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Advice needed: best laptop (pre-built) in the $500-600 range?

Old 06-06-08, 02:56 PM
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Advice needed: best laptop (pre-built) in the $500-600 range?

Hey everybody-

Since I've been traveling quite a bit lately for work, my company has offered to buy me a basic, entry level laptop that I can use when away from the office. They've asked me to try to spend less than $600.

I'm leaving on another business trip next week, so I don't have much time to find one. I'd prefer to buy one in person in Los Angeles (at a place like Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's, etc), but I'm willing to buy online if I can get a better deal on a better computer.

I have no interest in software, because I'll just be using GoToMyPC to connect to my office computer. So, pre-installed software is not necessary.

I would like at least 2GB of memory to ensure smooth performance, but other than that I'm open.

I haven't bought a new computer in about 7-8 years.

What brands should I look for?
What brands should I avoid?
Is there a big different between Intel Dual Core and AMD?

General advice or links to machines that you recommend would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the help.
Old 06-06-08, 03:04 PM
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http://salescircular.com/

Click on your state, click on laptops
Old 06-06-08, 04:04 PM
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i would look at Dell for sure... see what they have...
Old 06-06-08, 04:21 PM
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http://www.gotapex.com/


This site updates daily. It looks like a deal for 519 would work for you.
Old 06-06-08, 04:23 PM
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in the $500-$600 range, they are all pretty much the same crap. Don't buy the laptop, buy the warranty and the downtime you are willing to afford.

Dell usually wins if you get the 3 year warranty. Just learn how to work the tech support to get what you want
Old 06-06-08, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 4KRG
in the $500-$600 range, they are all pretty much the same crap. Don't buy the laptop, buy the warranty and the downtime you are willing to afford.

Dell usually wins if you get the 3 year warranty. Just learn how to work the tech support to get what you want
I just found this one at Best Buy for $549:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1206749396606

How is that "crap"?

I'm no expert, but those specs seem pretty good, no?
Old 06-06-08, 05:34 PM
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Can you actually buy a non-pre-built laptop?
Old 06-06-08, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ernestrp
Can you actually buy a non-pre-built laptop?
Ok, maybe I should have said pre-configured.

Bottom line is I need it by next week, so I need one that is already configured and ready to pickup/ship.
Old 06-06-08, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Double Down
I just found this one at Best Buy for $549:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1206749396606

How is that "crap"?
How is it not?

I'm no expert, but those specs seem pretty good, no?
Depends on what you are doing. I might have bought a laptop with those specs 2 years ago, but not today.

I will give you one example because I just don't feel like ripping this thing apart piece by piece tonight.

Take the processor "Dual-Core Mobile Processor T2370"

Core specs http://processorfinder.intel.com/det...px?sSpec=SLAZC

Note the 533mhz bus and the small 1mb L2 cache

Now compare that to a processor that you would find in a $1100 - $1500 class laptop, such as the T8300 processor

http://processorfinder.intel.com/det...px?sSpec=SLAZC

Note the 800mhz bus speed and the 3mb L2 cache, also note it is using 45nm technology (Intel's newer, the other processor is 65nm technology) and of course you have already noticed this one is 2.4ghz clock speed, but really, for most people, the faster bus and higher L2 cache are more noticeable on a laptop (unless you are compressing video or running CAD software on your laptop)

Don't take offense at my term "crap" - it simply means that just about any major brands $500 laptop these days is as good physically as just about any other major brands laptop at the same price point.

You are buying a budget class machine, it will run as such. My advice is to buy the 3 year warranty. If you buy this machine from best buy, you get

Warranty Terms - Parts1 year limited - standard

The extra 2 years from best buy cost $200 and I doubt this is the same warranty as the Dell direct warranty which is very good even though Dell outsources it.

So now you are at $749

If you need it by next week, you are basically stuck buying retail. I don't think Dell can ship one to you that fast unless you buy a refurb

I am not telling you to not buy this laptop, it certainly has a purpose and is useful, just don't kid yourself that it is something that it isn't, that's all.
Old 06-07-08, 09:45 AM
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What about one of those new Eee (ASUS) PCs? Don't they sell those at BB?
Old 06-07-08, 03:16 PM
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you can get an OK laptop for $600. just ask your company to get a business model from CDW or another reseller. don't get a consumer model. less crapware
Old 06-07-08, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Superman07
What about one of those new Eee (ASUS) PCs? Don't they sell those at BB?
The Eee PCs are very low powered. I think they come with 512MB RAM, not the 2GB RAM the OP was looking for. Plus, considering the OP is looking for something to use for VNCing into his work PC, the small screen size of the Eee would be an impediment.

Edit: Fixed my ridiculous RAM size mistake.

Last edited by Jay G.; 06-08-08 at 08:04 AM.
Old 06-08-08, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ernestrp
Can you actually buy a non-pre-built laptop?
Yes, actually. My previous notebook was from a company called Mitac, they are an OEM supplier for lots of smaller computer companies. Mine came assemble but without a processor, HDD, or memory. (It came with a DVD drive I guess since the bevel that matched the case only fit certain drives..?) It ended up being a little cheaper than buying from Dell but it was a plastic-fantastic and didn't really last more than a year.
Old 06-08-08, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
The Eee PCs are very low powered. I think they come with 512K RAM, not the 2MB RAM the OP was looking for. Plus, considering the OP is looking for something to use for VNCing into his work PC, the small screen size of the Eee would be an impediment.
512k RAM is ok since 640k is all everyone will ever need
Old 06-08-08, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
512k RAM is ok since 640k is all everyone will ever need
That's what I get for posting so late at night.

I've gone back and fixed my error.
Old 06-09-08, 09:19 AM
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HP Pavilion dv2700t Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 14.1 inch Laptop w/ Printer $787.48AR

http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/sh...W2!-1347151209


1) Click next to Base Configuration - Customize & Buy
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(5) Click on Printer at the top
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(7) Click on Review & Buy at the top
(8) Click on Add to Cart
(9) Apply 25% off Coupon: NB5579
Code: NB5579 (Exp after 2000 uses) at payment screen after registering at the very end
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http://www.hpshopping.com/shopping/p..._0330_0628.pdf


The 3 year warranty will still cost you $200 extra, but IMO for something like a laptop that you know you are going to use (and you were thinking of spending $600 anyway) it would be worth spending $980 to get a better unit with a 3 year warranty.
Old 06-09-08, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 4KRG
How is it not?



Depends on what you are doing. I might have bought a laptop with those specs 2 years ago, but not today.

I will give you one example because I just don't feel like ripping this thing apart piece by piece tonight.

Take the processor "Dual-Core Mobile Processor T2370"

Core specs http://processorfinder.intel.com/det...px?sSpec=SLAZC

Note the 533mhz bus and the small 1mb L2 cache

Now compare that to a processor that you would find in a $1100 - $1500 class laptop, such as the T8300 processor

http://processorfinder.intel.com/det...px?sSpec=SLAZC

Note the 800mhz bus speed and the 3mb L2 cache, also note it is using 45nm technology (Intel's newer, the other processor is 65nm technology) and of course you have already noticed this one is 2.4ghz clock speed, but really, for most people, the faster bus and higher L2 cache are more noticeable on a laptop (unless you are compressing video or running CAD software on your laptop)

Don't take offense at my term "crap" - it simply means that just about any major brands $500 laptop these days is as good physically as just about any other major brands laptop at the same price point.

You are buying a budget class machine, it will run as such. My advice is to buy the 3 year warranty. If you buy this machine from best buy, you get

Warranty Terms - Parts1 year limited - standard

The extra 2 years from best buy cost $200 and I doubt this is the same warranty as the Dell direct warranty which is very good even though Dell outsources it.

So now you are at $749

If you need it by next week, you are basically stuck buying retail. I don't think Dell can ship one to you that fast unless you buy a refurb

I am not telling you to not buy this laptop, it certainly has a purpose and is useful, just don't kid yourself that it is something that it isn't, that's all.
While I appreciate your attempt to school me on the finer points of purchasing a quality laptop, you need to understand that my question was not "can I buy an awesome laptop for less than $600?" If that was my question, your response stating that such computers are all crap would have been appropriate. However, I was specifically seeking advice on the best laptop available for less than $600. While the "best" laptop for under $600 may, in your opinion, still not be very good, there is a productive answer to my question.

As for your recent suggestion of an approx $750 laptop, plus a $200 warranty, you also need to understand that this laptop is being purchased by my company. So, this raises two issues. First, the laptop is not technically going to be owned by me, despite the fact that it will be used exclusively by me. As such, since I will not own it, I am not contributing $350 of my own money towards the purchase of it, even if your $950 configuration is a better computer. Second, it's not like I'm going to be playing some high-tech video game or otherwise testing the limits of this thing. I'm going to be using GoToMyPC to create and edit documents on my office network, and maybe doing some light internet browning. I don't need an ultra powerful computer for that.

As for everyone else's suggestions, thank you. I'm not a fan of the EeePC, but I was interested in potentially getting the HP Mini-Note. After reading some of the mixed reviews it was getting, I decided I should probably get a full size laptop. Plus, although I have not tested it personally, I have read that GoToMyPC doesn't work very well on Linux systems. At any rate, I've decided against getting a "subnotebook" or whatever they're calling them.

I visited a bunch of stores this weekend, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, and Costco. I also checked out Amazon and NewEgg. I ended up getting the Dell I referenced above, and I'm quite happy with it. It seems to run pretty well. While it's far from perfect, it will get the job done, and was within the budget I was given.

Thanks everybody!

Last edited by Double Down; 06-09-08 at 12:17 PM.
Old 06-09-08, 01:20 PM
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You clearly misunderstood what I was saying - Since it no longer matters, I won't continue.
Old 06-09-08, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 4KRG
You clearly misunderstood what I was saying - Since it no longer matters, I won't continue.
Actually, I completely understood what you were saying. However, since I was given a budget of $600 and could not spend more than that, statements to the effect of "budget laptops are crap" and/or suggestions for $750 laptops are not productive. I was asking for assistance for selecting a laptop that required me to work within certain parameters. Advice outside those parameters, whether or not correct and whether or not good intentioned, were simply not productive.

Let's say you were trying to remodel your kitchen and had a budget of $10,000. You would realize going into this that $10,000 is not nearly enough money to remodel your kitchen properly, but you wanted to do the best you could with the money available. So, you post on a forum asking for advice. In response to your inquiry, you get posts from contractors saying that sub-$10,000 kitchen remodels are crap, and that you should spend $20,000. Since you don't have $20,000, such a response is not productive.

The difference between this hypothetical and my situation, of course, is that you could decide to hold off on remodeling your kitchen until you saved $20,000. In my situation, I have to buy a laptop right away, and I must work within my given budget.
Old 06-09-08, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Double Down
Actually, I completely understood what you were saying. However, since I was given a budget of $600 and could not spend more than that, statements to the effect of "budget laptops are crap" and/or suggestions for $750 laptops are not productive. I was asking for assistance for selecting a laptop that required me to work within certain parameters. Advice outside those parameters, whether or not correct and whether or not good intentioned, were simply not productive.

Let's say you were trying to remodel your kitchen and had a budget of $10,000. You would realize going into this that $10,000 is not nearly enough money to remodel your kitchen properly, but you wanted to do the best you could with the money available. So, you post on a forum asking for advice. In response to your inquiry, you get posts from contractors saying that sub-$10,000 kitchen remodels are crap, and that you should spend $20,000. Since you don't have $20,000, such a response is not productive.

The difference between this hypothetical and my situation, of course, is that you could decide to hold off on remodeling your kitchen until you saved $20,000. In my situation, I have to buy a laptop right away, and I must work within my given budget.
Clearly again you prove that you did not get it.



You were too offended by the word "crap" to actually read what I wrote, priceless.
Old 06-09-08, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Double Down
They've asked me to try to spend less than $600.
That does not say you can't go a penny over $600 like you continue to claim.
Old 06-09-08, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 4KRG
That does not say you can't go a penny over $600 like you continue to claim.
"Not a penny over," and $150-$380 over are two entirely different propositions.

To the OP: before spending money on additional warranties, I'd ask your company if they even want you spending an additional $200 or so on an extended warranty, or if they'd rather save the money now and just buy you a new laptop if needed down the line. Also, depending on the size of your company, they may have a tech department in house to deal with any minor repairs.

You may want to look into using at least some basic software on it too, like an office package, depending on what you do. While high-speed internet is available in many areas, it's not ubiquitous, and working remotely on everything may be a drag even with high-speed access.
Old 06-10-08, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
"Not a penny over," and $150-$380 over are two entirely different propositions.
Exactly. Thank you.

The "try to spend less than $600" statement simply meant that I could probably spent $599 on a computer which, once tax is added in, would be about $650. It most certainly does not mean that I can spend $750-950 on a laptop.

Originally Posted by Jay G.
You may want to look into using at least some basic software on it too, like an office package, depending on what you do. While high-speed internet is available in many areas, it's not ubiquitous, and working remotely on everything may be a drag even with high-speed access.
I'm going to put OpenOffice on it. Between OpenOffice and GoToMyPC, I'll be set. It won't be perfect, but it will be much better than having nothing.

Originally Posted by 4KRG
Clearly again you prove that you did not get it.
Get over yourself. There is nothing in your posts to "get." It's not like your posts are filled with multiple layers of complex metaphor. Your conclusions are simple. A sub-$600 laptop is not very powerful. You would recommend getting something slightly more powerful and/or getting an extended warranty.

Since neither of those things are possible as neither fit within my stated parameters, your posts are not helpful.

Anyway, this is all pointless. I bought a laptop ... problem solved.


Once again, to all the people in this thread who helped and provided constructive comments, thank you very much for your help.

Last edited by Double Down; 06-10-08 at 10:38 AM.

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