Author Topic: Laptop advice  (Read 951 times)

kay02

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Laptop advice
« on: October 12, 2020, 02:04:10 PM »
Hi,

My laptop is really old and on its last legs.  I haven't bought one before, this one I got from a friend a few years ago when they bought one.  I use it for work so the responsible thing to do is buy a new one but I hate spending alot of money.

Is it worth spending a lot? It seems like price varies a lot and the ones everyone online seems to recommend are the expensive ones.

One thing I want to be able to do is plug in an extra screen and mouse so I can use it more comfortably in my room but also be able to pick it up and use it elsewhere like a normal laptop.  Can they all do that or is that I feature I need to find?

Thanks!!

Daley

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2020, 02:55:04 PM »
Shop for third party Microsoft Certified refurbished Dell Latitude laptops with at least an Intel i5 processor, an SSD, Windows 10 Pro, and at least 4-6GB of RAM - something from the E/5xxx E/7000 line, but not the 3xxx line as they're the budget models. When shopping, the second digit is the screen size, third digit is the model year - so a 7280 is a Ultrabook 12.5" Latitude from the 2018 model year, and a 5470 is a Mainstream 14" Latitude from the 2017 model year, for example.

You'll get a far better built and reliable machine that's easier to repair buying used business/enterprise gear for the money than any consumer laptop can provide with the same budget, and then buy a compatible dock for the thing to plug a dedicated keyboard, mouse and monitor into.

The sweet spot with price/performance/lifespan is about three-five years old, and if you can't find a refurb with any length of a warranty at a good price with an SSD, replace it yourself with a compatible Samsung EVO SSD as it'll likely be the most dodgy part on the entire machine.

Good places to find such machines are on Newegg and Ebay, don't bother with Amazon though as it's an absolute trainwreck trying to find anything decent there anymore. If you want newer and willing to pay considerably more, give the Dell Outlet Store a look instead. You'll be surprised how much machine you can still get for only about $350.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2020, 03:11:27 PM »
Any $ spent on a computer will be incinerated within 5-10 years. If you have at least a dual-core processor and it's not physically falling apart, it could serve you for a few more years. My 2009 MacBook does zoom meetings fine with a dual-monitor setup.

You should look into a RAM upgrade. If your laptop is about 7-10 years old it probably has 2-4 GB of RAM. With 8-12 GB, it would be a different machine because it wouldn't have to constantly swap data back and forth between RAM and the hard drive as it runs out of RAM space. Crucial is a great website to find out what kind of RAM your laptop takes. However, they are not the cheapest. Take the numbers you get from Crucial and buy some RAM from eBay or Walmart.com. YouTube will instruct you on the installation.

https://www.crucial.com/upgrades

For example, a Lenovo G460 takes DDR3L-1600 SODIMM. When I plug that text into eBay, I find that I can buy two 4GB sticks to max out that computer at 8GB for just $27, free shipping. That's a lot better than $52 on Crucial. It would transform that device from obsolete to very usable.

The dual-monitor setup is the easiest part. Drop into your local Goodwill and pick up a monitor or find someone selling one on Craigslist. Your computer's video output will probably be SVGA, HDMI, or DisplayPort, and in any case Ebay will have the right connector for about $5 if necessary. Your display settings do the rest.

bbqbonelesswing

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2020, 03:14:23 PM »
Hi,

My laptop is really old and on its last legs.  I haven't bought one before, this one I got from a friend a few years ago when they bought one.  I use it for work so the responsible thing to do is buy a new one but I hate spending alot of money.

Is it worth spending a lot? It seems like price varies a lot and the ones everyone online seems to recommend are the expensive ones.

One thing I want to be able to do is plug in an extra screen and mouse so I can use it more comfortably in my room but also be able to pick it up and use it elsewhere like a normal laptop.  Can they all do that or is that I feature I need to find?

Thanks!!

What do you use it for? What programs/apps are you usually running?

kay02

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2020, 03:30:14 PM »
Shop for third party Microsoft Certified refurbished Dell Latitude laptops with at least an Intel i5 processor, an SSD, Windows 10 Pro, and at least 4-6GB of RAM - something from the E/5xxx E/7000 line, but not the 3xxx line as they're the budget models. When shopping, the second digit is the screen size, third digit is the model year - so a 7280 is a Ultrabook 12.5" Latitude from the 2018 model year, and a 5470 is a Mainstream 14" Latitude from the 2017 model year, for example.

You'll get a far better built and reliable machine that's easier to repair buying used business/enterprise gear for the money than any consumer laptop can provide with the same budget, and then buy a compatible dock for the thing to plug a dedicated keyboard, mouse and monitor into.

The sweet spot with price/performance/lifespan is about three-five years old, and if you can't find a refurb with any length of a warranty at a good price with an SSD, replace it yourself with a compatible Samsung EVO SSD as it'll likely be the most dodgy part on the entire machine.

Good places to find such machines are on Newegg and Ebay, don't bother with Amazon though as it's an absolute trainwreck trying to find anything decent there anymore. If you want newer and willing to pay considerably more, give the Dell Outlet Store a look instead. You'll be surprised how much machine you can still get for only about $350.
Thanks for all the info!! Is this a good one on the Dell outlet? https://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/Online/SecondaryInventorySearch.aspx?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb&sign=PXhcOSHtr1T4IOw%2fPR7UdUpYzxdujchNW0GfKSuh4dgvbNdK2%2fAOKIx2WHaBDOErc8nqDhHXZmIcpswrwhwzXUkqmeN%2fqTgEaDEf%2fDOPhOEYxUgbN%2bfcNo%2bHeOzOEeFwfzr50ShGQiyaUmuNuzXI3ZPtQ6apWhFB%2fvpCnA65UiF9NBNdXphdeqXQ%2bYL0WtgdDijzVUiNb8ow3YqBlX4Jsg%3d%3d How do I know what kind of dock would be compatible?
Any $ spent on a computer will be incinerated within 5-10 years. If you have at least a dual-core processor and it's not physically falling apart, it could serve you for a few more years. My 2009 MacBook does zoom meetings fine with a dual-monitor setup.

You should look into a RAM upgrade. If your laptop is about 7-10 years old it probably has 2-4 GB of RAM. With 8-12 GB, it would be a different machine because it wouldn't have to constantly swap data back and forth between RAM and the hard drive as it runs out of RAM space. Crucial is a great website to find out what kind of RAM your laptop takes. However, they are not the cheapest. Take the numbers you get from Crucial and buy some RAM from eBay or Walmart.com. YouTube will instruct you on the installation.

https://www.crucial.com/upgrades

For example, a Lenovo G460 takes DDR3L-1600 SODIMM. When I plug that text into eBay, I find that I can buy two 4GB sticks to max out that computer at 8GB for just $27, free shipping. That's a lot better than $52 on Crucial. It would transform that device from obsolete to very usable.

The dual-monitor setup is the easiest part. Drop into your local Goodwill and pick up a monitor or find someone selling one on Craigslist. Your computer's video output will probably be SVGA, HDMI, or DisplayPort, and in any case Ebay will have the right connector for about $5 if necessary. Your display settings do the rest.
It is physically falling apart sadly.  It's an old Acer.  But thanks for all the info!
Hi,

My laptop is really old and on its last legs.  I haven't bought one before, this one I got from a friend a few years ago when they bought one.  I use it for work so the responsible thing to do is buy a new one but I hate spending alot of money.

Is it worth spending a lot? It seems like price varies a lot and the ones everyone online seems to recommend are the expensive ones.

One thing I want to be able to do is plug in an extra screen and mouse so I can use it more comfortably in my room but also be able to pick it up and use it elsewhere like a normal laptop.  Can they all do that or is that I feature I need to find?

Thanks!!

What do you use it for? What programs/apps are you usually running?
It's for work mostly.  I use mostly Google Chrome, MS Office, and Adobe stuff.

robartsd

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2020, 04:41:03 PM »
You should look into a RAM upgrade. If your laptop is about 7-10 years old it probably has 2-4 GB of RAM. With 8-12 GB, it would be a different machine because it wouldn't have to constantly swap data back and forth between RAM and the hard drive as it runs out of RAM space. Crucial is a great website to find out what kind of RAM your laptop takes. However, they are not the cheapest. Take the numbers you get from Crucial and buy some RAM from eBay or Walmart.com. YouTube will instruct you on the installation.
I agree. I have a Core 2 Duo desktop system with 10GB of RAM and it is reasonable for office usage. Adding a 8GB kit to the 2GB I had originally really made a difference. It does suffer if trying to do graphic intensive tasks (especially 3D).

Daley

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2020, 04:48:00 PM »
Thanks for all the info!! Is this a good one on the Dell outlet? How do I know what kind of dock would be compatible?
[snip]
It's for work mostly.  I use mostly Google Chrome, MS Office, and Adobe stuff.

Eh, the 5510 linked has a mechanical hard drive, and the SSD is definitely worth the speed increase. The price is okay if you're willing to shell out that much for a *new* Dell refurb. This is a good cross-section of what's available and appropriate, but you're looking at $750 and up.

As for docks, depending on the model you purchase will depend on what dock(s) are compatible, and Dell's page on what docks work with what laptops is here. There are some generic USB-C docks, but if you roll 100% Dell, you'll likely have fewer problems.

"Adobe stuff" can sometimes benefit from dedicated GPUs, more RAM, and beefier processors... but if you're not using it that much and how it operates currently on the ancient busted system you're actively replacing, I wouldn't worry too much. As such, aim for better battery life for a more pleasant laptop lifespan, so i5 processors and larger batteries would be a better priority.

katsiki

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2020, 07:16:24 PM »
Great advice from @Daley  as usual.

Check out dellrefurbished.com and follow his guidance.  I have had great luck with this site.

kay02

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2020, 08:04:18 AM »
Thanks for all the info!! Is this a good one on the Dell outlet? How do I know what kind of dock would be compatible?
[snip]
It's for work mostly.  I use mostly Google Chrome, MS Office, and Adobe stuff.

Eh, the 5510 linked has a mechanical hard drive, and the SSD is definitely worth the speed increase. The price is okay if you're willing to shell out that much for a *new* Dell refurb. This is a good cross-section of what's available and appropriate, but you're looking at $750 and up.

As for docks, depending on the model you purchase will depend on what dock(s) are compatible, and Dell's page on what docks work with what laptops is here. There are some generic USB-C docks, but if you roll 100% Dell, you'll likely have fewer problems.

"Adobe stuff" can sometimes benefit from dedicated GPUs, more RAM, and beefier processors... but if you're not using it that much and how it operates currently on the ancient busted system you're actively replacing, I wouldn't worry too much. As such, aim for better battery life for a more pleasant laptop lifespan, so i5 processors and larger batteries would be a better priority.
Thanks!  I think I'll go with this one https://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/Online/SecondaryInventorySearch.aspx?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb&sign=PXhcOSHtr1T4IOw%2fPR7UdW22jZxB3cMWThVvWsTZ4R36EXgTtQVUr2XWfQcEfGXnaWLJmEblm7t0X1uDN%2fRDaWtgBj9pFbYnx5wRvk7Q%2bXauyLgCI9Lwx4P4jg5bX1O6k4KsQwjnYZ5nKadx5EOPdcnL0xRNYF0noVL2YiCx50nNP5EVp0b5ufN%2b50f3VQN%2fNVqIKHUnbvU%3d
and this dock which I think should work from what I can tell. https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/dell-dock-wd19-90w-power-delivery-130w-ac/apd/210-ARIO/pc-accessories  Then I just need to get a separate screen and keyboard/mouse.

For the "adobe stuff"  I use Photoshop and Premiere and they run really badly on my old laptop so I'm sure they'll work much better with a new one!

Thanks!!

Daley

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2020, 10:22:43 AM »
Thanks!  I think I'll go with this one [...] and this dock which I think should work from what I can tell. Then I just need to get a separate screen and keyboard/mouse.

For the "adobe stuff"  I use Photoshop and Premiere and they run really badly on my old laptop so I'm sure they'll work much better with a new one!

Thanks!!

That system will do far better than the old Acer will with PS and Premiere, but if you're doing it with any frequency, I'd look for something pushing about 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB. 8GB will work, but it's the minimum entry point. Same with Intel integrated graphics. This is where I want to point out that buying current gen laptops, even refurbished, isn't always the most financially frugal path.

Should you pay for the tools you actually need? Absolutely, but you've also been limping along using these apps with an ancient, consumer grade, hand-me-down laptop that never pushed you to desire upgrading or replacing until it was literally so broken that you have to replace it... so I'm inclined to believe that you are some combination of either very patient (which means any upgrade will be a good one) or you really don't use these apps very often to actually warrant spending real money on a workstation. BTW, Precision is the Dell professional enterprise workstation line, and comes in laptop flavors, though their numbering system's a bit different.

This said, if more horsepower is genuinely needed, buying a couple three generations old refurb with higher specs either from the Dell direct refurb store that @katsiki recommended, or if you're scared to wade through perfectly cromulent mid-tier refurbishers on Newegg and Ebay, here's a name list of the current largest and most respected of the top-tier Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers (MAR) in the United States in alphabetical order that you can purchase directly from: Blair Technology Group, EPC Inc., Joy Systems, Sage Sustainable Electronics, TekRefurbs. I've personally done a lot of business with EPC myself, and never had a problem. Don't be afraid of B grade equipment, either, as additional savings can be had. The battery and SSD will be the only two parts you really need to worry about with excessive wear, but if a laptop has a one year warranty available, you'll probably be fine.

For example:
TekRefurbs Dell Latitude E5570, i7-6600U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 1 year warranty - $715
Joy Systems Dell Latitude 5580, i5-6200U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 90 day warranty - $715
Sage Dell Precision 7710, i7-6820HQ, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 1 year warranty - $615
Sage Dell Latitude E5570, i7-6820HQ, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 1 year warranty - $550

...and those aren't the only machines out there.

It's also worth noting that there's typically not much that can go wrong with a docking station outside of the power supply going bad. Open box and refurbished docking stations on Ebay are way cheaper than new from Dell directly. For example, the linked 90W WD19 dock can be had for under $100 from several reputable IT equipment resellers on Ebay. The equally capable WD15 dock that's compatible with your linked 5510 can be had for around $50.

Just, keep an open mind. You can get a lot more for a loss less than you think if you know where to look.

kay02

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2020, 11:36:46 AM »
Thanks!  I think I'll go with this one [...] and this dock which I think should work from what I can tell. Then I just need to get a separate screen and keyboard/mouse.

For the "adobe stuff"  I use Photoshop and Premiere and they run really badly on my old laptop so I'm sure they'll work much better with a new one!

Thanks!!

That system will do far better than the old Acer will with PS and Premiere, but if you're doing it with any frequency, I'd look for something pushing about 16GB of RAM instead of 8GB. 8GB will work, but it's the minimum entry point. Same with Intel integrated graphics. This is where I want to point out that buying current gen laptops, even refurbished, isn't always the most financially frugal path.

Should you pay for the tools you actually need? Absolutely, but you've also been limping along using these apps with an ancient, consumer grade, hand-me-down laptop that never pushed you to desire upgrading or replacing until it was literally so broken that you have to replace it... so I'm inclined to believe that you are some combination of either very patient (which means any upgrade will be a good one) or you really don't use these apps very often to actually warrant spending real money on a workstation. BTW, Precision is the Dell professional enterprise workstation line, and comes in laptop flavors, though their numbering system's a bit different.

This said, if more horsepower is genuinely needed, buying a couple three generations old refurb with higher specs either from the Dell direct refurb store that @katsiki recommended, or if you're scared to wade through perfectly cromulent mid-tier refurbishers on Newegg and Ebay, here's a name list of the current largest and most respected of the top-tier Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers (MAR) in the United States in alphabetical order that you can purchase directly from: Blair Technology Group, EPC Inc., Joy Systems, Sage Sustainable Electronics, TekRefurbs. I've personally done a lot of business with EPC myself, and never had a problem. Don't be afraid of B grade equipment, either, as additional savings can be had. The battery and SSD will be the only two parts you really need to worry about with excessive wear, but if a laptop has a one year warranty available, you'll probably be fine.

For example:
TekRefurbs Dell Latitude E5570, i7-6600U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 1 year warranty - $715
Joy Systems Dell Latitude 5580, i5-6200U, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 90 day warranty - $715
Sage Dell Precision 7710, i7-6820HQ, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 1 year warranty - $615
Sage Dell Latitude E5570, i7-6820HQ, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 1 year warranty - $550

...and those aren't the only machines out there.

It's also worth noting that there's typically not much that can go wrong with a docking station outside of the power supply going bad. Open box and refurbished docking stations on Ebay are way cheaper than new from Dell directly. For example, the linked 90W WD19 dock can be had for under $100 from several reputable IT equipment resellers on Ebay. The equally capable WD15 dock that's compatible with your linked 5510 can be had for around $50.

Just, keep an open mind. You can get a lot more for a loss less than you think if you know where to look.
Wow, Daley, thanks again for all this!  I'm definitely more on the "very patient" side of using the Adobe apps on my old laptop.  I use them pretty often for work and it is painfully slow most of the time.  I'm usually doing pretty simple editing in there but it still takes forever.  I think I will go with one of these options.

Daley

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2020, 01:18:09 PM »
Wow, Daley, thanks again for all this!  I'm definitely more on the "very patient" side of using the Adobe apps on my old laptop.  I use them pretty often for work and it is painfully slow most of the time.  I'm usually doing pretty simple editing in there but it still takes forever.  I think I will go with one of these options.

There you go! Glad to help.

It's worth noting that if you go with one of the E5570 units, the PR03X (sometimes listed as PRO3X) is an excellent cheap dock on Ebay, and although isn't a USB/Thunderbolt style, the proprietary E series docks do dock with the compatible laptops with a very satisfying click. Just be sure you get one with a proper 120W power supply. Aim for open box complete whenever possible with any dock.

It's also worth noting... I know you keep skewing toward larger screen models (why I selected what I did), but maybe consider going a bit smaller, and try not to get a machine so big it has room for its own number pad on the keyboard. The smaller the laptop, the less room it takes up on your desk while docked. If you're using it mostly docked, screen size is mostly immaterial and you can get as big of a monitor as you like. This said, confirm what resolution screen you get before you order. Some of the lower end configured 5xxx series laptops with the smaller screens frequently got shipped with cheap 1366x768 TN displays. If nothing's said about screen resolution in the listing, assume the worst. Aim for something at least 1600x900 or 1920x1080. Just something else to consider. Sorry for forgetting to mention it sooner, there's been a lot on my mind lately.

I know I threw out a few examples of what's out there, but ultimately you have to live with the machine picked, and I'm working with an incomplete picture. I know others here have successfully bought and used machines I've found and recommended in the past for them, but I still don't like making decisions for others - I simply try to educate the consumer and help you make a more informed decision and point out examples that might work based on what's known. Ideally, find your priorities, and shop from there.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 01:22:22 PM by Daley »

kay02

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2020, 01:29:32 PM »
Wow, Daley, thanks again for all this!  I'm definitely more on the "very patient" side of using the Adobe apps on my old laptop.  I use them pretty often for work and it is painfully slow most of the time.  I'm usually doing pretty simple editing in there but it still takes forever.  I think I will go with one of these options.

There you go! Glad to help.

It's worth noting that if you go with one of the E5570 units, the PR03X (sometimes listed as PRO3X) is an excellent cheap dock on Ebay, and although isn't a USB/Thunderbolt style, the proprietary E series docks do dock with the compatible laptops with a very satisfying click. Just be sure you get one with a proper 120W power supply. Aim for open box complete whenever possible with any dock.

It's also worth noting... I know you keep skewing toward larger screen models (why I selected what I did), but maybe consider going a bit smaller, and try not to get a machine so big it has room for its own number pad on the keyboard. The smaller the laptop, the less room it takes up on your desk while docked. If you're using it mostly docked, screen size is mostly immaterial and you can get as big of a monitor as you like. This said, confirm what resolution screen you get before you order. Some of the lower end configured 5xxx series laptops with the smaller screens frequently got shipped with cheap 1366x768 TN displays. If nothing's said about screen resolution in the listing, assume the worst. Aim for something at least 1600x900 or 1920x1080. Just something else to consider. Sorry for forgetting to mention it sooner, there's been a lot on my mind lately.

I know I threw out a few examples of what's out there, but ultimately you have to live with the machine picked, and I'm working with an incomplete picture. I know others here have successfully bought and used machines I've found and recommended in the past for them, but I still don't like making decisions for others - I simply try to educate the consumer and help you make a more informed decision and point out examples that might work based on what's known. Ideally, find your priorities, and shop from there.
Clicking into a dock like that sounds great!  It will be mostly used docked about 80% of the time so size is something to think about, thanks for that.  And I'll pay attention to the resolution too! I didn't really look at that before.

Daley

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Re: Laptop advice
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2020, 01:47:27 PM »
Clicking into a dock like that sounds great!  It will be mostly used docked about 80% of the time so size is something to think about, thanks for that.  And I'll pay attention to the resolution too! I didn't really look at that before.

Yeah, the E-series docks were nice in that regard, but mostly phased out over five years ago and completely abandoned about four years ago for cheaper to manufacture "universally" compatible USB3+DP and Thunderbolt docks. If the Latitude or Precision model number is prefixed with an "E", then it should work with an E-series dock, but you're approaching a device age now with diminishing returns on device longevity and processor speed/power efficiency for the money, and riskier battery and SSD lifespan. I've always found the old skool mechanical docks superior and more reliable compared to the newer port replicator docks, but it's a dying thing. C'est la vie.

Happy hunting. If you want a second opinion on a machine you find, feel free to link. Can't guarantee I'll be able to respond quickly myself, but there's plenty of other tech wonks in the forum here and already reading your thread who'll help too.