New laptop suggestions
Thread poster: Maria Chiara Serra

Maria Chiara Serra
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
Jun 24, 2019

I'm starting out as a freelance translator and I decided it's time for a new laptop. What are the most important factors you take into cosideration when chosing a new laptop. What about the RAM, the processor, the size of the screen or any other factors you think are relevant? I already know that I will be using cat tools, that I want Windows and a long lasting battery. For the screen size I was thinking about 15 inches, do you think that's comfortable? My budget is around 500 usd feel free to... See more
I'm starting out as a freelance translator and I decided it's time for a new laptop. What are the most important factors you take into cosideration when chosing a new laptop. What about the RAM, the processor, the size of the screen or any other factors you think are relevant? I already know that I will be using cat tools, that I want Windows and a long lasting battery. For the screen size I was thinking about 15 inches, do you think that's comfortable? My budget is around 500 usd feel free to suggest any specific laptop. Thank you!Collapse


 

Andriy Yasharov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 07:49
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
There are some options to choose from Jun 25, 2019

I have found some models when searching on google.com:
Best laptops under $500
Top 10 Best Laptops Under $500
I believe that a 15-inch screen is rather small for a translator.


 

123Translations
Venezuela
Local time: 01:49
Member (2008)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Wait a few weeks Jun 25, 2019

On July 7th, AMD's new (zen 2 Ryzen) processors will hit the market. AMD is cheaper than Intel, and are (arguably) better for multitasking although it is believed that zen 2 generation will finally beat Intel in gaming as well.

If you can't wait that long, just go with any Ryzen processor, as long as it has at least 4 cores and preferably hyper-threading (the "x" versions).

8 GB of RAM suffices, but if you also want to do other stuff on the laptop 16 GB would be better.
... See more
On July 7th, AMD's new (zen 2 Ryzen) processors will hit the market. AMD is cheaper than Intel, and are (arguably) better for multitasking although it is believed that zen 2 generation will finally beat Intel in gaming as well.

If you can't wait that long, just go with any Ryzen processor, as long as it has at least 4 cores and preferably hyper-threading (the "x" versions).

8 GB of RAM suffices, but if you also want to do other stuff on the laptop 16 GB would be better.

As far as the screen goes you will have to take portability into account. Will you take the laptop along with you on a regular basis or will it just sit at home? If you don't plan on taking it with you I recommend buying a desktop, since they are much more powerful and a lot cheaper.

You can build your own laptop on this website https://www.pcspecialist.it/. They are very reliable and professional and offer excellent service.

Good luck and let us know how it went.

Cheers,


Peter
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Recep Kurt
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 06:49
Member (2016)
English to German
RAM, RAM, more RAM Jun 25, 2019

Most applications are very RAM hungry, therefore I would go for 32 GB RAM. Browsers with lots of tabs open for research, or a voice recognition software you might use, will run much more smoothly with more RAM. And all other apps love RAM too.

 

123Translations
Venezuela
Local time: 01:49
Member (2008)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Speed of RAM Jun 25, 2019

For simple tasks, the speed of RAM is much more important than the amount of RAM. Neither browsing nor translation software require a lot of RAM.

Especially if you're on a budget, money is spent much better elsewhere than on RAM.


Jo Macdonald
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:49
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Several choices Jun 25, 2019

You're not likely to get more than 6 hours of battery life with 15" notebooks at this price point.
If you don't already know what you're looking for, don't bother thinking about RAM or processor.
Find an image of the keyboard and make sure it fits your needs. For instance, I can't live without Home/End/PgUp/PgDn. Some people need a numpad.

Capping the budget at $600, some of the options you can consider at 15" are the IdeaPad S340 (be sure to get the one with a 1920x1080
... See more
You're not likely to get more than 6 hours of battery life with 15" notebooks at this price point.
If you don't already know what you're looking for, don't bother thinking about RAM or processor.
Find an image of the keyboard and make sure it fits your needs. For instance, I can't live without Home/End/PgUp/PgDn. Some people need a numpad.

Capping the budget at $600, some of the options you can consider at 15" are the IdeaPad S340 (be sure to get the one with a 1920x1080 screen):
https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/ideapad/ideapad-300-series/Lenovo-IdeaPad-S340-15IWL/p/88IPS301215

Acer Aspire E 15: https://www.amazon.com/Acer-Aspire-i5-8250U-GeForce-E5-576G-5762/dp/B075FLBJV7
Aspire 5: https://www.amazon.com/Acer-i5-8265U-Keyboard-Fingerprint-A515-54-51DJ/dp/B07RF2123Z
Aspire 3: https://flash.newegg.com/Product/1TS-000X-00VT0
Swift 3: https://flash.newegg.com/Product/1TS-000X-00UY7?icid=WP_0_06252019

Huawei Matebook D: https://flash.newegg.com/Product/N82E16834324036?icid=WP_24_06132019

Asus VivoBook: https://flash.newegg.com/Product/N82E16834235097

All of them have specs that I consider acceptable at this price point, so you need to look at their keyboard layout and make sure that you're comfortable with it. And any alternative models you consider should have specs equivalent to the above.
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Full keyboard Jun 25, 2019

Maria Chiara Serra wrote:
I already know that I will be using CAT tools...


If you're going to use CAT tools, then a full keyboard is better than the standard reduced laptop keyboard. Also, if you're going to use CAT tools, having a bigger screen is nicer. These days, with full HD being pretty much the standard resolution, you can easily get a 15" screen along with a full keyboard. What else... erm... make sure it has enough USB ports. Don't worry about RAM initially -- you can always add more RAM. A fast hard drive is useful to have, so... SSD, but you don't need it to be very big. If you want long battery life, try to get one with a removable battery, and then get an extra battery.

Added: I've just had a look, and I discovered that even the pricier laptops sometimes top out at 8 GB of RAM. I would suggest that you get a laptop with a maximum RAM of at least 16 GB. You don't need 16 GB of RAM at this time, but it would be nice if you have that possibility.

Personally, another thing that I would look for is having both an HDMI and a VGA port, so that you can connect it to more external screens.

I would prefer to get one with a second storage device (so, the primary storage would be SSD or M.2, and the secondary storage would be a 1 TB HDD). Sometimes, you can get a bracket that slots into a CD drive's space so that you can replace the CD drive with a hard drive (and then use an external CD drive).

I would not worry too much about AMD vs Intel. For CAT tool usage, I don't think the difference between them would be crucial.


[Edited at 2019-06-25 16:02 GMT]


 

Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 07:49
English to Romanian
Lenovo IdeaPad Z710 Jun 25, 2019

15 inches is not comfortable.

I totally love the laptop I bought five years ago or so. It hasn't failed me so far.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z710.

https://www.emag.ro/laptop-lenovo-ideapad-z710-cu-procesor-intelr-coretm-i7-
... See more
15 inches is not comfortable.

I totally love the laptop I bought five years ago or so. It hasn't failed me so far.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z710.

https://www.emag.ro/laptop-lenovo-ideapad-z710-cu-procesor-intelr-coretm-i7-4710mq-2-50ghz-haswelltm-17-3-full-hd-8gb-1tb-dvd-rw-nvidia-geforce-gt-840m-2gb-freedos-black-59433930/pd/DYJS5BBBM/
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A. & S. Witte
Germany
Local time: 06:49
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
US$ 600 Jun 25, 2019

If on a tight budget, I would still spend US$ 600, not 500.

Do make sure you get at least quad-core CPU, or higher. I would also recommend to insist (with some research being necessary to achieve this) on a minimum speed of 2.3 GHz, or faster. The extremely energy-efficient, slow CPUs with a strong focus on battery life will not be a lot of fun when working (make that: trying to work), we have one in our Acer ES15 so we can tell.

AMD Ryzen is now clearly the No. 1 prod
... See more
If on a tight budget, I would still spend US$ 600, not 500.

Do make sure you get at least quad-core CPU, or higher. I would also recommend to insist (with some research being necessary to achieve this) on a minimum speed of 2.3 GHz, or faster. The extremely energy-efficient, slow CPUs with a strong focus on battery life will not be a lot of fun when working (make that: trying to work), we have one in our Acer ES15 so we can tell.

AMD Ryzen is now clearly the No. 1 product over Intel in the desktop computer market in terms of "What CPU product do the actual (price-sensitive) users who bought a current CPU recommend" -- but I do not hear the same in the laptop CPU market yet.

Do get anti-glare screen.

Do make sure the webcam has a lens with at least 0.9 megapixels and a crystal clear image quality.

I would still get one with an in-built physical drive (DVDRW+ writer or DVD/BluRay combo drive). Some software, like some good dictionaries, is not yet available in file form for downloading, and it might take a long time for this to happen. Burning a DVD can be of help once or twice a year, and then make a diff in an emergency situation where no large flash stick with available storage space is to hand or does not want to be given out to third party. You can make backups using DVD writer if you have a lot of time on your hands or little data to backup.

Do get 1000 mbit/s LAN connector even though all laptops come with WiFi (get a speedy interface, higher letter basically meaning higher connection speed!) in addition. Do consider an in-built Bluetooth interface, this is optional and costs a bit of excess money over buying a cheap Bluetooth USB adapter and plugging it into USB interface but at least you then do know that it will work stably.

Do get an HDMI interface.

An SSD (Solid-State Drive) is now considered near-essential to have due to the problem behaviour to do with long boot-up times that almost all traditional SATA drives show in the regular consumer segment. If this is still in the budget, maybe (I do not know this) there is a laptop with a very small SSD (like 96 GB or something) and a large 500 GB or 1 TB traditional SATA hard drive built in.

[Edited at 2019-06-26 09:55 GMT]
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Kieran Sheehan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:49
Member (2008)
German to English
Second-hand Lenovo Thinkpad with 16GB RAM and docking station Jun 25, 2019

Hi Maria, if I were you and had your budget I would get a second hand Thankpad (such as T460 or T460S) with 16GB or RAM, an SSD hard disk and a docking station. I think it will be more than enough. Furthermore it's a business notebook use the docking station to expand, e.g. with external monitor etc.

 

DZiW (X)
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
cool, silent, and reliable Jun 26, 2019

Maria,
1) it would be your main/only working machine or a mobile/backup one?
2) Did you read the preferred CAT system requirements?
3) How often do you plan to work outside even with a lightweight notebook full of private/sensitive data?

While notebook are not so easily upgradeable as desktops/PCs, for the start I would go for any non-Atom real dual-core @2Ghz CPU with 2+MB cache, 4+GB RAM, 160+GB SSD, and dual 1+GB video, providing it's both cool and silent... See more
Maria,
1) it would be your main/only working machine or a mobile/backup one?
2) Did you read the preferred CAT system requirements?
3) How often do you plan to work outside even with a lightweight notebook full of private/sensitive data?

While notebook are not so easily upgradeable as desktops/PCs, for the start I would go for any non-Atom real dual-core @2Ghz CPU with 2+MB cache, 4+GB RAM, 160+GB SSD, and dual 1+GB video, providing it's both cool and silent. Of course, at home/office I would surely plug in a full-size keyboard, a laser printer, 24"+ hi-res monitor, add a cheap 256GB micro-card, and so on; gradually upgrading what I feel really necessary.

I don't mind used hardware, but even buying from a trusted seller still poses higher risks, including the wearing out and maintenance costs. Anyway, don't be too shy--ask a familiar Frankenstein-maker IT guy.


* A good mic/sound, a 3+Mpix webcam, and a comfortable keyboard is a big plus, yet a nice looking, a touchscreen, a fingerprint, a dual-band MiMo WiFi, a DVD writer, and the rest is often but an optional bonus costing extra.
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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Lenovo Jun 26, 2019

The Thinkpad is a good budget business laptop. 15'6 is fine, been using that size for years. Get 8 Mb ram in one strip, you can add another 8 Mb later, doesn't make much difference. You may still be able to get one with a normal HD then if you want clone it to an SSD later. Most important thing is to get a Matt/antiglare screen or you will get redeye. i5 is fine, you don't need i7 and it uses lots more power, at least 1 hour less battery life. The battery on my E560 lasts all day unless I have t... See more
The Thinkpad is a good budget business laptop. 15'6 is fine, been using that size for years. Get 8 Mb ram in one strip, you can add another 8 Mb later, doesn't make much difference. You may still be able to get one with a normal HD then if you want clone it to an SSD later. Most important thing is to get a Matt/antiglare screen or you will get redeye. i5 is fine, you don't need i7 and it uses lots more power, at least 1 hour less battery life. The battery on my E560 lasts all day unless I have the screen brightness up full, more than 8 hours no problem. With an SSD there are no moving parts and the fan never starts up unless it's plugged in.
Easy to replace parts too like the keyboard without taking the whole thing apart.
Imo you'll be hard pressed to find a decent business laptop for 500 bucks, maybe second-hand but personally I'd rather have a new one and change it every five years. The E560 with no frills cost me about 700 a few years ago directly from Lenovo, order just the features you want.
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A. & S. Witte
Germany
Local time: 06:49
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Weight factor Jun 30, 2019

A. & S. Witte wrote:

If on a tight budget, I would still spend US$ 600, not 500.

Do make sure you get at least quad-core CPU, or higher. I would also recommend to insist (with some research being necessary to achieve this) on a minimum speed of 2.3 GHz, or faster. The extremely energy-efficient, slow CPUs with a strong focus on battery life will not be a lot of fun when working (make that: trying to work), we have one in our Acer ES15 so we can tell.

AMD Ryzen is now clearly the No. 1 product over Intel in the desktop computer market in terms of "What CPU product do the actual (price-sensitive) users who bought a current CPU recommend" -- but I do not hear the same in the laptop CPU market yet.

Do get anti-glare screen.

Do make sure the webcam has a lens with at least 0.9 megapixels and a crystal clear image quality.

I would still get one with an in-built physical drive (DVDRW+ writer or DVD/BluRay combo drive). Some software, like some good dictionaries, is not yet available in file form for downloading, and it might take a long time for this to happen. Burning a DVD can be of help once or twice a year, and then make a diff in an emergency situation where no large flash stick with available storage space is to hand or does not want to be given out to third party. You can make backups using DVD writer if you have a lot of time on your hands or little data to backup.

Do get 1000 mbit/s LAN connector even though all laptops come with WiFi (get a speedy interface, higher letter basically meaning higher connection speed!) in addition. Do consider an in-built Bluetooth interface, this is optional and costs a bit of excess money over buying a cheap Bluetooth USB adapter and plugging it into USB interface but at least you then do know that it will work stably.

Do get an HDMI interface.

An SSD (Solid-State Drive) is now considered near-essential to have due to the problem behaviour to do with long boot-up times that almost all traditional SATA drives show in the regular consumer segment. If this is still in the budget, maybe (I do not know this) there is a laptop with a very small SSD (like 96 GB or something) and a large 500 GB or 1 TB traditional SATA hard drive built in.


I recommend that the weight should not exceed 2.1 kg. I've had one or two somewhat heavier laptops and they proved difficult to handle when I did not have my own transport.

[Edited at 2019-06-30 18:11 GMT]


 


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