05 Feb

Things You Should Know Before Buying A New Laptop

Disclaimer: As some of you read this article, you may not agree with everything that I have written, however, everything is based on fact as well as many years of experience. Some of you have probably bought a cheaply made laptop and have never had any issues (you are a part of a very fortunate few), while others may have purchased a high-end laptop and have yet to have a day that goes by without any issues at all, it happens. This article is simply here to help those who are in the market for a new laptop and would like to make an educated purchase instead of going on a whim. So please do not crucify me if your precious Acer is the best thing that has ever happened to you. With that being said . . .

When it comes to buying a new laptop, it is not always easy to make the right choice. Even the sales associates at Walmart or Best Buy are little to no help when it comes to making an educated decision. It could be argued that it would be in our best interest not to educate our customers or the general public on the major laptop manufactures and their quality of products. However, we believe that by doing so, you will not only purchase a better product, (that will require little to no repairs) but that when the time comes, you will be more than willing to upgrade or repair that same laptop, knowing that it is a worth while investment.

The first two pages of this article will give you some insight into what make laptops good or bad. The second page describes some of the most common issues with laptops in general while the preseeding pages will describe each laptop brand specifically. If you are only interested in learning the pros and cons of each brand, skip to page 3, but I highly suggested that read the first two pages so that you can make a more educated decision when buying a brand new laptop.

Everything is an Investment

I heard a pretty shocking statement from a lady who came into our shop with an eMachine desktop. She said,

“I love eMachines”

I of course asked why

“Because they are so cheap and disposable. As soon as one breaks, I go to Walmart and buy another”

Unfortunately, she is not the only one with this mind set. Consider this. Everything in life is an investment, now I could write a whole article along on this concept, but just to prove my point on this article, I am going to give you a few few figures.

On average a low-end Acer laptop costs around $300 minus tax. Most of these Acers do not last more than a year or two and sometimes even less. Because this is the case, it is usually not worth repairing and even doing a data recovery seems daunting after you realize how much money you just wasted. So with the repairs being more than what the laptop is worth, you go out and buy another one, lets say at the rate of every 2 years. At this rate you are spending $900 or more every 6 years for a very poor quality laptop.

Now lets say you decide to invest some money on a higher quality laptop such as an Asus. Typically you will spend about $500 – $600 on an Asus laptop, which is a great price for the quality and great specs that you are receiving. In most cases this laptop will last you at least 4 years if not much longer with very few issues, as long as you take care of it. This means, that if that same laptop costs you $600 and in 4 years the hard drive needs to be replaced (most common repair for any laptops, usually due to the user) you will have only spent $800 in that same time period. So not only are you spending less money per year, but you are only buying one laptop in that same period of time, which will have much better specs (meaning that it will run much faster and smoother) with very little issues. In fact, at $300 per laptop, you will be lucky if the 2nd or 3rd one you buy meets or exceeds the specs of the 1 Asus laptop you could have bought 6 years ago.

Standards

There are different standards that manufactures hold to such as FCC, ISO, UL as well as others, noted by their seal of approval that help to keep manufactures within a certain bounds of performance, safety, and quality. These standards however, are very minimal and the government has helped manufactures to slacken these standards. In any case, as you can imagine, each manufacture has their own set of standards in which they follow. For instance, a laptop may have a certain brand name on the outside of the case, but what many do not realize is that the components on the inside are actually built by a series of manufactures like Asus, Biostar, Diamond, Foxconn, Realtek, and many others. Just as each laptop brand has their own standard of quality, so does each hardware manufacture. Simply put, a manufactured PC is nothing more than a computer made up of components made by the lowest bidder. Though just about every manufacture buys components from the lowest bidder, it is not without a certain degree of standards. For instance, Acers may have a quality standard that allows them to go as low as $20 (Imaginative figure) a board per unit where as others may spend closer to $50 per board per unit. Again, you get what you pay for. In other words, manufactures may go for the lowest bidders, but many will only go so low while others will go as low as possible.

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Disclaimer: As some of you read this article, you may not agree with everything that I have written, however, everything is based on fact as well as many years of experience. Some of you have probably bought a cheaply made laptop and have never had any issues (you are a part of a very fortunate few), while others may have purchased a high-end laptop and have yet to have a day that goes by without any issues at all, it happens. This article is simply here to help those who are in the market for a new laptop and would like to make an educated purchase instead of going on a whim. So please do not crucify me if your precious Acer is the best thing that has ever happened to you. With that being said . . .

Common Laptop Issues

Laptops are 3 times more likely than desktops to need repairs in the first year of use. This is due to a number of issues that are common among all laptops. There are obviously many issues that laptops can have, but these are the most common.

Hard Drives: Due to how fragile most hard drives are, they are probably the most commonly replaced component of a laptop. A simple hit, bump or knock on the wrong portion of the laptop can start a series issues inside the hard drive that can eventually cause it to fail. Just like anything else, certain hard drive manufactures are better than others and are less likely to fail, but it is not always easy to determine which laptop has which manufacture hard drive.

LCD / LED screens: Just like hard drives, laptop screens are very fragile and are susceptible to being damage upon transportation or improper handling of a laptop.

Over-heating: There are many reason why laptops have a higher tendency than desktops to over-heat, and I could write a whole article on this subject alone, however, I will give you some simple tips and tricks that will help.

1. No matter what brand of laptop you choose to buy, get a cooling pad to run underneath the laptop. Obviously, the more fans the better, the bigger the fans, the quieter. If you want your laptop to last, this is a must.

2. Do not use your laptop on anything that can cover the air vents like the carpet, your bed, or even on your lap. If you insist on not using a cooling pad, at least set it on a hard and flat surface.

3. Finally Stay away from laptops with an AMD processor or chipset, especially if it comes equipped with NVIDIA graphics. I am sorry if you love AMD and swear by it, but simply put, AMD processors should never be put in a laptop. AMD processors run much hotter than Intel and will only cause problems in the long run. NVIDIA on the other hand makes great graphics chips and cards but they too run very hot. If you are wondering why so many laptop manufactures us AMD instead of Intel, its because they are a lot cheaper and are of a lower quality. Stick with Intel processors and chipsets and you will be better for it. As for the NVIDIA, as long as you stick with Intel and follow my other tips, you should be fine.

Note: You can easily find out what a laptop has by looking at the specs of the laptop, the stickers on the palmrest or by asking a sales clerk (most should as least be able to tell you that much).

Power Jacks: All laptops are susceptible to have issues with the power jack. To be completely honest with you, I am unsure if it is due to the consumer or the manufacture. We tend to do more power jack replacements on Gateways more than any other manufacture, but that could simply be because people who buy gateways view them as disposable and taking care of their laptop is simply out of the question or it could be that the manufactures throw together the laptops so fast that proper solder points are not made or the power jacks are not secure well enough. Either way, if you are careful and patient and take care of your laptop, you should have little to no issues.

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Disclaimer: As some of you read this article, you may not agree with everything that I have written, however, everything is based on fact as well as many years of experience. Some of you have probably bought a cheaply made laptop and have never had any issues (you are a part of a very fortunate few), while others may have purchased a high-end laptop and have yet to have a day that goes by without any issues at all, it happens. This article is simply here to help those who are in the market for a new laptop and would like to make an educated purchase instead of going on a whim. So please do not crucify me if your precious Acer is the best thing that has ever happened to you. With that being said . . .

Acers and eMachines

I am going to first start of with the brands that have the lowest quality and as well as the highest rate for system failures. Undoubtedly Acers and eMachines (Gateway owns eMachines, Acer owns Gateway) are quite possibly the worst brands you can purchase and are almost always not worth repairing. The biggest problem we see with these laptops are the motherboards going bad (eMachine Desktops are even worse), which in most cases, is almost never worth replacing regardless of which brand laptop you buy. Other more subtle issues include hardware failures due to cheap hard drives and memory modules, as well as components that can be adversely affected by a bad or failing motherboard. Finally, most Acer and eMachines cases and hinges are poorly made with cheap plastic and have a tendency to easily break. So, if the hardware does not fail on its own, the slightest bump could be the final blow that finally kills your precious Walmart special.

Side note: I actually own an Acer . . . I picked up an Acer netbook that had been damaged by a water spill for $10. I threw it in a closet and a few months later pulled it out (out of curiosity) and turned it on. Its been running like a champ for the last 6 months with no issues. In all honesty, I have not seen much difference in quality when it comes to netbooks, they all seem to work just about as good as the next one. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that many netbooks have very similar hardware components.

Gateway

Gateways are a little more hit and miss, meaning that you are probably more likely to pick up a decent Gateway than you are an Acer or eMachine, but they are still most definitely of low quality. The fact is, Gateway has actually put out some pretty decent model laptops, I cannot deny that, but the problem is, its very hard to tell which ones they are. Unless you specifically know which components were made by whom, theres a good chance your gunna get a lemon. Your best bet is to just stay away from them.

HP

This major brand manufacture has made some major mistakes and despite the lawsuits, extended warranties and angry customers, they refuse to change. HP used to make some very solid laptops (XP days) that are still running great today, but in the last 4 or 5 years, they have steadily gotten worse. The main issues with HP’s are the motherboards or more accurately, the graphics chips on the motherboards. As explained above, AMD Processors run very hot and cause a lot of overheating issues, especially when put together with NVIDIA graphics or chipsets. With that being said, HP’s with an Intel processor have very little issues, but you will pay more for it. To make things simple, if you really really really have to have an HP, then just make sure it has an Intel sticker, and not an AMD.

Dell

Typically Dells are pretty tough and are built fairly well. Unlike the brands mentioned above, there are not many issues that are common to Dells specifically, but they have had their share of issues. I have noticed that many dells run hot, but if you follow the tips and tricks mentioned in the beginning of this article, you should be fine.

Note: All the Dell laptops we sell have been exhaustively tested and come with a 90 day warranty. To see our selection of Dell laptops, click <a href=”http://www.thepcexchange.com/laptops/category/dell/”>here.</a>

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Disclaimer: As some of you read this article, you may not agree with everything that I have written, however, everything is based on fact as well as many years of experience. Some of you have probably bought a cheaply made laptop and have never had any issues (you are a part of a very fortunate few), while others may have purchased a high-end laptop and have yet to have a day that goes by without any issues at all, it happens. This article is simply here to help those who are in the market for a new laptop and would like to make an educated purchase instead of going on a whim. So please do not crucify me if your precious Acer is the best thing that has ever happened to you. With that being said . . .

<strong>Toshiba</strong>

One of the top 3 laptop brand we suggest on a daily basis. Toshibas do have a tendency to run a bit hot, but instead of continuing to run and over-heat (and ultimately destroy the motherboard), they turn off. Of course you see this most often in Toshibas with AMD processors.

Are you seeing a pattern here . . . ? AMDs Bad, Intels Good.

The most common issue we see with Toshibas are their hard drives. Off the top of my head I cannot recall if all Toshibas have Toshiba hard drives, but what I can tell you is this; most of the hard drives we replace are Toshiba hard drives, regardless of the laptop brand it came out of. Though these hard drives are more prone to issues, they still typically last at least 2 to 3 years and sometimes longer. So even if you were to buy a Toshiba laptop, and it had a Toshiba hard drive that had to be replaced in a few years, Toshibas in general are built well enough to justify replacing that hard drive with a better quality one.

Note: When doing hard drive replacements, The PC Exchange only uses the best quality hard drives. Typically we are stick with Western Digital or Seagate, as they have less issues than any other brands. Each of the Toshiba laptops we sell have been exhaustively tested and come with a 90 day warranty. To see our selection of Toshiba laptops, click <a href=”http://www.thepcexchange.com/laptops/category/toshiba/”>here.</a>

<strong>Sony</strong>

Another one of the top 3 laptops we highly suggest. Other than being a pain in the butt to work on, they are some of the best laptops you can buy and there is very little bad that I can say about them. The one thing I can say is this, even though you are obviously paying for quality when it comes to Sony’s, you are also paying for the name . . .

Asus (not to ever be confused with ACER)

Hands down, the absolute best PC laptop you can purchase. I have literally seen these things go through and Hell and come back laughing at the face of death . . . Ok, maybe not, but I have seen these laptops put through hell and still run better then most other laptops off the shelf. To give you a bit of history on Asus, Asus has always been known for being one of the top manufactures for hardware components like motherboards and graphics cards. So when Asus stepped into the game and started making laptops, you can imagine, they quickly became the absolute best laptop manufacture. One thing to note, is that you will rarely see an Asus laptop with an AMD processor, but there are plenty of them out there for those who absolutely have to have one. With that being said, the cooling design on Asus laptops are much better than those of other laptop brands and your are way less likely to deal with over-heating issues. Finally, since Asus does manufacture some of the best hardware available, it only makes sense that they would install their own hardware in their their laptops. In most cases, you will find that most of the main components are made by Asus themselves, or by another company just as competent.

To see our selection of Asus laptops, click <a href=”http://www.thepcexchange.com/laptops/category/asus/”>here.</a>

<strong>Apple Notebooks</strong>

Since apples are essentially PC’s with a Mac OS, I feel that it is appropriate to add this to the list. When it comes to a quality product with a great operating system, Apple simply beats them all. But wait, didn’t I say that Asus laptops are the best? I did, and they are, but comparing an Asus laptop to a Apple notebook is like comparing vegetables and fruit. Despite that, I will do my best to compare them.

<strong>Apple vs. Asus</strong>

Price: Asus laptops are actually priced very well for the quality that they put out. You can get a great laptop with high-end specs for around $500, whereas, you will probably spend close to a $1000 or more for a Mac with the same specs. With that being said, Apples rarely ever have to be repaired, which can pay off in the long run, but when they do have to be repaired, its almost always very expensive.

Quality: As I said before, Apples rarely have to be repaired. They are simply built well with quality parts. The most common issues we see with Apples is the hard drives and screens (which again is a common issue among all laptops) and their DVD Super Drives. Other than that, they are pretty solid.

Note: You will probably never see an AMD processor in a Mac, unless the tides change and AMD becomes better than Intel. Apple has a knack for only using quality parts that simply work with little to no issues.

Asus has not manufactured laptops long enough for me to be able to accurately judge its quality compared to that of Apple, but I will say this. As long as Asus keeps putting out quality laptops, they will be neck to neck with Apple, and for the price, they are a much better deal.

OS: Before I go on with this comparison, let me throw out another disclaimer. First off, I do not use and Windows or Mac operating system for my main desktop. I do however, use an OS called Linux, which, is far more superior than both the Windows or Mac OS combined. Now with that being said, Windows sucks. Windows has so many security flaws (60,000+ viruses is just one of them) and issues its not even funny. Not to mention all the random software issues and hardware compatibility issues that tends to crash Windows on a regular basis. Now, I have to say this, Windows 7 is by far the best OS that Microsoft has made and if you have to get a PC, Windows 7 is what you want. As for Mac, I rarely ever have to trouble-shoot any software issues and the times that I do, they are usually caused by the user. Also, you will rarely, and probably never have to deal with viruses. This is due to a lot of reasons, too many to put into this one article that is already way too long . . . but I will say this, it has little to nothing do with the number of Mac users. Even if there were as many Mac users as there are Windows users, there would still be very few viruses that would do much damage at all.

There are obviously other brands out there (most of which are not even worth mentioning) but these are the main laptop brands that you will deal with. I do apologize for this being such a long article, but I honestly did not expect it to be this long when I started it this morning. In any case I feel that it is better for you to have too much information, then not enough.

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