Author Topic: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?  (Read 13697 times)

WhoopWhoop

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What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« on: June 27, 2015, 07:49:30 PM »
My laptop is pooping out. I bought it new 8 years ago for $450.

It's an old Acer Aspire. In the last year, Vista crashed and my employer paid to revive it and load Windows 7 onto it. I wouldn't mind keeping it, but the battery is having trouble. For years the battery hasn't been able to keep a charge, but now it won't even recognize the charger when I plug the laptop in.

I think I could buy a new battery, but the cost of the battery is likely higher than the cost of the laptop (I looked it up and the laptop is only worth $20 - $40, and $40 is pushing it).

First question: Should I just buy a new battery? I don't mind keeping the laptop; I don't want to be wasteful and throw it out just because it's old. If I do buy a new battery, can I deduct that as a business expense even if the cost of the battery outweighs the cost of the laptop? I just started working for myself so I assume any new computer expenses are deductible expenses...

Second Question: Should I buy a new laptop? If so, what's the Mustachian way to do it? I read that new computers are a lot like new cars: once you take them out of the box, they lose half their value.

Any and all opinions are appreciated!

Daley

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2015, 08:28:11 PM »
It shouldn't matter what the laptop is worth in resale, what matters is if it's still functional and capable of meeting your needs. If it still can, the answer is to buy a new battery. Batteries are consumables for laptops anyway, so don't feel bad about spending money on a necessary consumable if you need mobile computing.

If you insist on buying another laptop, the frugal and smart way is to not buy new but used. A refurbished business laptop, like the Lenovo Thinkpad T410/T420/T510/T520, or technically pretty much any of the T, X or W series depending on if you need general functionality (T), ultraportability (X), or a graphics workstation (W). US Micro is a good source of cheap refurbished Thinkpads.

pancakes

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2015, 09:04:04 PM »
I vote for a new battery on your existing laptop if it is still suitable for your needs. Maybe you can even find a cheap/free used/broken laptop of the same model with a working battery and recycle that (probably only ideal if you plan to continue to use it plugged in).

When it comes to buying new, I have always bought refurbished laptops. They are for all intents and purposes like new but less expensive. Laptops can be expensive to repair and more difficult to DIY so new/refurbished with a warranty may have some benefits for you.

Tjat

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2015, 09:18:15 PM »
Buy a refurbished or open box laptop. Life is too short to be dicking around with sub standard necessities just so you can feel like youve met the appropriate frugal threshold

vhalros

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2015, 09:21:35 PM »
Is it really worth buying the new battery for a computer that old? It seems like something else is likely to break soon, and you won't get that much life out of it regardless. If it was only a few years old, I'd consider replacing the battery, but for an eight year old machine is probably on the way out no matter what you do.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 09:23:40 PM by vhalros »

Kriegsspiel

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2015, 09:22:05 PM »
Ahh, the delightful Acer Aspire. Mine endured a TON of punishment, and eventually had the same problem yours did. After a long time running it on AC power, I bought a new battery. The new battery didn't fix anything. So please save yourself the money and scrap it.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2015, 09:34:02 PM »
If you do go down the new laptop path, it's better to have a look at the small business models (even refurbished/used) rather than the 'consumer' models. They'll tend to be built better, and likely loaded down with less crap software the manufacturers bundle.

At eight years old, the thing's on borrowed time, I probably wouldn't trust any of the components with moving parts (ie: fans or hard drive) to keep on truckin' after that long.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2015, 12:11:17 AM »
If you are going to get a new laptop, hold out until the next generation of Intel chips comes out in August. The same laptops will drastically drop in price after that.

grantmeaname

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2015, 06:00:14 AM »
It shouldn't matter what the laptop is worth in resale, what matters is if it's still functional and capable of meeting your needs. If it still can, the answer is to buy a new battery. Batteries are consumables for laptops anyway, so don't feel bad about spending money on a necessary consumable if you need mobile computing.
I think this is good advice, but I don't think the battery will fix the problem that the charger isn't recognized. That sounds like something more sinister.

Quote
If you insist on buying another laptop, the frugal and smart way is to not buy new but used. A refurbished business laptop, like the Lenovo Thinkpad T410/T420/T510/T520, or technically pretty much any of the T, X or W series depending on if you need general functionality (T), ultraportability (X), or a graphics workstation (W). US Micro is a good source of cheap refurbished Thinkpads.
I agree with the message here. I buy my computers used, but my favorite source of used laptops is actually craigslist. Right now I'm typing this on SWMBO's Thinkpad Yoga 2, a $1000 laptop that cost us $400 because somebody didn't know what it was worth. It sat on a desk its whole prior life and had like ten total discharge cycles on the battery when it came to us. My computer is an Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A, and the version I got was the $1500. It was $375 on Craigslist but the guy no-showed to our first scheduled meeting and talked himself down to $300. (He thought he was selling one with slower parts that retailed for $1000. Even at $1000 new, $375 barely-used is a steal). Refurbished websites have good deals, but if you keep an eye on craigslist and you're willing to wait a few weeks you can do even better!

alsoknownasDean

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2015, 07:33:58 AM »
I know I'm being awfully antimustachian about this, but how would it affect you if it crapped out while you were working on it?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 07:35:40 AM by alsoknownasDean »

Daley

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2015, 08:53:47 AM »
It shouldn't matter what the laptop is worth in resale, what matters is if it's still functional and capable of meeting your needs. If it still can, the answer is to buy a new battery. Batteries are consumables for laptops anyway, so don't feel bad about spending money on a necessary consumable if you need mobile computing.
I think this is good advice, but I don't think the battery will fix the problem that the charger isn't recognized. That sounds like something more sinister.

From the phrasing, I read the initial post as the battery no longer recognizing the charger, not the laptop. I didn't figure WhoopWhoop would be talking replacement consumable parts and keeping the laptop if anything more sinister were happening like the laptop is no longer able to power up and operate at all. But, for the sake of argument...

Possibly, depends on what happens when you remove the battery. I've seen laptop batteries go sour and prevent the laptop from powering on when connected. Remove the battery, suddenly the laptop can turn on again from the power brick. The brick could simply be failing at this point as well, which isn't very sinister either. Still a cheap replacement if you know for certain the laptop itself is still good. Under this scenario, a visit to one of the local Batteries Plus might be worth it just to see what happens with one of their universal chargers and the battery removed if just removing the battery itself isn't (or hasn't been) enough to get it to fire back up.

I agree with the message here. I buy my computers used, but my favorite source of used laptops is actually craigslist.

Craigslist success really depends on where you live. Some cities, it's great, others (like mine) can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy depending on what you're looking for. If you know what you're doing and what to look for, Craigslist can be a great option for many people, but if you can't diagnose your laptop out of a wet paper sack...

dudde_devaru

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2015, 09:24:49 AM »
I am in the same boat with my 6yr old aspire. I was very close to buying this when it was $300. MS pushed it to $327 :(

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Dell-Inspiron-15-i3543-2501BLK-Signature-Edition-Laptop/productID.316334000?icid=%20Homepage_TopStripe%20_DellInsp15_150622&tduid=91a429aeac9fb136a7c7e5fe155bde0f

I have decided not to spend more than $250 for 13", 500gb, 8gb, i5 which is pretty much doable during the refurb Dell Thanksgiving 30-35% discount.

Dell refurbs which claim as 'scratch n dent' do really ship as new in box! With Amex buyer protection, mrrebates cash back, Dell is the best shot for refurb ones
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 09:26:39 AM by dudde_devaru »

WhoopWhoop

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2015, 11:15:18 AM »
Ahh, the delightful Acer Aspire. Mine endured a TON of punishment, and eventually had the same problem yours did. After a long time running it on AC power, I bought a new battery. The new battery didn't fix anything. So please save yourself the money and scrap it.

Hm. This is particularly convincing.

* * *

From the advice given here so far, I'm thinking the best route is to wait for this laptop to truly die, and in the meantime keep a look out on Craigslist and a few other websites.

For the last few months I've been backing up all my business documents on Evernote in case my laptop craps out. The only thing I'd be worried about is that next month I'll be recording videos for my business, and I don't want to lose those. I'd probably want to save the videos on an external hard drive (which I'd have to buy) or Dropbox or something for fear of losing them. In that case, it might just be easier to have a new/refurbished laptop.

Gosh, I really need to learn more about computers.

Thank you guys for your help and information! More opinions and info are welcome. I'll be referencing the advice in this thread continuously.

Insanity

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2015, 12:31:37 PM »
I would highly recommend avoiding craigslist or machines that have used storage on them. 

If you do, make sure you do a secure wipe of the drive so that all information and software is removed.

Wouldn't want to buy a laptop that had a virus, malware or inappropriate images on it.

Bucksandreds

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2015, 12:44:28 PM »
We end up spending less by buying a MacBook Pro every 6-7 years.  Ours right now is about 5 years old and works close to new. Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.

Spork

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2015, 01:41:28 PM »
We end up spending less by buying a MacBook Pro every 6-7 years.  Ours right now is about 5 years old and works close to new. Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.

It's not 100% either-or here.  I've run Linux (or some form of unixy goodness) on old machines since the very early 1990s.  They easily last 6-7 years or more running on the same hardware that would normally host Windows.

grantmeaname

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2015, 01:49:32 PM »
Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.
Most of them do. You must spend a lot of time in the Reality Distortion Field.

Jeremy E.

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2015, 02:48:54 PM »
I think craigslist is an acceptable way of buying laptops if you know enough about computers, but it sounds like you don't, so maybe buying refurbished online is better. But if you do decide to buy from craigslist, make sure to reset to factory settings.
I'd recommend looking at Newegg shellshocker and deals every day. Also dealnews.com, nobetterdeal.com, and slickdeals.net.
My favorite brands are ASUS, MSI, and Acer.
Good Luck

Paul der Krake

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2015, 02:59:19 PM »
I would highly recommend avoiding craigslist or machines that have used storage on them. 

If you do, make sure you do a secure wipe of the drive so that all information and software is removed.

Wouldn't want to buy a laptop that had a virus, malware or inappropriate images on it.
That's not a problem for us *nix nerds. I liberate every computer I get my hands from its Windows shackles. But I make sure to look for nudes, tax returns, and anarchist cookbooks first.

wienerdog

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2015, 03:23:47 PM »
What do you use your laptop for?  I got talked into a new Windows 8 touchscreen netbook type device when I set out to Best Buy to get a Chromebook almost 2 years ago.  I used Windows 8 for about 2 months and went back to my old linux netbook.  A year later I bought a Toshiba Chromebook cheap as the new model was coming out and Wally World was blowing out the old model.  I really like the Chromebook but it isn't for everyone.  Just depends what you do with the laptop.  I think the Hisense Chromebook is running $150 and the Asus is $235.


But I make sure to look for nudes, tax returns, and anarchist cookbooks first.

+1  Bought a T Mobile Galaxy S2 years ago on CL.  They forgot to erase their Vegas trip pictures. 

Sibley

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2015, 09:00:11 AM »
My current laptop is 3ish years old, Win7. I'll keep it until it no longer works for me, and I can't get it to work. Purchased it online, new, it was $300-400 I believe and I'm perfectly happy with it. I'm good enough with computers to keep it running happily, and am watching the hard drive as it pops up with a bad sector every so often.

Mac vs Windows vs Linux - It really boils down to the users.
Mac: you can't mess with it, so it doesn't matter if you're an idiot or not.
Windows: you can seriously screw it up pretty easily if you're an idiot.
Linux: you have to know what you're doing, so you don't screw it up (unless you want to of course).

That explains a lot of the issues that people have with Windows - they're idiots, and they either screw it up or don't do the maintenance that it needs. Add in the fact that every virus, etc out there targets Windows and Microsoft's habit of releasing beta versions to market and it's a recipe for disaster.

I haven't used 8 much and don't plan on it, I like 7. Vista was a nightmare for me. Not into the Apple craze either.

MoneyCat

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2015, 10:20:18 AM »
I've been using my laptop for four years now and I recently replaced the battery.  It only cost me $21.99 on Amazon from a dealer named Discountbatt and the new battery has more capacity than the old stock battery did new.  I'm hoping to get a few more years out of this laptop now.  Unless you are doing power computing, you probably don't need a new computer.  Just make sure you are doing your regular maintenance and it should be fine to keep.


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Axecleaver

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2015, 11:49:42 AM »
The refurbished laptops are the best deal, IMO, delivered within a few days sans Craigslist drama. I bought a couple of Dell laptops for my business off Newegg,with licensed O/S and MS Office for under $200 each. Still going strong two years later. I back everything up with a Carbonite sub, so if they did crap out, I'd just get another one. Tiger Direct is good, too.

expectopatronum

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2015, 09:07:01 AM »
We end up spending less by buying a MacBook Pro every 6-7 years.  Ours right now is about 5 years old and works close to new. Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.

My Dell Studio 15 is now 8 years old. It was recently running fine, but I think has reached the end of its usable life. It too won't charge (already tried the $20
battery replacement), the screen has some issues (could probably fix, they aren't bothersome), but the internals were OK until recently. I chose this over a Macbook Pro going into 4 years of undergrad + 2 years of post-bacc classes and don't regret it at all. The Macbook was out of our price range and the Studio did a great job.

I'm now looking for a refurb (I guess?), too, to last me through a few years of (hopefully) PA school. I'm looking for something comparable to Dell's current XPS though. That might be too much computer for me?

That explains a lot of the issues that people have with Windows - they're idiots, and they either screw it up or don't do the maintenance that it needs. Add in the fact that every virus, etc out there targets Windows and Microsoft's habit of releasing beta versions to market and it's a recipe for disaster.

Sibley, what kind of maintenance should one do on Windows computers? I'm not sure if I am an idiot or not. My laptop came with Vista, and I installed Windows 7 about 4 years later, clean...

grantmeaname

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2015, 09:59:02 AM »
It helps a lot to do a clean reinstall every couple years or so. Windows just accumulates crap in the registry and system files ("winrot"), and if you back everything up and reinstall every once in a while you get to reset all of that. It also helps to uninstall things you don't use, especially all the bloatware that comes on the PC like McAfee or WildTangent games - PC OEMs put that on because the software vendors pay them, not as a service to users.

Edit: also physical maintenance- don't smoke around the computer and keep the fans and vents clear so it runs as cool as possible.

Cromacster

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2015, 10:26:57 AM »
I have been eyeing the new 2-1 laptop/tablet dealios.  Right now I'm leaning towards the ASUS Transformer Chi, which is $400.  Specs on it seems more than enough to do anything I need to do with a tablet or laptop.  Anything that needs serious computing power, I use my desktop.

We end up spending less by buying a MacBook Pro every 6-7 years.  Ours right now is about 5 years old and works close to new. Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.

I'm still running a laptop that I bought for college in 2005...Windows XP and everything.  Is it close to new? No.  But it can web browse, email, and run Netflix just fine.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 10:29:00 AM by Cromacster »

Scandium

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2015, 10:44:54 AM »
Ahh, the delightful Acer Aspire. Mine endured a TON of punishment, and eventually had the same problem yours did. After a long time running it on AC power, I bought a new battery. The new battery didn't fix anything. So please save yourself the money and scrap it.
For the last few months I've been backing up all my business documents on Evernote in case my laptop craps out. The only thing I'd be worried about is that next month I'll be recording videos for my business, and I don't want to lose those. I'd probably want to save the videos on an external hard drive (which I'd have to buy) or Dropbox or something for fear of losing them. In that case, it might just be easier to have a new/refurbished laptop.

Gosh, I really need to learn more about computers.

Thank you guys for your help and information! More opinions and info are welcome. I'll be referencing the advice in this thread continuously.

Yikes! If you use this laptop for your business you should certainly back it up no matter what! Even if it's brand new. At least get a <$100 external HDD. But better is off-site backup using something like Crashplan, spideroak (also cabonite, but I don't like them). For $50-60/year that's also deductible I'd consider that worth it and a necessity.

tonysemail

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2015, 10:59:40 AM »
i'm impressed by all the people who can stomach using 8+ year old computers.

when it comes to technology, i'm more inclined to replace a low end device every 3-4 years instead of stretching a more expensive model out longer.

boarder42

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2015, 11:16:49 AM »
slickdeals.net

set an alert for laptop.  wait for a smoking deal.

expectopatronum

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2015, 11:18:33 AM »
Miscalculated. It's actually only 7 years old. Still, that's like being 100 in laptop years...

Does anyone have any thoughts on 4GB vs 8GB RAM? Only basic uses, really - the most that would be running at a time would be iTunes, Firefox, Word, and calculator, for example. No more CAD for me, no gaming. Infrequent video and picture editing (basic).

grantmeaname

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2015, 12:28:56 PM »
You should have no trouble getting by on 4GB.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2015, 12:35:00 PM »
If you could get away with using a Chromebook, I highly recommend it.

I purchased on for SO this past Christmas and it was $200 or so brand new, she was replacing a 6 year old Macbook Pro and loves it.

It is an Acer 13" display. Great for light work duty and online surfing/email. Battery lasts ~10 hours with moderate use.

Spork

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2015, 01:19:18 PM »
I have been eyeing the new 2-1 laptop/tablet dealios.  Right now I'm leaning towards the ASUS Transformer Chi, which is $400.  Specs on it seems more than enough to do anything I need to do with a tablet or laptop.  Anything that needs serious computing power, I use my desktop.

We end up spending less by buying a MacBook Pro every 6-7 years.  Ours right now is about 5 years old and works close to new. Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.

I'm still running a laptop that I bought for college in 2005...Windows XP and everything.  Is it close to new? No.  But it can web browse, email, and run Netflix just fine.

I can't recommend running any platform that doesn't get updates.  If you have some air-gapped system you only use for a spreadsheet... sure.  Browsing: no. Never.  Email -- particularly if you use outlook: No.

TimmyTightWad

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #33 on: June 30, 2015, 01:35:43 PM »
I bought a Sony Vaio 8 years ago for about $1200. Still works but I think I might get a Dell XPS in the same price range. $1200 is not cheap but amortized over 8 yrs it's not a bad deal given I use it every day

klystomane

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #34 on: June 30, 2015, 01:40:17 PM »
Do you primarily use it at home? If so, get a new laptop with decent specs but crappy screen (that's most of the cost of the laptop anyway).

Get a 24-27" monitor for $150-$300 and hook the laptop up to it.

I wouldn't get a refurbished laptop under any circumstances. In the case of computers, I think new+lower specs > used+higher specs.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #35 on: June 30, 2015, 01:43:08 PM »
Just purchased a Chromebook and I highly, highly recommend it if you are familiar with using the Google platform.

Jeremy E.

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2015, 01:48:32 PM »
I have been eyeing the new 2-1 laptop/tablet dealios.  Right now I'm leaning towards the ASUS Transformer Chi, which is $400.  Specs on it seems more than enough to do anything I need to do with a tablet or laptop.  Anything that needs serious computing power, I use my desktop.

We end up spending less by buying a MacBook Pro every 6-7 years.  Ours right now is about 5 years old and works close to new. Show me a Windows computer that stays good for closer to a decade.

I'm still running a laptop that I bought for college in 2005...Windows XP and everything.  Is it close to new? No.  But it can web browse, email, and run Netflix just fine.
http://slickdeals.net/f/7943267-asus-t100ta-c1-gr-transformer-book-10-1-inch-detachable-2-in-1-touchscreen-laptop-64gb-ssd-with-dock-certified-refurbished-179-99-shipped-amazon[slickdeals.net]
this is similar and a better deal

Daley

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2015, 02:00:13 PM »
I wouldn't get a refurbished laptop under any circumstances. In the case of computers, I think new+lower specs > used+higher specs.

If you want the laptop to last, build quality matters. You aren't going to get a laptop under $500 new that isn't going to be built to be disposable. Used with higher specs and better build quality will always be the superior option for long term lifespan.

expectopatronum

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #38 on: June 30, 2015, 02:09:38 PM »
I'm primarily needing a laptop for use in class, the library, or coffee shops/parks, and occasionally at home where I have an Asus external monitor. I like the idea of the chromebook, but I don't think I can guarantee I'll be on reliable wifi all the time (despite all those places above typically having wifi - I don't want to count on it). I don't have a desktop.

Portability, battery life, quick performance (can handle multitasking), decent amount of memory (I don't have much music, but I have a ton of pictures) are my priorities. I'm going with the recommendation of 4GB RAM, but now I'm deciding between i3 and i5 5th gen processors, and between 1TB 5400rpm HDD or 128GB SSD. Basically, Dell XPS 13 vs the Inspiron 15 5000...

The XPS 13 doesn't have an ethernet port, but I guess that's not much of a concern. I haven't used an ethernet connection since freshman year (wifi was technically not allowed).

Jeremy E.

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #39 on: June 30, 2015, 02:17:12 PM »
I'm primarily needing a laptop for use in class, the library, or coffee shops/parks, and occasionally at home where I have an Asus external monitor. I like the idea of the chromebook, but I don't think I can guarantee I'll be on reliable wifi all the time (despite all those places above typically having wifi - I don't want to count on it). I don't have a desktop.

Portability, battery life, quick performance (can handle multitasking), decent amount of memory (I don't have much music, but I have a ton of pictures) are my priorities. I'm going with the recommendation of 4GB RAM, but now I'm deciding between i3 and i5 5th gen processors, and between 1TB 5400rpm HDD or 128GB SSD. Basically, Dell XPS 13 vs the Inspiron 15 5000...

The XPS 13 doesn't have an ethernet port, but I guess that's not much of a concern. I haven't used an ethernet connection since freshman year (wifi was technically not allowed).
I'd go for i5 and 1TB HDD, the SSD will start faster, but with a lot of pictures you could run out of space, especially if they are high quality, like 12+ megapixels.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #40 on: June 30, 2015, 02:18:01 PM »
Miscalculated. It's actually only 7 years old. Still, that's like being 100 in laptop years...

Does anyone have any thoughts on 4GB vs 8GB RAM? Only basic uses, really - the most that would be running at a time would be iTunes, Firefox, Word, and calculator, for example. No more CAD for me, no gaming. Infrequent video and picture editing (basic).

Depends on how many tabs you like to have open? Granted, I prefer Chrome, which is worse than Firefox about RAM usage per tab, but 4GB plus a few other things starts to bog down quickly with, say, 10 tabs or more.

If my 6 year old laptop supported more than 4GB RAM I would have made that upgrade a long time ago. As it is, I've just decided to use a lighter weight Linux client instead of Windows.

expectopatronum

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #41 on: June 30, 2015, 02:24:41 PM »
Thanks! Even though the Inspiron weighs a bit more? (4.4lbs vs the 2.6lbs) Battery life is less for the HDD, but should be sufficient for my needs. Perhaps I'm just deluding myself and suffering from Tiny Details Exaggeration Syndrome...

I also have a brand new (gift!) 1TB external hard drive, so that's a factor, too. I could keep all/most of my pictures on the external. They're about 8MB each. I say "a lot", but so far they all fit on my 500GB hard drive, and I was just supposing I could always buy another external if it became an issue (or pay for cloud storage, ick).

We're talking like a $100-200 difference though, between XPS and Inspiron. :/ Maybe un-Mustachian of me, but I am really glad I went with a Studio 15 years ago because it's held up much better and through heavier use than my dad's Inspiron. I'm about to put this new laptop through its paces with school, whereas my father mostly just needs to check his email on something bigger than an iPhone and make a Word document occasionally. I'll see if he wants to look into a Chromebook though.

yeah, I typically have like 8 tabs at a time, plus Spotify and Word - that would be about typical for me.

Scandium

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #42 on: July 01, 2015, 11:00:46 AM »
SSD and a an external storage drive is going to be a million times better than a 5400 rpm spinning disk.

Edit: if you buy a laptop that doesn't do the stupid soldering of components it might be cheaper to get the HDD option and install an SSD yourself. But often it comes out to about the same. You'd get an extra hard drive though..
« Last Edit: July 01, 2015, 11:36:11 AM by Scandium »

Dicey

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #43 on: July 01, 2015, 12:46:24 PM »
As a total non-tech person, may I timidly raise my hand and whisper "Costco"? They often heve what look like screaming deals in ther circulars, plus they offer tech support, a good return policy and strong warranties. You may not end up there, but it is worth a look, in-store or online.

I know most of the responders above really know their shit (particularly I.P. Daley, Master of the Tech Universe Extraordinaire) and I ardently respect that, but some of us just want to buy it ready to go at a reasonable price. Too many choices may lead to total paralysis for a low- or non-tech shopper (like myself).

catccc

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2015, 01:35:36 PM »
I'm going to be in the market for one soon, too.  Sounds like you don't need anything too fancy, how does this look?

http://www.woot.com/offers/hp-15-6-amd-a4-quad-core-laptop-50?ref=cnt_wp_7_2

I'm asking for both OP and myself.  I'm replacing a HP 1540us that I got in 2010.

Spec wise the HP 15 linked above is equal or better than my 2010 machine.  I think the MSRP on my 2010 laptop was $750, but I didn't pay that... it was actually given to me by HP to replace a bum laptop that was several years older after multiple repair attempts under warranty.  The laptop it replaced was purchased for $900 in 2007.  The linked laptop seems amazing at $280, but I understand that it is not 2007 anymore...

Scandium

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2015, 01:55:08 PM »
I'm going to be in the market for one soon, too.  Sounds like you don't need anything too fancy, how does this look?

http://www.woot.com/offers/hp-15-6-amd-a4-quad-core-laptop-50?ref=cnt_wp_7_2

I'm asking for both OP and myself.  I'm replacing a HP 1540us that I got in 2010.

Spec wise the HP 15 linked above is equal or better than my 2010 machine.  I think the MSRP on my 2010 laptop was $750, but I didn't pay that... it was actually given to me by HP to replace a bum laptop that was several years older after multiple repair attempts under warranty.  The laptop it replaced was purchased for $900 in 2007.  The linked laptop seems amazing at $280, but I understand that it is not 2007 anymore...

I haven't dug to deep, but I think you can do better at $300. An AMD chip at 1.8GHz sounds painful, not to mention your battery life will probably still be pretty bad. Very little reason to not go Intel these days, especially in laptops. Maybe for extreme value, but I suspect you'll have to replace it sooner, when it can barely render webpages, so any savings might be a wash in the long run.

From a link further up I think I saw refurb lenovo with 3rd gen i5 around $2-300. The performance will be miles ahead of the AMD and thus last much longer (unless you physically break it of course)

And as windows 10 comes out in a month, and new Intel sky lake chips in 2-3 it might be worth it to wait if you can. Although Win 10 will be free upgrade so not as big a deal, but will save you a reinstall. With laptop refreshes the price might drop on older ones.

expectopatronum

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #46 on: July 01, 2015, 02:05:35 PM »
SSD and a an external storage drive is going to be a million times better than a 5400 rpm spinning disk.

Edit: if you buy a laptop that doesn't do the stupid soldering of components it might be cheaper to get the HDD option and install an SSD yourself. But often it comes out to about the same. You'd get an extra hard drive though..

I splurged and went with 128GB SSD Ultrabook. If I determine I need more space, I'll upgrade it myself, but in the meantime I have a 2TB (not 1!) external to offload media onto. I really don't own much music; most of my listening is on Pandora or Spotify nowadays. So aside from the occasional picture dump, I think it will be good. I thought long and hard about getting a different type of laptop, but in the end I decided on the Ultrabook for portability. I realized that even though I spent jr/senior year lugging around my laptop, I would rather eat rice & beans for a whole month and save up extra money to buy a more expensive laptop than do that again for another 4 years. Other specs are 5th gen i5 processor and 8GB memory - my current usage is apparently between 3.8-5GB, so I guess I was underestimating myself, and that component is (annoyingly) soldered.

I think I'll get a lot of utility out of it and hope for it to last a good 5+ years.

My dad bought this one for basic uses...he never does photoshop/editing, doesn't care much for speed, and rarely has more than 3 tabs at a time, and spent $327.
http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Dell-Inspiron-15-i3543-2501BLK-Signature-Edition-Laptop/productID.316334000

FLBiker

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #47 on: July 01, 2015, 02:08:42 PM »
Basically, Dell XPS 13 vs the Inspiron 15 5000...

The XPS 13 doesn't have an ethernet port, but I guess that's not much of a concern. I haven't used an ethernet connection since freshman year (wifi was technically not allowed).

I just got an XPS 13.  I love it.  That said, it's way more expensive than I would ever buy for myself (work bought it).

And they make an adapter that is USB 3.0 to HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB 2.0.

Personally, I tend to buy Thinkpads.  They last forever.

mustachianism_is_aredpill

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2015, 04:02:43 PM »
I bought a used Macbook 3 years ago for $415 (it was 4 years old at that point). It's still running well, has held up physically. Don't want to jinx it but with a new battery, SSD and RAM, it might serve me well for another 2 years.

The only problem is that the newer gen Retina Macbooks aren't user-serviceable.

bonjourliz

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Re: What's the Mustachian way to buy a new laptop?
« Reply #49 on: July 02, 2015, 06:31:05 AM »
Thank you all for this thread.  Marking it for future reference.