Please help me buy a new laptop!

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Karl_
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PostPlease help me buy a new laptop!
by Karl_ » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:31 am

My research group has a fund for buying researchers new laptops. I'm eligible and this year the available budget is £1200. This is much more than I would spend on a laptop myself, but it's there to be spent, you know?

(I'm afraid I can't use this fund to build a tower instead. Laptops can be taken home, and they turn a blind eye to personal use, whereas towers have to be kept in the office.)

I've been told I can just choose whatever I like within the budget, but I've had my head mostly out of hardware news for years and I want to make sure I do a good job. After all, this is a rare opportunity for me to buy something expensive! ( :slol: ) So I have a few questions for GRcade:

1. What are some good places to buy laptops? I recall buying stuff from Scan and Ebuyer back in the day, but they seem kinda expensive now.

2. Is there a trustworthy source of reviews I should take a look at?

3. Are there any brands to be suspicious of? I remember Acer were considered pretty low-quality but that was years and years ago.

4. Does anyone have a particular recommendation? (See below.)

I think the most important spec for me is that it has 16 GB of RAM. While I do most of my work on a supercomputer, I do the data-vis part on my laptop and the more RAM I have the better that works. If it's more cost-effective to put an extra 8 GB into a laptop with my own money then that's fine as long as the upgrade is an easy process (ideally a hatch on the bottom) - but I'm not really willing to fully disassemble a laptop to do this because that's too stressful!

The second-most important thing is a modern GPU. This is so I can more conveniently prototype machine learning models before uploading them to our GPU cluster, but I hope a happy side-effect might be that I can play some newish PC games for the first time in about 10 years!

Any and all help on any of the above points would be appreciated. :wub:

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Winckle » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:44 am

I would have thought a Mac would be up your street, having UNIX as a base and lots of decent packages for the open source data tooling you work with.

You will struggle with the GPU requirement there though.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Karl_ » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:49 am

I'd definitely consider a Macbook! I'm equally happy to pop a Linux partition onto a Windows laptop - that's how I'm currently set up.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by OrangeRKN » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:57 am

The last time I bought a new laptop (several years ago) was from pcspecialist.co.uk where they build to order, and the last time I bought a laptop at all was a refurb from encore (who after a confusing search are now called stonerefurb, not sure if that means anything else about them has changed but I don't think it's what you're looking for anyway).

pcspecialist might be useful just as a reference point for building to a spec and seeing the price

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Mafro » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:57 am

Yeah you're not going to get a MacBook with 16GB RAM for that price unless it's a refurbished one, and even then it'll be a 2017 one https://www.apple.com/uk/shop/product/G ... b3b8083058

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by False » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:57 am

ill be honest, its 2020 and tech is mostly stagnant in terms of raw horsepower these days

hp, razer, asus, dell etc will all give you something belter for the price - you can just go to currys or whatever as well, laptops are just white goods

get a mac or a razer if aesthetics are important to you

for computation ryzen will probs do you better

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by OrangeRKN » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:01 am

False wrote:get a mac or a razer if aesthetics are important to you


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:dread:

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Lagamorph » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:04 am

I got my last laptop from https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/ and I found I tended to get slightly better spec for the same price than I got from places like Dell or for an equivalent Asus/HP machine.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Somebody Else's Problem » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:40 am

OrangeRKN wrote:
False wrote:get a mac or a razer if aesthetics are important to you


Image


:dread:


Yeah, Razer embody the very worst excesses of "GAMERZZZ" shite.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by kerr9000 » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:42 am

My last laptop was a refurbed i5 for 160quid , I would have no idea what to buy or expect for the kind of budget you have but I'd recommend checking PC world, Argos and then looking for a local independent and price checking, if I had the cash I'd go to our local independent as you can tell them everything you need and want exactly and have it tailored to you, but I'd check it against other places so you know there not over charging you, look online for customer feedback for little local companies though just to be safe.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Mafro » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:48 am

OrangeRKN wrote:
False wrote:get a mac or a razer if aesthetics are important to you


Image


:dread:

Not a fan of Michael Bay's transformers?

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by That's not a growth » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:51 am

If you care about the way the laptop looks, and want a thin metalic ultra book then HP and Dell are your best non-Apple options. You'd probably have to go for a 13" if you wanted a dedicated GPU but I'm unsure if they go to that much RAM

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by JT986M2 » Thu Jul 16, 2020 12:55 pm

Just bear in mind that having a dedicated GPU means the battery life will take a significant hit unless there an option to switch between integrated graphics and dedicated graphics on the fly. I've only come across that feature in macbooks though. Although you won't get a new macbook with a dedicated GPU for under £1200 I'm afraid.

If you are needing a fairly beefy integrated GPU, then - in general - it will mean you are venturing into the gaming world and it means you may have to make peace with the fact it might have some niche gaming-specific designs. The Razer 'Blade' is probably the most understated gaming laptop you can buy, but they are very pricey.

However, if you want to have a decent battery like - and only require occassional GPU power - then you might want to look into something like a macbook (or similar) that has the ability to be hooked up to an external GPU. That means you can buy the laptop with your budget, then add on a external GPU at a later date if required. It then means you can keep the external GPU at work where you need it, while having a sleek portable laptop to take home.

Even though macbooks haven't evolved much over the past few years, I'd still say they are the best quality laptop on the market (but you will pay the Apple tax) followed by the Dell XPS 13.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by False » Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:59 pm

the razer blade laptops are some of the best in the game

grow up, children.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Somebody Else's Problem » Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:08 pm

False wrote:the razer blade laptops are some of the best in the game

grow up, children.


Anything with RGB shite can get in the bin.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by OrangeRKN » Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:21 pm

If it glows it blows

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by False » Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:34 pm


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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Victor Mildew » Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:44 pm

These GR gofundme campaigns are getting out of hand!

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by andretmzt » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:09 pm

You say a tower has to be kept in the office, but what if it were a small-form factor case? I'm talking sub-5 litre cases (like this one). Easily portable even with a mouse, keyboard and monitor and you'll have a solid system (I'm thinking Ryzen 5 3600, GTX1660, 32GB RAM, maybe 2 TB of SSD capacity) which to my mind should have excellent performance compared to any laptop at a similar price point. Problem perhaps is that some cases are very expensive (>£200 for my NCase M1 :dread: ) and putting all of it together takes a lot of research and planning.

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PostRe: Please help me buy a new laptop!
by Karl_ » Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:36 pm

Lagamorph wrote:
OrangeRKN wrote:pcspecialist might be useful just as a reference point for building to a spec and seeing the price

I got my last laptop from https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/ and I found I tended to get slightly better spec for the same price

Just checked them out, thanks a lot. The prices there seem decent!

False wrote:
False wrote:ill be honest, its 2020 and tech is mostly stagnant in terms of raw horsepower these days

for computation ryzen will probs do you better

https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/search-ke ... teria.html sale

I see, fair enough! I'll try not to stress too much about optimising then. The Ryzen note is good to know, thanks! And the sale link is very helpful for the Macbook Air, so cheers - I'd have to figure something else out for Keras prototyping (and dipping my toe back in to gaming) but OTOH I know they're going to be excellent laptops so I am pretty tempted!

JT986M2 wrote:...If you are needing a fairly beefy integrated GPU, then - in general - it will mean you are venturing into the gaming world and it means you may have to make peace with the fact it might have some niche gaming-specific designs...

Thank you for all the advice! Re the quoted part: yes, I've noticed this! :lol: A lot of the laptops that meet my specs look like anime robots - it's no bother though as I actually quite like anime robots! ;)

andretmzt wrote:You say a tower has to be kept in the office, but what if it were a small-form factor case? I'm talking sub-5 litre cases (like this one)...

I will ask! It's a good idea. I suspect they'll just reiterate the "laptops OK, towers not" policy, but maybe!





This following is just my notes for promising leads so far.

The intersection of "16 GB RAM" * "has a graphics card" really restricts the selection in most shops, so I think I've got most of the options here.

I've also included the really nice MacBook Air that False linked, which would be great if I could figure something else out for GPU usage - it seems like an eGPU on the Thunderbolt port could be a good solution. I've never really thought about that before!

Make | Model | Shop | Price | Display | CPU | RAM | GPU | SSD | Notes
3XS | Performance GTX | Scan | £1100 | 15.6" 120 Hz | Ryzen 5 3600 (6c) | 16 GB @ 3000 MHz | GTX 1660 Ti | 1 TB M.2 | Pre-order, not sure when available
Acer | Aspire 7 | Box | £900 (clearance) | 15.6" 60 Hz | i7-9750H (6c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | GTX 1650 | 512 GB M.2 | Ships tomorrow; mid-range GPU
Apple | MacBook Air (2019) | Currys PC World | £1100 (clearance) | Retina 13.3" 60 Hz | i5-8210Y (2c) | 16 GB @ 2133 MHz | Intel UHD 617 | 512 GB M.2 | Very convenient design; ships tomorrow; low-end CPU and integrated graphics
ASUS | ZenBook 14 UX434FLC-A5470T | ASUS UK | £1100 | 14.0" 60 Hz | i7-10510U (4c) | 16 GB @ 2133 MHz | MX250 | 512 GB M.2 | Very convenient design; ships tomorrow; low-end GPU
ASUS | ROG Zephyrus G GA502DU | Currys PC World | £1100 (clearance) | 15.6" 120 Hz | Ryzen 7 3750H (4c) | 16 GB @ 2400 MHz | GTX 1660 Ti | 512 GB M.2 | No delivery but can collect
Dell | New Inspiron 15 7000 | Dell UK | £1030 (PREMIER14 by 17th) | 15.6" 60 Hz | i7-10750H (6c) | 16 GB @ 2933 MHz | GTX 1650 | 512 GB M.2 | Convenient design; ships tomorrow; mid-range GPU
Dell | New G5 15 | Dell UK | £1030 (PREMIER14 by 17th) | 15.6" 144 Hz | i7-10750H (6c) | 16 GB @ 2933 MHz | GTX 1660 Ti | 512 GB M.2 | Ships tomorrow
Dell | New G5 15 | Dell UK | £1160 (PREMIER14 by 17th) | 15.6" 144 Hz | i7-10750H (6c) | 16 GB @ 2933 MHz | RTX 2060 | 512 GB M.2 | Ships in a few days
Dell | New G5 15 (AMD) | Dell UK | £1200 | 15.6" 144 Hz | Ryzen 7 4800H (8c) | 16 GB @ 3200 MHz | RX 5600M | 512 GB M.2 | Best overall specs; ships in 6 weeks, long wait; GPU needs OpenCL, possible issue
HP | ENVY 13-ba0010na | HP UK | £1150 | 13.3" 60 Hz | i7-10510U (4c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | MX350 | 1 TB M.2 | Very convenient design; ships in 1 week; low-end GPU
Lenovo | Legion 5 15 | Box | £1000 | 15.6" 144 Hz | Ryzen 7 4800H (8c) | 16 GB @ 3200 MHz | GTX 1650 Ti | 512 GB M.2 | Best CPU; ships in a few days; mid-range GPU
Lenovo | Legion Y540-15IRH | Lenovo UK | £1140 | 15.6" 60 Hz | i7-9750H (6c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | GTX 1660 Ti | 256 GB M.2 | Ships in 6 weeks, long wait
Lenovo | Legion 5i 15 | Lenovo UK | £1090 | 15.6" 60 Hz | i5-10300H (4c) | 16 GB @ 2933 MHz | RTX 2060 | 256 GB M.2 | Ships in 3 weeks
Medion | Erazer P15811 | Overclockers | £1200 | 15.6" 144 Hz | i7-9750H (6c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | GTX 1660 Ti | 1 TB M.2 | Ships tomorrow
PCSpecialist | Fusion IV | PCSpecialist | £910 | 14.0" 60 Hz | i7-10510U (4c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | MX250 | 250 GB M.2+ | Very convenient design; ships in 2 weeks; low-end GPU
PCSpecialist | Proteus VII | PCSpecialist | £1220 | 15.6" 144 Hz | i7-10875H (8c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | RTX 2060 | 256 GB M.2+ | Ships in 2 weeks
PCSpecialist | Nova | PCSpecialist | £1220 | 15.6" 144 Hz | Ryzen 7 3700X (8c) | 16 GB @ 2666 MHz | GTX 1660 Ti | 256 GB M.2+ | Ships in 2 weeks

Razer laptops are unfortunately a bit out of my price range (though they do look great!).

The highlighted Dell possibly best option so far?


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