All-purpose laptop needed - advice on models please

  mattdp 10:26 17 Jul 2012


I desperately need to replace my creaking old desktop with a new machine. It needs to do basically a little bit of everything and has to be a laptop, although since it'll mostly be for desktop-replacement, battery life and weight are not important considerations. Primary tasks will be:

  • Acting as a media suite for films & music (need to connect to SDTV).
  • Running development software, primarily Visual Studio & SQL Server.
  • Image editing with GIMP and/or photoshop.
  • Low-end gaming, primarily modern indie games rather than latest AAA shooters.
  • Office tasks, primarily with Google Docs.
  • Heavy web browsing, including site editing with WordPress

It also needs to be QUIET - minimal fan noise is essential.

At a guess I'm looking at something that has an i5 processor with a good clock speed, a sizeable amount of HDD storage, 8-16GB of RAM and a mid-range dedicated graphics card. Some SSD storage would be a nice for running the OS. But this is a guess: I don't know much about hardware. In particular I'm not sure whether my requirements would mean I'd benefit from the hyperthreading in an i7 over an i5.

When shopping I've had trouble because my needs seem to fall into a gray area between mid-range work machines, which don't have the graphics card and SSD, and low-end gaming machines which tend to skimp on RAM and HDD. Ideal budget is ~£750 although I'd spend up to £1000 if I could get a really good deal. So far, these are about the best I've turned up: But they're not ideal - at the top-end of my price range and with excessive graphical power I probably don't need.

I don't want a custom build. Suggestions on models gratefully received.

Cheers, Matt

  birdface 10:40 17 Jul 2012

Your Medion click here does not work for me but it may be a problem with my computer.

Medion is a German company so any repairs it has to be shipped back to there for repairs.Which means I suppose 3 or 4 weeks without your laptop.

Not saying it would need repairing just warning you of the consequences.maybe things have changed now and you can get it repaired in the UK.Come to think of it I believe Medion was bought by a Chinese company in the last year.

Sorry I can't help you decide what is the best laptop for that sort of price but there are a few on here who can.

  frybluff 11:08 17 Jul 2012

Definately check out Dell's XPS range. Decent build quality, and good tech support. Should suit your needs. Most either have good graphics, or have an option. You can customise and buy direct. Word of advice - open an account, and wait a few days. You will probably be given an "introductory offer". Don't do what I did, open an account and buy on same day. When, 2 or 3 days later, I got a code for 15% off a laptop, it was frustrating to say the least.

As regards i5, or i7; i7 comes "into it's own" for things like video editing, but for most things, only gives a marginal performance boost, if any.

  frybluff 11:22 17 Jul 2012

PS: I note your comment about noise. Any performance laptop is going to have some fan noise, when working hard. Dells are no worse than others, but inevitably audible, if you listen. Of course, it depends on your definition of quiet. I don't find it an issue, but you may. Then, I think that's going to be the case, with any choice.

  mattdp 11:41 17 Jul 2012

Thanks for the suggestion, but the XPS range seems to have very little hardware customisation options available. Are you sure that's the right range?

  mattdp 11:51 17 Jul 2012

OK, further probing reveals that the "XPS" branding is rather larger than the website first reveals. But I still can't get quite what I want. The graphics card upgrade on the XPS apparently requires an i7 processor, and you can't have both solid-state and hard-disk together in the same machine.

  frybluff 13:38 17 Jul 2012

Dell's website appears to be on a "go-slow" today, so I can't check all the options, for you. You are probably right about none with mixed SSD AND conventional. I'm not aware of any.

The XPS17 (17" screen), has GT555M graphics, which are very good (for a laptop), available with their i5 version. The XPS15 certainly USED to have GT540M graphics (also fairly good), as an option, with their i5 version. I know they've intoduced some new "Ivybridge" models, but I can't "get in", to see what the current options are. I will try later, if can get it. Problem may well be slow internet, we seem to have today.

  mattdp 13:40 17 Jul 2012

Thanks. After some other advice, I'm currently looking at this with a 16GB memory upgrade:

Seems like a reasonable deal for under £900.

But will wait to see what you unearth on Dell :)

  frybluff 16:04 17 Jul 2012

Managed to get into Dell (sort off). The 15" I was thinking of is showing as not currently available, and others, that are available, as you said, don't have a decent graphics option, with i5. I would still say the XPS17, is pretty good, but obviously a lot heavier than the Asus 15.6", if that's an issue.

Asus are also decent kit, and have fairly good reputation. Do bear in mind, if you are after fast access storage, as standard, the Asus only has a 5400rpm drive. 7200rpm drive is optional extra. Having said that, some Dell models have similar choice.

  Woolwell 20:28 17 Jul 2012

Why does it have to be a laptop? You haven't mentioned portability at all.

  mick2008 09:30 21 Jul 2012

If it does not have to be a Laptop have you looked at all-in-one's. Acer, HP and others do good ones with lots of software included.

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