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Cheap Laptop Advice Wanted

Planesdragon (210349) writes | more than 8 years ago

The Almighty Buck 20

Brief news update:

As of March 23, I am now a card-carrying, Grade 11 permanent New York State Tax Department Employee. Being as New York State pays its employees one month after they work, I am only now getting the "slightly" bigger paycheck for this illustrious new position. (It'll continue to grow for the next 2 1/2 months, actually.)

Brief news update:

As of March 23, I am now a card-carrying, Grade 11 permanent New York State Tax Department Employee. Being as New York State pays its employees one month after they work, I am only now getting the "slightly" bigger paycheck for this illustrious new position. (It'll continue to grow for the next 2 1/2 months, actually.)

By way of celebration, I've decided to splurge on a new laptop. By "new" I of course mean "a" laptop, my previous portable PC being a used Pentium computer whose hinges have long since died away.

So, if you've got any nuggets about the lower-end of PC laptops (~$750), please dig them out and share. Does anyone have any recommendations, or relevant horror stories? Has anyone had any experience with AMD's Semprons and Turions, sufficient to advice one over the other?

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Congrats (1)

Red Warrior (637634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162485)

on the promotion/hire?

Since it's the New York tax department, that's cool.

Re:Congrats (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162531)

Thanks.

It's a semi-promotion. I was hired last February in the "peak" season, and managed to get poached to do web development / office programming for the call center instead of actually answering phone calls. My appointment is to the same item that a temporary phone rep getting hired for a permanent position would have, but it's got enough flexibility that the lack of an "IT" on my item doesn't bug me.

well (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162676)

i saw a $499 laptop in the Frys advert today. but i have no idea how good it was. so it seems that if that is the bottom (i would think) that $750 or so ought to be a touch above the bottom.

depends (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15162682)

What will you be using the laptop for? And will you be lugging it around often (such that you want something light) or just occasionally (such that it could be bigger)?

Congrats (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15163392)

My cheap laptop was 100€ ;-) Got it from my old employer one year and a half ago. I upgraded it a bit with stuff I had lying around and bought a new harddisk and a wireless card for it. It's a P-III 500MHz and has 512Meg RAM. It runs XP Pro and is good enough for older games and the office stuff I do. Hey, even Eclipse works fine on it. (For smaller projects evidently) I can watch videos (Lost for example, downloaded... of course) and iTunes works fine too.

So, in essence, any laptop these days is good enough, providedyou don't play games and that you can keep it clean (and you're on slashdot, so I don't think that's a difficulty) Personally, I've seen Sempron laptops at around 600€, which is very accaptable. I'd only like to know if these Semprons are 64-bit. If they were, I'd buy one, but such things are not advertised. If you like alternate OSes (like I do), I'd definetely go Turion just for the fun of running a 64-bit laptop.

Look into Acer laptops. They are generally good and not too expensive.

Two things (1)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 7 years ago | (#15163570)

First, the Sempron is a cheap Athlon (though it's on the Athlon 64 arhitecture minus 64-bitness). The Turion is acutally the high-end low-power Athlong 64 for laptops so there's a whole world of difference between the two.

That in mind the price difference is pretty significant.

We've purchased a number of Toshiba laptops (Sempron chips) via Tiger Direct and they tend to be decent especially for the $550 - $650 range. You'll want to make sure you have at least 256 mb of RAM in whatever one you get and hold out for the WXGA models for the increased screen res.

Second, as another poster noted, what do you want to do with said laptop? The low end systems are fine if you're just going to do basic word and spreadsheet type apps and stuff but not for gaming. Also, low res laptops stink for IDE/development work.

Re:Two things (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#15168826)

That's what I'd thought.

I'm considering a Turion laptop from Compaq, and my choice right now (barring far better deals somewhere else) is between the ML-32 (512 L2) and the ML-34 (1024 L2).

Second, as another poster noted, what do you want to do with said laptop? The low end systems are fine if you're just going to do basic word and spreadsheet type apps and stuff but not for gaming. Also, low res laptops stink for IDE/development work.

I'm aiming for a WXGA laptop, which will actually be a larger resolution than my home screen is usually set at. It's likely not to be done with gaming, but I'm spending the extra $$ to get a laptop with discrete video ram in any case.

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15169319)

That's not exactly true. The newer Semprons are 64-bit and are quite cheap. Today if you want to build a socket 754 machine, you're pretty much stuck to AMD Sempron, but at least it's 64-bit.

What I don't know if the laptop Semprons are already 64-bit... That's the problem I would have with buying a current Sempron based laptop. Turion is also socket 754 based, and that is exactly as you say a low-power socket 754 AMD64.

Oh, and I agree on the memory: the more the merrier. Strangely enough my wifes desktop PC responded much better after I upgraded it from 512Meg to 2Gig, even tough the memory usage is always below 512Meg and there is no spyware or other junk. I assume more stuff is cached... (Would make sense)

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15169530)

My Fry's laptop had to have the 64-bit parts of XP Home turned off to load Visual Studio.Net- it kept complaining about the debugger until I did.

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15169695)

What 64-bit parts? I'm runnxing XP Pro here and I'm not aware if any 64-bit extentions. XP Home and XP Pro should be a 100% 32-bit... There should be no such thing as 64-bit parts and even if there were, it should be transparent to the user. (In a similar way as you don't notice that one chip has SSE2 and the other doesn't.... except performance-wise... at most) Don't confuse it with "Data Execution Prevention". It is not related at all.

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15169707)

DXP- I was because that is only included on the 64 bit chips- and is specifically what was causing the Windows CE simulator to fail.

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15169789)

DXP?

Care to explain more? Wikipedia doesn't yield any results, nor does Google. I have several AMD64 machines running Windows XP Pro/Home and none has this thing. Not originally from Microsoft, I expect?

Just for the reference, we're not mixing it up with DEP [wikipedia.org] , are we?
If you look deeper in the articles, you will notice that later Pentium M support the NX bit (on which DEP is based) and the Pentium M [wikipedia.org] is definately a 32-bit processor. Granted, the NX bit originated from 64-bit platforms, but it is not exclusive to 64-bit platforms.

I don't doubt that you had problems with it... Especially with fancy stuff like a WinCE emulator (as you can read in the wikipedia article, the .NET runtime environment had problems with the NX bit initially)

Also called DEP I believe (1)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15173083)

It's the hardware-based stack overflow protection. (Data Execution Prevention) or something like that.

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15173540)

I thought I had responded to this- yes, I was getting it mixed up!

Re: Sempron 64-bitness (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15176854)

Hey, I wasn't trying to lecture you. It was nearly 3am for me, I couldn't sleep and was getting pissed because of that. (I couldn't fall asleep until it was 7am, and my alarm clock went off at that point)

So, sorry, I may have offended you.... It wasn't meant that way.

Fry's / Outpost.com (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15165228)

Has this neat brand called Great Quality (used to be called Great Wall). Only downside is that it's built in China. My new Laptop is their $499 special- 256 MB of memory, 1.6 Ghz processor, DVD+R/CDRW combo drive built in. No floppy. Only expansion is USB ports, but that's ok, it's got 4 of them. Built in Ethernet and 802.11g and 56k modem. S-Video out if you need it for a home theater pc.

I believe you can also get it with Linspire pre-installed for $100 cheaper.

China is a problem now? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15169336)

Only downside is that it's built in China.

Name one laptop that isn't made in Taiwan/Korea/China... Damn, even my iBook said "Made in China, designed in California".

Oh, and add some memory to that laptop: 256Meg is really bad. My P-III 500MHz turned from an absolute slug with 256Meg to a very acceptable platform, just by adding another 256Meg. (Machine runs WinXP Pro, in Classic mode) Just imagine what it would do to your much-better machine...

Re:China is a problem now? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15169377)

That remark comes more from the political side of things, and the fact that I've noticed a link between the American high-tech unemployment rate and the number of raw and recycled material chips heading to China.

Oh, and add some memory to that laptop: 256Meg is really bad. My P-III 500MHz turned from an absolute slug with 256Meg to a very acceptable platform, just by adding another 256Meg. (Machine runs WinXP Pro, in Classic mode) Just imagine what it would do to your much-better machine...

I would, but I've yet to find memory expansions for this laptop.

Re:China is a problem now? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15169519)

2nd reply- after looking into this, I found out that the following link is a compatible memory module for the Fry's cheap computer [newegg.com] , so for $550 you'd have a pretty decent system (I will be ordering this memory module myself).

Re:China is a problem now? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15169699)

Also check out Kahlon.com [kahlon.com] . Satisfied customer there...
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