Help me buy a laptop

My old laptop has finally reached the point of no return, so it's time for a replacement. I want a laptop, not a desktop; my desktop is running just fine, but most of my computer use is in the living room, not the study these days.

I've been looking into this one

I took a look at one in a shop today. It's big, heavy and ugly. These things, I can live with, if it saves me £300 to £500 over a somewhat comparable ultra book. I don't carry a laptop out of the house very often, and rarely walk any distance with one. They keyboard and trackpad are certainly acceptable, it has a 1tb drive and an SSD for the system stuff, a bluray drive, dedicated graphics, a 1080p screen and HDMI out if I want to go all Big Picture.

Please help me out. Are there any obvious pitfalls I have missed, or any other machines in that general price range that would be a better bet? Is something better coming out next month? I've never had any Lenovo products, so are they any good?

Thanks in advance.

pretty sure you could do worse than that. Lenovo laptops are generally well built and that one seems decently spec'd for the price.

However, the one you've linked to doesn't have a 1080p screen and the hard drive says 16GB 5400RPM, which isn't clear at all what that means--possibly a hybrid drive with a 16GB SSD.

So it is. Sorry, I thought that I had linked to the one that I customised to match the one in-store. The one I saw has the specs I mentioned, and is £850.

What is your intended use?

Is it for work, business, media, gaming? A little bit of everything?

The 16GB 5400RPM drive means the Hard Disk Drive will have 16GB of storage and runs at 5400RPM. 5400RPM is standard for entry level laptops. 7200RPM is the next step up and SSD is top of the line. SSD wouldn't/shouldn't show an RPM as it doesn't spin. It's a block of solid memory chips.

16GB would appear to be a typo at first glance as 160GB is more standard than 16GB. But I would assume it's going to ship exactly as specified. You could send the manufacturer an email for clarification.

At (US)

It lists a 1TB HDD with 1920x1080 Display. So that may be worth checking with the manufacturer. But other than that, the specs look good performance wise. I would say it should handle whatever you throw at it. At that resolution, those graphics are good for gaming.

PCMagazine loves it:,2817...


Lenovo is IBM, so it's an established brand even though it may seem smaller. Acer is another cheap yet very powerful brand, but I've received Acer computers that require some tinkering to get to work properly. I have 6 Lenovo desktops and and 1 Lenovo server I service and have been impressed by the cost and performance of them.

They usually have very limited upgrade capabilities, but that's not so much of an issue with laptops.

Lenovo is IBM

Lenovo is a Chinese company that bought the PC business from IBM. Many of the same people and facilities were kept when it first transferred, but that was a long time ago, and I imagine it's probably a lot more Chinese by now.

I really haven't heard people complain about it, so it sounds like they're keeping the quality up, but it's not IBM anymore.

I recently went the minimalist route for my new laptop and I'm very satisfied. An Acer Aspire One 756. Essentially it has the specs of a 2 year old mid-range laptop in a form factor closer to an ultrabook. After a ram upgrade it cost me a total of ~$400 CAD (~£250). It's great as a couch surfing machine (like right now), basic productivity, watching videos and light gaming (FTL, Binding of Isaac, Unity of Command, etc.).

There are flaws of course: weak speaker, 4 hour battery, no disc drive (though that's not a flaw for me, personally. I don't think I've loaded a disc into my desktop in a year).

My point is that you can save buckets of cash if you start looking at the floor and work your way up. Laptops are practically disposable devices these days. And the most important consideration is:

What is your intended use?

Is it for work, business, media, gaming? A little bit of everything?

Definitely a bit of everything. Most of my work is done on a HP convertible Elitebook with an i5 in it, but that is provided by work, and is so locked down as to be useless for anything but work. I deal with heavily protected data, so it is doubtful that my personal laptop will ever see any work.

I also want a more powerful machine so I that I can dabble in PC gaming; I know it won't max Crysis 2, but it should be good enough for most of what I want to try. I'm a console gamer for the most part, but I figure that with Steam, HDMI out on the laptop and some decent wireless accessories, I can continue my couch potato gaming and get some PC gaming under my belt as well.

As stated, the model that I am actually looking at, as opposed to one that Lenovo list, is the 1 TB Win 8 with a small SSD on board, and the 1080p screen.

My last laptop was a cheap one, on the basis that my desktop was powerful, and the eventual situation was that the desktop is barely used and the laptop does all the work. I have a large collection of Blu-rays, and it seems daft not to have a player in my laptop. Besides, if I ever get my ripping project off the ground, the extra grunt and a Blu-ray drive means that it will get done that much more quickly!

Pretty much everything else that I have seen at that spec level is £1000 plus. Other than my faulty listing, there don't seem to be any major issues, so I will pull the trigger when I scrape the money together in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for the help, everyone.

GoldenDog wrote:

The 16GB 5400RPM drive means the Hard Disk Drive will have 16GB of storage and runs at 5400RPM. 5400RPM is standard for entry level laptops. 7200RPM is the next step up and SSD is top of the line. SSD wouldn't/shouldn't show an RPM as it doesn't spin. It's a block of solid memory chips.

Whatever you do, do not stick with a 5400RPM hard drive unless you hate life and yourself.

It's fine to order it that way if you intend to upgrade the drive yourself. But one thing you just do not want to do is skimp on a slow hard drive. It will ruin your day, every day.

SSDs are heavenly, but failing that, the hybrid Momentus drives with a solid state read cache are nice upgrades for laptops. And failing that, if you're not upgrading yourself, at least bump up to a 7200RPM drive.

I just got the Y580 with the 1080 screen. I'm really happy with it, its a really good value for the hardware.
--Although it came with a 16GB SSD and 750GB Hard drive, it still seemed a bit slow to boot and load up (maybe it needs to run longer to get the most used stuff cached on the SSD) so I put in a 500gb Samsung 840 (non-pro) SSD and stuck the hard drive in an external enclosure.
--It came with Windows 8, I downgraded to Windows 7, which was kind of tricky with the new BIOS/UEFI setups these days. The reason I downgraded was the computer only comes with Windows 8 on a recovery partition (no discs), and I couldnt figure out how to extract it to install onto the Samsung SSD.
--The GTX 660m is very capable at most games running native 1920x1080. Its actually surprising how reasonably well the intel 4000 graphics run things at ~1280x768 resolutions. With the Nvidia card running, it really pumps out the heat on the left side. The palm wrist didnt get too bad though.
--It's bulky, I carry it in a backpack, and the power brick is also pretty large. I'd choose differently if I took it everywhere, but mostly I stay at home or occasionally go to the coffee shop with it.
--The top of the laptop and wrist rest is a decent looking and feeling anodized metal, but the bottom is kind of chintzy feeling plastic.
--The numpad is actually handy to have, but its taking a bit of getting used to, I always tend to hit it when reaching for the backspace or enter key.
--Trackpad is nothing special.
--Battery life is ok with normal use, maybe a few hours. But even forcing the laptop to use integrated graphics sucks the batteries pretty quick. I bet you'd get half hour tops with the full NVidia card running.
--I'm tempted to get one of those wireless HDMI receivers to allow me to use the laptop on the TV without a cable.
--Mine came with just a DVD player, but I think the ones you buy direct off Lenovo come with Blu-Ray and a larger SSD (32GB)

Its definitely desktop replacement category. You might save yourself some money and weight going with a lesser graphics card and downgrading other specs, but I think this one is in a sweet spot for price and features.

*Puts wallet away*
I thought this thread had a different meaning.

Is this kind of turning into a catch all laptop thread?

I'm contemplating a Lenovo Yoga 13 vs the Asus Zenbook Touch. Both at Best Buy, strangely.

The Yoga actually allows you to upgrade the memory (single SODIMM) and even has a slot for a second 1.8" SSD. The downsides are no dual band Wifi (or WiDi) and a bit lower res screen 1600x900. Not sure if the network card can be swapped to an Intel card, and can't seem to find out anywhere. Need to dig up the repair manual. On the positive, it has the funky hing that lets you flip it into tablet mode, yoga mode, etc. Not sure how much I'd use that, but it might be nice on the plane.

The Asus is 1920x1080. RAM is soldered on the board (4GB), and the SSD is a non-standard type that's not likely to be upgraded (128GB). It's a more traditional ultrabook. The wireless is dual band with WiDi (WiDi isn't that big of a deal for me).

Ideally I'd wait a bit and wait for Haswell, but after just getting RIF'd at the end of the year, then lining up some contract work that will require travel, I need to go ahead and get something soon-ish. Really like the idea of an ultrabook for weight, and with Win 8, touch seems to make a lot of sense.

Anybody have either a Zenbook or a Yoga?

Arise thread.

Any recommendations for a decent 15 inch mid-range laptop. Price tag around $500-$600. Primarily for writing, email, and some blogging but I'd like to be able to run Civ 5 without it turning into a slide show. Also, given I use Macs for work, I'd like something with decent build quality (that actually might be the most important factor).

Any thoughts?

I've been through a couple of Dells in that price range. I never tried to run Civ V on em, but they've lasted a couple years through the varying abuse heaped on them by my younger children.

I've used Lenovo Thinkpads for work for years and they take a beating. Can't speak for the Ideapad line, other than the name being awkward to say

I get a friends and family discount on Lenovo's web site. PM me if you want the sign in details to look around with them.