Home Laptop Recommendations

Jed Zeppelin

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 23, 2008
51,088
Looking for a reasonable home laptop for the wife and I to share. Nothing fancy needed, no gaming or anything particularly cumbersome. Just something with a decent-sized monitor for occasional streaming (I will often watch games off to the side on laptop while we both watch something on the big screen) that can handle whatever other basic household usage. No Macs. Would probably be looking in the max 500ish range although I have not bought a laptop in some time so I have no idea how realistic or unrealistic that is. The last one I bought was a little Acer that I didn't really love and was too small.
 

saintnick912

GINO!
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 30, 2004
4,949
Somerville, MA
You'll be pretty limited in screen quality at that price range. If you don't have any special software needs (including MS Office), and you'll always have WiFi, you might get some good mileage with a Chromebook. We have one that we use for web/streaming, and it supports multi-login really easily.
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
16,519
Leaving in a bit to the studio :)
"decent-sized monitor" is a key phase: the smaller the display, the more upcharge for squeezing everything into the tighter form factor.

Head over to SlickDeals hot deals forum and see what they've found. You can get a great 15.6" laptop for well under $500. BUT the first thing that you should always check is the specs on the display; that's the place where they cut the most corners with last year's leftovers.

ALSO would likely avoid any Gateways. Someone (maybe Walmart) bought the name and is cranking out sub par laptops at bargain basement price.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
7,769
Boston, MA
"decent-sized monitor" is a key phase: the smaller the display, the more upcharge for squeezing everything into the tighter form factor.

Head over to SlickDeals hot deals forum and see what they've found. You can get a great 15.6" laptop for well under $500. BUT the first thing that you should always check is the specs on the display; that's the place where they cut the most corners with last year's leftovers.

ALSO would likely avoid any Gateways. Someone (maybe Walmart) bought the name and is cranking out sub par laptops at bargain basement price.
This is right. Luckily for you, a laptop with a larger display is actually cheaper than a smaller one. Just make sure it's a full HD 1920x1080 display and not some low res junk. This one fits the bill...

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ITL05 15.6" Laptop Computer - Blue; Intel Core i5 11th Gen 1135G7 2.4GHz Processor; 8GB DDR4-3200 - Micro Center
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
16,519
Leaving in a bit to the studio :)
This is right. Luckily for you, a laptop with a larger display is actually cheaper than a smaller one. Just make sure it's a full HD 1920x1080 display and not some low res junk. This one fits the bill...

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ITL05 15.6" Laptop Computer - Blue; Intel Core i5 11th Gen 1135G7 2.4GHz Processor; 8GB DDR4-3200 - Micro Center
And Paterson has iirc 3% sales tax and the store is VERY easy to get to right off of 80. So you;ll save a few more bucks there as well.

OR @Jed Zeppelin could use any of the 5 or 6 BestBuys in Paramus, just for convenience.

EDIT and MicroCenter has a rather user friendly 15 day return policy. And if you want to save even a few more dollars, check out the Open Box section of their website.
 
Last edited:

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2002
28,414
right here
My old(er) laptop is finally dying and it's time. It was a lenovo y50-70, 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4720HQ Processor (2.60GHz 1600MHz 6MB), 16 ram, 512 SSD. I was basically happy with it other than the weight (8 something pounds)
I basically use it for internetting (including twitch/youtube) and playing d&d. Some light excel and word. Minor picture and music storage. No video editing or anything like that. Don't really play games on it, I'm a console scum, though I might do minecraft with the nephew from time to time.
I'd like something roughly the same.

Will I be happy with this one?
View: https://www.amazon.com/Newest-Lenovo-Ideapad5-Flagship-Laptop/dp/B09QLY81GK/

Dynamic 4-Core Intel i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

I've toyed with the idea of a macbook since I like my ipad and might be interested in an apple watch but it feels like I'm doubling the price and I don't think that's worth it?

There are far too many options out there. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman biochemist.
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2006
7,824
SS Botany Bay
My old(er) laptop is finally dying and it's time. It was a lenovo y50-70, 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4720HQ Processor (2.60GHz 1600MHz 6MB), 16 ram, 512 SSD. I was basically happy with it other than the weight (8 something pounds)
I basically use it for internetting (including twitch/youtube) and playing d&d. Some light excel and word. Minor picture and music storage. No video editing or anything like that. Don't really play games on it, I'm a console scum, though I might do minecraft with the nephew from time to time.
I'd like something roughly the same.

Will I be happy with this one?
View: https://www.amazon.com/Newest-Lenovo-Ideapad5-Flagship-Laptop/dp/B09QLY81GK/

Dynamic 4-Core Intel i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

I've toyed with the idea of a macbook since I like my ipad and might be interested in an apple watch but it feels like I'm doubling the price and I don't think that's worth it?

There are far too many options out there. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman biochemist.
I think you could do better. Is a 15-16" screen required?

Incidentally, what is dying on your current laptop?
 

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2002
28,414
right here
15ish is my preference. 14 seems too small and I'm not sure I want anything bigger for the few times I travel with it

It's developed a random thing where when I turn it on the screen is all flashy. Been happening for awhile and normally closing it or turning it off for 5 or 10 minutes fixes it. Last night was a slightly different version of flashy and it didn't go away after 5 or 6 hours of leaving it off. I'm tired of dealing with it randomly happening.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
7,769
Boston, MA

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2002
28,414
right here
that one's intriguing, the only hesitation I would have is the 1.7 processor as compared to the amazon one which is 3.6. But I don't know if that's meaningful at all

I like to think I'm relatively intelligent but my mind just goes fuzzy dealing with this
 

saintnick912

GINO!
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 30, 2004
4,949
Somerville, MA
I'd strongly recommend going to MicroCenter to see a variety in person and get an idea of how they physically handle. You may not like the keyboard layout or the trackpad for instance. I'm not sure I'd buy a computer through Amazon beyond a cheapo Chromebook with no moving parts.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
7,769
Boston, MA
The processors can dynamically change speeds to deal with demand. Some sellers will quote the highest to make it seem faster. According to this, the newer one is both faster and offers better battery life. But for your needs, I doubt you'd notice much difference.

Intel Core i7 1255U vs i7 1165G7: performance comparison (nanoreview.net)

I just pulled that laptop off the top of the list to see what $600 to $1,100 generally gets you. You might be able to find something that fits your needs better, but that first one you found probably isn't it.
 

Omar's Wacky Neighbor

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
16,519
Leaving in a bit to the studio :)
Ryzen 9 laptops are just hitting the retail market. Hoping to see a price drop for the older yet almost as fast Ryzen 7s.

Seems every laptop I look at for my son (grad gifts from June: a new Galaxy phone and a new 15'6"-16" laptop) insist on putting a dedicated GPU into it, when all he really needs is processing power (he's grad school engineering, so CPU and RAM) and minimal weight.
 

Tangled Up In Red

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 8, 2004
4,527
Bernal
Is there a reason to go with a traditional laptop, rather than a Chromebook and cloud storage / Google docs?
My ZenBook is getting near end of life...
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2006
7,824
SS Botany Bay
My standard recommendation for a non-Apple laptop is the Lenovo Thinkpad T series, which has been the gold standard business line going back to their IBM days, or the X series, which is more easily portable. The build quality and the keyboard are second to none. It might cost you a bit more, but I think it's worth it. Is the $1000 mark an absolute price ceiling?

Incidentally, I'm still using a c. 2007 Thinkpad T61 as a dedicated PC for legacy programs and files, but this thing got used and transported constantly for its first 6 years and it remains in great working shape (I put in a SSD and upgraded the RAM to 4gb, and for anything except heavy/bloated graphic use, it is highly functional even for contemporary usage).
 

ehaz

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 30, 2007
4,916
My ~6 year old Surface Pro 4 (i5, 8gb RAM) seems to be on its last legs - battery is basically toast, and it's a bit slow.

Thinking of going back to Mac. I'd use it for streaming, having a million chrome/safari tabs open at the same time, Spotify, maybe a basic game here and there. Zoom/Facetime and some MS Office use as well.

I was primarily looking at the new M2 Macbook Air and the M1 (or the M2 when out if worth the upgrade) iPad Pro. Since I carry my work laptop pretty much everywhere I travel, I'm focused more on portability, battery life, and the display for media consumption. I love the big iPad Pro's display - XDR, incredibly bright, etc. but a little hesitant about fully committing to iPadOS over a traditional OS. With the new updates seemingly making multi-tasking and mouse support better, I guess I can't really think of anything I'd miss too much. The Macbook Air seems like a much better value (including since I'd need to buy a keyboard separately for the iPad), but no fancy XDR display. Any recommendations or other options?
 

Rudi Fingers

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
1,833
Adianoeta
My ~6 year old Surface Pro 4 (i5, 8gb RAM) seems to be on its last legs - battery is basically toast, and it's a bit slow.

Thinking of going back to Mac. I'd use it for streaming, having a million chrome/safari tabs open at the same time, Spotify, maybe a basic game here and there. Zoom/Facetime and some MS Office use as well.

I was primarily looking at the new M2 Macbook Air and the M1 (or the M2 when out if worth the upgrade) iPad Pro. Since I carry my work laptop pretty much everywhere I travel, I'm focused more on portability, battery life, and the display for media consumption. I love the big iPad Pro's display - XDR, incredibly bright, etc. but a little hesitant about fully committing to iPadOS over a traditional OS. With the new updates seemingly making multi-tasking and mouse support better, I guess I can't really think of anything I'd miss too much. The Macbook Air seems like a much better value (including since I'd need to buy a keyboard separately for the iPad), but no fancy XDR display. Any recommendations or other options?
Your thought process is on the right track, but if you still love the Surface form factor, there are new Surfaces due next month (Oct 12 announcement).

Do you use the touchscreen or tablet mode much on your Surface? Are you a fan of the kickstand? Do you prefer Windows 11? If any answer is yes, wait. If the answer to all is no, just focus on the M2 Air - the screen is more than good enough. I love my M1 14inch MacBook Pro with the xdr screen, but you may find it too heavy. Coming from a Surface, you may also find the combo of a 12.9 ipad and Magic Keyboard too heavy. If you want an 11 inch iPad Pro with XDR, wait until next month - maybe it will come out along with the M2.
 

derekson

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 26, 2010
6,215
My ~6 year old Surface Pro 4 (i5, 8gb RAM) seems to be on its last legs - battery is basically toast, and it's a bit slow.

Thinking of going back to Mac. I'd use it for streaming, having a million chrome/safari tabs open at the same time, Spotify, maybe a basic game here and there. Zoom/Facetime and some MS Office use as well.

I was primarily looking at the new M2 Macbook Air and the M1 (or the M2 when out if worth the upgrade) iPad Pro. Since I carry my work laptop pretty much everywhere I travel, I'm focused more on portability, battery life, and the display for media consumption. I love the big iPad Pro's display - XDR, incredibly bright, etc. but a little hesitant about fully committing to iPadOS over a traditional OS. With the new updates seemingly making multi-tasking and mouse support better, I guess I can't really think of anything I'd miss too much. The Macbook Air seems like a much better value (including since I'd need to buy a keyboard separately for the iPad), but no fancy XDR display. Any recommendations or other options?
The MacBook Air M1 is easily the best computer I've ever owned. I wish I could've held out for the M2 but my old laptop was on its last legs last year. I was a bit worried that not upgrading the RAM to 16 GB would be an issue but it really hasn't proven to be. I read a bunch of reviews and people said to just try 8 GB so I went for the base model to save the $200 and I'm glad I did so far.

I'd definitely recommend the M2 MacBook Air especially if you're already comfortable with using a Mac.
 

ehaz

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 30, 2007
4,916
Your thought process is on the right track, but if you still love the Surface form factor, there are new Surfaces due next month (Oct 12 announcement).

Do you use the touchscreen or tablet mode much on your Surface? Are you a fan of the kickstand? Do you prefer Windows 11? If any answer is yes, wait. If the answer to all is no, just focus on the M2 Air - the screen is more than good enough. I love my M1 14inch MacBook Pro with the xdr screen, but you may find it too heavy. Coming from a Surface, you may also find the combo of a 12.9 ipad and Magic Keyboard too heavy. If you want an 11 inch iPad Pro with XDR, wait until next month - maybe it will come out along with the M2.
The MacBook Air M1 is easily the best computer I've ever owned. I wish I could've held out for the M2 but my old laptop was on its last legs last year. I was a bit worried that not upgrading the RAM to 16 GB would be an issue but it really hasn't proven to be. I read a bunch of reviews and people said to just try 8 GB so I went for the base model to save the $200 and I'm glad I did so far.

I'd definitely recommend the M2 MacBook Air especially if you're already comfortable with using a Mac.
This is all helpful thanks. I did like the form factor of the Surface but I think the new Apple computers with the M1/M2 processors are just better devices. The battery issues with the Surface turned me off to purchasing a new one. I'm perfectly happy going back to Mac OS - I used to own a 2010 MBP.

I think the M2 Air is the one for me after considering it more - I don't want to be limited by iPad OS. But now that I'm shopping around, I've seen the 14in MacBook Pro at a huge discount on BestBuy for the exact same price as a similarly spec'd M2 Air (16 GB RAM / 512 GB). Not sure I'd need all the extra RAM after hearing your experience with the 8GB but I would like more storage than 256GB.

Still leaning M2 Air because of portability, but I'm going to head to the Apple store this weekend to take a look at both and see if I can live with the bigger size of the Pro.
 

soup17

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
242
My standard recommendation for a non-Apple laptop is the Lenovo Thinkpad T series, which has been the gold standard business line going back to their IBM days, or the X series, which is more easily portable. The build quality and the keyboard are second to none. It might cost you a bit more, but I think it's worth it. Is the $1000 mark an absolute price ceiling?

Incidentally, I'm still using a c. 2007 Thinkpad T61 as a dedicated PC for legacy programs and files, but this thing got used and transported constantly for its first 6 years and it remains in great working shape (I put in a SSD and upgraded the RAM to 4gb, and for anything except heavy/bloated graphic use, it is highly functional even for contemporary usage).
What do you think of the V series? Thanks!
 

The Napkin

wise ass al kaprielian
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2002
28,414
right here
I've been looking at the new 16" macbook pro (middle version) but the price is woof. I don't speak fluent apple, can someone translate to a roughly equivalent PC laptop so I can see if the price is really woof or if it's in line with PC prices? I'm partial to HP because I love my work one but not sold on it. Hugs and handpounds.

the macbook specs:
12-Core CPU
19-Core GPU
16GB Unified Memory
1TB SSD Storage¹
16-core Neural Engine
16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display²
Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
Force Touch trackpad
140W USB-C Power Adapt
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 12, 2008
4,192
New England
I've been looking at the new 16" macbook pro (middle version) but the price is woof. I don't speak fluent apple, can someone translate to a roughly equivalent PC laptop so I can see if the price is really woof or if it's in line with PC prices? I'm partial to HP because I love my work one but not sold on it. Hugs and handpounds.

the macbook specs:
12-Core CPU
19-Core GPU
16GB Unified Memory
1TB SSD Storage¹
16-core Neural Engine
16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display²
Three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, SDXC card slot, headphone jack, MagSafe 3 port
Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
Force Touch trackpad
140W USB-C Power Adapt
Take a look at the Wirecutter article on Windows laptops. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-windows-ultrabook/

Their top recommendation is $1,250 (originally $900). You can get very good laptops for ~$900.

In my opinion, though, there is no equivalent Windows laptops. Simply put, Apple’s M-series chips are in a class by themselves. That might change in a couple years, but ever since the M-series chips came out no one else is matching Apple’s combination of speed, battery life, and heat management. I got an M1 Mac almost exactly two years ago and it runs as good as the day I got it. I expect it’ll perform as good for another 5 years.
 

Tangled Up In Red

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 8, 2004
4,527
Bernal
Is there a reason to go with a traditional laptop, rather than a Chromebook and cloud storage / Google docs?
My ZenBook is getting near end of life...
So, I'm thinking I need to make a change. Challenge is, I still use QuickBooks Desktop (for a non-profit) and Quicken Desktop (for personal use) and a password desktop app (keepass). Beyond that, nothing else really anchors me to Windows. All storage is in Dropbox.

If I get a new windows laptop, can my HDD be mirrored or ported or whatever, so I can still access my legacy programs?
If I get a chromebook, I guess I could keep the older machine, as well, and just use it for my bookkeeping?
I have a 2015 era unused Macbook, should that factor in to play?

What's the best way to sort this out?
 

cgori

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 2, 2004
3,968
SF, CA
So, I'm thinking I need to make a change. Challenge is, I still use QuickBooks Desktop (for a non-profit) and Quicken Desktop (for personal use) and a password desktop app (keepass). Beyond that, nothing else really anchors me to Windows. All storage is in Dropbox.

If I get a new windows laptop, can my HDD be mirrored or ported or whatever, so I can still access my legacy programs?
If I get a chromebook, I guess I could keep the older machine, as well, and just use it for my bookkeeping?
I have a 2015 era unused Macbook, should that factor in to play?

What's the best way to sort this out?
For the first question, yes. I've done some form of "migration tool" a few times now when replacing one Windows desktop with another. There are probably better ways to do it with profiles and such but I don't know enough. The migration tool got all my data transferred from one drive to the other. You could also try to reconfigure your Quicken/Quickbooks to store their data on Dropbox/etc and then you have even more portability. There's obviously some potential concern with sticking financial stuff in the cloud, but it's not insurmountable at all - just need to keep good hygiene for access/password management (which it sounds like you are doing anyway).

For the chromebook, that is correct as far as I know. In theory I think there are ways to run Keepass (or KeepassXC) on Chrome, but I don't know a lot there because I use a different password manager. But, when your windows machine does give up the ghost you'll be presented with a not-so-fun situation, so it's often better to resolve things like this before you are forced to.

The macbook, I know even less but I believe you can run windows apps on it using something like Parallels. I don't know how long an ~8-year-old Macbook will continue to be relevant though. (Maybe you are just deferring this problem for a year? Maybe more?)
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2006
7,824
SS Botany Bay
The macbook, I know even less but I believe you can run windows apps on it using something like Parallels. I don't know how long an ~8-year-old Macbook will continue to be relevant though. (Maybe you are just deferring this problem for a year? Maybe more?)
I am still running a 12 year old Macbook Air in my rotation and its hardware is completely relevant for tasks that 95% of users are likely to perform, provided you don't need anything in MacOS beyond High Sierra (and honestly, even on my later machines I don't run anything beyond Mojave unless they are too new to even use it) or if you're ok with using a slightly older version of Office that is cosmetically and functionally no different from the current version. I have Windows istalled on a bootcamp partition, as well as in Parallels, very smooth. The only drawback is there are no more security updates, but if you are wise and take ordinary precautions, it shouldn't be a problem.
 

Tangled Up In Red

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 8, 2004
4,527
Bernal
Good feedback from both of you @cgori and @The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa
Tangentially related, I found wave (https://next.waveapps.com/) which paltforms cloud-based bookkeeping for free, which solve my non-profit matter. This may be useful to other non-profit or small business folks on the board.
Probably going to do something similar with personal finance (Empower? CountAbout?) and password solution, then I should be mostly un-tethered to a single machine...
 

derekson

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 26, 2010
6,215
Apple announced a new, 15-inch MacBook Air yesterday. So the previous models (13", M1 processor) are discounted on Amazon. It's just not possible to buy a better computer for $799. I've been using this as my daily driver since late 2020, and it runs as well as they day I bought it.

View: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08N5LNQCX?
I've been using one since about the same time and it's amazing. Last time amazon had it on sale for $799 I convinced my father to buy one as well and it's quite happy with it.