Second hand Laptop - minimum specs?

  freyabo 18:56 21 Oct 2008


I'd put this question in the 'Help' forum, but I guess it is more appropriate here.

I want to buy a cheap laptop as a second PC. What sort of specs should I look for to get a reasonable performance?
Will be used only for web surfing, watching BBCi, online videos, etc.

I recently had Virgin broadband installed, and am using an old Pentium III lappy on my home network.
It's a painful experience! Everything takes an age to open, and after about an hour of surfing things virtually grind to a halt. Also, the one USB port is broken, and I'm desperate to get something with a bit more oompth!

I've been looking on Ebay, but the specs, like Pentium M, Pentium 4 etc. mean nothing to me :(

Also, are there any brands to look out for, or ones to avoid?

I don't have much to spend, but hopefully I'll be able to get something a bit more useable.


  curofone 19:03 21 Oct 2008

what is your budget?

  chub_tor 19:10 21 Oct 2008

This is about as budget as you get. Reasonable spec good reviews click here

  freyabo 19:53 21 Oct 2008

Budget up to £150 for a 2nd hand unit. Cannot afford to buy new!

  curofone 20:05 21 Oct 2008

Do you know the spec of your current machine other than it has a Pentium 3 processor, ie do you know how big the hard drive is? the amount of RAM it has and the operating system you are using.

As for what you want you old laptop might be good enough but by the sounds of it, it is pretty old and it might just need something like a fresh install of windows to clean it up and get it speed back up to close to what it orginally was.

  interzone55 20:10 21 Oct 2008

My wife is using an IBM ThinkPad laptop with a 1.2Ghz P3 processor and 256mb of RAM and it's fine for everything you mention, including iPlayer & YouTube.

The most important thing in a low spec laptop is the operating system, if you put XP on there it'll suc up all your ram. If you find an older ex-business laptop with Windows 2000 you're laughing, because it's system requirements are much lower...

  freyabo 01:57 22 Oct 2008


The machine is a Compaq Armada E500 Series, Pentium III 796MHz. 128MB RAM, 10GB HDD, running Windows XP ver. 2002.

When I tried to update the OS last week, I discovered that the installed OS is apparently a pirated copy! So I'm also worried that it's vulnerable to viruses or other nasties as I carn't apply any of the system packs.

I also cannot get my Vista machine to 'see' the laptop on my network, and because the only usb port is broken, I cannot easily get stuff onto it from my main PC.

  Taff™ 10:10 22 Oct 2008

Does the laptop have a COA label with an XP key on it? If not it was probably a previous OS. (2000 or W98) Here`s a few things you might try:

click here as an example. If it has a PCMCIA slot this will add a couple of USB ports. Alternatively buy a cheap mains powered USB hub.

The networking issue is solvable. Make sure both computers are in the same "Workgroup" and that each user has a password for their user account. On the XP machine run the Network Wizard from Control Panel. This might need posting as a separate problem in the forum.

The laptop could use some more RAM click here and use their system scanner tool to identify what you need. XP needs at least 512Mb these days.

Ever thought of Linux?

  freyabo 18:04 25 Oct 2008

Thanks for all the advice guys.

Unfortunately academic now as the laptop stopped working last night. I was on the net, there was a quiet 'click' then the machine went dead, nothing, nada, zilch!

At least it happened before I invested any more money in it, as I was going to upgrade the RAM


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