Computer Advice Needed

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So I am an EE who does a lot of embedded C/FPGA. Here is my current situation. I think I need a laptop. My old one was the ASUS K53TA deal that happened almost 5 years ago and the one before that was a laptop purchased in 1999. I had bought it for light gaming and web browsing. It finally started to die (keys broke, case broke and finally power supply port broke). I took it apart as best as I could but the case basically fell apart and the adapter still does not work.
I do have a desktop I built a couple of years ago that works well at home. Most of this is mentioned to suggest that I am comfortable putting in a new HD, ram etc.

The laptop I used when I traveled (infrequently) and mostly resided in front of a TV. I used the laptop for the following: light gaming, web browsing, watching movies on travel (DVD drive is a must), hooking up to a projector. Using as a DVR with a USB tv tuner, photo editing and some light development in Visual C#. I tried to edit some of the DVR files or compress them but that was beyond the capabilities of the K53TA (I had upgraded it to 8gb of ram). Most of the light gaming I did on it was on vacation I have a XBOX 360 that I use for normal gaming. I started looking at the myriad of options and am lost. I want the following: good build quality as the last one fell apart although it had gone a couple of international trips and some domestic ones, I want decent battery life (watch movies on a plane), a good/great screen (something better than 1360x768) , a dvd or blu ray player and the ability to run virtual machines for Linux/python development. I also don't want to spend a lot on it $600-$700 max. I am a Costco member and I am okay with it being refurbished provided it's not abused and the quality holds up enough for the thing to last 3-5 years.

Thoughts on video card (940m? or a r5? or intel graphics?), brand (how reliable are Acers and Dells or HPs or Lenovos), specific models are appreciated.





 

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Have you checked the hot deals forum? It looks like this one meets most of your requirements:
https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1494860/

marisilies thanks, I saw that link. I am looking for opinions on models to buy (this may be the wrong place to do this). I have been reading a lot of reviews and the more info I get the more indecisive i become. I did go to a micro center and browse and I think that helped. The acers/lenovos felt a little too plasticky.

My main computer is a W541. I have very few complaints, mainly just related to the placement of the touchpad which I am getting used to. Other than that, there isn't anything plasticy about it in my view. But it can't be had for the budget you set of $600-700. If you increase your budget that is what I'd suggest.

The crux of your question hinges on what you mean by the term "light gaming". If you're playing FPS games, they will have specific requirements for video cards and they won't run if you don't meat those. If that's the case, check the games you play and see that they recommend. once you hit that minimum threshold, it's a matter of what looks good to you and what you're willing to accept in terms of video quality. If "light gaming" means Java based online games or Freecell, then any card will work fine. You're right to focus on using a console for gaming if possible, because the cost of a laptop with e decent gaming card goes up pretty quickly. For VMware, you just need some extra RAM. You can run most Linux distros fine in a VM with 4 Gigs, but having more will help if you do it a lot or run multiple VM's at the same time. For python development you can probably use the cheapest laptop you can find. There honestly isn't a lot of difference in quality at your price point. I'd buy whatever system you can find with a GPU that works for you that has at least 4 or 8 gigs of RAM. If the memory is expandable, you may be better off buying the memory separately.

minidrag said:   
jayK said:   
bonghead said:   There is a rugged yet cheap Lenovo, FYI. That one caught my attention because AMD is less evil than intel, IMO.
I'm surprised you are OK with Lenovo, considering the ethical ramifications of the Superfish scandal.
  

  They made a huge mistake, no doubt.  They should have done more checking on that software before they allowed it to be used on their consumer machines.  It was pulled pretty quickly, though, once there were complaints.

  Right,  but they followed that up immediately with a pretty bad BIOS problem.    They've become the Kodak of the computer industry, basically stamping their name on garbage and living on the legacy of their once-great name.   They destroyed the Motorola phone market and the computer segment seems to be following suit.   I used to be pretty squarely in their corner, but I wouldn't buy one today.
 

fwbuckeye said:   watching movies on travel (DVD drive is a must)

 

  You may want to reconsider this.  External DVD drives are small and cheap if you really have to have one, but why not just copy movies to your HDD or to USB?  Lots of laptops are coming without optical drives these days and the lack of it makes the machine smaller and more rugged.

This thread thread has went off on a strange ethics tangent that really has nothing to do with what the OP has asked. If you want to have that discussion, please take it elsewhere, and keep this thread on topic.

Thanks!

There's
nothing wrong with thread-splitting, so long as it's done responsibly,
with a reference to the rest of the discussion. This moderation was
done with reckless disregard. And of course ethics are relevant to the original post, which sought to make a buying decision involving controversial suppliers.

bonghead said:   There's
nothing wrong with thread-splitting, so long as it's done responsibly,
with a reference to the rest of the discussion. This moderation was
done with reckless disregard. And of course ethics are relevant to the original post, which sought to make a buying decision involving controversial suppliers.

  Well... that's up to the people that run the site, right? 

And as for the ethics being relevant, well.. OP didn't ask about that.  So, maybe ask him if he cares first?  If he does, go for it.  If not, leave it alone.

If I were you I would choose one of the Dell notebooks.

forkeetim said:   If I were you I would choose one of the Dell notebooks.
  I run a technology company and you would be surprised at the number of tech support calls we get that seem to be caused by Dell's failure to properly implement PCI or PCIe specs properly.  I would never recommend a Dell because they seem so poorly engineered.



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