I recently wrote my cousin a little how-to on buying a PC laptop. She’s getting ready for her first year in college and needs a computer. Not to sound like those PC commercials, I do think that you can get exactly what you need out of a computer without paying extra for the Apple name (now now, I’m a HUGE Apple supporter, so please extinguish your flames). Here’s what I told my cousin:
Shopping for a PC (Macs are WAY easier) can be pretty daunting. There are so many choices, it's tough to figure out exactly what to look for. It took me a couple of months to settle on the machine I bought, and it was only after learning some of the nomenclature that I finally figured out what I wanted... so to cut to the chase, here's a quick guide to buying PC laptops:
1. More memory... this one's obvious. Memory is the single best upgrade for a computer. Buy one with as much as you can. 4GB is about right.
2. Dedicated Video... if you can afford it, dedicated video is the way to go. Basically what this means is that there is a seperate bank of memory for the video card, as opposed to "integrated" where the video shares memory with the rest of the computer. If you see "Intel GMA 45000MHD" or something similar, it's integrated video. If you see "NVidia" or "ATI", it's dedicated. If you don't play videos games much, and don't see yourself doing so, this is less of a concern.
3. CPU... Here's where it gets tricky. There are so many different CPU's out there (we're going to stick to Intel stuff, just to simplify. You don't want to get into the comparison between Intel and AMD) it's tough to know you're making a good choice. In order to make things simple, here's a tip: CPU's are categorized using a letter then a four-digit number. Only worry about the number. The higher the number, the better the CPU. You'll see clock speeds... GHz speeds... don't sweat that, as there's a lot more that goes into performance than the speed. Shoot for the highest number you can (anything 6400 or over).
www.newegg.com should be your best friend. If you go to their homepage, in the PCs & Laptops area, you'll see a link for "Laptops / Notebooks". Go there, and you'll find along the left side of the page, a search system. This is how I found the laptops I'm going to link to you. I searched under CPU Type for "Intel Core 2 Duo", Memory for "4GB", and various different screen sizes. I looked mostly at HP (my personal preference, feel free to check out others). Here are the ones that I thought were decent...
The first one (the HP DV6-1050) definitely has the most horsepower for the $$$, but is a touch large. The other two would be very good machines as well. I would suggest playing around with the search on newegg, and reading the reviews.