Home Laptop Recommendations

Jed Zeppelin

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Aug 23, 2008
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Looking for a reasonable home laptop for the wife and I to share. Nothing fancy needed, no gaming or anything particularly cumbersome. Just something with a decent-sized monitor for occasional streaming (I will often watch games off to the side on laptop while we both watch something on the big screen) that can handle whatever other basic household usage. No Macs. Would probably be looking in the max 500ish range although I have not bought a laptop in some time so I have no idea how realistic or unrealistic that is. The last one I bought was a little Acer that I didn't really love and was too small.
 

saintnick912

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Oct 30, 2004
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You'll be pretty limited in screen quality at that price range. If you don't have any special software needs (including MS Office), and you'll always have WiFi, you might get some good mileage with a Chromebook. We have one that we use for web/streaming, and it supports multi-login really easily.
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

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"decent-sized monitor" is a key phase: the smaller the display, the more upcharge for squeezing everything into the tighter form factor.

Head over to SlickDeals hot deals forum and see what they've found. You can get a great 15.6" laptop for well under $500. BUT the first thing that you should always check is the specs on the display; that's the place where they cut the most corners with last year's leftovers.

ALSO would likely avoid any Gateways. Someone (maybe Walmart) bought the name and is cranking out sub par laptops at bargain basement price.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
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Jul 20, 2005
6,163
Boston, MA
"decent-sized monitor" is a key phase: the smaller the display, the more upcharge for squeezing everything into the tighter form factor.

Head over to SlickDeals hot deals forum and see what they've found. You can get a great 15.6" laptop for well under $500. BUT the first thing that you should always check is the specs on the display; that's the place where they cut the most corners with last year's leftovers.

ALSO would likely avoid any Gateways. Someone (maybe Walmart) bought the name and is cranking out sub par laptops at bargain basement price.
This is right. Luckily for you, a laptop with a larger display is actually cheaper than a smaller one. Just make sure it's a full HD 1920x1080 display and not some low res junk. This one fits the bill...

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ITL05 15.6" Laptop Computer - Blue; Intel Core i5 11th Gen 1135G7 2.4GHz Processor; 8GB DDR4-3200 - Micro Center
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

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This is right. Luckily for you, a laptop with a larger display is actually cheaper than a smaller one. Just make sure it's a full HD 1920x1080 display and not some low res junk. This one fits the bill...

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ITL05 15.6" Laptop Computer - Blue; Intel Core i5 11th Gen 1135G7 2.4GHz Processor; 8GB DDR4-3200 - Micro Center
And Paterson has iirc 3% sales tax and the store is VERY easy to get to right off of 80. So you;ll save a few more bucks there as well.

OR @Jed Zeppelin could use any of the 5 or 6 BestBuys in Paramus, just for convenience.

EDIT and MicroCenter has a rather user friendly 15 day return policy. And if you want to save even a few more dollars, check out the Open Box section of their website.
 
Last edited:

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
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Jul 13, 2002
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My old(er) laptop is finally dying and it's time. It was a lenovo y50-70, 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4720HQ Processor (2.60GHz 1600MHz 6MB), 16 ram, 512 SSD. I was basically happy with it other than the weight (8 something pounds)
I basically use it for internetting (including twitch/youtube) and playing d&d. Some light excel and word. Minor picture and music storage. No video editing or anything like that. Don't really play games on it, I'm a console scum, though I might do minecraft with the nephew from time to time.
I'd like something roughly the same.

Will I be happy with this one?
View: https://www.amazon.com/Newest-Lenovo-Ideapad5-Flagship-Laptop/dp/B09QLY81GK/

Dynamic 4-Core Intel i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

I've toyed with the idea of a macbook since I like my ipad and might be interested in an apple watch but it feels like I'm doubling the price and I don't think that's worth it?

There are far too many options out there. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman biochemist.
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

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Sep 9, 2006
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My old(er) laptop is finally dying and it's time. It was a lenovo y50-70, 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4720HQ Processor (2.60GHz 1600MHz 6MB), 16 ram, 512 SSD. I was basically happy with it other than the weight (8 something pounds)
I basically use it for internetting (including twitch/youtube) and playing d&d. Some light excel and word. Minor picture and music storage. No video editing or anything like that. Don't really play games on it, I'm a console scum, though I might do minecraft with the nephew from time to time.
I'd like something roughly the same.

Will I be happy with this one?
View: https://www.amazon.com/Newest-Lenovo-Ideapad5-Flagship-Laptop/dp/B09QLY81GK/

Dynamic 4-Core Intel i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

I've toyed with the idea of a macbook since I like my ipad and might be interested in an apple watch but it feels like I'm doubling the price and I don't think that's worth it?

There are far too many options out there. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman biochemist.
I think you could do better. Is a 15-16" screen required?

Incidentally, what is dying on your current laptop?
 

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
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Jul 13, 2002
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right here
15ish is my preference. 14 seems too small and I'm not sure I want anything bigger for the few times I travel with it

It's developed a random thing where when I turn it on the screen is all flashy. Been happening for awhile and normally closing it or turning it off for 5 or 10 minutes fixes it. Last night was a slightly different version of flashy and it didn't go away after 5 or 6 hours of leaving it off. I'm tired of dealing with it randomly happening.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
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Jul 20, 2005
6,163
Boston, MA

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2002
26,257
right here
that one's intriguing, the only hesitation I would have is the 1.7 processor as compared to the amazon one which is 3.6. But I don't know if that's meaningful at all

I like to think I'm relatively intelligent but my mind just goes fuzzy dealing with this
 

saintnick912

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I'd strongly recommend going to MicroCenter to see a variety in person and get an idea of how they physically handle. You may not like the keyboard layout or the trackpad for instance. I'm not sure I'd buy a computer through Amazon beyond a cheapo Chromebook with no moving parts.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
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Jul 20, 2005
6,163
Boston, MA
The processors can dynamically change speeds to deal with demand. Some sellers will quote the highest to make it seem faster. According to this, the newer one is both faster and offers better battery life. But for your needs, I doubt you'd notice much difference.

Intel Core i7 1255U vs i7 1165G7: performance comparison (nanoreview.net)

I just pulled that laptop off the top of the list to see what $600 to $1,100 generally gets you. You might be able to find something that fits your needs better, but that first one you found probably isn't it.
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

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Leaving in a bit to the studio :)
Ryzen 9 laptops are just hitting the retail market. Hoping to see a price drop for the older yet almost as fast Ryzen 7s.

Seems every laptop I look at for my son (grad gifts from June: a new Galaxy phone and a new 15'6"-16" laptop) insist on putting a dedicated GPU into it, when all he really needs is processing power (he's grad school engineering, so CPU and RAM) and minimal weight.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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Is there a reason to go with a traditional laptop, rather than a Chromebook and cloud storage / Google docs?
My ZenBook is getting near end of life...
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

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Sep 9, 2006
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My standard recommendation for a non-Apple laptop is the Lenovo Thinkpad T series, which has been the gold standard business line going back to their IBM days, or the X series, which is more easily portable. The build quality and the keyboard are second to none. It might cost you a bit more, but I think it's worth it. Is the $1000 mark an absolute price ceiling?

Incidentally, I'm still using a c. 2007 Thinkpad T61 as a dedicated PC for legacy programs and files, but this thing got used and transported constantly for its first 6 years and it remains in great working shape (I put in a SSD and upgraded the RAM to 4gb, and for anything except heavy/bloated graphic use, it is highly functional even for contemporary usage).
 

ehaz

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Sep 30, 2007
3,988
My ~6 year old Surface Pro 4 (i5, 8gb RAM) seems to be on its last legs - battery is basically toast, and it's a bit slow.

Thinking of going back to Mac. I'd use it for streaming, having a million chrome/safari tabs open at the same time, Spotify, maybe a basic game here and there. Zoom/Facetime and some MS Office use as well.

I was primarily looking at the new M2 Macbook Air and the M1 (or the M2 when out if worth the upgrade) iPad Pro. Since I carry my work laptop pretty much everywhere I travel, I'm focused more on portability, battery life, and the display for media consumption. I love the big iPad Pro's display - XDR, incredibly bright, etc. but a little hesitant about fully committing to iPadOS over a traditional OS. With the new updates seemingly making multi-tasking and mouse support better, I guess I can't really think of anything I'd miss too much. The Macbook Air seems like a much better value (including since I'd need to buy a keyboard separately for the iPad), but no fancy XDR display. Any recommendations or other options?
 

Rudi Fingers

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Jul 18, 2005
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My ~6 year old Surface Pro 4 (i5, 8gb RAM) seems to be on its last legs - battery is basically toast, and it's a bit slow.

Thinking of going back to Mac. I'd use it for streaming, having a million chrome/safari tabs open at the same time, Spotify, maybe a basic game here and there. Zoom/Facetime and some MS Office use as well.

I was primarily looking at the new M2 Macbook Air and the M1 (or the M2 when out if worth the upgrade) iPad Pro. Since I carry my work laptop pretty much everywhere I travel, I'm focused more on portability, battery life, and the display for media consumption. I love the big iPad Pro's display - XDR, incredibly bright, etc. but a little hesitant about fully committing to iPadOS over a traditional OS. With the new updates seemingly making multi-tasking and mouse support better, I guess I can't really think of anything I'd miss too much. The Macbook Air seems like a much better value (including since I'd need to buy a keyboard separately for the iPad), but no fancy XDR display. Any recommendations or other options?
Your thought process is on the right track, but if you still love the Surface form factor, there are new Surfaces due next month (Oct 12 announcement).

Do you use the touchscreen or tablet mode much on your Surface? Are you a fan of the kickstand? Do you prefer Windows 11? If any answer is yes, wait. If the answer to all is no, just focus on the M2 Air - the screen is more than good enough. I love my M1 14inch MacBook Pro with the xdr screen, but you may find it too heavy. Coming from a Surface, you may also find the combo of a 12.9 ipad and Magic Keyboard too heavy. If you want an 11 inch iPad Pro with XDR, wait until next month - maybe it will come out along with the M2.
 

derekson

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Jun 26, 2010
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My ~6 year old Surface Pro 4 (i5, 8gb RAM) seems to be on its last legs - battery is basically toast, and it's a bit slow.

Thinking of going back to Mac. I'd use it for streaming, having a million chrome/safari tabs open at the same time, Spotify, maybe a basic game here and there. Zoom/Facetime and some MS Office use as well.

I was primarily looking at the new M2 Macbook Air and the M1 (or the M2 when out if worth the upgrade) iPad Pro. Since I carry my work laptop pretty much everywhere I travel, I'm focused more on portability, battery life, and the display for media consumption. I love the big iPad Pro's display - XDR, incredibly bright, etc. but a little hesitant about fully committing to iPadOS over a traditional OS. With the new updates seemingly making multi-tasking and mouse support better, I guess I can't really think of anything I'd miss too much. The Macbook Air seems like a much better value (including since I'd need to buy a keyboard separately for the iPad), but no fancy XDR display. Any recommendations or other options?
The MacBook Air M1 is easily the best computer I've ever owned. I wish I could've held out for the M2 but my old laptop was on its last legs last year. I was a bit worried that not upgrading the RAM to 16 GB would be an issue but it really hasn't proven to be. I read a bunch of reviews and people said to just try 8 GB so I went for the base model to save the $200 and I'm glad I did so far.

I'd definitely recommend the M2 MacBook Air especially if you're already comfortable with using a Mac.
 

ehaz

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SoSH Member
Sep 30, 2007
3,988
Your thought process is on the right track, but if you still love the Surface form factor, there are new Surfaces due next month (Oct 12 announcement).

Do you use the touchscreen or tablet mode much on your Surface? Are you a fan of the kickstand? Do you prefer Windows 11? If any answer is yes, wait. If the answer to all is no, just focus on the M2 Air - the screen is more than good enough. I love my M1 14inch MacBook Pro with the xdr screen, but you may find it too heavy. Coming from a Surface, you may also find the combo of a 12.9 ipad and Magic Keyboard too heavy. If you want an 11 inch iPad Pro with XDR, wait until next month - maybe it will come out along with the M2.
The MacBook Air M1 is easily the best computer I've ever owned. I wish I could've held out for the M2 but my old laptop was on its last legs last year. I was a bit worried that not upgrading the RAM to 16 GB would be an issue but it really hasn't proven to be. I read a bunch of reviews and people said to just try 8 GB so I went for the base model to save the $200 and I'm glad I did so far.

I'd definitely recommend the M2 MacBook Air especially if you're already comfortable with using a Mac.
This is all helpful thanks. I did like the form factor of the Surface but I think the new Apple computers with the M1/M2 processors are just better devices. The battery issues with the Surface turned me off to purchasing a new one. I'm perfectly happy going back to Mac OS - I used to own a 2010 MBP.

I think the M2 Air is the one for me after considering it more - I don't want to be limited by iPad OS. But now that I'm shopping around, I've seen the 14in MacBook Pro at a huge discount on BestBuy for the exact same price as a similarly spec'd M2 Air (16 GB RAM / 512 GB). Not sure I'd need all the extra RAM after hearing your experience with the 8GB but I would like more storage than 256GB.

Still leaning M2 Air because of portability, but I'm going to head to the Apple store this weekend to take a look at both and see if I can live with the bigger size of the Pro.