Looking for new laptop for a Christmas Present.

JerrWolf

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Hello everyone,

Looking to get a new laptop for my mother for Christmas. Admittedly I don't know too much about budgeting PC stuff as I usually just buy the most expensive stuff for myself when I can lol.
However this time there is a budget. Here are the questions from the pinned thread.

1. What is your budget?
$500 or less is preferred, slightly above that is fine.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
screen size? 17in is desired but 15.6 is okay if no viable options at all.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1080p would be nice, nothing above it is really needed.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
I don't think so? She doesn't have a desktop currently and doesn't bring her current laptop anywhere.

5. How much battery life do you need?
The standard battery life is fine, as it stands she doesn't use her current (dying one) too much, and as I said she doesn't use it outside the house so it can be charged when needed during use. So nothing crazy like "two days battery life or your money back!" kind of things are needed.

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
No, she does not play any games on it, she mostly plays stuff like Candy Crush on her phone.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Web Browsing, daily home tasks, minor photo editing (No detailed design work but the occasional Photoshop may be used), youtube browsing. You get the idea I hope.
No rendering, no high-end gaming, just everyday tasks + a little more.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
I don't think anything massive like 1TB is needed, but more than 200~GB or more is preferred. She does have an external hard drive.
An SSD would probably be best for transfer speeds and such.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Amazon
Best Buy
Walmart

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
As long as possible, she doesn't use it a lot, but she doesn't tend to upgrade often either. It's usually just when the current one dies and she has to upgrade to a new one.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
No Bluray is needed, a standard DVD Rom will probably work, but if it does have a Bluray it's not the end of the world either.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
No huge preference here. I think she's like to stay away from ACER because of past experience with one she had a long time ago (Battery issues).
I personally am unsure of Toshiba due to my experience with a laptop from them (HDD issue).
Something that's known for good storage and battery health works I guess.

I'd like to direct this question towards the responder if possible if you could explain to me why the brand was chosen.

13. What country do you live in?
USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I know nothing of Chromebooks, so if you have one of those as an option if you could give a little run-down as to why and any limitations we'd run into.
 

Lutfij

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Larger laptops tend to be heavy although you do get nearly a full sized keyboard to work on, so if she's crunching numbers, that's good. If she wants to power the laptop off an external display and the keyboard isn't critical, i.e, she works of an external keyboard and mouse combo, she could get away with a smaller sized scree laptop.

You won't find that many laptops with ODD's in them since they tend to be the largest component on a laptop that tends to see little to no use outside of maybe an OS install(if you have a disk of said OS installer or media that's sourced off a disk). This is why manufacturers opt out of it to allow for more internal room for critical componentry like a larger battery or more SSD options.

It'd be a good idea to list the apps that she tends to use on a daily basis, since an occasional Ps session might warrant more ram or a larger SSD as scratch disk space.

Here's a shortlist with a budget category of $450~$550. that list could be fine tuned a little more, for sure.
 

JerrWolf

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I will take a look at the list, thank you.

I think outside of a Photoshop session the most used programs would be among things like Microsoft Suite, web browsers, and the likes.
Nothing else extensive, Photoshop would probably be the most extensive.

Forgoing the ODD would be fine, I'd reckon. Once in awhile she does have something on an old CD she'd want to look at but we do have other methods if worse came to worse.

In terms of weight, keyboard, and external peripherals: She doesn't really hook it up to any TV/Monitor, nor external keyboards--but she does use her own mouse.
I believe she wanted a 17in laptop mostly for screen size as it's easier for her to see.

Also to explain in a little more detail the stuff she'd do in Photoshop would mostly be simple tasks.

I would also like to raise the question of what processor type would be a good start for something that will last?
i3 or i5? I've never had something under i7 so I do not know how well they perform and if they'd be enough.
 

Lafong

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If possible, buy from the manufacturer's "corporate" or "business" line rather than the "consumer" line.

Decide before you buy what you intend to do if she has significant problems, either during warranty or after. Who's gonna fix it?

At that budget level, you may have to lower her expectations.....or not, depending on what hers are.

I certainly wouldn't care if it had Windows 11.

Hope that she has some moderate competence and willingness to do very basic maintenance for the hardware as well as understanding the dreaded Windows Update.

Avoiding Acer is likely a good move.

Do some checking at Passmark.com for the "horsepower" of your chosen CPU. Don't get caught up in "i-3", "i-5", "Celeron" or whatever nomenclature you see.

When in doubt, emphasize CPU strength. If you want to stretch and spend another 50, that's probably where I'd throw it.

Laptop users often say that the screen quality is all-important, and that may be tough to judge pre-purchase?

I don't know, but I'd hope at that budget you can get a quad-core in a laptop.

Hope she understands the fragility of laptops.

Avoid spinning drives, but don't get caught up in the NVMe, SATA, M.2 discussion.

Hope she does backups if the drive will contain anything of value.
 
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Lafong

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The HP is considerably stronger; 6 cores versus 2; with a Passmark benchmark score of 13273 versus 4020; with a larger screen size;

Otherwise they appear quite similar, at least superficially.

BUT............the HP has something called Windows S mode.

S mode supposedly means:

Windows 10 in S mode is a version of Windows 10 that's streamlined for security and performance, while providing a familiar Windows experience. To increase security, it allows only apps from the Microsoft Store, and requires Microsoft Edge for safe browsing.

That alone would run me off the HP, but it may not matter to you.
 
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JerrWolf

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The HP is considerably stronger; 6 cores versus 2; with a Passmark benchmark score of 13273 versus 4020; with a larger screen size;

Otherwise they appear quite similar, at least superficially.

BUT............the HP has something called Windows S mode.

S mode supposedly means:

Windows 10 in S mode is a version of Windows 10 that's streamlined for security and performance, while providing a familiar Windows experience. To increase security, it allows only apps from the Microsoft Store, and requires Microsoft Edge for safe browsing.

That alone would run me off the HP, but it may not matter to you.
Could you maybe go into detail on this S mode?
Like what normal usage it would exclude?

This isn't making it impossible to download applications, like adobe suite or Discord, for example?
And requires Edge for safe browsing meaning incognito mode or something else?


edit: quick look up of a video, So it's basically a handicap/childproof version of Windows OS. For people who may not know how to stay secure themselves on the internet.

I'll look into Windows S mode as a whole in the meanwhile.

Is this something that can be overwritten with a fresh install of Windows?
 
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JerrWolf

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Well, it seems the majority of those laptops in the link provided to me above are all Windows 11 in S mode.
I'll keep looking for other laptops then.
 

Lafong

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I have zero personal knowledge of Window S mode.

But I did see something online yesterday that strongly implied you can get out of S mode and into ordinary mode. I have no idea if that is true or how it is done.
 

JerrWolf

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Yeah, I think Windows S Mode is a headache I'll just avoid altogether if possible.

I've found some other options on Amazon.
If anyone can look around at them and let me know how these are.
HP 17.3" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Laptop, Intel Core i5-1135G7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 10 Home
New 2022 HP 17.3" FHD IPS Display, 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7(Beats i7-8500), Windows 11 Home, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD
Dell Inspiron 15 5515, 15.6 inch FHD Touchscreen Laptop - AMD Ryzen 5 5500U, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Graphics, Windows 10 Home
New Lenovo Ideapad 3 15.6" FHD Touch Screen Laptop|Intel Core i5 11th Gen |12GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Two of them are Windows 10 while the other two are Windows 11, the difference I don't think will matter to my mother, and I'm sure they can be upgraded to Windows 11.
I see on Passmark that the Ryzen is stronger than the 1135G7 which all 3 of the other laptops have. But other than that I'm not too sure about the performance (specs) of the laptops.
Storage itself isn't a huge issue, if she runs out of it she can save it to the cloud or her external drive.

She doesn't do a massive amount of web surfing with hundreds of tabs, and as I said the most resource-extensive program might be something in Adobe Suite, and the workload itself wouldn't be that much either. So I think 8GB would be enough, and I'm not sure about the integrated GPU vs the Radeon GPU in the Dell.

If I had to pick between the four, the 2 17.3" laptops would be the first two I'd consider simply because I know she mentioned wanting a larger screen. But if the performance is way better in the 15.6" laptops I can see about getting those instead.
 

Lafong

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What are the Passmark scores?

My 5 plus year old desktop scores in the mid 6000s and is plenty strong enough for any typical user.

8 GB of RAM shouldn't be an issue.

I'd probably emphasize the screen, but you can't really tell much just by size and general description. Your eyes may like it and hers may not.

Is there any way you can evaluate a prospective idea and then return it if unsatisfied.....particularly as regards the screen? This 15 inch may be preferable to that 17 inch?

Any recent integrated video should be fine for a non-gamer general purpose machine.

Think about return privileges from the vendor if she doesn't like it on December 29th. Warranty terms? Keyboard oddities? I'm not sure if all laptops have the same keyboard feel.

Pound Google for any prospective purchase reviews by actual owners.
 

JerrWolf

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What are the Passmark scores?

My 5 plus year old desktop scores in the mid 6000s and is plenty strong enough for any typical user.

8 GB of RAM shouldn't be an issue.

I'd probably emphasize the screen, but you can't really tell much just by size and general description. Your eyes may like it and hers may not.

Is there any way you can evaluate a prospective idea and then return it if unsatisfied.....particularly as regards the screen? This 15 inch may be preferable to that 17 inch?

Any recent integrated video should be fine for a non-gamer general purpose machine.

Think about return privileges from the vendor if she doesn't like it on December 29th. Warranty terms? Keyboard oddities? I'm not sure if all laptops have the same keyboard feel.

Pound Google for any prospective purchase reviews by actual owners.
View: https://imgur.com/a/rIT8Q2s

Here are the passmark scores.

And yeah we can consider returning, it just feels weird to return a present lol.
 

Lafong

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Looks OK to me. The AMD is a 6 core. The Intel is a 4 core.

AMD score a bit higher overall.

Intel score a little better for single thread.

I'd guess you've done about what you need to do barring bad news on reviews or someone else's comments.

Take your pick.
 

JerrWolf

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Looks OK to me. The AMD is a 6 core. The Intel is a 4 core.

AMD score a bit higher overall.

Intel score a little better for single thread.

I'd guess you've done about what you need to do barring bad news on reviews or someone else's comments.

Take your pick.
So performance-wise either of these 4 laptops should perform well enough?
 

Lafong

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Performance-wise? I'd certainly think so.

Not repeat Not to be confused with "be satisfied with".

You can easily imagine a lot of things that would make her dissatisfied.....screen, keyboard, Windows 11 weirdness, minor ergonomic stuff, this port doesn't seem to work; outright failure of a key part; DOA; I hate this anti-virus, this built-in webcam is mediocre, the production line supervisor had a bad day, the quality control inspector guy was loaded drunk and a hop-head to boot, I had to call into Customer Service and they were rude, and on and on and on.

But from a pure "specifications" and "horsepower" point of view, I don't see any issues.
 
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JerrWolf

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Performance-wise? I'd certainly think so.

Not repeat Not to be confused with "be satisfied with".

You can easily imagine a lot of things that would make her dissatisfied.....screen, keyboard, Windows 11 weirdness, minor ergonomic stuff, this port doesn't seem to work; outright failure of a key part; DOA; I hate this anti-virus, this built-in webcam is mediocre, the production line supervisor had a bad day, the quality control inspector guy was loaded drunk and a hop-head to boot, I had to call into Customer Service and they were rude, and on and on and on.

But from a pure "specifications" and "horsepower" point of view, I don't see any issues.
Okay thank you, I'll keep all this in mind and look further into which works best outside of specifications.
 

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