Buying a laptop(advice pls)

I am planning on getting a laptop. I am currently using a 5 yr old desktop that has served me wonderfully but I do want mobility now. So I happen to come across a bit of extra cash and decided that it’s time to shop for one.

I’ve decided on Toshiba and here’s the spec:

Satellite P200/P205

-Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T7100 (1.8GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB)
-2048MB PC5300 DDR2 667MHz SDRAM (1024MBx2)

  • ATI Mobility Radeonâ„¢ HD 2600 with 256MB GDDR2 discrete memory
  • up to 255MB allocated shared graphics memory using ATI HyperMemoryâ„¢ technology
    -120GB HDD (5400rpm, Serial-ATA)
    -DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive
  • Intel® Wireless WiFi Link 4965 AGN (802.11a/g/n)

I plan to add a secondary HDD later. On the website, I cannot add any HDD bigger than the primary one, so is that just the deal’s limitation or is that a technical limitation?

Is the warranty local to US or is it international?

Also, how long should I expect to wait to receive it after placing the order?

Any advice/suggestion? I hope this will last me for a long time.

If you are running certain software such as rhino, an good nvidia card with 256 is better


Spec wise, it should be fine. It’s not a workstation class system, but should pull off everything you need to do.

You can’t add a secondary hard drive, laptops (unless otherwise specified) only have 1 hard drive bay. Your best bet would be to get an external hard drive and use that for your backup storage. Laptop hard drives fail at a much higher rate, and a 300 gig external can be had for under $100
(and if you check they have a 400 gig for $50 today)

The warranty you’ll get is most likely a “mail in” warranty which means if something breaks it doesn’t matter where you are, you’ll need to send the laptop into them for servicing, unless its something like a hard drive that can be user serviced. However if you’re out of the US, they most likely wont ship it internationally, you’d have to have it sent somewhere in the US then forwarded back to you. If you plan on being abroad for an extended period of time, you should carefully read their warranty policy.

The wait - probably 1-2 weeks unless they say somethings backordered.

Don’t hope anything will last for a “long time”. Your best bet is to buy a middle of the road machine and keep some money on hand for an upgrade when you need it.

Personally I suggest Dell machines because you can often get them for and incredible price because of how often they have deals on the machines. Of course that also depends on how long you want to wait and the configuration (screen size, model) you’re looking for.

Thanks all.

So can you explain how nvidia card is better? I will be running Rhino and maybe Alias, plus the usuals like photoshop and illustrator.

The reason why i have chosen Toshiba is because it has been recommended by several peers who have them. They say Toshibas are reliable, which is of course what I desire most. I know IBMs are reliable too, but I am not sure about their quality after they are no longer IBM.

As for the HDD. Well, this is a 17" laptop and it does have a secondary HDD bay. On the website customization page, if I choose a 120GB HDD as my primary, I can’t go any higher except to choose a 80GB. That’s why I was wondering why.

Well, by “long time”, I am hoping it should last me for at least 4 years before I need a better one. Laptops are hard to have any real upgrade other than HDD size and RAM upgrades.

Actually, I have ATI Radeon 9500 on my desktop from 5 years ago and it’s gotten me through college abuse. It’s actually still holding up alright, but a bit slow sometimes. If I can get similar “value” back from this laptop, I’d be very happy.

As much RAM as you can afford is always what I have been told.

tablet pc is best with most ram in it as you can super to work with easy to draw and light.

Nvidia generally has more stable video drivers, but the ATI card should be fine. Generally any problems just come in the form of occasional weird graphical glitches, but nothing major that will prevent you from being able to do work on it.

If it does have a second drive bay you should be able to install any size drive without an issue. But as I mentioned, you may want to consider using an external drive instead. Adding a second internal drive adds weight, increases noise/heat, reduces battery life, and internal laptop drives like to fail. 120 gigs should be more than enough to store your project files, software, and lots and lots of mp3s, the rest of the stuff could be stored on an external drive.

Yes I do have an 150GB external drive now that I use for back-ups exclusively. However, it’s the 3.5" one which is heavy and requires an external power source.

The secondary HDD that I have in my desktop now is 200GB. I am definitely converting this into another external drive. However, again, it’s 3.5" which meant it’s not going to help me in reducing any weight.

If I use these drives as my external drives, then chances are I won’t get a 2.5" one, unless I sell one of my 3.5". Anyone interested?

Just checked it out… I can’t afford them!!! :angry:

Some great deals on Dell Computers can be found via their outlet/refurbished site:

Workstation Quality laptops:

Don’t buy refurbished. How much is the set up you first mentioned in this post? I have a 256 MB ATI graphics card on my Macbook Pro and I run SolidWorks, Alias and Rhino no problem. I don’t think 2048 MB is enough RAM though. Is that all you can fit into it? The new Macbook Pro will fit 4 GB of RAM. If there is one thing that you should not skimp on it is RAM.

The spec I first posted cost $1295 before tax.

The Dell Workstations seem to be outside of my budget, and I am just not comfortable with buying refurbished laptops. Don’t get me wrong, my refurbished printer and LCD monitor are great, but I think laptops are something totally different.

You can also check out and They’ll have information about Dell coupons and sales. Most Dell notebooks can be had very cheap, but if you’re looking for one of the 17" models you probably won’t find a deal on one. Also if you’re looking to purchase it ASAP, that would also be an issue.

Check those sites out though, they have lots of good deals floating around on them. They have a Toshiba 17" for $700, but it lacks dedicated video so thats useless.

I used to advise: for mobile items-
Get the best processor you can, loaded with as RAM as you can, at the best size that fits your ability/ needs- that you can afford.

Besides the screen- the only things that aren’t easily replaceable is the processor- and video card (DIYer’s/modders take it easy).

If this is going to be your main gun machine- dedicated video is nearly as important as processing power! (however- shared video isn’t terrible if you’ve juiced the RAM). Either way- the unit will last a while.

Don’t pay too much extra for RAM, as it’s readily available and easily upgraded- but the convenience is nice. I think hard drive space is low on importance as you can now get a terabyte external hard drive for around $250!

I love my tablet- I’d recommend it for anyone sketching, photoshopping, small 3d part development, and using a desktop for high octane Assemblies.

Good luck

Ok, here’s a Dell:

Inspirion 1520 ( 15.4")

Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7250
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition
Glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display (1280x800) (should I get higher?)
256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT
2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz
Size: 120GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)

plus CD/DVD writer and other usual things, for $1339

Spec wise, I think it beats the Toshiba with the processor speed. Toshiba is bigger, but probably heavier too. I think 15.4 is just right for me.

Any idea/suggestion?

Thats a nice deal and at a good price.

Depending on your eyes, I would splurge on the high res screen (1680x1050) if they offer it (and they should). Resolution is clutch, and I had that display on my Dell and it was fantastic. Keep in mind all the toolbars and other stuff you’ll be filling your display with…that extra 400 pixels of width will come in very handy.

Comparatively, the Toshiba is bigger(and heavier). It is however cheaper at $1295.

The Dell is smaller(which I find more adequate), a little faster, but more expensive, and ugly.

I am a little sucked into the branding thingy. I kinda think that Dell is more like the cheaper brand whereas Toshiba has more quality and reliability. I am really torn on this.

Not to make it any tougher for you, but Toshiba has done me well over the years. I have been using their tablets now for 4 or so years. They work great.

No, but you are just pulling me to one particular side :laughing: