Author Topic: what type of laptop to buy?  (Read 661 times)

Offline frostyknight

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what type of laptop to buy?
« on: Monday 31 December 18 13:47 GMT (UK) »
The battery on my 9 year old laptop has failed.  I've been advised that it's not worth investing in a new battery. While the laptop still works while plugged into the mains it's not portable any more. Therefore I need to purchase a new one. After speaking to salespeople in various shops, I'm now confused - there are some with "ordinary" hard drives, and some with SSD drives. The latter are what the salespeople are recommending (pushing). My problem is the storage on SSD's seems to be a maximum of 256 GB, which seems very little (this old laptop has 500 GB).
So I'd be grateful if anyone has any opinions on what type of storage I should go for. Is there much to be gained from going with an SSD drive?

I'd be very grateful for any/all opinions. Thanks in advance  :)

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Online ShaunJ

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #1 on: Monday 31 December 18 14:27 GMT (UK) »
You could always keep the 500gb hard drive from your old laptop and put it in a USB caddy to use as portable storage or back up for your new machine.
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Offline arthurk

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #2 on: Monday 31 December 18 14:40 GMT (UK) »
I recently went through a similar process and it took me ages to decide between all the possible features available. Of course, everyone's needs and preferences will be different, so what suited me might not suit you.

I wondered about the SSD/HD issue too, and considered getting a hybrid with one of each (eg 128GB SSD and 1TB HD), but decided in the end to go for one with just a 256GB SSD. In 8 years on my previous computer I'd only managed to accumulate around 50GB of personal data, images etc (other than program files etc), so I reckoned that with continued good housekeeping that should be enough, and if not, there's always the option of shifting rarely-used stuff onto an external drive. You can also get larger SSDs, though they'e a bit harder to track down, and often cost more than a 256GB SSD plus external drive would.

Another option is that some Intel-powered PCs with a hard drive only now have an additional chunk of memory ('Optane') which acts like a short-term SSD, with items being automatically transferred in and out of it as needed. Or you could think of it as RAM which keeps its data when the computer is switched off. As this is a fairly new concept I decided not to be one of the first to try it out.

I'm not convinced of the long-term wisdom of using an old drive for extra storage - all drives fail eventually, and one of that age won't last anywhere near as long as a brand new one.
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Offline Flattybasher9

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #3 on: Monday 31 December 18 16:11 GMT (UK) »
I personally would look at a new battery, but an aftermarket one, not a company one. We have done this several times, with no problems,

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Offline Chris Doran

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #4 on: Monday 31 December 18 16:30 GMT (UK) »
I personally would look at a new battery, but an aftermarket one, not a company one. We have done this several times, with no problems,

Malky
If you're satisfied with the performance of your present machine, I agree. Battery prices on well-known auction sites or specialist sellers will be much lower than anything quoted by a shop.

However, at 9 years old your laptop will be rather slow for modern requirements and may not even run current program versions, including the latest browser software increasingly required by many websites, so this may an excuse for an upgrade.

You could buy one with an SSD to take the operating system and files you regularly work with and get a larger external drive (not necessarily using the disk from your current laptop) to use for backup storage and things you don't need when away from home, not that they're that bulky.

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Online andrewalston

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #5 on: Monday 31 December 18 18:21 GMT (UK) »
An SSD can really make a machine fly. My current laptop is from 2010, and was bought second hand off eBay.

I fitted 8GB of RAM and a 500GB SSD (from Crucial, who I've always found good to deal with).

It outperforms most modern laptops. I can run a couple of virtual machines under VMWare at about the same speed that just one of them would run "native" with a "spinning rust" drive.

Consider buying a box with a small traditional drive and replacing it with a decent size SSD. They even use less power, so your battery will last longer too. It's usually only a simple screwdriver job.

You can download the Windows install media from Microsoft - https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10 - using your existing machine, and use that with the licence key from the new box. That way you will not end up with a load of bloatware. Every brand is guilty of that!

A word of caution - there are a few cheap end laptops with a 32GB solid state drive. These usually have the SSD soldered to the system board, so it's not upgradable. They are fine for those who just do email and web browsing, but little else. To update my auntie's one for the current version of Windows, I had to use a USB stick for extra storage.
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Offline frostyknight

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #6 on: Monday 31 December 18 20:17 GMT (UK) »
Thanks everyone for the advice and information. There's always experts on Roots! It's given me something to think about. I'll decide what to do in the next few days. This laptop has always done everything I wanted, a new battery would be ideal. I use Chrome as my browser most of the time, otherwise Firefox and have no difficulty with either. Andrewalston, many thanks for the suggestions, but I wouldn't have a clue how to  install things into the laptop  :-X, it might blow up!!
Thank you for all the help, I'm most grateful
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Offline Mike Morrell (NL)

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #7 on: Thursday 03 January 19 16:21 GMT (UK) »
Sorry for the late reply. I'm not sure whether it's still useful, but here goes.

Your choice depends mostly on what you use your Laptop for: just for travelling or (like me) as a 'desktop replacement'.

It's been a couple of years since I went shopping for a new Laptop and initially, I was a bit surprised by your question. But you're absolutely right. I took a look at my 'goto' Dutch (but english-language) website https://www.coolblue.nl/en/laptops and I was amazed to see how many mid-range laptops only had 256 SSD storage! Luckily there are still many that have dual drives: 128 (or 256) GB SSD + 1TB hard-drive. It looks like the Laptops that only have hard drives are in the minority, and for good reasons.

SSDs are faster and probably more reliable that traditional hard drives because they have no moving parts. The main benefits of a Laptop with a SSD are that 1) it starts up faster (<10 seconds) and 2) both Windows and your apps run faster.

I have no specialist knowledge but it seems Laptop storage options are at a bit of a crossroads between SSDs and hard drives. Most Laptop SSD options are still 128 GB or 256 GB. There are 512 GB SSDs available but they're relatively very expensive. So 256 GB is probably the best option at the moment. This would give you plenty of space for Windows and apps and 100-150 GB of storage for user data. Options for expanding the space for user data fall, I think into 3 categories:
- use cloud storage
- use an external hard drive (cheap) or SSD (Expensive)
- buy a Laptop that has 2 drives (1 SSD and 1 hard-drive)

I have a 2 year-old Laptop with 128 GB SSD and a lot of programs for Word processing, photo and video editing, audio editing, etc. My Laptop also has a 1TB hard drive. Now and again the SSD gets full and I remove any programs that I don't use a lot (and can download if and when I need to) or move them to the hard drive. There's not really any space left on the SSD for user data (documents, photos, videos). So I store all my user data on the hard drive. 

You don't mention any other criteria but they may be related. In smaller (thinner) Laptops, there's often only space for 1 drive. Larger ones may offer you the 'hybrid' option.

There are a huge number of websites that offer selection criteria for buying Laptops but FWIW, I think this one (googled) covers most of the bases: https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/laptop-buying-guide.  If you google and browse some 'Best (mid-range) Laptop' reviews you'll eventually see the same brands and even models appearing multiple times. This should give you at least some confidence in selecting a reliable brand.

My feeling is that you don't yet need to choose but have some relevant questions to ask sales people in reliable stores. I say this because many electronics stores compete with internet shopping just by reducing costs (and expertise). Specialist computer stores might be slightly more expensive but are often much better equipped to discuss your needs and offer you personal advice on Laptops that meet these. They continue to exist through their personal service (repeat shopping, word of mouth).

Good Luck!
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Offline frostyknight

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Re: what type of laptop to buy?
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 06 January 19 19:29 GMT (UK) »
Thank you Mike, for your very informative post and the links. I've decided not to make a purchase just yet, as at the moment I'm just using the laptop as a desktop and shouldn't need portability for at least the next month. It's great to have all the extra information from everyone though.
I've bought an external hard drive and backed up all my files/photos, just in case.
I'm really grateful for all the advice.  :)