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Thread: New Laptop Time..... Suggestions??

  1. #1

    Default New Laptop Time..... Suggestions??

    I've always used my stuff and repaired it till the bitter end. Well, I've been using my Dell D630 laptop for over ten years. And although I've spent some time upgrading and repairing over the years. It's starting to show its age in both usability and cosmetically. Seems every other website I go to doesn't support my browser and it can't be upgraded without upgrading to windows 7. Which my current configuration just isn't fast enough (tried it). Are computer manufacturers in bed with website/software designers? I swear.

    So weighing my options, New(er) daily use laptop, or rebuild this one.

    Here are my requirements...

    -Windows 7.
    -Intel I5 at the bare minimum.
    -4Gig ram at least would like 8 gig
    -Optical drive
    -Touch stick mouse (for me)
    -Plus a Touch pad (for my wife, I hate using those things)
    -Cannot have those stupid keyboards with spaces between the buttons.

    I'm considering a refurbished IBM (Lenovo) Thinkbad T420. Then upgrading the ram to max, Processor to an I7, and a Solid State Drive.

    My current configuration is pretty much maxed on my D630 without breaking the bank (as far as I know). With 2G ram (1 gig x 2 sockets), 120g SSD, 2.4ghz core 2 duo, 32bit windows vista.

    Just cannot decide it I should buy a parts unit D630 and put them both together. Then get the max processor for my D630 and upgrade the ram to 8Gig. I like the configuration of this machine and have no issues using it. Very reliable. Last time I checked the price for the fastest processor costed as much as a refurbed T420. Can the D630 even run 64bit?

    We've got another laptop I have to use to run some business programs that are no longer supported on Vista. Its a puky HP Pavilion DV6. It has the most God awful keyboard you'ld ever try to type on. Plus I need the trackpoint mouse. I can't stand touchpads. I realize I could use that machine and get a cheap external mouse and keyboard, but then might as well have a decent desktop computer because there goes portability.

    Thanks for your suggestions...


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    New Hampshire


    Wow Tim, you definitely got your moneys worth from that laptop, but you are correct that it is certainly time to get a new one.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    1) Continuing to use Vista is a major security risk. Vista was end-of-life in 2017 and is not updated, leaving you wide open for viruses, malware, etc. You are now facing the same problem with Windows 7 ... end of life for Windows 7 is January 2020, literally next month. Windows 7 will become a security risk after that point and you should not rely on it. You should consider Windows 10... honestly, it is quite good.

    2) You might be hard pressed to find a laptop with a full keyboard, unless you go big like a 17" model. I have a 17" model HP with a full keyboard, but I really prefer my smaller 13" laptop because it is small, sleek and fast. Consider getting a wireless keyboard/mouse combo to use when you want a full sized keyboard.

    3) I've used Dell, Acer, Lenovo and HP. I recommend HP Envy series laptops. My most recent is the HP Envy 13" which I purchased for about $650. It is a great laptop! It has an I5 processor (even though AMD is faster these days), 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM. You can get the same model with different configurations, more RAM, etc. Unfortunately, the smaller sleeker laptops are generally not upgradable, as is the case of this one, however I accept that as I have other machines which are upgradable and this one simply fills my needs to have something more portable and easy to carry around to client sites.

    As for your old laptop, try Linux Mint or Ubuntu on it. It will probably make a nice little Linux machine. You'll get plenty more mileage out of it, but Vista has got to go

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Principality of Xeon the Great State of Central New Jerky


    I don't recommend refurbished laptops. They're prone to abuse in ways that aren't necessarily evident. I would stick with Lenovo. I bought mine a little over 2 years ago, and have only used it "heavily" in spurts, it doesn't give me any problems. Woefully underpowered, it may as well have an atom, would probably be as fast as the Amd A4 in it. But it has a 17.3" screen, and a keyboard that is totally fine for my large hands (I used to be able to palm a basketball). I logged onto Officemax one morning, and unless it was a ruse they had a 17.3" Lenovo with a Ryzen 7 and some kind of respectable graphics arrangement for under 400$. The stock may have been depleted as I was going through the motions of buying it, was having connection problems. But whatever the Lenovos are made well and you can spend as little or as much as you want and still get a big screen and a very nice keyboard.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    New Jersey, USA


    The only refurbished units I normally consider are from Dell Outlet (refurbished by Dell, sold by Dell), I haven't gotten one yet that had any obvious evidence of being refurbished other than the green REFURBISHED sticker on the bottom. Anywhere else, refurbs can be very hit or miss.

    As far as the web is concerned, it is likely that the need to upgrade is going to be continuous. My recommendation is to get a Chromebook and just plan to replace it periodically. I got my wife a Dell Inspiron Chromebook and it has almost entirely replaced her D630 laptop. Once you have web access taken care of, it becomes much easier to maintain another system for non-web tasks that's set up exactly the way you want it. You might find for example that the D630 continues to suit your needs just fine once you've moved the web access workload off of it, and they are readily available so having one or two as spares isn't hard to manage (or at least, it wasn't hard when we did exactly that years ago). I'm personally quite partial to the D600 series (I must have a half dozen of them at this point) and I like that I can put a second battery in the media bay, although I suspect that replacing those media bay batteries when they wear out is going to become very difficult.

    That said, the D600 series is pretty old and I think it's time to move on. Lenovo laptops are pretty good and they're what my employer provides for me to use day to day for work. I'm currently using a T480 but previously had a T440, and before that a T410. No particular complaints about any of them. I've only ever used the T480 with Win10 but I know Win7 works fine on both the T440 and T410. Upgrading the RAM and the storage is a great idea, but for the processor I'd try to just get one with the CPU you want already installed. I don't mind tinkering with vintage systems but for my day-to-day regular use machine what I need most of all is reliability, and sometimes things work better if you don't mess with them. I'm perfectly willing to do a CPU swap on an expensive server but resist doing so on a relatively cheap laptop, which is a bit odd when you first think about it.

    To wrap up: for web access, I'd recommend either getting a Chromebook, or upgrading to a newer machine running at least Win7 but preferably Win10. There's new stuff coming on the web and I have serious concerns about how long Win7 will continue to be viable for anything needing Internet connectivity. For everything other than web access, really anything you want is good, but the D630 is so old that I can't really see deploying a new system based on it today.

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by kgober View Post
    To wrap up: for web access, I'd recommend either getting a Chromebook, or upgrading to a newer machine running at least Win7 but preferably Win10. There's new stuff coming on the web and I have serious concerns about how long Win7 will continue to be viable for anything needing Internet connectivity.
    If you have WIN 7 the WIN 10 upgrade is still free.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Principality of Xeon the Great State of Central New Jerky


    I feel the need to ramble a bit more it seems.

    Depending on what you pay a refurb could be an okay idea. By my estimation 50-100$ max for a refurb. That may very well rule out whatever specific config you're looking for. If intetnet access is a must, you'll need a recent os, but if you didn't have that, you could install 'nix, but then again you may need certain windows based apps.

    Don't rule out nos items. Not a lt, but I bought a nos HP Prodesk G1 SFF, i5-4590 (ddr3, but 16gb). Win 7 installed but 8.1 included in box. Integrated graphics, will only take a low profile card as an upgrade, for 120$ total. The guy was selling them for months it seemed. I also bought a Lenovo, LOL LOL I affectionately refer to them as Bonobos, 11.6" Chromebook. NOS, 95$ to my door. The keyboard is giving me problems lol. It's ok though. I personally am not a fan of Chromebooks, and my obligatory google account is a fake name. Bite me google. This model may have come out 1-2 years ago. But whatever I don't see them for much other then surfing the web. It does that well enough.

    I bought 2 used thinkpads many moons ago. One lasted a few weeks, the other a few days. I bought 2 used hard disks recently, naively assuming they were nos. One was preventing my unit from booting after a short while. The other is working, now, that's all I can say. I am totally not a fan of refurbed anything. I generally have no problems with used uPs and passive lol heatsinks. But everything else is new or free. Even freebies could prove to be a hazard.

  7. #7


    Thanks for the recommendations!!! The D630 I did buy as refurbished straight from dell and had the infamous green sticker as kgober stated. It had literally no issues besides the video card which I got a dropped parts unit with the "better" non problematic card. Its been so long but I think the original Nvidia ones ran hot and cooked themselves. Whatever. From the parts laptop I was able to upgrade the processor and add a stick of ram. The SSD I bought as is and lucked out when they were first released. It was cheap and worked great. That is what really sped the laptop up. Probably how I've been able to use it for so long. Before the D630 I was using a D600 that was also a very solid machine for many years until it stopped booting.

    Anyhow. I'll keep my eyes open for new old stock, and maybe consider spending a little more on something newer.

    Onto the OS issue. Unfortunately, I grew up using Microsoft I know, I know. Windows 3.1 and 3.11 is where I started. I even can still navigate my way through Dos 6.22 and some BASIC. However, I'm to the age where learning something new is almost impossible. I've tried some Linus distros over the years, Ubuntu, Mint, Mandrake... and just cannot get into them and get frustrated after a while. So to be honest, I'll probably always be a windows person.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Blog Entries


    I have a Thinkpad T400 and if I had to buy something newer I would stick with a Thinkpad but a used one. Thinkpads are just easier to work on and cheap to get parts for.

    Never had a compelling reason to switch to Linux so I don't use it.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

  9. #9


    Go for a new machine. With Windows 10. Yes, hear me out ...

    Windows 7 is dead. Besides missing security updates in about 2 or 4 years you are going to start running into driver problems with new devices. Starting with an operating system that is end-of-life is just going to lead to years of headaches, assuming the security problems don't cause real problems.

    I'm a big fan of Lenovo T series machines. I used them professionally at IBM for a long time, and I buy them personally for the family. I would get at least 8MB of RAM and a 512MB SSD to make it slightly future-proof and shock-proof. The X1 Carbon is a nice little machine for only a few more dollars.

    I'm also a big fan of Chromebooks, but for a different use case. If all you need to do is use the Chrome Browser then a Chromebook is a great platform. You get automatic security updates and zero software maintenance at a silly price. (I just purchased two HP Chromebooks at Costco two weeks ago; full HD screen, USB C ports, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage for $200 with even a sleeve and a wireless mouse thrown in.) Chromebooks are supported for six years, so I'll get my money out of them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Seattle, WA


    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    If you have WIN 7 the WIN 10 upgrade is still free.
    I didn't think that was still true, but I gave it a try tonight and he seems to have worked. I have a Dell T3500 desktop which has the Win 7 Pro license in the BIOS, so an activated Win7 Pro install can be restored from the system restore DVD. I thought I had tried a Win 10 upgrade a while back without a new license key and didn't have success, but I tried an upgrade in place again tonight using the Windows 10 Update Assistant download and it installed Win 10 Pro version 1909 and it still appears to have a valid activation.

    If I had known that maybe I would have stuck with the T3500 and wouldn't have recently bought a used Dell 3420 desktop which is new enough to have the Win 10 Pro license in the BIOS to get Win 10 Pro that way. But nice to have a more modern system with USB 3 ports and an M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe slot for an SSD.

    At this point I can't see paying for a Win 10 Pro license to install on an older system instead of putting that cost towards buying a more modern system with the Win 10 Pro license in the BIOS. I guess people who still build their own systems from bare motherboards might need to do that. I don't have the interest in doing that anymore.


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