Need Help: Looking for a New Laptop (in Off-topic)

Xenko February 23 2008 12:54 AM EST


I currently have a Toshiba Satellite MX-35 (Intel Celeron M) that is about 2.5 years old and getting very slow, and very hot. I've tried cleaning out the fan, and I've reinstalled the OS, but it didn't help that much. Thus, I am thinking about getting a new one and looking for some suggestions from fellow CB'ers.

About my usage:
I don't have a desktop, so my laptop is all I use.
My laptop is usually on 12 - 16 hours a day, so it gets used a lot, but I would like the computer to last a while.
A lot of the usage is for grad school (Word, Powerpoint, and a few chemistry applications).
I don't do any gaming other than CB and online flash games.
I do play media freqently (music and videos).
Size/weight is not too big of a concern (currently 17.1" diagonal), but smaller/lighter might be nice.

If you have any suggestions as to brands and/or models (I am in Canada if that matters), it would be appreciated. If you have any questions, just ask. Thanks.

Obscurans February 23 2008 1:31 AM EST

Aw crap, you're in the same rut as I am, no Dell computers NOT preinstalled with the "latest" M$dos. I mean, XP is an upgrade to Vista. My pet peeve, that you're gonna get ripped off another $150 just because of that.

Desktops are really better if you plan on leaving it on like that long. I leave mine on 24/7, and I don't even put the cover on the box (better aircooling). Don't buy into anything fancy for your eventual computer, you might want extra RAM but that's it and NOT a graphics card.

All I can say, I owned a lap once, but they have a bad performance hit compared with desktops and worse, I hate that you have to buy another "monitor"/case whenever you "upgrade". THEY DON'T STOCK LAP PARTS. EVAR!

Xenko February 23 2008 1:53 AM EST

A laptop is a must as I bring it to and from school everyday, so a desktop is out of the question.

Is Dell really that bad? I configured one of their XPS laptops and the price was pretty decent compared to what else is out there. Then again, that might indicate something about the quality...

Daz February 23 2008 1:56 AM EST

Okay, with laptops, your best bet is Toshiba. They really are the best make. I don't know who comes second. The computer store I worked in specialised in Lenovo's (Formerly IBM laptops) and they weren't too bad. I just don't like them as much as Toshiba's. And they're uglier :P

Really, if a laptop is cheap, there's probably a reason for it.
My friend bought a Compaq and after a year or so, the battery isn't good enough to keep it on if the power gets disconnected, which it does all the time because the cable can't stay in the back.

I don't know enough about macs and bootcamp to know if it's any good, but given the price, I'm thinking it's probably not worth it.

I do know that the only make of laptop I would ever buy is Toshiba, unless one day I feel like trying out a mac.

If you do get Vista, make sure you have at least 1 gig of RAM, preferably more.

As a CS Major who has used every OS under the sun, I actually like Vista. I don't understand why everyone bashes it so much. Most of the bad that I have heard are from foolish people who are trying to run it on a 3-4+ year old PC, and then wondering why it doesn't work. Do you read the specification requirements on a game, not meet them and then complain when the game doesn't work? No, so why do it for an OS? Any other complaints I have heard are just stupid, because they are things that you can change by looking at the settings for a minute or with google. Either that or they aren't complaints about Vista itself, but stuff written by 3rd party companies who haven't gotten around to writing things properly yet, like nVidia.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] February 23 2008 1:58 AM EST

dells are not bad, and imho are much better than any hp/compaq product. also, with dual core processors they aren't that bad performance wise compared to desktops any longer. the xps systems are really nice mainly for the tech support. you get faster service and usually someone living in the u.s. and speaking english better than most other tech support these days.

GnuUzir February 23 2008 2:32 AM EST

I recently bought an Acer Aspire from, refurbished (but I have not had any problems)...

I paid around $500 for it (with the extra RAM I bought because of Vista >.<) and so far it has done fine...

Don't do much gaming, like you said CB and flash, Word and PP run great...

Not as top o' the line as a Toshiba or a HP, but good bang for your buck...

Obscurans February 23 2008 2:43 AM EST

I was saying, Dell US sells laps without that crap Vista, but Dell Canada... doesn't. Way to fail like seriously.

I never needed a laptop for classes and stuff.

Obscurans February 23 2008 2:46 AM EST

And my rant about Vista:

actually, not my rant.

Obscurans February 23 2008 2:49 AM EST

Crap... triple post but heck you don't have post counts here.

Vista has massive bloatware that you don't even need, and are turned ON by default, and why do I need all that eye candy that is 1. useless 2. hogs my RAM/CPU 3. not really pretty at all? More security holes, more incompatibilities with XP-runnable programs, the "feature" where if you don't link with the WIN32 libraries, you are limited to 32MB VRAM... M$ at its best

Seriously, MS DOS 6.0 was the last decent OS from M$. It's all downhill from there. M$ has never gotten the hang of this elusive thing called security... or they outsourced it to Norton. That's all rants about Vista itself.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] February 23 2008 3:20 AM EST

Toshiba's have always had dismally slow IO systems for my taste, I'm using a dell laptop for work, and it's proved decent.

I actually just helped my sister purchase a dell laptop, got her a Vostro 1500 with a 15.4" widescreen and 2 gigs of ram (AND XP HOME AT NO EXTRA COST!!!) for $620 delivered. You can't beat that price.

That being said if I were looking for a new desktop replacement at this point I'd likely be looking at the thinkpad line myself.

bartjan February 23 2008 3:33 AM EST

Thinkpad. Or a Macbook.

dversouri February 23 2008 3:36 AM EST


Ive spent the last 8 years or so fixing computers for a living, and 90% of the laptops that had serious hardware issues were Dell's. Many of them had fan failure, heat related issues, and general poor quality of many of the internal components. the other most common problem was the center pin where the power cord plugs in would easily snap when the cord was stepped/tripped/pulled incorrectly. Many of their issues can be avoided through caution and correct use, ie setting up your laptop in a decent dust free hard surface environment, like a desk, and avoiding leaving it turned on for long periods of time on something like a bed/blankets.

Unfortunately their warranty/repair process is a 'send us your machine, we will decide what to do and get back to you sometime in the next couple months, and sorry about losing your data even if its just a fan repair' so if you're comfortable with not having a computer for an indefinite period of time when/if something goes wrong, then go for it :)

If you're looking for something of a more workhorse variety, id say check out some IBM laptops and see how they compare to whatever it is you decide on. A few of the schools that ive worked in IT for have had decent luck with them in both terms of performance and ruggedness/reliability.

good luck

dversouri February 23 2008 3:36 AM EST

Oh yeah, and stay away from macs :P

InebriatedArsonist February 23 2008 7:59 AM EST

I've had a Gateway for about a year (the older version of this model) without any hardware problems. I have had a few problems with Vista updates, but I'm blaming Microsoft for that one. Not the lightest notebook out there, but the tablet function is fun to use.

AdminJonathan February 23 2008 8:26 AM EST

> I leave mine on 24/7, and I don't even put the cover on the box (better aircooling)

That would have been true 10 years ago, but modern cases are carefully designed with cooling airflow in mind. You will get better cooling with the cover on than off (unless you got a really cheap brand X case, maybe).

{cb1}Linguala February 23 2008 8:42 AM EST

How bout I just hit you with one?
My uncle uses his laptop at work all the time, never shuts it down at night(flips the screen down and it goes to sleep mode).
He has a Toshiba satellite a100-795. It's a lightweight compared to yours, but it'll do all your bidding. The battery is a bit screwy though, but used properly, I'm sure it'll last 2-3 hours.
But, to make up, their battery pack is changed very easily. All you need to do are 3 simple things and it's out and ready for another battery to go in.
Those come with vista on it and 512mb ram, so you might want to get extra ram right of the start.
Anyway, not to make it any longer, Toshiba Satellite A100-795!!!

Xiaz on Hiatus February 23 2008 8:43 AM EST

Asus. Often overlooked, but very good value for money. That said, they're not your typical 'fallapart' budget laptops.

Apple. Costly, but a tradeoff for the chic modern look.

QBRanger February 23 2008 8:52 AM EST

Go to and check out their laptop reviews.

I find that site extremely helpful.

YOU February 23 2008 10:49 AM EST

EEE PC $350

Xenko February 23 2008 12:31 PM EST

Since I'm likely to end up getting Windows Vista, which version should I get: Home Premium or Ultimate?

Also, I'm going to get at least 2 GB of RAM, but would 3 or 4 GB be worth it, or just a waste of money?

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] February 23 2008 12:35 PM EST

3 gigs and ultimate (if you ever want to really network it with servers, or use exchange)

AdminG Beee February 23 2008 12:57 PM EST

I've used a Dell Inspiron 2200 for almost 2.5 years with no problems. I run it often for 24hrs at a time over several days if downloading and other than upgrading memory there's been no need to open it up. It's running slow now and I need a replacement but I'd have no hesitation in recommending Dell.

I've used an IBM thinkpad T43 at work for a couple of years too with little problems until recently. It doesn't get used nearly as much as my Dell but does get shaken around a lot more whilst traveling. IT dept. have acknowledged that my most recent issues (hanging applications when opening from Outlook Express) means a replacement PC. Typical of IT not to even look at repairing what is most likely a software issue...

Anyway, the point is that I'd probably recommend Dell before IBM, but would be happy with an IBM if given one too :)

You have choices - if you read reviews on any single type of laptop you'll get negatives and positives from every side. Go with the one that gives you the best options regarding loaded software, support and cost. PC's don't suffer from the same frailties that they did years ago and you're very likely to get something reliable if it's a named brand.

Unappreciated Misnomer February 23 2008 1:11 PM EST

hey, what ever you decide to get make sure you can purchase an extented warranty beyond the one year manufacturers warranty.

i choose over a year ago hp dv2020ca(1500$) today better ones go for 1100$ and those are taxes in. i play cb, flash even world of warcraft. while this laptop is a media oriented device with touch buttons and remote control for when i watch movies or play music, the kewl thing about my laptop is that if i want to watch movies i dont have to boot up windows.

Xenko February 23 2008 1:39 PM EST

Thanks for the help everyone. Much appreciated. I should have my new laptop in 2 weeks or so. Thanks!

bartjan February 23 2008 2:01 PM EST

G Beee, the laptop probably was nearing the end of its (economical) life anyway, so replacing it means that they don't have to schedule that task and besides, installing an entire image means less work (for them, I bet you spent quite some time tweaking settings before the new computer works as good as the old one ;) than diagnosing and fixing the problem itself.

At my day job, I help support servers costing hundred thousands of euros each (up to 256GB ram, 16 CPUs, dozens of PCI slots and we have about 100 of those). If a hard disk is going bad, we don't fix it ourself. We often call IBM and have them come over with a new hard disk and have them install it ;)

Thak February 23 2008 2:04 PM EST

it seems you already chose one but, you should check out

Obscurans February 23 2008 6:08 PM EST

Eh my advice is get the cheapest version possible of Vista, even Home Basic if you can pull that off.

There is really not much advantage to using "better" (read: more expensive) versions, they add minimal function and a lot of eye candy. And they are marketing it to businesses that can't use "home" versions.

Obscurans February 23 2008 6:10 PM EST

And Jon: I built my entire desktop from scratch, all the parts I bought myself (2 months ago my main fan died so even that's nonstandard). Box is a rather cheap one, got it for ~$30, and also, I take the cover off and I put the box right in front of my air vent. That helps a lot.

Obscurans February 23 2008 6:11 PM EST

Bartjan... that's cool. I'm stuck with an ALTIX supercomputer with 32 CPUs and only 64GB RAM.

Have to start concatenating posts.
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