Christmas laptop

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Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:01 pm

I'm looking to get my 17 year old daughter a laptop for Christmas which will be good for college next year. Needs it most for web and Office applications. I saw a asus for $299 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/9 ... 320GB.html
but have no experience with dual core celerons. Are they slow? I was trying to keep the purchase around $300. But I don't want to let price dictate a bad decision.
I was also looking at refurbs at Newegg and Compusa. Anyone have experience with them and are they decent or not?
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:14 pm

What major is she interested in? New tech like USB3.0 is a life saver for me since I regularly transfer many GBs to flash drives and external hdds. (of course, then you need a USB3.0 flash drive or hdd to take advantage of the 3x+ speed increase)

You've definetly chosen a good brand in Asus so no complaints there. I personally wouldn't buy anything below a 3rd-gen i3, but with that and USB3.0 you're obviously talking more than $300. What about this one for $450? (Regularly $600) Even includes a caching SSD! It's twice the computer as the $300 one you listed in every way for only 50% more cost.
Last edited by DPete27 on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:20 pm

DPete27 wrote:What major is she interested in? New tech like USB3.0 is a life saver for me since I regularly transfer many GBs to flash drives and external hdds. (of course, then you need a USB3.0 flash drive or hdd to take advantage of the 3x+ speed increase)


Needs it most for web and Office applications.


I got through college without USB 3.0. What are you doing in college that requires you to transfer GBs on a regular basis? I wouldn't worry about that much. If the laptop comes with USB 3.0 great, but if not I wouldn't consider that a deal breaker. I did like your suggestion though, DPete. The only thing I would consider is something running W7. I doubt any schools will be jumping on the W8 train very soon. It'd be nice to have a consistent experience across the board if she goes to the labs and such is all i'm thinking.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:26 pm

1) She'll have 9 months to get aquainted to W8. When she goes to college, all her friends will have their shiny new back-to-school laptops with W8.

2) Regarding the "needs most for web and Office." Sure, that $300 system is enough for that, but a little overhead just extends the usable life of the laptop. You're still in the sub-$500 category with my suggestion which is by no means expensive for a laptop.

3) I didn't have USB3.0 in college either, but where will we be 4 years from now when she graduates?
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:39 pm

DPete27 wrote:1) She'll have 9 months to get aquainted to W8. When she goes to college, all her friends will have their shiny new back-to-school laptops with W8.

2) Regarding the "needs most for web and Office." Sure, that $300 system is enough for that, but a little overhead just extends the usable life of the laptop. You're still in the sub-$500 category with my suggestion which is by no means expensive for a laptop.

3) I didn't have USB3.0 in college either, but where will we be 4 years from now when she graduates?


1. That's fine and all that she will have time to get used to it. That doesn't mean she'll use it on a daily basis when she's working in the lab or in a job. It's really up to her I suppose. If it were me, I'd buy my child a W7 machine. Her friends with shiny new W8 machines? Don't you mean MBP's?

2. Like I said, I liked your suggestion. I think it's a great choice minus my concerns with W8.

3.What does that have to do with it? Will .doc files be 10GB in four years or something? It'd be nice to have USB 3.0. I just said it wasn't a deal breaker.

You can't expect a $300-400 laptop to last you forever. A few years down the road maybe they'll look into something else. Can't expect much futureproofing from a $300 machine.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:43 pm

What about a refurbished ThinkPad?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834311956

Slightly smaller screen, slightly lower price, probably better build quality than just about any $300 consumer-branded unit. Use the savings to upgrade the RAM to 4GB and she ought to get at least two or three good years out of it.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:08 pm

She's currently planning on psychology. I'd like to get her an I3, but with three other kids to buy presents for I need to keep an eye on prices. I did see (I think on Newegg) that a guy bought this computer but upgraded the cpu to an i5. If that is the case, she could get a shiny new laptop for Christmas and when her birthday rolls around in July, I could get her a faster cpu.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:18 pm

That Celeron, according to CPU World, probably ain't half bad. Sandy Bridge dual core with 2MB of L3 cache, no HT or Turbo. The 1.7GHz speed is a little off-putting, but otherwise I think it'll be a good enough performer. The ability to upgrade the CPU is kinda neat. Right now Sandy Bridge i5s can be had on fleabay for around $100, or i3s for around $60. I would not expect Ivy Bridge support unless you find a BIOS update saying it supports it explicitly. So probably no Ivy Bridge CPU upgrade.

It does have a "CPU Microcode" update in a BIOS from last December, but that could just be for the i5 25xx series that came out early this year. http://support.asus.com/download.aspx?S ... Fn5BW2c56Y
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:58 pm

DPete27 wrote:3) I didn't have USB3.0 in college either, but where will we be 4 years from now when she graduates?


When I was in college, I had 3.5" disks and we survived, uphill both ways! 8)
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:04 pm

I have a laptop with a similarly basic CPU that is identical in every way but clockspeed. Here is my B970 against the B820.

My laptop has a dedicated graphics chip too, but the lowly Intel B-series CPU is fine for modern games, running CAD applications on a second screen, running a virtual machine etc. For what she's going to use it for it will be perfectly good.

My recommendation for making it feel quick would be to make sure it has plenty of RAM (at least 4GB). Since an SSD is out of your price range, having plenty of RAM is the next best thing.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:02 pm

It's extremely unlikely to find any decent laptop in the stated $300 budget.
Unless she needs it right now, you're much better off waiting to make this purchase until her birthday or graduation and save up a bit more until then.

More money doesn't just buy you more performance she might not need, but more importantly higher quality peripherals: a screen with decent resolution and colour, a nice keyboard to type on, a properly working trackpad, an enclosure that won't start breaking down after several months, less weight and battery life longer than one class.

Cheap laptops are really horrible to use so it's much better to buy an older and/or refurbished version of a top of the line model than a new low end model.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:31 pm

Or just watch for sales like this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6834246488
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:37 pm

Under $300 by far the best deal going is the new Samsung Chromebook. Totally serious, great piece of kit for the price. Everything else in that range is fairly junky. As long as she doesn't need any specific/specialized software it might be a great buy. Chromebooks make a good deal of sense for college students needing something cheap/portable/productive to tote around to classes without worrying too much if they get dropped/stolen/spilled on.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:49 pm

AntiSp4wn wrote:Under $300 by far the best deal going is the new Samsung Chromebook. Totally serious, great piece of kit for the price. Everything else in that range is fairly junky. As long as she doesn't need any specific/specialized software it might be a great buy. Chromebooks make a good deal of sense for college students needing something cheap/portable/productive to tote around to classes without worrying too much if they get dropped/stolen/spilled on.

US education is fairly standardized on Microsoft Office, and the OP mentioned both college and Office. Chromebook won't work as a primary laptop.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:01 pm

AntiSp4wn wrote:Under $300 by far the best deal going is the new Samsung Chromebook. Totally serious, great piece of kit for the price. Everything else in that range is fairly junky. As long as she doesn't need any specific/specialized software it might be a great buy. Chromebooks make a good deal of sense for college students needing something cheap/portable/productive to tote around to classes without worrying too much if they get dropped/stolen/spilled on.


Specialized software like... Windows? Besides the obvious compatibility issues with Office documents it's almost certain she will encounter more Windows only software or software only available for Windows/Mac.

My personal advice to the OP is to not buy a $300 laptop. Too many compromises for something you'd want to last 4 years ideally. Poor materials and construction. Almost certainly a terrible touchpad (a horrible thing to make someone use) and keyboard. Poor quality screen, etc, etc.

Even more... her college almost certainly has discounts with either Dell, HP, etc. They might also have last years models or refurbished units at discount. There's also likely very reasonable purchase programs that could be rolled in to tuition. Regardless, I'd spend the money for a high quality, long lasting laptop.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:14 pm

DPete27 wrote:What major is she interested in? New tech like USB3.0 is a life saver for me since I regularly transfer many GBs to flash drives and external hdds. (of course, then you need a USB3.0 flash drive or hdd to take advantage of the 3x+ speed increase)


The quoted laptop already includes USB 3.0

OP: I think that looks like a decent deal though I would upgrade the RAM to 4GB at some point. It is quite cheap to buy RAM nowadays and upgrade it yourself.

As a current college student with several friends in psychology major, I do think that a laptop is pretty much required and tablets and/or chromebooks won't do. Most courses in that field do seem to require reading or submitting Word .doc files or Powerpoint .ppt files and the Office alternatives can be a bit picky about opening them. LibreOffice seems to come close, but is not perfect.

So I think you may need to add the cost of office to the laptop price. For Office 2010, there is 3-user license Home and Student edition that typically runs about $120. Most students buy such a copy and then split it with 2 other students, making the cost about $40 per person. Some schools may offer Office at a reduced rate, so do check for that. Licensing costs for Office 2013 are very different, and I am not sure of those details, so do look them up.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:59 pm

Most students buy such a copy and then split it with 2 other students, making the cost about $40 per person.

Although AFAIK Microsoft doesn't do much to police it, that's still a violation of the H&S license. The .EDU discounts are pretty reasonable and it would make more sense to wait and see what educational licensing terms the school already has.
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Re: Christmas laptop

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:30 pm

I found a 16 month old Asus Model K52F for $320. Looks like a nice computer that originally sold for $680 or so. i5, 6Gb ram, 750gb hard drive. I thought it was a good point to not get the cheapest new one available and end up with a cheap computer that will not last. Thanks for the input everyone.
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