Looking for a semi-basic laptop for university..

  CBorders 11:54 17 Feb 2012

Hi, this is my first post here, so sorry if its in the wrong place.

Basic story is that I'm looking for a laptop to take to university with me in December. I'm planning on studying Maths with Economics, so I won't be relying on the laptop for too much 'specialist' programmes.

The main functions I want it to have really is to be quick, be able to handle multiple programs and webpages open at once, and I'll also be using it for Skype-ing home and for (light) TV and film viewing. I very much doubt there'll be any gaming.

I would like a 15-15.6" screen, and preferably a numeric pad on the keyboard - obviously this is just a preferance that I will forgo if I have to.

I DON'T want a HP or a Samsung. I've had bad experience with Samsung, and I strongly dislike the touchpad mouse on the HPs that are in my budget - in my opinion the roughness is vile.

The aforementioned budget is absolute maximum £500. Realistically, I love to only spend around £400.

I've been looking around, and I'm really not sure about what exactly I'm supposed to be looking for. Is an Intel I5 processor really worth an extra £100ish than an I3 considering my rather basic needs?

I'm going to include some links of laptops I've looked at, but other suggestions are welcome! Thanks in advance for any advice, and sorry for the long (and probably very boring) post.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-G570-15-6-inch-Laptop/dp/B005TPRWN4/ref=cmcrprproducttop I've seen a slightly lower spec (smaller harddrive and memory) version of this in PC World and loved it, but I've never heard of the brand, and people I've spoken to seem to doubt it.

http://www.dell.com/uk/p/inspiron-15r-n5110/pd.aspx?c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn Either 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i3-2350M processor (2.30 Ghz, 3M cache) or 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i5-2450M processor (2.50 GHz, 3M cache) with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.10 BUT I'm not really sure which out of the two to go for.

This one also looks good, but lacks the numeric keypad, and I haven't seen this in the flesh.. http://www.dell.com/uk/p/inspiron-15-intel-n5050/pd.aspx?c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i5-2450M processor (2.50 GHz, 3M cache) with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.10.

So any help would be great - really feel as though I'm banging my head against a wall trying to find something!

  spuds 12:38 17 Feb 2012

This is a question asked many times, and you might find some answers by doing a search in the PCA archives.

With regards to your Amazon link, Lenovo might not be a name that comes to mind, but they are a well known company involved in the computer industry, even supplying re-badged products. There are 30 customer reviews in the link, and all seem favourable.

Perhaps someone will offer further advice as to a latest version laptop that would be suitable and on special offer at present!.

  frybluff 12:54 17 Feb 2012

Any of those three should be suitable. i5 based laptops will tend to be a bit better at multi-tasking, but it's just a question of degree, unless you are going to be using graphics intensive applications. Lenovo are a chinese manufacturer, that used to manufacture IBM equipment, so the kit is OK. You could also check out Acer and Toshiba. Both do good kit, at a reasonable price. If you have a local John Lewis, they are well worth a visit. They give a TWO year guarantee on all their laptops, and you are likely to get much more reliable advice, from them, than from some high street outlets, I could mention!

  frybluff 15:25 17 Feb 2012


If you are looking for something to carry around, and use, all day at uni, you need to consider weight, and battery life. 15.6" laptops usually weigh in at 2.5Kg, or more, and many don't have the greatest battery life. It may be worth looking at something like an Acer Timeline X4830T, which has a 14" screen, but is more "portable", and has a decent battery life.

  100andthirty 20:34 17 Feb 2012

if you live anywhere John Lewis you might want to look there. All their laptops have a 2 year warranty.

I have HP and am very pleased with it. The G series have the rough mouse, the DV series have smooth ones. Mine is a DV.

All that said, what about this?


or this


  CBorders 10:32 18 Feb 2012

The Toshiba looks good - the Acer is far too small, and I'm not sure I want another one. Mine hasn't been the best (keeps 'losing' its CD drive, screen doesn't work, no wireless anymore etc etc..).

Heading out to John Lewis in about 10 minutes - hoping to at least have a look and make my mind up some more. At this precise moment I'm leaning towards a Dell Inspiron 15R, I5, for £449 but that could all change...

  CBorders 10:41 18 Feb 2012

I meant to add, I'm not too fussed about portability. I'd sooner have a decent screen and well spaced keyboard. I don't mind lugging a heavy one around (can't get more bulky than this thing!), and I'm never going to be too far away from a plug looking at the facilities of the universities I'm interested in.

  frybluff 11:10 18 Feb 2012

John Lewis have both Dell and Toshiba at £449. You should note that the Dell, at that price, is a slightly lower spec than the Toshiba (the Dell with the same spec as the Toshiba is £100 more). They are both decent kit, it really comes down to which you feel more comfortable with.

John Lewis don't tend to have pre-loaded security, so you have a free choice what to get. Just don't forget to get SOMETHING. You are likely to get lots of conflicting advice on which is best, but there are some good "freebies".

  spuds 11:28 18 Feb 2012

I don't intend 'putting the spanner' in the works, but I generally find that John Lewis doesn't carry much in the lines of computer's and accessories. Also the staff can be a little 'short' of computer knowledge, and might not have all the answers!.

If you have a local PC World or similar computer type store handy, it might pay to do a comparison, before making a final purchase?.

Also if you are seeking 'extended warranties', then it might pay to check any offers in the box, or Domestic & General, or even household insurance, especially if its for university use!.

  CBorders 20:31 18 Feb 2012

Thanks for the further replies.

I do like that Toshiba, just so scared to spend so much money on something! I also quite like Packard Bell laptops, just struggling to get around their website and see if theres anything suitable :) Just about to have a look at Debenhams as I should get a staff discount there which could really help :)

Whatever I by has GOT to last at least four years, because there is no way I'll be able to afford another once I'm a student - so apologies if I'm being annoying constantly asking for advice.

  frybluff 20:58 18 Feb 2012

Most laptops should last four years, as long as you avoid some of the real "cheap and nasties", provided you treat them with reasonable care. Having said that, there is no way to guarantee four years trouble free use. Many manufacturers offer a three year extended warranty, but whether that is worth the money is a mute point. In terms of value for money, for a decent spec'd laptop, the Toshiba is hard to beat, if you don't like Acer. Toshiba also have a good rep for inexpensive spares, with good availability, if the worst happens. Of course, if you have staff benefits from Debenhams, they carry a good range of laptops. Reliability of most of the main makes, is actually very similar.

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