Author Topic: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.  (Read 3177 times)

Tetsuya Hondo

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Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« on: November 17, 2016, 12:34:07 PM »
My work laptop is dying and I need a new one for my work from home business (management consulting) and I'm an office of one. I'll use it for Excel, Word, bit of web surfing, some AdobeConnect sessions, maybe a few virtual video conferences. I won't be playing games on it. I'm not running any graphics intensive stuff (that I know of anyway).

Here's my problem - I'm bewildered by the processor options out there. One Dell I priced out comes with an i3 processor. Then I look at the sticker on my 6 year old refurbished Dell and it says "Core i3." What the...? Then I noticed that there is not just a difference between processors, Celeron (those are still out there!), i3, i5, i7, AMDs, etc, but many of these are also labeled as a 5th generation or 6th generation, etc. I have no idea what I need. The online computer mags/blogs aren't much help to me either. I get the sense that they're targeted to a very different user.

So, here's my question. What processor do I need for what I do? I want to be able to use it for as long as possible, but I also want to be able to use it as long as possible.

RWD

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2016, 12:53:15 PM »
I would think you'd be fine with pretty much any modern processor for what you want to do. I also have a hard time comparing processors with their crazy naming/numbering schemes. I use PassMark's CPU Benchmark site to get a sense of relative performance.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2016, 01:01:39 PM »
I would think you'd be fine with pretty much any modern processor for what you want to do. I also have a hard time comparing processors with their crazy naming/numbering schemes. I use PassMark's CPU Benchmark site to get a sense of relative performance.

Should I assume that anything still being sold is a modern processor? I.e., is a Celeron? A 4th gen i3 versus a 7th gen i3?

Daley

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2016, 01:17:47 PM »
Buy a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T series (430/530 is the sweet spot feature/price wise currently), or Dell Latitude E series (The E5430/6430 models are the sweet spots here). US Micro has a good refurbish program, good prices, and decent warranty. Following these recommendations, you shouldn't have to spend more than $200-300 for a solid laptop built like a tank and easy to repair/upgrade.

Don't get too lost in processor speeds. Pretty much any 2-4 core i3/i5 will be plenty for most anyone. The biggest changes hasn't been so much processing speed as power consumption and battery life for some time now. There's some screaming multi-core processors out there, but they're not worth the premium given that all but specialty high-end applications and games don't need them to run. Even Windows 10 doesn't have much beefier system requirements (beyond RAM/graphics) than XP SP3 and Win7. Don't sweat it, and care more about how much RAM the thing has... that'll be the biggest performance booster. Aim for 4-8GB.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 01:19:55 PM by I.P. Daley »

Lulee

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2016, 04:07:28 PM »
I second everything I.P. Daley said though I usually get my refurbed computers directly from Dell so I don't know about US Micro.  Jam as much memory in as you can afford as that usage is something likely to go up on you at least somewhat in the years to come.  That maxim has served me well for many, many years.

Personally, I'd recommend avoiding a Celeron chip to anyone who has ever used a computer before.  Its cheapness comes from being dumbed down in a way most people with previous computer usage seem to notice, at least in my experience.

If memory serves me correctly, the newer generations of chipsets often work at lowering energy consumption.  So if you take your laptop out and run her hard all day, it might be worth a little more to get a newer generation i5 say over an older i5.

Check out the difference in run time of 9 cell versus 6 cell battery.  Not a big laptop aficionado but my recollection is that the 9 cell ones have an appreciably longer run time.  It likely won't be worth the extra cost though if you don't use it off the AC supply for long periods of time.

ketchup

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2016, 04:15:12 PM »
I'd agree with what Lulee and I.P. Daley have said so far.

Dell Latitude and Lenovo Thinkpads tend to have decent longevity and build quality (the main things you should care about in a laptop if you're not going nuts with powerful software).  I have a Latitude E5530 and it's great.  My GF until very recently was using a Thinkpad T510.

Any i3 or i5 will do the job.  Be sure you've got at least 4GB of RAM and that should be all that really matters.  Windows 7 or Windows 10.

Kwill

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2016, 04:19:30 PM »
I got a refurbished Dell Latitude E6420 from Walmart.com last summer, and it's been pretty good. It was just under $300 including tax. Shipping was free to a FedEx store. If I had it to do over, I might spend a little more for something newer, but it's met my needs. I mainly use it for word processing, email, Internet, videos, and online coursework.

bacchi

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2016, 04:38:20 PM »
Lean towards 8GB RAM. And Windows 8 blows.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2016, 05:08:11 AM »
Yeah a basic i3 with 8GB of RAM (and an SSD if the budget can fit it), is plenty good enough.

I wouldn't bother too much about processor generations, the newer one will use a little less power and have slightly better performance, but that's it. Get the slightly earlier one and save a few bucks :)

JLee

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2016, 05:28:39 AM »
I would go with 8GB RAM as a minimum. As far as I'm concerned, SSDs are mandatory for any machine I'm going to use. The performance increase over a spinning disk is massive.

Rubic

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2016, 07:13:41 AM »
Buy a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad T series (430/530 is the sweet spot feature/price wise currently),

+1

I have a pair of ThinkPad T420's, (one at home and one in the office) upgraded to 8GB and
SSD, each running Linux.  I've got the exact same models so I can cannibalize parts if/when
one eventually fails. They're built like tanks.

katsiki

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2016, 07:21:33 AM »
Great advice so far.

I would add you might check out dellrefurbished.com.  They often running 40-50% coupons.  You can get a beefy laptop for $300-400 with a coupon.

I would shoot for an i5 with 8gb of memory.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2016, 11:04:58 AM »
Thanks all! This discussion has been helpful. Sounds like I'll shoot for something with at least the i3, not worry about generations, and try to get up to 8 GB of RAM.

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2016, 07:50:28 AM »
I.P. Daley's recommendations for tech stuff are always on point.


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Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Nerds! Help me with a computer purchase.
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2017, 02:11:45 PM »
Thank you to everyone for your recommendations. I ended up getting a great deal on a Dell 5450. It was already on sale and then I was able to apply a discount to it, knocking the price down into the $400s even with an upgraded hard drive, RAM, and battery. Feel pretty good about it, so thanks all for helping me cut through the fog.