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View Full Version : Budget Laptop opinions / advice?



colkai
03-20-2011, 06:15 AM
Hi guys,
Looking for some advice if y'all don't mind.

I am soon to be able, (finally), to replace my old 1.5Ghz laptop I use for work / personal use with a new one.
My budget is 100% limited, no room for discussion as it basically comes from the results of an insurance claim, (otherwise I wouldn't be upgrading, simple as :p ).

At MAX I am looking at 599, realistically, I'd like to keep this under 549 or even 499 so I can actually treat myself to a meal out with the missus and a bottle of my favourite liqueur, (yeah I know, how selfish of me ;) ).

I will predominantly use the laptop for work (VS2008 / C#) and also would like it to run LW & Blender occasionally, well, reasonably regularly.
Now I know I am not going to get blistering performance, that's a given, but then even my main PC at home is only a 2.4Ghz AMD Athlon 3800+ so not like I have cutting edge tech anyways, heh.

Anyhoo, I've been looking at an Acer 5742 Core-3i and at the "top" of my budget would be an Acer5745G.
Why Acer? well, just because they are cheap and seem reasonable, no other reason, oh, apart from my directors have run Toshiba's and Dell's and both have not proven to be that reliable as work horses, of course, it could be how they are used, but it doesn't instill me with confidence in the brand.

Ok, finally, the advice I seek, (thank the Gods you cry).

Does anyone know what sort of OGL levels these sort of laptops give? All I get is that they use Intel HD graphics. Looking on the web, I find there are a couple of levels of this, the later 2nd generation being OGL3.0, which is fine by me.

Also, for occasional use, am I really going to see any benefit trying to source a laptop with a Geforce graphics chipset over Intel HD graphics?
I get that there won't be any CUDA on the Intel chip as that's a NVidia thing, (or is it?).

Another point is, there are laptops around a similar price range which run the AMD Phenom chips instead of the Core-i3 / i5. I've tried to find some sort of comparison of these CPUs but don't have anything worthwhile I've found to say if one has distinct benefits over the other. From what I have read, some say the AMD actually runs slower on single threaded apps, of which I will be using some for work. Some say the Core-3i is less power hungry, though I'm 90% of the time going to be hooked up to the mains, so I don't know how relevant that is, unless it stresses the system less.

Does anyone know if this is true or not? Do you guys have any preference / observations on the differences between the two chipsets?

Primarily the laptop needs to sacrifice speed over solidity as it will be used a lot, mainly for coding in VS2008.

I'm not even sure that at a dual-core 2.4 or there abouts, any of this is at all relevant, but thought I'd throw it out for you guys to chime in before I commit as it's gonna be a few weeks before I get my cheque anyway. :)

cresshead
03-20-2011, 08:16 AM
i've had 2 acers and both are pretty good, i'm typing this on my acer 5920G, it's my net machine mostly but also does pull double duty for lightwave, messiah and 3dsmax, has a geforce g/card so it's fine...a student of mine bought a almost similar laptop from acer but with intel intergrated graphics...he's had a load of issues so get one with nvidia card if you can.

other than that the sound quality is very good [dolby home theatre] with built in sub woofer on the underside, i watch all my dvd's on it.

acer is good value in my opinion

i3 is dual core
i5 is quad core
i7 is quad with hyperthreading

colkai
03-20-2011, 08:38 AM
Thanks Cress, I always wondered what the difference was. Alas that sort of product (5920G) is way outta my price bracket. It definitely seems if you want a GeForce chipset, you pay way more.

borkus
03-20-2011, 12:30 PM
I don't know if it's because I'm stateside, but we have had nothing but problems with Acer laptops here. Like Cresshead said, definitely get one with a video card in that has been a majority of the problems. But we have also seen a lot of problems with the motherboards and displays. One fellow student also got a Gateway recently and has had problems with the motherboard as well. Gateway apparently subcontracts some of their line to Acer as well. I'm no fanboy of any brand. I go with what I can afford and has the most positive reviews. But statistically speaking, I wouldn't go with Acer right now. It's like a gamble. When you get a good one, all is well. If you roll the dice and they don't want to play in your favor, it's a lot of phone calls and emails for a couple of months... Just my two cents and like I said, this is just within my geographic region and not what I have seen online in different areas. Perhaps a bad batch that went out.

borkus
03-20-2011, 12:37 PM
With the AMD versus Intel ix series, it all boils down to money. When I built my desktop a short while ago, I put an AMD 965 Black edition in it with 8 gigs of ram. Was pleasantly happy with it. But I just bought an MSI GX660 that has an i7 q740 with 6 gigs of ram and it's walking all over my desktop... But, again it's all in the money you want to spend. Going with an i7 in my desktop was going to push me out of my budget range so I went with AMD. So while I can say Intel has the upper hand at the moment, it also often times comes at a drastic increase in budget.

cresshead
03-20-2011, 03:23 PM
i have a h.p. amd tablet/laptop and find it's pretty good except the vent seems to be just where i rest my hand when drawing in tablet mode..i find that annoying..so usually spin the screen round

acer are okay in my opinion you get a lot for a cheap pricepoint

colkai
03-21-2011, 03:41 AM
borkus: I've noticed that, the difference between a quad Phenom and the Intel Core-i7 is, shall we say, substantial?

I must admit, I don't know why my focus has rested so heavily on the Acer, I am *trying* to be objective here. I guess it's another of those things that you're hoping someone can give you the 64,000 quid answer. :)