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Old 2015-11-14, 21:53   #1
wombatman
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Default Laptop recommendation

I'm trying to help my mother-in-law find a new laptop. Ideally it would be good enough to last for the next 5 years or so.

It's going to be used for only basic stuff like web browsing and playing music. Nothing much harder than that.

Budget-wise, they'd like to aim for around $500 or so, but they can spend a little more if necessary. They'd also like to try and get an SSD, but if you have a good argument against that, I'm all ears. Otherwise, the laptop just needs to be solid enough to last for a good while with decent speed.
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Old 2015-11-14, 22:22   #2
ewmayer
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I don't do new laptops anymore, but I did score a MacBook classic Core2 Duo in outstanding shape recently on Craigslist, to replace my just-gone-flaky-in-a-bad-mobo-sort-of-way similar unit. Buyer offered it sans battery/charger (perfect for me) fr just $95, I swapped my extant HD into it and was back up and running in minutes. Typing this on it.

Moral: Since you need just a light-use unit, is there any special need for it to be new? If your MiL will not be carrying/knocking it around constantly but rather using it mostly from home, any special reason to shell out for an SSD?
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Old 2015-11-14, 22:29   #3
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I got this one, and then doubled the memory to 8G. (Needed one for making traveling presentations only. I aimed strictly below $500.)
It is sturdy, has FullHD and its i3 is actually quite fast (5th gen, runs as fast as the Xeons that you can get on EC2).

Or you can try to compare it to the 6th gen similar ones.
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Old 2015-11-14, 23:50   #4
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Would a cheap tablet work?

We use a real computer a lot less now that we have a tablet. (And we can always SSH into our real computer from the tablet!)

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Old 2015-11-15, 00:12   #5
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If you want it to last five years, you want at least 8 GB of RAM. Don't get anything with less. Applications are become more memory intensive, especially web browsers.

I would also never buy a laptop without an SSD. The difference is night and day when it comes to speed. Life is precious. Don't waste it waiting for your disk. If they're not doing much, a 128 GB drive would be enough.

It is definitely worth spending a little more money to get both of those. If you can't afford both, go with the SSD and 4 GB of RAM -- at least then swapping will be fast.

Unless they're gaming, rendering videos, using photoshop, et cetera, the CPU and graphics won't matter. I'd go with an i3 for a little future proofing.
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Old 2015-11-15, 04:43   #6
wombatman
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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Per ewmayer's point, I checked on Craigslist and found a working Toshiba Satellite (i5, 6GB ram) that I got for $100. No hard drive, but it is otherwise fine (checked boot and everything before buying). Only need to get an SSD now to make it a nice laptop for the MIL.

Thanks again!
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Old 2015-11-15, 06:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatman View Post
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Per ewmayer's point, I checked on Craigslist and found a working Toshiba Satellite (i5, 6GB ram) that I got for $100. No hard drive, but it is otherwise fine (checked boot and everything before buying). Only need to get an SSD now to make it a nice laptop for the MIL.

Thanks again!
Well done!
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Old 2015-11-15, 09:24   #8
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Nicely played, Mr. Wombat - hopefully a decent-sized SSD won't set you back much and then the MiL ends up with a reasonably fast and decently drop-proof unit, you get to be both a generous giver and have a nice chunk of change left over to spend on the holidays!

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2015-11-15 at 09:24
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Old 2015-11-15, 16:57   #9
wombatman
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Found a 256GB Samsung EVO SSD on newegg for $90. I think it's going to do nicely! RAM on the laptop passed an overnight Memtest run, so things are looking good!
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