.

Basically, grab both sides of a laptop and try to twist it slightly (be gentle here).  If it's wobbly and bends, it's going to be junk, don't buy it.  If it's stiff, it should be fine.

For better or worse, I'm starting to move beyond the standard hobby coffee roasters; it is not a mustachian pursuit.  But, it may become a side hustle... we will see.  Feel free to place an order!

I need a USB port... nothing fancy.

Syonyk

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 01:31:22 PM »
For better or worse, I'm starting to move beyond the standard hobby coffee roasters; it is not a mustachian pursuit.  But, it may become a side hustle... we will see.  Feel free to place an order!

I need a USB port... nothing fancy.

No problem - if you needed legacy ports, that would have an impact on the laptop choice.

I'd still think a modern netbook should be able to handle basic industrial control software decently, unless it's doing something insanely CPU intensive.

Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 02:00:46 PM »
This is a timely topic! My laptop has something wrong with it (I'm working on the diagnosis with professionals). In surfing around on major repairs like motherboard replacements, I've found a number of people who claim a 3-year life expectancy on laptops. For something that costs over $1000, this is absolutely ridiculous!

@ketchup, thank you for the links! I'm trying to determine if the 3-year life expectancy is now considered industry standard, and then how to meet my needs the most efficiently if that's the case.
Maybe if you're abusing the hell out of the laptop every day.  Laptops these days tend to be replaced due to obsolescence more than actually breaking.  Nobody posts online about how their 4 year old laptop is still running fine, so it's easy to get scared by online horror stories.

I work in IT and we have plenty of oldish laptops still chugging along just fine at work (oldest are about 2010-era).  Maybe a hard drive failure around the 5 year mark, but that's an easy/cheap replacement.  Battery would be the other item to fail with any regularity, but even those last pretty long.  Just be sure to get a decent business-grade one (generally I recommend Dell Latitudes refurbished off the Dell Outlet), not some new $300-400 Fisher Price grade piece of crap.  The same money can get you a couple year old beast of a business-grade laptop.

My previous laptop (Dell Latitude) is from 2012 and worked fine until my sister-in-law broke the keyboard last year.  My girlfriend's old laptop (Thinkpad) was from 2010 and worked fine until my sister-in-law dropped it last year and the hard drive crapped out.  Both were only replaced due to wanting faster systems, not because there was anything wrong with them.

Our current laptops at home are 2.5 years old (hers, Dell XPS 15 9550) and 6 months old (mine, Dell XPS 13 9360), and I expect both to work until at least the 5 year mark, and probably a lot longer.

Desktop PCs have an even longer life, but if you want a laptop, you can definitely make that last too.


Thanks!  I had been thinking about a refurbished Lattitude.

Now, I had not considered desktops.  This is because it would be located in a room that is not temperature controlled, and might get hot in the summer... otherwise a desktop would probably be a good choice.

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2019, 02:23:34 PM »
Now, I had not considered desktops.  This is because it would be located in a room that is not temperature controlled, and might get hot in the summer... otherwise a desktop would probably be a good choice.
A desktop can definitely deal with hot temperatures better than a laptop can... unless I've completely misread that concern.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2019, 02:32:33 PM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2019, 02:47:12 PM »
Thanks!  I had been thinking about a refurbished Lattitude.
Now, I had not considered desktops.  This is because it would be located in a room that is not temperature controlled, and might get hot in the summer... otherwise a desktop would probably be a good choice.
Do you have another computer nearby? Or, does the computer need to be in the same room?
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Importer520-25-Foot-Premium-Active-USB-2-0-Extender-Repeater-Extension-Cable-Built-in-signal-booster-chips-Supports-High-Speed-Data-Transfer-Rate-480/343836188

Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2019, 06:28:41 PM »
Thanks!  I had been thinking about a refurbished Lattitude.
Now, I had not considered desktops.  This is because it would be located in a room that is not temperature controlled, and might get hot in the summer... otherwise a desktop would probably be a good choice.
Do you have another computer nearby? Or, does the computer need to be in the same room?
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Importer520-25-Foot-Premium-Active-USB-2-0-Extender-Repeater-Extension-Cable-Built-in-signal-booster-chips-Supports-High-Speed-Data-Transfer-Rate-480/343836188

The computer does need to be in the same room, since it will be used to control the roaster and monitor temperatures.  I dont have another computer currently, as my previous laptop (some Lenovo) has been heading south for a while. I havenít used it in a year, but i would not only get the blue screen of death but also thej purple, yellow, green, and white SOD as well.

I have been making due on an ipad for a while now.  My wife does have an macbook, but i dont want to invade her privacy for 6 hours at a time on weekends.  If she were to get a new laptop, i might use her old one, but the macbook has been goong strong for 6 years now...

Unrelated but... i think i saw recently that you grew up in NoVA (in one of your posts).  Me too!

Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2019, 07:39:16 PM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

I actually did this 6.5 years ago (an $800 lenovo).  It was good for a couples years,and then began to suck (overheated and color-screen-of-death).  It turns out the company had a widespread problem with cheaping out on their heat sinks.  To fix it i would have needed to take it apart and replace the thermal paste.  Youtube tutorials were available, but I decided my risk of screwing it up was too high and i was tight on free time as it was. 

When i originally purchased the thing, it was rated as best value etc... 

In retrospect, im sort of interested in attempting the repair just to learn.  But the thing is so obsolete now.   Computers become obsolete so fast, its hard to justify purchasing one for $1000 whose only purpoose is to run a simple program.

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2019, 08:16:56 AM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

I actually did this 6.5 years ago (an $800 lenovo).  It was good for a couples years,and then began to suck (overheated and color-screen-of-death).  It turns out the company had a widespread problem with cheaping out on their heat sinks.  To fix it i would have needed to take it apart and replace the thermal paste.  Youtube tutorials were available, but I decided my risk of screwing it up was too high and i was tight on free time as it was. 

When i originally purchased the thing, it was rated as best value etc... 

In retrospect, im sort of interested in attempting the repair just to learn.  But the thing is so obsolete now.   Computers become obsolete so fast, its hard to justify purchasing one for $1000 whose only purpoose is to run a simple program.
Honestly, a 6.5 year old Lenovo is probably perfect for this task.  I'd say give it a shot.  Windows 10 will activate with a Win7 key.

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2019, 08:38:36 AM »
To fix it i would have needed to take it apart and replace the thermal paste.  Youtube tutorials were available, but I decided my risk of screwing it up was too high and i was tight on free time as it was.

So... it didn't work, and you were concerned about breaking it in an attempt to fix it?  It didn't work in the first place!

For a $20 investment in geekdrivers (if you don't have a set) and $5 of thermal paste (shipped), that's the sort of thing that's entirely worth doing - even if you're uncertain as to how to do it.  If there are good YouTube videos or tutorials, learn to follow them.

That's the sort of thing I do regularly - repair laptops for people.  I either make good money, or get laptops for nearly nothing and repair them.

I've actually done a bit of writing on the art of repair: https://syonyk.blogspot.com/2018/04/on-art-of-repair-re-capacitoring-old-mainboards.html  It's something I do quite a bit, and have equipped my office with things like a hot air rework station to be able to better repair things.  It's a lost art, and those tend to be quite profitable as fewer and fewer people understand them.

Quote
In retrospect, im sort of interested in attempting the repair just to learn.  But the thing is so obsolete now.   Computers become obsolete so fast, its hard to justify purchasing one for $1000 whose only purpoose is to run a simple program.

So... fix it, if you still have it.  Or ship it to me for pennies on the dollar. ;)

A 6-7 year old laptop will run control software just fine.  Though a modern netbook will do just fine as well.

I disagree that computers become obsolete terribly fast anymore, though.  Once you get a SSD in a machine, even quite old stuff (decade or so old) is still useful and usable for light duty - anything Core 2 or later is still useful for light work, and if you go a few generations newer, Haswell machines (mid-2013) are still entirely usable - I've got a Haswell iMac and a Haswell Macbook Pro that are my daily-driver computers, and they're 4-6 years old.  I'm not terribly light on them either, but I'm not gaming or doing massive amounts of compute-intensive work.

We've hit a point where the benefits of newer architectures are mostly in energy efficiency, not raw useful performance (raw performance is higher, but a faster computer waits for someone to type at just the same speed as an older one).  I've even got an old Atom based netbook from 2010 or so that's still in active service for various lightweight tasks.  If you've got a chip built in the last decade, 8GB of RAM, and an SSD, it will handle modern tasks, though pre-Sandy Bridge may be a bit clanky for some of them.

If you have an older laptop that needs some repair work, the by far most Mustachian thing to do is to learn to fix it yourself for a couple bucks.  Lenovos are super simple to work on - they're well documented, common, and incredibly straightforward to disassemble.  They're a business machine, designed to be repaired.  I've done work on things like 12" Powerbook G4s in the past, which are... quite a bit not straightforward.  The screens suck, though - no arguments there.  I'm waiting for parts to arrive to swap out the display on my wife's Lenovo with something that isn't awful (going from their horrid TN display to a slightly higher resolution IPS display).  But it doesn't matter for control software.

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2019, 12:37:05 PM »
I'm not a computer nerd at all but I do use one daily in my editing/writing/history business. I feel now about computers the way I do about cars -- there is no reason at all to buy a new one unless for some reason you have daily work that requires the very latest thing (which is to say, basically nobody except maybe the people who are making the computers and apps themselves).

I have been going with refurbished scratch-dent 3+-year-old laptops & desktops for a long time with no issues. (The MacBook I am currently typing on literally came with a dent in one corner. Saved me like $200 from the other refurbs.) I typically go five or more years between machines.

(To me the entire computer business looks more like a racket every day. I don't get why we all just decided it was a good idea for everyone to shell out thousands of dollars for gear on a regular basis -- plus $100+ month for internet & cell service -- just to have an everyday life or run your everyday business. But then I'm a Gen X geezer who made it to young adulthood before any of this started happening, with memories of doing basically the same thing that I do now without having to regularly drop piles of cash on stuff that you were expected to throw away after 3 years. I'm also a historian, and the more you look at the history of computing post-1980s, the more it seems like the only people who have really benefitted are the tech companies. Not that I'm against cute cat videos or anything.)

Sort of off topic, but there was a great essay in the Baffler recently about the end of the internet by one of my favorite contemporary writers (Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell): https://thebaffler.com/salvos/404-page-not-found-wagner


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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2019, 12:53:25 PM »
When I work out on the elliptical at the gym I like to play / surf the interwebs on a laptop. Since there is the very real possibility of the laptop crashing to the ground (has happened twice before) I use a laptop that is almost disposable. My go to laptop these days is the sub-$100 craigslist laptop.
Seems like a tablet is what you need for this. Lot of used tablets will work for this and the chance of breakage is reduced.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2019, 08:08:41 AM »
what about a Rasberry Pi or Arduino?  That would be bare bones for control and use a lot less energy. 

Syonyk

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2019, 08:45:25 AM »
what about a Rasberry Pi or Arduino?  That would be bare bones for control and use a lot less energy.

It almost certainly won't run the provided software, and I get the impression the OP isn't looking for a reverse engineering project.

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2019, 10:26:52 AM »
I'm not a computer nerd at all but I do use one daily in my editing/writing/history business. I feel now about computers the way I do about cars -- there is no reason at all to buy a new one unless for some reason you have daily work that requires the very latest thing (which is to say, basically nobody except maybe the people who are making the computers and apps themselves).

I have been going with refurbished scratch-dent 3+-year-old laptops & desktops for a long time with no issues. (The MacBook I am currently typing on literally came with a dent in one corner. Saved me like $200 from the other refurbs.) I typically go five or more years between machines.
As a computer nerd, this is 100% accurate.  I wouldn't say the only people that need the latest/greatest are software developers, but the masses absolutely do not need it.  Any decent computer from the last 10 years will do what at least 90% of people want to do at least 90% of the time.

That being said...

(To me the entire computer business looks more like a racket every day. I don't get why we all just decided it was a good idea for everyone to shell out thousands of dollars for gear on a regular basis -- plus $100+ month for internet & cell service -- just to have an everyday life or run your everyday business. But then I'm a Gen X geezer who made it to young adulthood before any of this started happening, with memories of doing basically the same thing that I do now without having to regularly drop piles of cash on stuff that you were expected to throw away after 3 years. I'm also a historian, and the more you look at the history of computing post-1980s, the more it seems like the only people who have really benefitted are the tech companies. Not that I'm against cute cat videos or anything.)

Sort of off topic, but there was a great essay in the Baffler recently about the end of the internet by one of my favorite contemporary writers (Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell): https://thebaffler.com/salvos/404-page-not-found-wagner
Disclaimer: I'm probably biased as hell, as I work in IT.  And I'm 27, so millennial as fuck.

I would hardly call the "computer business" a racket.  If anything, it's becoming less and less so.  Do you remember the "thousands of dollars" for computer gear in the 90s!?  That shit was way more expensive than it is now, and was obsolete far faster.  If you were running a 1992-era Compaq 486 in 2000, you might as well be driving a stagecoach.  Now it's 2019, and a PC from 2011 can be perfectly adequate for plenty of people. 

My GF has a 2010 laptop (Thinkpad T510) that only recently had the hard drive die, and a new $50 SSD and it would be on its way (we haven't bothered, since we did buy its replacement in 2016).  You can buy a refurb business grade PC that will run the current version of Windows just fine for as little as $200 (less if you score a deal); when in the past has that ever been possible outside of the last ~5 years or so?

Even brand new PCs are amazingly cheaper and longer-lasting compared to before.  I remember my dad buying a Windows 95 PC in 1998 (after Win98 came out, so this was some closeout bargain) for $1300.  It was kind-of obsolete right away, and replaced with an XP machine by 2003.  These days at work, I'm buying Dell Optiplex 3060s from Dell for about $700 with Win10, a six-core i5, 8GB of RAM, and and SSD.  They will be infinitely more useful five years from now than my dad's POS was in 2003.

Smartphones are now finally slowing down (in terms of technical progress) too, so people are finally holding onto them longer.  Apple's recent earning report reflects this (and they seemed to be taken aback by this).  A new iPhone in 2019 for a person with a two-year-old model is a much harder sell now than it was in 2013.  My iPhone 7 is over two years old now and just fine, and with the latest iOS and security patches.  I literally have zero complaints (apart from certain Apple-y quirks, but those aren't because it's 2+ years old) and while I would accept an iPhone XS if it was given to me for free, it would mostly be a non-event.  I had a new-to-me 2011-era Samsung Galaxy S (the first one, a flagship model at the time) that I bought used in 2013, and I dealt with it for a few years because I'm a stubborn asshole, but it was clearly past its prime from the start, and its eventual replacement was an amazing breath of fresh air.

$100+/mo for internet and cell service?  If you're paying that much you better be getting your money's worth out of that.  We are, actually, at $140/mo total for shitty DSL and two unlimited smartphone lines.  But we use the hell out of them.  If we weren't, we'd be paying probably more like $80/mo all-in for a household of two.  We'd also probably pay less if our area was anywhere near competitive (our only wireline internet option literally is $50/mo 6mbps/768kbps DSL).

Since the 1980s, the only people that have benefited from computing advances are big tech companies?  Seriously? 

I'll leave my own career (again, IT) out of this since that part's obvious, but the company I work for is a contract service lab, and being able to email clients and delivery results electronically is a boon for productivity, leaving apart the fact that literally every scientific instrument in the lab is connected to a computer doing all the heavy lifting.  Until recently, we did actually have a 1980s era instrument connected to a 1980s computer, and the owner of the company literally popped a bottle of champagne in celebration when we finally put that thing to bed.  It was great for its day, but a colossal pain in the ass in the modern world compared to modern instrumentation.  Would you like to take thousands of images through a microscope by hand, assemble them into a composite, hand-measure the particle size of everything on the slide (100,000s of particles), and report the distribution on a graph?  Modern tech lets us do it for our clients in a few hours for a few hundred bucks.

My girlfriend's career wouldn't exist without modern tech.  She is a self-employed professional photographer in a very niche industry.  Without DSLRs, her cost of shooting would be hilariously more expensive on film (she shoots over 100k photos per year; I'm not even going to do the math on film stock/processing cost).  She's able to turn around results far faster.  She did a photoshoot yesterday morning, and by 3pm, she had sent the client a few edited complete photos already, and gotten feedback.  If she were shooting on film, or even sending discs through the mail vs sending photos online, that would be measured in days instead of hours.  Her new-in-2017 PC saves her a ton of time vs her previous new-in-2011 PC.  Her new-in-2015 4K monitor allows her far more control over her work vs her old crappy 2009-era 1920x1080 display.  Her 2016 laptop is actually useful for editing on the road compared to her 2010 laptop.  As much as I despise it, without Facebook, her work would not have gotten as much traction and attention, so she's likely still be working a shitty "day job" instead of quitting that four and a half years ago.  Every advance in DSLR camera tech, desktop computing, display tech, storage tech, internet speeds (yes, our crappy DSL is holding her back a bit), and online infrastructure has made her business better, faster, easier, and more profitable.

Not to mention the day-to-day improvements to our lives that technology has brought.  Plenty of it is unnecessary fluff (I don't need a "home assistant" to talk to me when my dryer is done running), but things like GPS on phones, Wikipedia, Google, Uber, eBay, Amazon, Google Translate, etc. all have made life way easier in their respective areas than before.  Hell, even PayPal.  Even simple stuff like Google-ing a recipe for curry powder while making dinner.  I could go on here, but I'll restrain myself.  Some of those things I mentioned are indeed "big tech companies" but they're big because they do provide legitimate value.

I read that article too, and I get some of the ethos behind it.  The main thing she seems to be decrying though is the consolidation of websites onto social media platforms, and the App-ification of the internet.  This I agree with, and I tend to avoid such things personally.  I can't stand mobile-oriented websites on a PC.  I don't really have any smartphone apps that don't have a specific reason to be their own app, whether due to convenience (weather, online banking, Evernote, work email), complexity (MS Excel, remote desktop client, Xero) or the need for them to work in the background (Google Maps, Pandora, Uber).

The only "social media" I use are web forums and Reddit.  I have a Facebook account, but that's mostly due to inertia, and I think I've posted on their twice in the past six or seven years, and both times I was just updating my profile picture to be slightly less embarrassing and slightly more bald.  I certainly don't have the Facebook or Messenger app on my smartphone, or check it any more than maaaybe once a month if we're being generous.

Of "the FAANGs" (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, new term I hadn't seen before), the only ones I'd say are specifically not providing proportional value to consumers are Facebook (who provides plenty of value to advertisers and businesses) and and maybe Apple.  Amazon provides tremendous value, especially with AWS (which is of course the reason their stock value has ballooned in the last few years).  Netflix is the perfect anti-cable, at least for now.  Google has their teeth in all kinds of things.

She also puts an odd amount of emphasis on websites deleting old user-posted content and painting it as some sort of tragedy.  I don't think anyone can reasonably expect that anything you post anywhere will be archived forever on your behalf (unless you're paying for a service that stores it or something, like typical paid web hosting).  If you have important information, it's on you to back it up as needed.  Though it is cool to see things like old Usenet groups archived by Google (like Linus Torvalds first post in 1991 to comp.os.minix about his OS he was writing, which became Linux: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!original/comp.os.minix/dlNtH7RRrGA/SwRavCzVE7gJ ).

This kind of turned into a long rant, which was really not my intention.  Carry on, on-topic posters.

libertarian4321

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2019, 11:28:56 AM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

Okay, I'll bite.

Why?

If you are running software that requires a powerful processor or if you are using the machine in a manner that requires great durability, I can see spending more money.

But if all you need is a simple machine to run one simple program, and it's presumably not going to be moved/banged around a lot, any cheap laptop should do the job just fine.

To answer the original question, one can easily find brand new "name brand" notebooks running Windows for under $200.  If you are willing to buy a no name brand, you can get a Windows notebook for less than $150 (these are new, not refurbished). 

And that's without shopping around and looking for a bargain.  If you don't need to buy in the next 10 minutes, you can probably wait for price drops and do better.

robartsd

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2019, 01:19:09 PM »
Now, I had not considered desktops.  This is because it would be located in a room that is not temperature controlled, and might get hot in the summer... otherwise a desktop would probably be a good choice.
A desktop can definitely deal with hot temperatures better than a laptop can... unless I've completely misread that concern.
I second this opinion. I'd buy a used/refurbished business mini-tower for less than $100. Add needed human interface devices (screen, keyboard, mouse). Fairly easy to upgrade cooling system if it turns out to be needed.

Unique User

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2019, 01:58:37 PM »
If you decide on the laptop choice, I listened to @Daley and bought a refurb HP laptop from what used to be US Micro, now Arrow Direct.  Had a problem with it a couple months later, they refunded my money and I bought a refurb Thinkpad for $350 from them.  Solid company, good prices, good product.   

BDWW

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2019, 02:03:10 PM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

Okay, I'll bite.

Why?

If you are running software that requires a powerful processor or if you are using the machine in a manner that requires great durability, I can see spending more money.

But if all you need is a simple machine to run one simple program, and it's presumably not going to be moved/banged around a lot, any cheap laptop should do the job just fine.

To answer the original question, one can easily find brand new "name brand" notebooks running Windows for under $200.  If you are willing to buy a no name brand, you can get a Windows notebook for less than $150 (these are new, not refurbished). 

And that's without shopping around and looking for a bargain.  If you don't need to buy in the next 10 minutes, you can probably wait for price drops and do better.

Because it's not (generally) the processor that's the weak spot, it's everything else to get to that price point. Cheap laptops suffer from all sorts of issues, poor keyboards that break easily, ports that stop functioning, caps that blow, insufficient ram, flaky wifi, cheap flash with no wear resistance etc ad nauseam.  I just helped a friend reformat a cheap netbook that actually used a soldered SD card for the (air-quotes) "SSD"* !

*Avoid anything with an "EMMC" drive.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 02:06:10 PM by BDWW »

libertarian4321

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2019, 02:44:02 PM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

Okay, I'll bite.

Why?

If you are running software that requires a powerful processor or if you are using the machine in a manner that requires great durability, I can see spending more money.

But if all you need is a simple machine to run one simple program, and it's presumably not going to be moved/banged around a lot, any cheap laptop should do the job just fine.

To answer the original question, one can easily find brand new "name brand" notebooks running Windows for under $200.  If you are willing to buy a no name brand, you can get a Windows notebook for less than $150 (these are new, not refurbished). 

And that's without shopping around and looking for a bargain.  If you don't need to buy in the next 10 minutes, you can probably wait for price drops and do better.

Because it's not (generally) the processor that's the weak spot, it's everything else to get to that price point. Cheap laptops suffer from all sorts of issues, poor keyboards that break easily, ports that stop functioning, caps that blow, insufficient ram, flaky wifi, cheap flash with no wear resistance etc ad nauseam.  I just helped a friend reformat a cheap netbook that actually used a soldered SD card for the (air-quotes) "SSD"* !

*Avoid anything with an "EMMC" drive.

The guy said he was going to use the thing to run a coffee roaster.  That sounds like it would have very little need for RAM, processing power, wear resistance, durable keyboard, top of the line wifi, etc.

In other words, no need to pay for a Ferrari when a Hyundai will do the job at 1/5th the cost.

Buy the $150 essentially disposable computer rather than the $1,000 Ferrari computer, and invest the $850 difference in a good, low expense stock fund.

If that cheapy lasts a bit less than 2 years (and it will be under warranty for at least 1 year), you come out ahead (your investment returns would have covered the cost of the computer).

I'm not an IT guy, but I've been using computers for a bit more than 40 years, and buying them for 35+, and I've never seen one that didn't make it to at least 2 years. 
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 02:47:36 PM by libertarian4321 »

Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2019, 07:31:25 PM »
To fix it i would have needed to take it apart and replace the thermal paste.  Youtube tutorials were available, but I decided my risk of screwing it up was too high and i was tight on free time as it was.

So... it didn't work, and you were concerned about breaking it in an attempt to fix it?  It didn't work in the first place!

For a $20 investment in geekdrivers (if you don't have a set) and $5 of thermal paste (shipped), that's the sort of thing that's entirely worth doing - even if you're uncertain as to how to do it.  If there are good YouTube videos or tutorials, learn to follow them.

That's the sort of thing I do regularly - repair laptops for people.  I either make good money, or get laptops for nearly nothing and repair them.

I've actually done a bit of writing on the art of repair: https://syonyk.blogspot.com/2018/04/on-art-of-repair-re-capacitoring-old-mainboards.html  It's something I do quite a bit, and have equipped my office with things like a hot air rework station to be able to better repair things.  It's a lost art, and those tend to be quite profitable as fewer and fewer people understand them.

Quote
In retrospect, im sort of interested in attempting the repair just to learn.  But the thing is so obsolete now.   Computers become obsolete so fast, its hard to justify purchasing one for $1000 whose only purpoose is to run a simple program.

So... fix it, if you still have it.  Or ship it to me for pennies on the dollar. ;)

A 6-7 year old laptop will run control software just fine.  Though a modern netbook will do just fine as well.

I disagree that computers become obsolete terribly fast anymore, though.  Once you get a SSD in a machine, even quite old stuff (decade or so old) is still useful and usable for light duty - anything Core 2 or later is still useful for light work, and if you go a few generations newer, Haswell machines (mid-2013) are still entirely usable - I've got a Haswell iMac and a Haswell Macbook Pro that are my daily-driver computers, and they're 4-6 years old.  I'm not terribly light on them either, but I'm not gaming or doing massive amounts of compute-intensive work.

We've hit a point where the benefits of newer architectures are mostly in energy efficiency, not raw useful performance (raw performance is higher, but a faster computer waits for someone to type at just the same speed as an older one).  I've even got an old Atom based netbook from 2010 or so that's still in active service for various lightweight tasks.  If you've got a chip built in the last decade, 8GB of RAM, and an SSD, it will handle modern tasks, though pre-Sandy Bridge may be a bit clanky for some of them.

If you have an older laptop that needs some repair work, the by far most Mustachian thing to do is to learn to fix it yourself for a couple bucks.  Lenovos are super simple to work on - they're well documented, common, and incredibly straightforward to disassemble.  They're a business machine, designed to be repaired.  I've done work on things like 12" Powerbook G4s in the past, which are... quite a bit not straightforward.  The screens suck, though - no arguments there.  I'm waiting for parts to arrive to swap out the display on my wife's Lenovo with something that isn't awful (going from their horrid TN display to a slightly higher resolution IPS display).  But it doesn't matter for control software.

Sorry for the delayed response. 

My old laptop, in addition to the overheating, was not doing so hot.  I just remember it reaching the point of not great performance, though I donít recall the specifics as i gave up on it 2 years ago.  Perhaps it overheated too mnay times.

As with all DiY activities, i was faced with the choice of investing time, which i could put towards other things.  As im already involved in a variety of activities and a lot of work stress, I decided to let this one go at the time because I thought this DIY project might be frustrating.  As a compromise, i replaced it with a tablet that i got at a reasonable price.  The tablet was cheap and more mobile + better battery life, and is still going strong.

So, its not that i didnt want to try saving it, but rather a judgement call at the time.  As i think about potentially ressurecting this zombie laptop the same thoughts come to mind.  I remember the joy of turning it on and waiting 10 minutes before it was fully booted...

The processor was 2nd gen intel I believe, a lenovo y570.



Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2019, 07:44:51 PM »
If you decide on the laptop choice, I listened to @Daley and bought a refurb HP laptop from what used to be US Micro, now Arrow Direct.  Had a problem with it a couple months later, they refunded my money and I bought a refurb Thinkpad for $350 from them.  Solid company, good prices, good product.

I have asked @Daley for so much advice that i should probably be paying him.

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2019, 08:11:58 PM »
Sorry for the delayed response. 

My old laptop, in addition to the overheating, was not doing so hot.  I just remember it reaching the point of not great performance, though I donít recall the specifics as i gave up on it 2 years ago.  Perhaps it overheated too mnay times.

As with all DiY activities, i was faced with the choice of investing time, which i could put towards other things.  As im already involved in a variety of activities and a lot of work stress, I decided to let this one go at the time because I thought this DIY project might be frustrating.  As a compromise, i replaced it with a tablet that i got at a reasonable price.  The tablet was cheap and more mobile + better battery life, and is still going strong.

So, its not that i didnt want to try saving it, but rather a judgement call at the time.  As i think about potentially ressurecting this zombie laptop the same thoughts come to mind.  I remember the joy of turning it on and waiting 10 minutes before it was fully booted...

The processor was 2nd gen intel I believe, a lenovo y570.

Still have it?  I'll happily take a stab at fixing it.

Daley

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2019, 08:25:48 PM »
I have asked @Daley for so much advice that i should probably be paying him.

*sigh* If I had a nickel for every time someone said that, I'd be retired by now.

HAHA! Ha. Ha?

Seriously, though, I kid.





If anyone needs me, I'll be over in the corneryay poverty. >.>
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 08:28:26 PM by Daley »

Budgie

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2019, 09:16:41 PM »
Thanks for the info about refurbished Dells. Timely for me as well. I use my laptop to check email and watch Netflix, don't need it to do anything special but hadn't considered a refurbished one.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 09:19:22 PM by Budgie »

BDWW

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2019, 10:00:14 PM »
snip

The trouble with your analogy is that sub-200 laptops fall into the rickshaw category, not hyundai.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2019, 11:07:08 AM »
In my experience, do not cheap out on a laptop.  You might as well light $300 on fire. Buy a good Lenovo ThinkPad ($800-1000) and call it a day.

Okay, I'll bite.

Why?

If you are running software that requires a powerful processor or if you are using the machine in a manner that requires great durability, I can see spending more money.

But if all you need is a simple machine to run one simple program, and it's presumably not going to be moved/banged around a lot, any cheap laptop should do the job just fine.

To answer the original question, one can easily find brand new "name brand" notebooks running Windows for under $200.  If you are willing to buy a no name brand, you can get a Windows notebook for less than $150 (these are new, not refurbished). 

And that's without shopping around and looking for a bargain.  If you don't need to buy in the next 10 minutes, you can probably wait for price drops and do better.

Because it's not (generally) the processor that's the weak spot, it's everything else to get to that price point. Cheap laptops suffer from all sorts of issues, poor keyboards that break easily, ports that stop functioning, caps that blow, insufficient ram, flaky wifi, cheap flash with no wear resistance etc ad nauseam.  I just helped a friend reformat a cheap netbook that actually used a soldered SD card for the (air-quotes) "SSD"* !

*Avoid anything with an "EMMC" drive.

The guy said he was going to use the thing to run a coffee roaster.  That sounds like it would have very little need for RAM, processing power, wear resistance, durable keyboard, top of the line wifi, etc.

In other words, no need to pay for a Ferrari when a Hyundai will do the job at 1/5th the cost.

Buy the $150 essentially disposable computer rather than the $1,000 Ferrari computer, and invest the $850 difference in a good, low expense stock fund.

If that cheapy lasts a bit less than 2 years (and it will be under warranty for at least 1 year), you come out ahead (your investment returns would have covered the cost of the computer).

I'm not an IT guy, but I've been using computers for a bit more than 40 years, and buying them for 35+, and I've never seen one that didn't make it to at least 2 years.

From a general standpoint, I tend to buy quality over quantity. I wear Brooks Brothers dress shirts, Allen Edmonds shoes, etc.  I've found that cheaping out on these items leads to more regular purchases and more money spent in the long run.

As for the dress shoe example -- I was buying two pairs of Johnston and Murphy about every 18 months (or $200/year). I got tired of that a while ago and bought three pairs of Allen Edmonds for about $900 (big post-Christmas sale).  They are still good as new and will honestly probably last another 20 years (with a re-soling here or there). The thought of investing the difference in a brokerage account, pulling from said account, paying gains taxes on these returns (hoping they go up in a two year span), just to buy some shoes simply isn't sound to me.

As applied to this example, I cheaped out and bought a $300 Dell about four years ago. It was a complete piece of shit very quickly. Opening an internet browser to do simple things (email, calendar, etc.) took forever. I was starting my computer and then doing chores around the house it took so long to load up. And then the performance sucked.  It was a waste of money.

So here, the thought that you can just buy a computer with minimal processing to run a coffee roaster just isn't sound. Your computer will be jammed with just trying to run itself. Opening the coffee roaster program will start to take a really long time and will make the activity far less enjoyable.

I really don't see the point in sweating over an extra $600 on a one-time purchase for a far, far, far superior product that will last you far longer and bring you much greater enjoyment. 

Lulee

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2019, 11:19:12 AM »
ReadySetMillionaire's experience with his Dell refurb reminded me of one IMPORTANT thing, @Case which has been mentioned in other computer hardware related threads but not here.  Don't get anything with a Celeron chip in it or you will have the same frustration as he did.  They have always been a cheap way to sabotage your computing experience.

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2019, 11:26:50 AM »
ReadySetMillionaire's experience with his Dell refurb reminded me of one IMPORTANT thing, @Case which has been mentioned in other computer hardware related threads but not here.  Don't get anything with a Celeron chip in it or you will have the same frustration as he did.  They have always been a cheap way to sabotage your computing experience.

And I would add, and I've posted this before, is all this research and everything worth your time? This forum seems to be so obsessed with dollars and cents that we lose track of the value of our time.

I have simply started to research "best _______ under $1,000" or whatever number I know will get me a top notch product that will last. You will find this number within about 2 minutes. Then you research for about an hour tops and find the best one that suits your needs.

Changing my focus from quality to quantity has made me far more productive at work (aside from today's rants on the forums). It's not a mistake that last year was by far my highest earning year. I'm spending less time sweating small stuff and much more time investing myself in my business. Higher income defeats almost everything else.

Daley

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2019, 11:41:21 AM »
ReadySetMillionaire's experience with his Dell refurb reminded me of one IMPORTANT thing, @Case which has been mentioned in other computer hardware related threads but not here.  Don't get anything with a Celeron chip in it or you will have the same frustration as he did.  They have always been a cheap way to sabotage your computing experience.

I'm pretty sure RSM bought a cheap, new, consumer grade Dell, not a business grade refurb - but please, correct me if I'm wrong. There is a difference. One is buying a cheap piece of junk, the other is like buying a high-end fleet model Lexus after someone else ran off the first 40k miles of an expected 300+k engine and transmission life for 1/3rd the price. Are there sometimes lemons? Yes, just like there are new lemons (usually far more frequently for the new, same with cars), which is why you should buy a refurb with a warranty, but generally speaking, the high end corporate laptops last a long time... even used.

Posted from a $120 refurb Latitude E4310 using a $25 refurb Intel 320 series SSD with only 4TB of drive wear, and 90 minutes of thumb twiddling while Windows installed. The thing's plenty snappy and stable.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 11:47:26 AM by Daley »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2019, 11:47:23 AM »
I'm pretty sure RSM bought a cheap, new, consumer grade Dell, not a business grade refurb - but please, correct me if I'm wrong. There is a difference. One is buying a cheap piece of junk, the other is like buying a high-end fleet model Lexus after someone else ran off the first 40k miles of an expected 300+k engine and transmission life for 1/3rd the price. Are there sometimes lemons? Yes, just like there are new lemons (usually far more frequently for the new, same with cars), which is why you should buy a refurb with a warranty, but generally speaking, the high end corporate laptops last a long time... even used.

Posted from a $120 Latitude E4310 using a $25 refurb Intel 320 series SSD with only 4TB of drive wear, and 90 minutes of thumb twiddling while Windows installed. The thing's plenty snappy and stable.

You are correct.  My wife didn't want a refurb and we went with a highly reviewed Dell.  So out of all my ranting, just don't make my mistake at least.

Daley

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2019, 11:53:14 AM »
You are correct.  My wife didn't want a refurb and we went with a highly reviewed Dell.  So out of all my ranting, just don't make my mistake at least.

And I agree with you wholeheartedly, cheap new consumer at that price point is trash, but it doesn't mean that you can't get a fantastic laptop at that price point if you buy the high end stuff used. We're basically advocating the exact same position, my position's just riding the long tail of capitalism and letting someone else take the new price hit first.

Sorry the wife wouldn't do a refurb, dude. Under the circumstances, though, you made a good call.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 11:58:06 AM by Daley »

Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #41 on: January 15, 2019, 02:47:58 PM »
ReadySetMillionaire's experience with his Dell refurb reminded me of one IMPORTANT thing, @Case which has been mentioned in other computer hardware related threads but not here.  Don't get anything with a Celeron chip in it or you will have the same frustration as he did.  They have always been a cheap way to sabotage your computing experience.

And I would add, and I've posted this before, is all this research and everything worth your time? This forum seems to be so obsessed with dollars and cents that we lose track of the value of our time.

I have simply started to research "best _______ under $1,000" or whatever number I know will get me a top notch product that will last. You will find this number within about 2 minutes. Then you research for about an hour tops and find the best one that suits your needs.

Changing my focus from quality to quantity has made me far more productive at work (aside from today's rants on the forums). It's not a mistake that last year was by far my highest earning year. I'm spending less time sweating small stuff and much more time investing myself in my business. Higher income defeats almost everything else.

To answer your question of whether it's worth your time, the answer is 'maybe'.  In my opinion, the average mustachian could stand to benefit from a couple hours of research in order to make an optimal purchase which saves them a couple hundred bucks.  But, I agree there is a cut off where it's not worth it, and the length of this thread is starting to reach that 8-).  I will likely get a used Dell of some sort; Dell because at least it has some sort of reputation and I can count on the warranty.  A somewhat new processor so that it can handles windows 10; windows 10 so that I stay with the times; probably a minimal processor (2 cores)... I don't even know how much RAM is good nowadays or how big the cache needs to me.

This thing will be for running Windows 10, the roasting software (which is probably nothing super fancy), perhaps for surfing the web while roasting, and perhaps for typings notes on the roasting.  If it can't handle multitasking listed above, then it is for running the roasting software (+ windows 10) then I have lost all faith in Moore's law.

I don't intend to flex this thing into a gaming computer or other purposes beyond those listed above. 

It looks like I will spend a few hundred bucks.

Case

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2019, 07:47:45 PM »
Sorry for the delayed response. 

My old laptop, in addition to the overheating, was not doing so hot.  I just remember it reaching the point of not great performance, though I donít recall the specifics as i gave up on it 2 years ago.  Perhaps it overheated too mnay times.

As with all DiY activities, i was faced with the choice of investing time, which i could put towards other things.  As im already involved in a variety of activities and a lot of work stress, I decided to let this one go at the time because I thought this DIY project might be frustrating.  As a compromise, i replaced it with a tablet that i got at a reasonable price.  The tablet was cheap and more mobile + better battery life, and is still going strong.

So, its not that i didnt want to try saving it, but rather a judgement call at the time.  As i think about potentially ressurecting this zombie laptop the same thoughts come to mind.  I remember the joy of turning it on and waiting 10 minutes before it was fully booted...

The processor was 2nd gen intel I believe, a lenovo y570.

Still have it?  I'll happily take a stab at fixing it.

Alright, so, I have booted up the old potato (what I like to call my old computers... gives me the mental image of a light bulb being lit by a potato).

It has an i7-2670QM.  At the time I don't know why I bought something with 4 cores, other than I probably had no idea what I was doing at the time.  It has 8GB of RAM.  It is 2nd gen Intel core processor I believe.

I have memories of it struggling and ultimately failing to successfully install some of the windows updates (I tried repeatedly).  It is on Windows Service pack 1.  I suppose I could always reformat the thing to get a fresh start (already done this twice on this laptop).

It took some time to start up, though only a few minutes.  I guess this thing would work fine as long as it doesn't overheat and shutdown.   I suppose the prudent thing would be to try out the intended software on it.

Syonyk

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2019, 09:22:18 PM »
Hard drive or SSD?

Based on your boot time, I'm guessing hard drive.

It's a Sandy Bridge CPU, which... I mean, not amazing by modern terms, but still useful.

Take the time to put new thermal compound on, put a 64GB or 128GB or something in that range SSD in, do a fresh install of Windows 10 (upgrade first, if needed, so you get the license key done correctly, but Win10 is pretty tolerant of running in unlicensed mode indefinitely - you can't change the wallpaper and a few other things, but I've got VMs running that way since a long while ago), and you should be more than acceptable for a control box.

You could stay with the hard drive, but a cheap 120GB SSD is under $30 now, so... seriously, just upgrade.  The difference between a laptop hard drive and a cheap SSD is still night and day.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #44 on: January 16, 2019, 01:14:05 AM »
Yeah a laptop of that vintage should still do the trick just fine with a bit of TLC.

Clean out the thing to make sure thereís no dust (especially in/around the fans and vents), swap out the hard drive for a cheap SSD and install Windows.

Maybe run Memtest86 (off a USB drive) to be sure that the RAM isnít faulty and causing reliability issues.

Iíve got a MacBook thatís a few years older than that Lenovo (Core 2 Duo, but it has an SSD), and it still boots up quickly enough (although web browsing demands more and more of the thing lately).
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 01:15:47 AM by alsoknownasDean »

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #45 on: January 16, 2019, 08:38:09 AM »
Hard drive or SSD?

Based on your boot time, I'm guessing hard drive.

It's a Sandy Bridge CPU, which... I mean, not amazing by modern terms, but still useful.

Take the time to put new thermal compound on, put a 64GB or 128GB or something in that range SSD in, do a fresh install of Windows 10 (upgrade first, if needed, so you get the license key done correctly, but Win10 is pretty tolerant of running in unlicensed mode indefinitely - you can't change the wallpaper and a few other things, but I've got VMs running that way since a long while ago), and you should be more than acceptable for a control box.

You could stay with the hard drive, but a cheap 120GB SSD is under $30 now, so... seriously, just upgrade.  The difference between a laptop hard drive and a cheap SSD is still night and day.
This, 100%.  I had a Dell E5530 with a third gen i3 and 4GB of memory (so, worse specs) until last year and an SSD made it fly.

Also, I've had Windows 10 activate just fine if you hand it a Win7 key (even past the free upgrade period, as recently as last year).  The flavor of Windows just has to match (32-bit/64-bit, Home/Pro).

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #46 on: January 16, 2019, 08:50:19 AM »
When I work out on the elliptical at the gym I like to play / surf the interwebs on a laptop. Since there is the very real possibility of the laptop crashing to the ground (has happened twice before) I use a laptop that is almost disposable. My go to laptop these days is the sub-$100 craigslist laptop.
Seems like a tablet is what you need for this. Lot of used tablets will work for this and the chance of breakage is reduced.
I'll have to keep that in mind when I finally decide to swap out my current lap top. One of the key limitations keeping me from going with a tablet is that by "play" I mean run Dolphin emulator to play old video games so I need something that A) runs windows, B) has 32+ GB of storage, and C) has a dual-core (or better) processor with good speed (3.5 GHZ or better would be preferred as my current 2.5 GHz is a bit choppy).

ketchup

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #47 on: January 16, 2019, 09:41:15 AM »
When I work out on the elliptical at the gym I like to play / surf the interwebs on a laptop. Since there is the very real possibility of the laptop crashing to the ground (has happened twice before) I use a laptop that is almost disposable. My go to laptop these days is the sub-$100 craigslist laptop.
Seems like a tablet is what you need for this. Lot of used tablets will work for this and the chance of breakage is reduced.
I'll have to keep that in mind when I finally decide to swap out my current lap top. One of the key limitations keeping me from going with a tablet is that by "play" I mean run Dolphin emulator to play old video games so I need something that A) runs windows, B) has 32+ GB of storage, and C) has a dual-core (or better) processor with good speed (3.5 GHZ or better would be preferred as my current 2.5 GHz is a bit choppy).
Surface Pro might fit the bill.  They're the first tablets I've seen that could actually have a purpose (x86 and run full Windows) instead of just being a less convenient smartphone.

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #48 on: January 16, 2019, 10:46:46 AM »
I've done fairly well out of buying ex-corporate-lease Thinkpads from eBay.

That's a really good idea. I'm very glad that I found this thread.

Syonyk

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Re: Most frugal laptop choice
« Reply #49 on: January 16, 2019, 11:32:43 AM »
Surface Pro might fit the bill.  They're the first tablets I've seen that could actually have a purpose (x86 and run full Windows) instead of just being a less convenient smartphone.

Have you used one?  They're a solution desperately pretending there's a problem that they can somehow fit.

They're not very good laptops (gutless wonders with cooling issues), they're not very good tablets (quite heavy, somewhat poor battery life if you're doing much of anything), they're not upgradeable, and they're generally an expensive pain in the ass used by people who want to look cool.