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Author Topic: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget  (Read 654 times)

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Offline hardpan

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What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« on: July 11, 2018, 12:42:47 PM »
New taper here, haven't recorded anything yet, but I've put together everything I need, besides a laptop. The one we currently have is a MacBook, probably 6 or so years old. I planned on using it for taping stuff, and will until I get something else, but I'm looking around for a refurbished laptop. The one we have is really slow, especially when it comes to transferring files from cameras, etc.  Not really planning on using it for anything else but taping stuff, transferring from SD, using audacity, uploading to archive, etc.  Been so long since I've bought a pc, have no idea what to look for as far as processor, memory, hard drive, etc. I saw in makersmarc's thread that it is recommended to get something with a SSD and 16GB ram. Anything else I should be looking into as far as better vs worse processor, etc? Better vs worse brand names, etc. Looking at refurbished and my budget is $300 max.

Offline heathen

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2018, 12:46:27 PM »
Not really planning on using it for anything else but taping stuff, transferring from SD, using audacity, uploading to archive, etc. 
To be clear, do you plan to record directly to the laptop at shows?
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Offline hardpan

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2018, 01:53:24 PM »
Not really planning on using it for anything else but taping stuff, transferring from SD, using audacity, uploading to archive, etc. 
To be clear, do you plan to record directly to the laptop at shows?

No, I'm going to be recording on a Zoom F8 I picked up. Just using the computer for working on the files at home and usual internet home use.

Offline heathen

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2018, 02:17:06 PM »
Why do you need a laptop?  You can get more bang for your buck with a desktop.
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Offline hardpan

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2018, 03:20:44 PM »
Why do you need a laptop?  You can get more bang for your buck with a desktop.
No space for a desktop, want it to be portable.

Offline heathen

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 05:02:52 PM »
I'm looking at refurbished laptops on Newegg and the choices aren't spectacular.  I'd say you definitely want an SSD rather than hard drive, because that will make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day usage.  For things like Audacity you'll also want to prioritize a fast processor.  16 GB of memory would be nice, but in your budget you may have to settle for less and prioritize the SSD and processor.  You may just have to keep on eye on refurbs as they pop up and grab one that has specs you can live with, and decent reviews, once it becomes available.

Honestly your best bet is probably to put up with the Macbook a while longer while you save up more funds for the upgrade.
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Offline ilduclo

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 05:18:05 PM »
ssd's are tiny compared to hd's, especially for the $. If you're working with larger files, at least 500 GB is likely necessary unless you process your files and remove them from the laptop to a dvdr or an external hd. I currently use an HP2000 laptop for which I only paid $200 for 5 years ago, use it for traveling, video streaming and playing every night just about. It's been a brick!

Offline heathen

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 05:30:31 PM »
ssd's are tiny compared to hd's, especially for the $. If you're working with larger files, at least 500 GB is likely necessary unless you process your files and remove them from the laptop to a dvdr or an external hd. I currently use an HP2000 laptop for which I only paid $200 for 5 years ago, use it for traveling, video streaming and playing every night just about. It's been a brick!

If he's looking for a noticeable upgrade from the Macbook, though, something with an SSD will provide a noticeable difference. 
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Offline hardpan

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 05:36:48 PM »
I'm looking at refurbished laptops on Newegg and the choices aren't spectacular.  I'd say you definitely want an SSD rather than hard drive, because that will make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day usage.  For things like Audacity you'll also want to prioritize a fast processor.  16 GB of memory would be nice, but in your budget you may have to settle for less and prioritize the SSD and processor.  You may just have to keep on eye on refurbs as they pop up and grab one that has specs you can live with, and decent reviews, once it becomes available.

Honestly your best bet is probably to put up with the Macbook a while longer while you save up more funds for the upgrade.

What would you suggest I look for as far as a processor? There are a bunch of computers on eBay with 128-256gb ssds and 16gb ram, i5 and i7 processors.

Offline heathen

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 06:03:13 PM »
What would you suggest I look for as far as a processor? There are a bunch of computers on eBay with 128-256gb ssds and 16gb ram, i5 and i7 processors.

If the discussion gets down to the level of specific models, I'm out of my depth.  If I were you I'd choose some important specs first (to me those would be an SSD, fast processor, and decent amount of RAM), and cull the available choices based on those criteria.  I'd then look at reviews and other specs (screen size, weight, battery life, keyboard size, etc) to narrow the choices down. 
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Offline hardpan

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 07:29:57 PM »
What would you suggest I look for as far as a processor? There are a bunch of computers on eBay with 128-256gb ssds and 16gb ram, i5 and i7 processors.

If the discussion gets down to the level of specific models, I'm out of my depth.  If I were you I'd choose some important specs first (to me those would be an SSD, fast processor, and decent amount of RAM), and cull the available choices based on those criteria.  I'd then look at reviews and other specs (screen size, weight, battery life, keyboard size, etc) to narrow the choices down. 

Haha, same here. Trying to figure out what processor I should be looking for in my price range, along with a decent amount of memory and a SSD. Again, just been away from pcs so long that I really don't know what processors are relatively current and worth looking for within my price range.

Offline morst

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 07:39:51 PM »
The processor will typically only be the bottleneck while you're crunching something large, like rendering an audio mix or processing video. Rather than insisting that this go quickly at great expense, try reading a pre-loaded website while it renders.

SSD will drastically increase performance on disk-related tasks, but a large drive will cost you some dough.  I see 256GB drives on sale for $50 lately, which is in line with the best deal on 1TB SSD's, just over $200 still. Plan to budget your space on the main drive, and have at least two external drives for frequent backups. Remember, moving a file is not making a backup if you delete the original! You still need to back things up.

More RAM enables you to run more apps at once without hitting virtual memory (swap file on the main drive). 8GB of ram might be enough but 16 is nice. Apple of course makes new machines that you can't expand, which sucks, but PC's don't have that limitation. Depending on the configuration, you may be able to get an 8GB machine that you can add memory to later, though it's probably going to be a matter of replacing two sticks, rather than adding one more big one, unless you get a used machine with one 8GB stick inside.

I'm milking my early 2011 MacBook Pro, myself. Yosemite 10.10.5 is fine for almost everything. I have a High Sierra boot but I don't use it much.

I'm looking around for a refurbished laptop. The one we have is really slow, especially when it comes to transferring files from cameras, etc. 

That is a limitation of the USB port speed. My old mac only has USB 2, not USB3 which is much faster and is common on newer machines. The USB3 ports usually have a blue insert where the USB2 has black, and the very old USB1 have white.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 07:43:50 PM by morst »
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Offline hardpan

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Re: What to look for in a laptop? $300 max budget
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2018, 09:25:47 PM »
Thanks for the info. Will probably poke around till I see a good deal. Everything to me seems like a pretty good deal based on what I'm used to. Don't really want to buy new.

 

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