Low end laptop for school recommendations?

For general computer discussion & help, come here

Moderators: EvilHomer3k, Bakhtosh

Post Reply
Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:42 pm

Kid says she wants a laptop to use for school (HS senior this year; want one that will last for college (at least to start) as well).

Specifically does not want a chrome book (other kids have those, she doesn't want a google laptop that she signs in with her email address; she would prefer Windows, but open to something different - but not a google computer).

Usage needs: google docs, browsing (you tube in particular), Wi-Fi, play basic games (basic browser games like from Kongregate; if it could handle Minecraft, Steam and some of the RPG maker games on there but those are not essential, just nice bonuses).

She will be taking this to high school - needs to be able to survive being carried around in a laptop case through those crowded hallways. If there's a recommended good case to go with it, that'd be helpful too.

Can be a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet, but not necessary.

Cannot be just a tablet. Personally, thinking the ATOM netbooks are not going to be that good either.

Would prefer to keep to $400 or less for the laptop (a carrying case/bag/whatever would be on top of that).

Any suggestions or guidance on things to look for/avoid would be appreciated.

Thank you! :D

User avatar
Pyperkub
Posts: 16604
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 5:07 pm
Location: NC- that's Northern California
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Pyperkub » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:54 pm

I usually start at techbargains.comwhen looking for laptop deals
There are three ways to not tell the truth: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

User avatar
Anonymous Bosch
Posts: 6508
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:09 pm
Location: Northern California [originally from the UK]

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:41 pm

If I were you, I'd give some serious thought to installing a newbie-friendly Linux distro on a Chromebook, allowing you to unlock its full potential. This will give you the absolute best bang for your buck in terms of hardware, while also providing your daughter with a much more secure, functional, and reliable OS at no additional cost. Helping your daughter learn her way around Linux can also be highly educational; developing familiarity with Linux certainly won't hurt when she's ready to start seeking employment.
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." -- H. L. Mencken

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:41 pm

Pyperkub wrote:I usually start at techbargains.comwhen looking for laptop deals
First thing on there is a $400 Dell that looks good to my somewhat ignorant brain.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Intel Core i5-7200U 15.6" Win10 Pro Laptop $400
Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Intel Core i5-7200U 15.6" Win10 Pro Laptop $400

Dell Small Business is offering their Inspiron 15 5000 (5566) Intel Core i5-7200U Dual-core KABY LAKE 15.6" Notebook Computer for a low $399.99 Free Shipping after Coupon Code: "EXTRA270OFF" (Exp Soon). This is a $30 price drop and normally on sale for $570, so you're getting extra $170 off.
•5.19lbs, 15.6" 1366x768 LED-backlit LCD, Black system color
•Core i5-7200U 2.5GHz (up to 3.1GHz Turbo) Dual-core KABY LAKE
•8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Dual-band 802.11n WiFi + Bluetooth
•Intel HD 620 integrated graphics w/ HDMI, 1yr McAfee LiveSafe
•Windows 10 Pro, DVD burner, USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, SD Card slot

************
I know Dell is not the most awe-inspiring brand ever. Any other thoughts/concerns?

This looks like a deal of the day thing that I need to buy tonight if I'm going to.

User avatar
Anonymous Bosch
Posts: 6508
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:09 pm
Location: Northern California [originally from the UK]

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:13 pm

FWIW, the ASUS Chromebook Flip gets you a 12.5" FHD touchscreen with a 360° hinge (allowing it to be used as a laptop, a tablet, or a display/presentation screen), Intel Core m3, 64GB flash storage, and 4GB RAM for $469 from Amazon. It'd also make for an exceptionally sleek and lightweight mobile option at only 2.65lbs, with decent battery life.

Get Linux installed, along with Minecraft, Steam, and whatever else is needed, and you've got a great little laptop with none of malware headaches that are sure to plague a Windows system.
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." -- H. L. Mencken

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:30 pm

Anonymous Bosch wrote:FWIW, the ASUS Chromebook Flip gets you a 12.5" FHD touchscreen with a 360° hinge (allowing it to be used as a laptop, a tablet, or a display/presentation screen), Intel Core m3, 64GB flash storage, and 4GB RAM for $469 from Amazon. It'd also make for an exceptionally sleek and lightweight mobile option at only 2.65lbs, with decent battery life.

Get Linux installed, along with Minecraft, Steam, and whatever else is needed, and you've got a great little laptop with none of malware headaches that are sure to plague a Windows system.
Not so valuable for her future employment (she has ZERO interest in any technical job). She's going to languages, interpreter or something like that.

I asked her about it though, just to see, she was not really interested in it unless there was a good, cheap option. $469 for your chrome book vs $400 for the linked one wasn't a good deal in her book. She is playing for 1/2 (or more) of the cost, so her feedback is important.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

User avatar
Anonymous Bosch
Posts: 6508
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:09 pm
Location: Northern California [originally from the UK]

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:10 pm

Zenn7 wrote:Not so valuable for her future employment (she has ZERO interest in any technical job). She's going to languages, interpreter or something like that.

I asked her about it though, just to see, she was not really interested in it unless there was a good, cheap option. $469 for your chrome book vs $400 for the linked one wasn't a good deal in her book. She is playing for 1/2 (or more) of the cost, so her feedback is important.

Thanks for the suggestion though.
Since she's picking up half (or more) of the tab herself and cost is a primary factor, I'd instead suggest considering the $259 Acer Chromebook 14. That still gets you a 14" 1920 x 1080 FHD display with IPS, Quad-Core Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB flash storage, and a 100% aluminum chassis. At 3.42lbs, it should still be fairly light and portable, too.
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." -- H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Kraken
Posts: 30744
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:59 pm
Location: The Hub of the Universe
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Kraken » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:38 pm

Zenn7 wrote: I know Dell is not the most awe-inspiring brand ever. Any other thoughts/concerns?
We were a "Dell family" for many many years and I still use one for my business. They have always been solid, rugged workhorse machines. Because I buy low-to-middling models, I outgrow them after 4-5 years, but I have never had one crap out on me.

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:49 pm

For the price, she decided that might be better (it's an aluminum case which sounds a little more durable than the all plastic Dell PC) and that she could be open to a chrome book with Linux.

It's $40 off for don't know how long, but guessing we don't have to buy it today. Can leave this open for further comments and make a decision tomorrow.

Thanks AB.

User avatar
hitbyambulance
Posts: 5132
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:51 am
Location: Map Ref 47.6°N 122.35°W
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by hitbyambulance » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:27 am

i'm just going to repost my usual suggestion in these kinds of threads: go for refurbished for best bang-for-buck.

Lenovo
http://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/outletus/

Dell
http://dellrefurbished.com/laptops
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... andId=2201

HP
https://h41369.www4.hp.com/pps-offers.php

Acer
http://www.acerrecertified.com/laptops

huge variety from newegg.com:
https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductL ... sdeptsrh=1

this will allow her to get a machine that's more capable than what could normally be scored for the same price.

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:42 pm

Anonymous Bosch wrote:
Zenn7 wrote:Not so valuable for her future employment (she has ZERO interest in any technical job). She's going to languages, interpreter or something like that.

I asked her about it though, just to see, she was not really interested in it unless there was a good, cheap option. $469 for your chrome book vs $400 for the linked one wasn't a good deal in her book. She is playing for 1/2 (or more) of the cost, so her feedback is important.

Thanks for the suggestion though.
Since she's picking up half (or more) of the tab herself and cost is a primary factor, I'd instead suggest considering the $259 Acer Chromebook 14. That still gets you a 14" 1920 x 1080 FHD display with IPS, Quad-Core Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB flash storage, and a 100% aluminum chassis. At 3.42lbs, it should still be fairly light and portable, too.
Settled on this one and added a $67 3 year accident insurance policy (cause she's taking it to school with her, very worried about it getting damaged/destroyed there).

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:42 pm

And thank you everyone for the feedback and assistance!

User avatar
gbasden
Posts: 5023
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:57 am
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by gbasden » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:27 pm

32 gb of storage? That's it?

I guess I'm jaded.

User avatar
Anonymous Bosch
Posts: 6508
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:09 pm
Location: Northern California [originally from the UK]

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:15 pm

gbasden wrote:32 gb of storage? That's it?

I guess I'm jaded.
With GalliumOS (a fast and lightweight Linux distro specifically designed for ChromeOS devices), 32Gb should be more than adequate for the intended purposes. Extra storage can always be added via USB and/or the SD slot. Newer Chromebooks typically also allow you to easily replace the default SSD with something larger without too much hassle (with earlier models, storage and RAM were often soldered to the motherboard and could not easily be upgraded).
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." -- H. L. Mencken

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:20 pm

It arrived today. Gotta love Amazon - took free shipping (it's usually 2-3 days). Ordered last Saturday. This Sunday it finally changes to shipping. Tracking shows they picked it up Monday, then delivered today (24 hours later). Free next day shipping (I wouldn't shipped on Sunday as actually shipping on Sunday thought I suppose Amazon might have people pick up stuff on Sundays to ship on Mondays). Just a week of prep time.

Kid checked it out, said everything works and whatever she was doing was fast. I have not checked it out or started w/ the Linux install. Want to make sure everything works fine before starting in case we have to return it (not sure what installing Linux will do in terms of needing to return it if something was defective).

Will let you know how it goes from here.

User avatar
Kasey Chang
Posts: 15692
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 4:20 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Kasey Chang » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:43 am

Once she got everything installed, image the HD. :)
My game FAQs | Join Massdrop and see what sort of deals they have!

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:46 am

Did the firmware update and used chrx to install dualboot - GalliumOS (and packages for Minecraft, Steam and Chrome).

Did have one point of confusion, one of the chrx parameters was for Architecture - i386 or AMD. AMD was default do I ended up just settling on that as wasn't able to find a recommendation on searching. Figured the default was likely to be the most common/recommended solution (the other defaults all looked like they would be the generally recommended right selections).

Except Minecraft and Steam didn't work. Tried later though and both worked fine. Not sure what was up there.

We borked a password setting up an ID for the kid (I kept one that I will use for maintenance/support). Spent some time incorrectly trying to test passwords. Got that figured out now too.

So hopefully, she's set now, can start playing around with it and getting used to it.

Image the HD? Where would I store that massive file??? :P

Not sure if you were serious. Not something I am likely to bother with, sounded like you just go online and can download the factory default "out of the box" image, then I can just redo the install. Now that I"ve done it, it's easy enough to do.

Thanks for all the help. Will provide another update after she's played with it some. She was super excited to get and had some fun just playing around w/ the Chrome OS before I had a chance to do this stuff. She'll be thrilled Minecraft and Steam are both working and I figured out the password mess!

User avatar
Kasey Chang
Posts: 15692
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 4:20 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Kasey Chang » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:50 am

Don't you have ANY external HD for this purpose? Or even a big flash drive?
My game FAQs | Join Massdrop and see what sort of deals they have!

Zenn7
Posts: 2028
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Zenn7 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:11 am

No external HD's and only 1 flashdrive big enough (the flash drive on the chromebook is 32 GB, so is my largest flash drive).

Was joking about the space, figured I could image it and store the image on the HD of one my other PCs (we have 3 regular tower PC's). Just wasn't sure the actual value of doing it in this case. I do not have any imaging software (never imaged anything, no idea what would be good to use for free), and have never tried to image something before. Not that I'm guessing it would be that hard to do/figure out.

But the laptop was really easy to set up everything. And it said the factory image is online, just download to a flash drive and I can restore the out of the box and reinstall everything if needed.

User avatar
Anonymous Bosch
Posts: 6508
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:09 pm
Location: Northern California [originally from the UK]

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:28 pm

Here's a useful Reddit guide on what to do after installing GalliumOS (which includes tips and advice on infrastructure upgrades, and various software recommendations).
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." -- H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Kasey Chang
Posts: 15692
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 4:20 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Kasey Chang » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:24 pm

DriveImage XML is free.
My game FAQs | Join Massdrop and see what sort of deals they have!

User avatar
Anonymous Bosch
Posts: 6508
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:09 pm
Location: Northern California [originally from the UK]

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by Anonymous Bosch » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:34 pm

Zenn7 wrote:Did have one point of confusion, one of the chrx parameters was for Architecture - i386 or AMD. AMD was default do I ended up just settling on that as wasn't able to find a recommendation on searching. Figured the default was likely to be the most common/recommended solution (the other defaults all looked like they would be the generally recommended right selections).
Those parameters refer to using 32-bit (i386) or 64-bit (AMD64) architecture, and you can add 32-bit architecture afterwards. From the above-linked guide:
  • A lot of software and games seems to need older 386 architecture. Add that with:

Code: Select all

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." -- H. L. Mencken

User avatar
hitbyambulance
Posts: 5132
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:51 am
Location: Map Ref 47.6°N 122.35°W
Contact:

Re: Low end laptop for school recommendations?

Post by hitbyambulance » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:46 pm

i would personally avoid Chrome (Google 'phone-home' user tracking) and install Chromium, Vivaldi, Opera or some other browser if you really need Blink - otherwise install Firefox.

Post Reply