Laptop replacement?


Nov 15, 2009
My parents have announced that their 2005 vintage acer laptop is starting to have a few too many 'senior moments' as they put it. They've asked my advice on a replacement (as parents do) - IMO it probably needs a bit of love, which I'll do anyway, and then ask them again.

They've set a budget of about £800(GBP) to be spent before the xmas hols (or perhaps the new years sales).

For the sort of money they've mentioned I'm comparing against Dell Inspiron 15R SE and HP Pavilion DV7. Essentially a large screen, multipurpose, media orientatated desk-top replacement - with Windows 7 - I really don't want to have to explain windows 8 to them just yet..

However given their current laptop moved off the desk once in a blue moon, I'm trying to put together an equivilent specification desktop PC, for cheaper, to allow the purchase of a 10" tablet (say a galaxy tab 2) to give a better mobile option.

So, first, can it be done? A complete, stand alone system (inc OS & monitor) for about £600 that will compete with the above mentioned laptops (that leaves about £200 for a tablet).

It'll mostly be used for web surfing, emails, a bit of word/excel/office and a bit of photo-editing. I'm also thinking that if the spec is up to it, my dad might start playing a few flight sims on it, so lightweight gaming is a possibility. I'm not going to bother with O/C or anything that might entail me having to spend 2hrs on the phone to my parents talking them through BIOS settings - they live to far away for convenience.

My over-riding criteria for the desktop system is future-proofing - I'd like it to still be viable in 8-10 years time, with a few memory, processor and harddisc upgrades perhaps.

My current parts list looks a bit like this (I'm shopping from Ebuyer for convenience):

Gigabyte GA-Z77-DS3H Socket 1155 VGA DVI HDMI 7.1 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard

Intel Core i5 3550

Crucial 8Gb (2x4Gb) DDR3

Asus HD6670 1Gb

700W PSU

Antec 300 Two Case


Hitatchi Deskstar 1Tb

Philips 226V3LSB LCD LED 21.5" DVI Monitor

Internal Card reader

Cherry Keyboard

(Mouse not needed)

Windows 7 Home premium

All the above comes in at about £640(GBP) - I've tried to avoid 'value' components as past experiences has shown that cheap mosly = nasty and replace within a year - especially when it's something that you have to interact with daily, like a keyboard or a case.

Can anyone suggest ways in which I can either shave the price and not loose too much in comparison with the laptops, so I can boost the functionality without busting the budget. I'm wondering if I can forego the video card for now and use the inbuilt graphics until my dad decides he wants to play games on it..?

Area's I'd like to improve are upgrading the optical drive to Blueray capable - the cheapest I can find is still £50 which means cutting back elsewhere.. And the processor, which is fairly middle-ground at the moment IMO.

Alternatively, is there another laptop out there that kicks all this into the long grass..?

Any thoughts or opinions, anyone?