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Difference between revisions of "Laptop Buying Guide"

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(Apple Notebooks)
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:Great battery life (8 hrs)
:Great battery life (8 hrs)
:Great build quality
:Great build quality
:Great screen
:Great screen (although glossy/reflective)
:Good performance
:Good performance

Revision as of 16:11, 29 January 2014

IMPORTANT!!! Do not buy HP consumer laptops. Avoid Pavilion and Envy series, ProBooks are OK, EliteBooks are quite good.


When buying a notebook, pick only two

  • Low Price
  • Performance
  • Build quality

It's important to consider the build quality of the product purchased. If the notebook will be used for many years, paying extra for build quality is a plus.

New Laptops

US New Laptops

  • Go on Newegg.com, select budget price range and sort by Price.
  • Select desired laptop
  • Avoid laptops with A4, A6, E series by AMD, and Celeron, Atom, or Pentium from Intel.

AUS New Laptops

Go to MSY or PCCaseGear for cheap laptops. All retail stores (JB Hifi, Harvey Norman, Dick Smith) are often times sold for much higher than their worth.

Gaming Laptops

If possible, think about building a gaming desktop instead, you will get much better performance (around twice as much) from a $900 gaming computer than you will from a $900 gaming notebook.

Do not get fooled by the mobile chip naming schemes (CPU & GPU): for example a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580m is an underclocked 560ti performing at below the level of a 560.

If you still need a mobile gaming machine, please continue.

Recommended Gaming Laptops

Lenovo Y510p
Great performance per dollar
Poor build quality
Gigabyte Aorus X7
Great specs
Great build quality

Other Gaming Laptops

Razer Blade (and Pro)
Super expensive
Super thin
Lacks many ports a normal gaming PC would have
Razer ( good or bad )




Chromebooks are (mostly) cheap notebooks designed to run ChromeOS. ChromeOS is actually a modification of a GNU/Linux distribution, Gentoo. ChromeOS is an operating system that boots directly into a Chrome web browser. Google does provide compatible applications for these, but most only work when connected to a Wi-Fi network. You can't run regular applications like Microsoft Office and you are limited to using Google Drive and a measly 16 gigabytes for file storage.

If you consider one, steer clear of the ARM ones. They won't be able to use most applications provided you decide to use a linux distro on a Chromebook, and don't have the power or battery life of the regular Haswell.

If you are a power user, many of these notebooks can be unlocked, and a custom operating system loaded onto them. Doing this isn't intended by Google, and isn't for the average user. Your best bet is a Chromebook C720 with 4 gigabytes of ram, as well as a custom Linux install.

Currently recommended:

Apple Notebooks

Apple makes multiple high end notebooks for consumers, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

  • MacBook's are easy for beginner users, while having a powerful command line for power users.
  • OSX contains most of the customizability and power of GNU/Linux while having the ability to natively run applications like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, etc.
  • Drawbacks of Apple notebooks are self-upgradability, and self-repair.
  • The GUI is not open source, however the kernel is. For power users this may make or break the purchasing decision.
  • MacBooks are best when purchased new/Apple refurbished, they have the highest resale value of any other PC manufacturer on the market.
MacBook Pro (latest model)
Great battery life (8 hrs)
Great build quality
Great screen (although glossy/reflective)
Good performance
Li-Po Battery is glued down, which may cause problems at the end of the notebook's life.
MacBook Air (latest model)
Great battery life (13hrs on OSX 10.9)
Great build quality
Screen isn't as good as some higher end notebooks, but better than average
Enough performance for the average user
Cheap when compared to other comparable ultrabooks (VaioPro13, Zenbook UX301, Acer Aspire S7)
Better repairability than MacBook Pro (non glued down battery)

Used Laptops

Used Business Laptops

Get a computer that’s built to last, is fast enough for basic tasks like internet browsing and word processing for as little as $100. HP EliteBooks, Dell Latitude/Precisions and ThinkPads are the recommended Business laptops when buying used. It's important to note that these notebooks are not built for gaming. It's also recommended to install a GNU/Linux distro on older used machines. ThinkPads have good support for most distros. Used Laptop price guides

Used Other Laptops

It's generally not recommended to buy consumer laptops second-hand. Business laptops are purchased by companies and government, usually have low wear and tear, and are sold second-hand only after a short period of time for a low price. Businesses aren't concerned with making money on sold laptops, consumers are.