Buying a computer system/need help in buying a laptop



I need to buy a laptop having i7 quad core processor. I will use that laptop for software development/programming. I searched some laptops:

1) HP se 17- j170

2) HP Envy Touchscreen 17-k073ca

3) alienware 14''

4) Aspire V3-772G-9820

5) Apple pro 15''

Can you please suggest a laptop from these or some other (except from these models), which can be value for money in terms of performance and durability.


ANSWER: Right off the bat I would cut the Acer from consideration - reliability and customer service are generally less-than-acceptable from Acer Group, and if that's a serious concern on your part I would just avoid the headache.

From the rest, Alienware and Apple will be the stand-outs in terms of their post-sales service and support, but HP still makes good equipment. I would probably dump the Envy Touchscreen unless you explicitly want or need the touchscreen. That leaves the Envy Leap, Alienware 14", and Mac Book Pro. The biggest questions I would ask to split those apart:

- Do you want or need OS X or any other Apple software component?

- How important of a factor is size?

- How important of a factor is price?

- How important is 3D graphics capability?

In general I would break them up like this:

- The Alienware is the smallest of the three, and offers the best standard graphics hardware, although sits in the middle price-wise. It also has a full HD display.

- The HP is the least expensive, but largest/bulkiest and has the least capable graphics hardware. The HP will have the lowest resolution display (coupled with having the largest display this will make the display least sharp/fine of the trio).

- The Apple is most expensive, but will include the highest resolution display, OS X (and other Apple software components).

Generally speaking I would probably lean towards the Alienware as it sits mostly in the middle of the three systems in terms of price, and will have some performance advantages over the Apple's base configuration (and configuring the Mac Book with a GeForce graphics card will bring the price up to $2699 - over $1000 more than the Alienware). It also comes with an HD display, which is an advantage over the HP, and will put it relatively close to the Apple. If you want or need OS X, the Apple is the only choice for that, and you will either need to spend more money for more powerful 3D graphics hardware, or settle for the Iris Pro solution (which is not bad, but it is not a GeForce 750M).


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your kind reply. In respond to your questions:

- Do you want or need OS X or any other Apple software component?
Ans: no.

- How important of a factor is size?
Ans: size doesn't matter but I prefer numeric keypad.

- How important of a factor is price?
Ans: Yes, price matters.

- How important is 3D graphics capability?
Ans: 3D graphics doesn't really matters.

-> I heard some bad reviews regarding the cooling system and reliability of HP that bothers me.

-> I dont have much knowledge about graphic cards. I think a decent graphic card will be good for me

-> what does "Switchable" mean in "NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M Switchable (up to 3.99 GB)" in HP envy se 17 - j170?

Please suggest me, will it be good to pick "HP leap" in terms of hardware reliability or alienware or any other laptop

ANSWER: I would go with the Alienware if it's between that and the HP (if you don't need OS X or any other Apple utilities, I don't see any point in spending more for the Apple hardware). Switchable in that context likely refers to the system being able to use the Intel HD graphics to preserve battery life in certain situations, however the page's description is fairly vague. In general such solutions may present issues for some applications, as they may not properly detect or initialize the "secondary" GPU and instead will rely on the HD graphics component.

As far as the numeric keypad, you can add an external one fairly inexpensively to any system. Most keyboard makers (e.g. Targus, Kensington, Logitech, etc) offer such a thing. In general I would suggest going that route, than limiting yourself to very large format notebooks simply to add the numeric keypad feature.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you and sorry to bother you again. Can you please provide you usefull review regarding thinkpad W540 vs alienware 14''?  which one will be the best?

They are very similar machines both in terms of base configuration and customization options - the primary difference is the Thinkpad starts around $100 cheaper, and comes with a professional graphics adapter (it is, however, based on the same GPU as the GeForce in the Alienware, so compatibility should be similar, and the big "gotcha" will be the GeForce being slightly faster for games). They are more or less equivalent, so if gaming graphics isn't a huge consideration the Thinkpad will be the less expensive option (and this isn't to say the Thinkpad won't game, it just won't be quite as capable as the Alienware).


Buying a computer system

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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