Better laptop brand? (in Off-topic)

Flamey November 26 2008 5:42 AM EST

So my girlfriend's sister wants to get a computer. I was convincing her family of a desktop which would run better for $500 less, but alas her sister fails and they're getting her a laptop. My knowledge only extends to desktops, so when it comes to prebuilt laptops I've got no idea.

Right, so she'll be using it for crap all, no gaming whatsoever (meaning no need for graphics really). She is pretty computer illiterate, hence the stubbornness for a laptop. She'd use it for word processing, web surfing, CAD (Computer Aided Drawing - 2D drawing programs) and general photos/music -- Girly stuff.

She complains about screen size, so mini laptops (like the EEE) wouldn't be too good.

Anyhow, pretty much looking for value for money. I've got no clue about laptops. What brands are recommended? Narrowing it down helps me help them a lot. A few model suggestions work. Nothing too expensive. I live in Australia. So $1,400 AUD is $900 USD. That's the most they're really willing to spend. Laptops here range from $600 onwards, so $1,400 is middle range really, just for an idea.

I hope I've provided enough info, I'm sure further questions will be asked. I appreciate any advice offered.

QBJohnnywas November 26 2008 5:48 AM EST

I'm no expert on PC matters, being stuck in the Mac camp. But I do CAD work in my job, and most laptops aren't great for that if you're operating at the more advanced level. Is she using CAD at an 'amateur' level? If so then it's not much of a problem. But if she's using it at more 'expert' levels then it kind of limits the choices to larger screens.

For example my screen at work can feel too small and it's a 19 inch screen.

Flamey November 26 2008 6:21 AM EST

Oh, I supposed it would be amateur. She's doing an apprenticeship for landscaping, so its more the physical side of things for the next few years, it's just CAD for schoolwork. I don't imagine the screen size would matter all that much in this case, though I guess I'll bring it up with her.

QBJohnnywas November 26 2008 7:01 AM EST

If the specs don't really matter too much and price is limited to what you suggest Dell have a few that fit the bill. They're not exciting necessarily but they work pretty much out of the box for what you're suggesting she needs. The only thing she might require as a 'feature' is the ability to use a mouse if she's doing CAD. But that's only a might. As I said I'm no expert, but it doesn't sound like she needs anything that might be deemed 'extra'.

MonkeyMandate [Wasting Time] November 26 2008 7:07 AM EST

I've used CAD software on my laptop, though I used it on a secondary monitor. A big screen is really needed. You can get by on a smaller screen but a minimum of 19" should probably be used. A usb mouse works fine.

The laptop will probably need to have at least 1gb of ram and it may be able to get by on a 1.5 GHz processor but should probably be around 1.8 or even 2.0 if you want to be able to use it properly.

That,s just my 2 cents on it.

Flamey November 26 2008 7:46 AM EST

It's nothing big I don't think. It seems more like a play around thing, and a thing to do school assignments on. Dell always seemed to be full of crap to me, are they actually worth it?

Usul [CHOAM] November 26 2008 8:05 AM EST

HP dv5t series should be good. If she plays with CAD , what she needs are Ram and processor power, especially if the default OS nowadays is windows vista. I would recommend no less than 4GB memory and Core2Duo P8400. The rest like graphics card or whatever, just keep it to minimum, you can get 15.4" widescreen display should be good. Some could go up to 1680 x 1050, but more expensive :D

Ancient Anubis November 26 2008 8:06 AM EST

well i have a top of the line dell gaming laptop, 17inch screen and i've had no problems, security provided is good, customer service excellent and they usually have deals going on their website such as increased hard drives and such. I managed to get a high end mouse for free, upgraded to the best processor at the time and more ram. I run autocad on this laptop as well as play games like civ 4 and assassins creed no prob but like i said this is at the highend.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] November 26 2008 8:16 AM EST

dells are the best for your money in my opinion. i would check out the inspiron 1525. just make sure you get the dual core processor and upgrade the ram to 3 to 4 gb.

Brakke Bres [Ow man] November 26 2008 8:31 AM EST

upgrading to 4 gigs ram has no effect, since the 32 bits structure of vista doesn't recognize any more ram above 3.2 gig

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] November 26 2008 8:43 AM EST

Dells are indeed the best value for your money. The Dell Vostro line (here in the US) is sooo good at giving you lots of machine for little money it's actually what I'm typing on right now. When it was time to get something for RVT to use I didn't even consider much else.

From what you've described however I'd suggest getting a decent model of laptop and a 22" or 24" LCD screen. If you talk to the right Dell rep on the right day I think you might be able to get the big Ultra Sharp 24" for less than $500. It's the best monitor/tv/messiah I've seen in a while. This will allow them to have multiple monitors, which is nice for home use, and practically a must for CAD stuff.

GM November 26 2008 8:47 AM EST

I'm currently using my Dell Vostro 1500, if you could get you're hands on a Dell, you'll be happy.

Relic November 26 2008 9:16 AM EST

"upgrading to 4 gigs ram has no effect, since the 32 bits structure of vista doesn't recognize any more ram above 3.2 gig"

Sorry, not true, SP1 fixed this.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] November 26 2008 9:20 AM EST

I fifth or sixth the fact that dells are a great deal for the money. This sounds like her best option.

Lady Die November 26 2008 9:34 AM EST

I have a Dell Inspiron 6000 for four 1/2 years now and i've not had an issue with it yet.

iBananco [Blue Army] November 26 2008 9:43 AM EST

"Sorry, not true, SP1 fixed this."

Sorry, not true, that's an inherent 32-bit limitation. All it does is fix the displayed amount of memory.

Usul [CHOAM] November 26 2008 9:51 AM EST

well she could use 64 bit Vista :D I believe CAD 2009 does support 64 bit, except maybe autodesk inventor.

Brakke Bres [Ow man] November 26 2008 9:55 AM EST

nope, she wants to buy a new one, and only if you take vista 64bit, which you shouldn't because the drivers are few and far between them, it could work with the 4 gigs of ram. And not many other programs support 64 bit, so no real reason on getting a 64bits OS.

Im waiting until microsoft releases its new OS which is standard 64bit. Drivers won't be a problem then.

Flamey November 26 2008 3:32 PM EST

Thanks for all the help. I'll start snooping around all the Dells and checking their specs :)
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