/ Laptop? macs? I just can't decide...

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
robatkinson - on 05 Nov 2013
So i am currently using a horribly underpowered laptop i bought for £50 second hand, its on windows 7 but is woefully under powered..

I am looking to upgrade over the next few months, i want a laptop that is powerful enough to do most things, not gaming or video editing though.

i hate windows 8 so preferably not that. and i dont want to pay the earth.

the obvious choice is a mac of some sort, but is it worth the gigantic price tag???? i can get a friend to get one with a student discount or get a decent second hand one but even so.

any advice or recommendations welcomed.

p.s anyone have a chrome book and like it?

cheers

rob
ex0 - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

If you're trying to buy a cheap laptop and you're not intending for heavy usage, there's no point in buying a mac. You get no benefit over a standard laptop (unless you consider paying twice the price and a shiny apple on the cover a benefit).

Look into getting a Fujitsu Lifebook or one of the more recent Toshiba Satellites or something like that. The prices are pretty cheap, they are reliable, and the specs from even the low-end models will be easily good enough for the usage you've detailed above.
Mike Stretford - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:
> So i am currently using a horribly underpowered laptop i bought for £50 second hand, its on windows 7 but is woefully under powered..
>
> I am looking to upgrade over the next few months, i want a laptop that is powerful enough to do most things, not gaming or video editing though.
>
> i hate windows 8 so preferably not that. and i dont want to pay the earth.
>
> the obvious choice is a mac of some sort, but is it worth the gigantic price tag???? i can get a friend to get one with a student discount or get a decent second hand one but even so.
>

Macs are nice machines but a pc laptop running windows 7 can work just as well for a lot less.

If I was you I'd look to get a refurb with no operating system and transfer your copy of Windows 7 over if you can, or get a refurb with Windows 7 on. I've always like Toshibas.
Oliiver - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: i've got the macbook with retina and all i can say is wow, what an incredible machine. The ease of use is amazing and the smoothness is supreme over other machines However, it cost £1300 and it's way more than i actually need with a laptop. But a laptop is like a car, not every one buys a car purely based on getting from a-b.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

Change your OS to a Linux based one (I'm not a tech freak and I've got Lubuntu working on an Asus 900 and my wife's basic laptop with no fuss at all). Stick a SSD in and you'll be flying for less than £100.
Steve John B - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Oliiver: You're 16 and you've got a £1300 laptop...?
Slipknot_olly on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: I have a Windows 8.1 Surface & windows 8/8.1 is really designed for touch interface but it isnt a bad system but will take a few weeks to truely get to know but i know many "mature" users of it at work that found it odd to start but within a week liked it more than Win7 & thats in the main on a non touch display.
So i wouldnt throw it out because of Windows 8.

It depends what you need it for but if its "Work" id look at the Windows 8.1 RT devices as they include Office FREE! but & its a important But they wont run any old programs youd expect like I tunes etc due to the chip used within them.

If not conside the Toshiba Sat's they arent bad machines.

If you are already with the Windows world then it is easier to stay there however apple do make good products as they control the entire life of their products. where as until the surface (a good cheap device) Microsoft were only ever software so they could only give you half of their image & the item manufacturer would do the rest.
FrankBooth - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:
In the long run, Macs are very good value. I run a web design agency and some of our Macs have been running for ten years. They're obviously slow compared to our newer ones, but way faster than the equivalent PC/Windows machines which have a shelf life of about 5 years max.

Consider a Macbook Air which uses solid state (Flash) storage - much more robust that a standard hard drive and you can pick one up for around £700 if you shop around - e.g. https://www.krcs.co.uk/shop/product/details/macbook-air-11-core-i5-1-7ghz-4gb-128gb
Oliiver - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Steve John B: yeah, 3 months of saving up with a part time job.
wilkie14c - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:
Its all in the RAM! You want something with 3gig RAM minimum. Remember that windows 7 32 bit version only reconises a max of 3 gig so if you get something with 32 bit W7 on it it'll always be liminted. Look for the 64 bit version which doesn't have the RAM ristriction. To give you an idea of whats out there, I've sold a HP G61 laptop this week - 4 gig RAM, 320 gig HDD, genuine windows 7 64 bit with the recovery partition intact, 15.6 LCD, card reader, webcam etc etc. It was is great condition and it went for £165 so you can get a laptop on a tight budget if you are savvy
IainRUK - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Oliiver: ruddy hell whats your part time job...

You can put 430 a month away..
itsThere on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to Stuart (aka brt): Another vote for sticking a solid state drive in it. £100 will give you loads of choice, might not even need to spend that much.

You could also look for a laptop with no os and use your current windows key, that could save you £50 to £100
wilkie14c - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to itsThere: I built a system to order last week, a 120 gig SSD and a 500 gig slave. It started and was ready for internet etc in 17 seconds!
itsThere on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to wilkie14c: I have a 5 year old lenovo brick that boots in less than 40 seconds. Faster than a £1300 mac.
Stuart (aka brt) - on 05 Nov 2013
I'm at a bit of a loss, considering that the OP stated a machine not for gaming or video editing, why a Mac or indeed any top spec laptop/pc is necessary.

Second the comment about the RAM.

No need to spend big (unless of course it's the "label" that counts).

ablackett - on 05 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: I don't know much about computers, but I got sick of buying a new laptop every few years when it slowed to a stop and kept crashing. I tried everything to get the last one going again, every clean up and boost tool I could get my hands on, but it was just a piece of junk.

Paid a few hundred quid more for a Mac and it is still as good as new 4 years after I bought it. Still boots from sleep mode in seconds, has never crashed, flicks through photos/web pages as quick as I can think. Best money I ever spent. Even got a new OS for it this week for free!
Iandavid - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: I bought my macbook in malaga un 2006 and its still going strong (thank god)
ben b - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: Chromebooks are only any use if you have a good broadband connection - on wifi all the time you want to use it. It's not far off being an ornament otherwise. If you have good wifi everywhere you want to use it, then it is a very well priced alternative.

I'm keen on macs so biased, but a 13' MacBook Air would sound like it would fit the bill nicely and even better if you can get higher ed discount (especially as the warranty is much better with this, and I would always get a warranty on a mac these days as they are so hard to repair).

You can get many cheaper machines, of course, but the whole mac package is just a very slick presentation of solid, stable hardware and software. No mucking around rolling back drivers, searching for USB ports etc. Inherent small market share benefits in terms of security and lack of viruses (phishing still a major risk to the unwary though).

My recent experiments with linux have reassured me that it's not for me - very nice idea, very powerful, still too rough for general non-geek usage (unless you have a tame geek to administrate / troubleshoot). Even mint or ubuntu can't get their act into gear to have a single way of installing software.

b

The New NickB - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to itsThere:
> (In reply to wilkie14c) I have a 5 year old lenovo brick that boots in less than 40 seconds. Faster than a £1300 mac.

Not my MacBook Pro, that cost a lot less than £1300. I've got a six month old Lenovo ThinkPad at work and it is a dog, takes at least 5 minutes to boot up, but that is all the security shite work put on it.

To the OP, I've had Toshiba's in the past that been reliable, reasonably spec'ed and good value. I like my Mac, but you do pay a premium.
woolsack - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Oliiver) ruddy hell whats your part time job...
>
> You can put 430 a month away..

Anything with zero outgoings. Didn't his dad own half of Scotland?
woollardjt - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

I've owned various PC based laptops all have worked fine, I now have an iMac and a MacBook Pro, as others have said they are great computers but you pay a premium. You can get equally powerful PC based laptops cheaper.

I have windows 8 running on the MacBook Pro through parallels for any windows based programmes I can't get for mac.

I know they are expensive and it's all Personal preference but I won't go back to PC, a mate of mine who is a IT manager who was anti apple now owns an iMac and MacBook Pro and even he loves them.
Rob Exile Ward on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to ben b: 'still too rough for general non-geek usage ' For goodness sake, people have been saying that about Linux for 22 years - if it isn't smooth now, after all these years, what do you suppose is going to happen anytime soon to change anything??!

FWIW I have running Windows 7 Pro which I bought a few months ago from Laptops Direct for £400, and it's great - fast, reliable, quick to start and long battery life.
duchessofmalfi - on 06 Nov 2013
If the money is a problem try the linux + ssd solution it will make a huge difference.

If the money isn't a problem get a shiny new mac laptop but remember if you want to get the best out of it ditch OSX and put linux on it.

ByEek - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: Just buy a laptop from an independent retailer and insist that it has Windows 7 on it. The likes of Currys and PCWorld will be tied into the Windows 8 platform. Not really sure what the anti Win 8 fuss is about but hey ho - each to their own.
robatkinson - on 06 Nov 2013
"Not really sure what the anti Win 8 fuss is about but hey ho - each to their own."

my partner got a laptop recently on win 8 and its horrible, i also am under the impression it takes a huge amount of computing power to just run win 8 and so you have to get a high spec'd laptop to make the most of it,

rallymania - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

if you are going to buy a windows based laptop i'm going to throw a caution in for you... and possibley useful info for a few other people

last Jan i bought a fairly nice but mid priced laptop from a good brand (asus) and a chain electrical store (comet) because the spec for the price was amazing

however the "build" on it (IT speak for the full software install) was completely trashed by all the junk installed on it (it's one of the reasons windows machines are cheap, because software vendors pay the manufacturer to install trial software on your machine in the hope that you'll pay an annual fee to use it... or it has advertising built into the program that they get revenue from

anyway... i ran some performance tests on it and then wiped it and install windows from scratch, latest drivers from Asus's website and then only the software i actually wanted... the second batch of performance tests showed about 24% speed improvement in pretty much everything except 3D rendering and hard disk access (which i wasn't expecting to work better)

as someone else has said above though, if money is tight for you and your current machine is OK spec wise...
get a Solid State Drive for it and install windows from scratch and you'll probably be amazed at the difference.
estivoautumnal - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to Steve John B:
> (In reply to Oliiver) You're 16 and you've got a £1300 laptop...?

Is there an age limit?
estivoautumnal - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

If you can afford a mac buy one.

ben b - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to ben b) 'still too rough for general non-geek usage ' For goodness sake, people have been saying that about Linux for 22 years - if it isn't smooth now, after all these years, what do you suppose is going to happen anytime soon to change anything??!

Nothing - which is why I think it is still too rough for general non-geek usage. I don't think it will get dramatically better, ever: it's fantastic for the people who want/need it, but not a solution for someone who just wants to turn their laptop on and it work, easily, with minimal maintenance..

So for someone with a new laptop who has been told Mint is a nice distro, it goes like this:
Google Linux Mint
Go to home page

Look at top: The choices seem to be:
Linux Mint 15 KDE,
Linux Mint 15Xfce,
Linux Mint 15 Olivia,
LMDE 201303 - The best of Mint with Cinammon and MATE.

Read on confused to the top announcement: "The Medibuntu repository was discontinued and is no longer available. As a consequence, you might see error messages in the Update Manager, Package Manager and Software Manager. The solution is to remove Medibuntu from your list of repositories: Open a terminal Type gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list to edit the list of repositories (replace “gedit” with “pluma” "

Or pay more - much more - for a mac, and get OSX. One flavour, restricted, irritating for those constrained by it, but actually for many people easy to get along with after the learning curve is done (see also iPads).

I'm not trying to be critical of Linux, it is an amazing creation and excellent for many very clever things. It just isn't straightforward for the majority of computer users, who get as far as lots of things that can't be pronounced and start with k, or gnu, and wonder where the heck to go next.

b
wilkie14c - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to rallymania: A good point about the bloatware on new PC's.
If one is a little computer savvy there is a way around this, you'll have the windows 7 COA sticker on the base of the laptop and the best thing you can do for a new machine is download the exact same version of windows 7 as the preinstalled one. Burn the iso to a DVD then boot the laptop off the DVD drive and follow the very easy Windows 7 installation steps, when asked for the serial number, enter your own number on the COA. When complete either manually install device drivers or use the very good, free program - slimdrivers. Hey presto - a fully legit jailbroken laptop free from crap and the restore partition of the hard drive intact :-)
duchessofmalfi - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to ben b:

Are you trying to say "there are options (which all work) but this is a BAD thing?"

IIRC - choose flavour (or take the first one from the top if you've never used it") burn CD place CD in computer reboot, have a cup of tea, done.

Now the main difference here between windows and macosx and linux is the stage "choose flavour" but if your world view is that Starbucks etc should only offer "builder's tea 8.0" at a premium price and that this is somehow better then I can't argue - we'll just have to agree to differ.
Alex Slipchuk on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson: I find quarks v vipers much more entertaining
Edradour - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:
> (In reply to ben b)
>
>
> Now the main difference here between windows and macosx and linux is the stage "choose flavour" but if your world view is that Starbucks etc should only offer "builder's tea 8.0" at a premium price and that this is somehow better then I can't argue - we'll just have to agree to differ.

I'm not sure this is a valid analogy. Most computer users don't need the functionality that linux offers (which is the point that I think Ben B was making). Some do, and have an interest in it, and that is great but it isn't an appropriate OS for the majority.

To use your analogy, Starbucks offers variations on standard coffee - much the same as Windows / Mac OS allows you to change the desktop / look / sounds / software but they are variations on a theme. These variations are more than enough for most people. Some people really enjoy coffee and will seek out unusual varieties or methods to make the very best coffee they can. Again, good for them but not applicable to most people.

IMO it's why Apple are so successful; they make software and hardware that works well together, with a nice user interface that is great for the majority of users who aren't that interested but want the functionality.

To the OP - my personal laptop is a mac and I have a work laptop that runs windows 8. I would use the mac any day of the week purely for ease of use. I've had the work laptop for a week and have already had to delete a load of crap that has been preinstalled or automatically downloaded. Other things gripe me about the work laptop, for example, the trackpad is rubbish.
ex0 - on 06 Nov 2013
> Most computer users don't need the functionality that linux offers (which is the point that I think Ben B was making). Some do, and have an interest in it, and that is great but it isn't an appropriate OS for the majority.

Funny, the exact same argument can be made for 99.99% of mac users. You don't need to pay double the price of a windows machine just because their desktop is a bit flashier. You can change the windows shell to make it look and act like osx if that's your thing.

Graeme Alderson on 06 Nov 2013
Steve John B - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to Oliiver:
> (In reply to Steve John B) yeah, 3 months of saving up with a part time job.

Fair do's.

I hate Macs, me. Missus has one and it crashes a LOT more than any PC I've ever had, even the reconditioned £80 ebay jobby. The last one wasn't much cop either.
Mike Stretford - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to estivoautumnal: Personally, if I had the money I would spend it on the higher performance PC than I would get if I went Mac.

I fully understand why people like them, they come already setup well, while most of the mid to low priced pcs don't (see Rallymania post).

You are paying a lot for the hour it might take to setup a cheaper pc well. Saying that I could spend an hour doing jobs on my car I get a garage to do so hey ho.
Ramblin dave - on 06 Nov 2013
In reply to ex0:
> [...]
>
> Funny, the exact same argument can be made for 99.99% of mac users. You don't need to pay double the price of a windows machine just because their desktop is a bit flashier. You can change the windows shell to make it look and act like osx if that's your thing.

Ironically, the thing that would tempt me to buy a mac isn't the flashy desktop, it's the fact that they have a usable command line (unlike windows) and audio stuff that isn't massively painful to get working (unlike Linux).

Linux is great for some things - it's a good option if you just want a computer for browsing the web, sending emails, writing basic documents etc, and on the flipside it's great if you want to do loads of programming or other low-level hacking around. On the other hand, I think it's still well behind Mac and Windows for the sort of software that's time-consuming to produce and/or doesn't much interest geeks, eg music production, modern games etc
ben b - on 07 Nov 2013
In reply to Edradour: Thanks Edradour. You are absolutely right, I'm absolutely not saying "there are options (which all work) but this is a BAD thing?" - I'm saying linux isn't always the best answer for someone who has straightforward requirements and doesn't always want to roll up their sleeves for installations, maintenance etc, as you mention.

People do get horribly tetchy about OS stuff...

I agree with those above who point to crapware as being the work of the devil - it makes you wonder how anyone can look at these apps and think that they add anything to life. I made the mistake of installing WD's backup software on a hard drive once: it took a perfectly good drive and rendered it almost impossible to use. It was also nearly a day's work researching how to totally, permanently get rid of it. under other circumstances it would be classed as a virus!

cheers

b
itsThere on 07 Nov 2013
Linux is great if you can be arsed to get it to work. Windows will work when you have removed all the crap it came with. If your mac dies you can walk into a shop and get it fixed, but it will work perfectly from day 1. Take you pick.

Dont know about linux being behind windows and mac, its everywhere.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Bimble on 07 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

I've used Mac for the last 10yrs now, and wouldn't go back at all. I've got through a couple now, but find a MacBook Pro to be perfect for me & my requirements.
a lakeland climber on 07 Nov 2013
In reply to itsThere:
> Linux is great if you can be arsed to get it to work. Windows will work when you have removed all the crap it came with. If your mac dies you can walk into a shop and get it fixed, but it will work perfectly from day 1. Take you pick.
>
> Dont know about linux being behind windows and mac, its everywhere.

It's Unix (BSD I think) that's behind the Mac OS. Dunno what's behind Windows, probably the same cr*p that's in the front.

I had a long argument some years ago with linux aficionados about Linux not being ready for the desktop, this was before the modern distros appeared, and when I stated that the OS was hard to pick up citing the use of "man <command>" rather than "help" I was told you could "always use 'apropos'!" They just couldn't accept that such geekery wasn't what the general public needed in a computer OS.

ALC


NathanP - on 07 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

I'm another long term (20+ years) Mac fan and I also have a Windows 7 laptop for work.

For general use, I far prefer the Mac - just a nicer, easier experience and in the long-term, I think, better value as they tend to last longer and be more reliable (on average and in my experience). My home 3 year old i3 based Mac is faster and much more stable than my 1 year old i7-based Dell and my previous Mac laptop outlasted 2 Windows laptops from work. Also the last Mac OS was a free upgrade for anybody with a copy of the last two generations of OS installed (legit or not) - how much for Windows 8, if your 5 year old laptop could run it?

But, if you need specific software they can be very limiting and if you are on a tight budget for initial purchase it is hard to seriously recommend one unless you can get a good nearly new one at a bargain price.
Dominion - on 07 Nov 2013
In reply to robatkinson:

> i want a laptop that is powerful enough to do most things, not gaming or video editing though.

You need to actually be a bit more specific about "most things" because people will have vastly different ideas about what that actually means.

Also, does screen size matter, does weight / portability matter, does being able to play (or write to) blu-ray matter? Or battery life? Do you need massive storage capacity? More than one HDD?

If you don't want to "pay the earth" you need to focus on what your core needs are. What can't you do without? That determines the minimum spec, probably. And why are you even considering a Mac? That's pretty much £1000 before you even start (new, anyway)



Also, if your £50 current laptop is "woefully underpowered" then what spec is that?

And have you cleaned off all the "value added" crap that comes with lots of "windows" installs?

john arran - on 07 Nov 2013
This thread is great. This is what I've learned:

There are people who spent a lot of money and bought a Mercedes. They're happy with their purchase, enjoy driving it and would recommend it to others. There are a few drawbacks such as the cost of parts and servicing and sometimes they need a second vehicle for when the Merc isn't appropriate. These people like the looks they get from passers by.

There are a few others that bought a kit car for hardly any money at all and equipped it with parts they say are easily available if you know where to look and can make sense of the part codes. They're also happy because their cars go faster than most others, even though they get funny looks from passers by. Or rather, because they get funny looks from passers by.

Then there are most other people, driving VWs and Toyotas and the like. They're also happy because they get from A to B just as easily as anyone else, they don't seem to break down unless you neglect them and they cost half as much as a Merc to buy and run.

See - everyone's happy!

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.