Laptop Choice?

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  • My current laptop is heading towards the end of its life, and is frustratingly slow. I'm an academic and trainer, so it mainly gets used for web browsing, writing, Excel and PowerPoint.
    What would people recommend? I'm assuming a refurb/outlet Dell or ThinkPad would be the usual suggestion, but have no idea of which models to go for. Am not fussed about touchscreens or particularly posh graphics; a good keyboard and durable build quality are most important, and reasonably portable would be nice, as it gets schlepped around a lot. Budget is £500-800 or so.

  • I bought my daughter a Thinkpad from Amazon in December on Amazon. £279. No issues with it at all. I also got Office 365 for £50 from Amazon in a daily deal.
    One year warranty.
    Downside was that there was too much choice! Took me ages to decide which one to go for but she is happy with my choice so I’m happy.
    I would suggest looking at Amazon and asking here when you find one which you think suits. Be warned - there are a lot to choose from.
    Good luck in your quest.

  • I'm also an academic. I've been using a lenovo thinkpad x230 for the past 5+ years:

    • Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3320M CPU @ 2.60GHz
    • 16GiB RAM
    • 240G SSD

    I bought it refurbished on ebay about 4 years ago for maybe 120 quid. I bought another, spare one about 6 months ago for £150 including post and packing from UK to overseas (I live in France) with exactly the same spec except perhaps a 500G regular hard drive instead of the solid state. It came with windows on it (although I'm a GNU/Linux user). However, I've not needed to use it yet as the old one is still going strong - despite all the times I've dropped it etc.

    EDIT: I should add it's a 12" screen and weighs I think about 1-1.5kg - very portable yet still a decent size when I need to use it on its own, traveling or whatever. At home or work, I plug in an external monitor and keyboard, plus sometimes another drive (if I want music, films or other media).

  • Similarly I have a couple of X220s at home, one running Windows, one running Linux. They're probably the best keyboard on any laptop I've used.

    I also have a docking bay so can run them with dual monitors and keyboard/mouse at home.

    Only issue is that the battery is pretty poor compared to modern day laptops, particularly on the i7.

  • I'm also on old ThinkPads... I have an X220 I love, and an X1... both are doing well and I purchased the X1 off eBay as I thought the X220 was going to fail (I've had it 8 years maybe) but the X220 has not failed and the X1 is kinda waiting to be used.

    I bought the X1 because I'd had a work X1 which I really liked, but unfortunately that was stolen in a bar. So my work machine is now a Lenovo T480s which is powerful, but larger and heavier.

    Totally in favour of buying higher-spec older ThinkPads, they're extraordinary machines.

  • I would love a Lenovo - I love their build quality.

    But the weight puts me off and the battery life.

    Unless I'm missing something.

  • Do thinkpads have a reputation for poor battery life?

    I've read X2xx series users saying they have 10+ hours battery life with "normal use". I presume with an extended battery.

    My T440p has 6 years of daily use and the standard battery is useless now. Max time I got was about 4 hours new with windows.

  • No no - I just mean buying used I assume the battery life won't be all that great.

  • Old processors are more power-hungry than the new ones and a lot of them obviously have old batteries which aren't in great shape.

    I probably only get an hour on mine now.

  • Battery life may be the downside to refurbed laptops. My daughter got a Thinkpad before Christmas and is very pleased. Battery life isn’t great though. Saving of £1000 over a new one kept me happy so we can manage with the battery issue.

  • You can get an official extended lenovo batteries for various thinkpad models for £50-£80.

    Never got one myself because I don't need much battery life really. Considered the third party ones for £30 ish, but still costy for an unknown.

  • I bought a spare battery via Amazon for the X220. It cost £30 and I get 8 hours average use (web browsing, casting music, screen medium lit) and 4 hours of heavy use (compiling software).

  • Have you got a link to that? Hard to tell what is and isn't official out there

  • If its fulfilled by amazon via the warehouse it should be kosher.

  • Not a fan of Lenovo, had two that had to have the bios hacked to accept wireless cards that weren't very specific to Lenovo models. Cards needed replacing as they had failed.

  • Most older laptops would benefit a clean of all the fans and rads as well as replacing the thermal compound.

  • I went for one of these:­

    No point going for the official... they're old and degraded too. So I figured I would get fresh batteries that fit the form factor well.

    I used the power utils to do the conditioning and could get to their full capacity, and they've been fine.

    I also left a review!

    I run Linux on my X220 and tlp stat is my friend, so I can provide some insight into the battery you are likely to receive.
    Here is my old original Lenovo produced 29+ Thinkpad battery stats:
    +++ ThinkPad Battery Status: BAT0 (Main / Internal)
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/manufac­turer = SANYO
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/model = 42T4861
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/manufac­ture_date = 2011-06-14
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/first_u­se_date = 2011-06-20
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/cycle_c­ount = 156
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/design_­capacity = 57720 [mWh]
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/last_fu­ll_capacity = 35880 [mWh]
    Capacity = 62.2 [%]
    As you can see, last_full_capacity is only 35880 and as such it's only getting 62% of it's design_capacity... and it's old. Manufactured in 2011.
    Now the Green Cell battery:
    +++ ThinkPad Battery Status: BAT0 (Main / Internal)
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/manufac­turer = SANYO
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/model = 45N1023
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/manufac­ture_date = 2018-07-07
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/first_u­se_date = 2012-03-13
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/cycle_c­ount = 1
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/design_­capacity = 44000 [mWh]
    /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/last_fu­ll_capacity = 48820 [mWh]
    Capacity = 111.0 [%]
    The Green Cell is modern manufacture and has a design capacity which is less than the original ThinkPad battery.
    This battery overcharges to give the advertised (in the Amazon listing) capacity... the real capacity being 44000mWh. The circuit has been designed to allow this, and overcharging Li-ion batteries is not a problem and doesn't affect the life span of the battery.
    I'm happy with this. I would much rather have cells of more recent manufacture than risk the purchase of old cells that are still the original part.
  • Nice, I might give the green cell a go then.

  • Was thinking of getting a green cell battery for my mac air.

  • I have a 2017 Dell XPS that completely shut down after a small liquid spill on the keyboard. From what I've read the motherboard is likely to be toast and it could end up being a pricey repair which is a real kick!

    Does anyone know a decent computer repair shop in Shoreditch area and surrounds that will be able to diagnose the problem without charging a ridiculous amount (been quoted north of £200 to open it up and have a look)

  • Have you contacted Dell directly? I know my XPS came with an upgraded care package where they would send someone to your home/office to fix it on the spot (albeit this was 3-4 years ago at this point). Might be a better option than a 3rd party though

  • @Velocio - thanks for the battery tip! I think I'm going to try one of those...

    @EstelleGetty - I've previously "destroyed" a couple of phones by spilling water on them/ dropping them in the toilet etc. In fact, I was always able to fix them using isopropyl alcohol (I bought it in a chemist pretty cheaply iirc) to clean off the crusty stuff from the motherboards, worked fine after. If you're happy to open your machine up yourself, might be worth doing the same. Magic stuff.

  • I have replaced the system board on an Inspiron 13 5000 series - £140 direct from Dell.

    Definitely worth giving them a call. Changing it wasn't too tricky - although I have fixed all sorts of laptops and PCs in my life

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Laptop Choice?

Posted by Avatar for Elvis @Elvis