Getting a Windows-Based Laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dmachine, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. dmachine macrumors member


    Oct 22, 2005
    I know this will probably cause some controversy with some people on this site, but I am sure that there are people here who use both Windows and Macs. When I go back to college in the fall I will need to get a laptop that runs Windows. It kind of makes me sad that I wont be able to use my PB G4, oh well. I am not sure what brand to get, I had an Alienware laptop that I used when I was there before, but it was pretty big and I would like to get something that is easy to carry around. I wont need the laptop until August so I will probably wait and get it in July. The college has minimum specifications that the laptop needs to meet.

    Here are the minimum specs: • Equivalent of an Intel® Pentium® M processor 715 (1.5GHz)
    • XGA TFT Active Matrix Display
    • SVGA/XGA Video Adapter
    • 2 GB Memory
    • 80GB Hard Drive
    • DVD-RW Drive
    • Integrated 10/100 Ethernet adapter
    • Integrated 802.11b/g wireless network adapter
    • Integrated sound and stereo speakers, headphone/speaker jack, and microphone jacks
    • Lithium ion battery with AC pack
    • Extra Lithium ion battery
    • Integrated V.92 56K modem
    • Extended Service Plan
    • Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional

    What brand would everyone reccomend? Price isnt a real big issue, so I am going to get something that is going to last me for the rest of the time I am in college.

    I just got to thinking about something, do you think that by the time I would purchase this, which will be in mid to late July, that Windows will be more stable on the MacBook Pro? If I would be able to run Windows on a MBP and have it run stable and have no problems that would make it a lot easier for me, I wouldnt have to switch from using my PB and my Windows laptop, I could just use one laptop.
  2. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    Windows on the MBP is a good point, if you choose to use it, as it is now I wouldn't do it for your college course. I'm not sure how stable it will be in the future, hopefully quite safe and stable, and proven, as it would be ideal for you. My guess is that it still perhaps won't be as secure as some people would like to use it in the context you want, I guess it's down to exactly what you want it for.

    But on the actual Windows laptop front, personally I'd go for a nice decent Dell. My second thoughts would be HP or IBM(Lenovo). I like the HP laptops, but they tend to be a little bulky. If you get a smart decent one you'll be fine.

    Try not to get a cheap family/home model for college, I see too many people get those and get heavily let down with the build quality, feel, size, weight and the shear amount of time before stuff goes wrong, and how long it takes to generally get slow. (I was one of them!)

    To sum up, as always it really depends on what you use it for, which is rather subjective, so my personal views-I'd go Dell...
  3. dmachine thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 22, 2005
    I forgot to mention that my major is Technical Support Specialist. This degree program covers various aspects of computers, including: networking, web development, programming, hardware issues, software issues, databases, maintenance.
  4. Saluki Alex macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2006
    I'd look at Sony or Toshiba, I've heard great things about both (and while they're no where near as attractive as a Mac, they're a lot better than most Windows laptops ;) ). Although one of my friends has a Dell 700m (Dell sells the 710m now, it's the same thing), and he loves it.

    Before I got my Mac, I had looked at a few Windows laptops, I was predominately looking at the 700m and the Sony VAIO (VGN-SZ120P/B). Both of them have much smaller screens, but after using my MBP, I'm glad I went with a 15 incher.
  5. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2004
    my work laptop is an IBM, what pisses me off about it, is that i don't have a native serial port on it, and i always have to use a USB-serial converter. the thinkpad is a pretty good notebook. the hardware is also good. haven't had any problems. if i stay in the job i'm in, i think i'm going to try and request one of those panasonic toughbooks, that will serve me better with what i do with a laptop. the portability is a must for me right now.
  6. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    So you'll be learning how to earn a living by keeping Windows running flawlessly :rolleyes:
  7. blackstone macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2005
    Washington, DC
    I would get an IBM/Lenovo or an HP, in that order of preference.

    Steer clear of Dells. Recent-model Latitudes and Inspirons (e.g. D600, D610, 600m) have TERRIBLE quality control. I've lost count of the number of classmates of mine who have had to have their motherboard replaced within a year and a half of buying their Dells. Some have even gone through multiple motherboard replacements. There is something seriously screwed up with the current Dell designs.

    EDIT: If you're training to be a tech support specialist, a Dell might be good practice. "Doctor, heal thyself" ... :)
  8. calebjohnston macrumors 68000


    Jan 24, 2006
    Vote for IBM here, never had a problem with any IBM laptop -- and they scream "Hire me, I look the part =)."
  9. direzz macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2006
    get the sony VGNFE550G... i also happen to be selling mine.. its 4 weeks used :D
  10. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    I wouldn't even consider a Mac for the degree you are getting because Windows may run on Macs but it is a hack at the moment and that isn't likely to change before the Fall. Also, there is the chance that one or all of your professors would refuse to assist you with any projects that you have to do just because you have a Mac and the "its not compatible" argument. This probably would be false but it makes it that much easier for them not to help if they don't want to. I'm sure you are very computer literate but sometime we all need help...

    I am personally recommending to my friends to buy Macs currently, but if they are going to a Law School that is Windows only or for some reason need AutoCAD, SolidWorks or some other proprietary software, I am recommending an IBM or Toshiba laptop. Dell has ok machines but my experience is that their tech support is serious lacking if you have a warranty repair. Also, I went through three Precision workstations at work last year because of bad motherboards. Thats just more than bad luck imho...

    Take my opion with a grain of salt though, as I used to live in Austin, TX and I know a lot of people who were downsized by Dell. My perception is that Dell has very unethical business practices so I really don't want to buy from them again even if they are the least expensive. I know most corporations are unethical to some extent but most corporations haven't laid off tens of thousands of people some of which were my friends in an area where I used to live...
  11. shadie macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2004
    I recently decided against the MBP and bought a Lenovo Thinkpad Z60M.

    Last Powerbook was a 1.67Ghz Rev D which I sold after a few months because I did not feel the speed boost I expected moving from a G3 400Mhz Pismo :eek:

    Anyway, the Z60M is a great machine so far, comes with a great suite of software from IBM, fingerprint reader, 3 in 1 Card reader, 1680 x 1050 resolution on a great screen, Hard drive motion sensor, Modem, Firewire, PC card slot, Express card slot, Gigabit Ethernet, S-Video out, Trackpoint and a Trackpad, Removable drive bay, Dual Layer DVD burner, 3 X USB2 ports, ATI Radeon X600 (128M) and mine cost well under USD$2000.

    Battery life is around 3 hours with the standard battery, weight is under 6 pounds and it runs so cool, I've only ever heard the fans when the machine is powered on. I've never heard them during normal operation.

    I still have my old TI book for fun and when another Mac comes out with nice features I'll probably take the plunge.

    Still got the option of running Linux, Windows and OSX on the Thinkpad if I really wanted. :cool:
  12. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    I have a Thinkpad T43 and a Dell Latitude something-or-other. The TP is much better, although the Dell looks a little nicer. I think the new TP (T60?) is already core duo too.

    Of course, if you're looking for something to run windows....MacBook Pro?
  13. Takumi macrumors regular

    Dec 15, 2005
    Gunma, Japan
    go for something with an AMD turion processor, so you can run Linux 64.


    Notes: now that intel based macs have been hacked to run windows nativly, you could buy a mac laptop:p food for thought
  14. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    Well if it's technical support I'd stay clear of the MBP for your main Windows machine. Maybe have a Mac laptop on the side if you already have one, but I'd go for a proper Windows machine from what you have said.

    I've had bad experiences with Sony notebooks over the years. Toshiba have been patchy. If you get a business model you're usually safe.

    Obviously everyone is coming out with thier Core Duo models, such as Dell etc, some of the newest Core Duo Dells seem to have fairly good reports, but I do like what blackstone said, would either way make you learn how to do tech support etc for a notebook!

    IBM/Lenovo seem to be getting good mentions here. No doubt you'll have the business image.
  15. bah-bah'd macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2006
    I just got the lowest end 15.4" widescreen Acer Aspire for super cheap and it runs linux well too. You can get one with all the specs you listed for less than 850 right now I bet and I think there are rebates out there... I went for even lower specs and spent even less $. Basically I needed a dumb-terminal, IE test box, simple TN panel for testing...

    Edit: btw you can go AMD or intel with these too. (ahem, AMD =)

    Why would you be upset for having two computers for work and play???
  16. petej macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2004
    IBM/Lenovo are good.

    Take a look around all the ariports / trains and these things are everywhere. Why? because they are tough as boots, reliable and good to support. If you're wanting to play games then look elsewhere. These are business machines. I'm very happy with my work provided one.
    My previous Sony was the worst laptop I have ever purchased. I got it with win 2k installed just before XP was released and sony never provided drivers for it to work with XP. Given that Vista is on the way(?) then I would not expect Sony to behave differently this time. You buy a package from them computer + OS and they do not expect you to upgrade to a new OS. Sony is a consumer shop. Others such as hp, IBM are business shops and expect you to install different OS and so in general supply drivers if they can.
  17. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    This is my experience too.
    I work with a lot of Acer machines everyday, mainly the TravelMate series however, as it is what the schools I work for use. Personally I don't like them. But on a more professional level I've had bad experiences with their build quality and generally how long they last before bits fall off, or something breaks, or the whole thing starts to feel like it could fall apart suddenly. To give them credit they're still pretty good to last how long they do, given they have to cope in the rigorous environment that are classrooms!

    They've come a long way over the past few years and improvement has been made...always good, gives good prospects & I look forward to what they come out with in the future, but for anything much more than what you say you use them for you may have problems. But then again, you can't really argue with the price of Acers! At least they are one of the best cheaper machines out there and are very good value, its just whether you want more and want to spend more for it.
  18. wxgeek96 macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2006
    My husband recently purchased a windoze laptop from and is very happy with it. He is a grad student, so he found an ultra-portable 12" laptop to be the best solution for him.
  19. w8ing4intelmacs macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2006
    East Coast, US
    serial port?!? out of curiousity, what about your work requires a serial port?
  20. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    That a USB adapter wouldn't do too?...Macs don't have serial ports. A lot of other Windows machines out there don't have them either. I've not had one on any of my laptops for years now. Any time I need one I use USB Serial adapters, do the job fine.

    I guess if you're using them a lot or it's specialised a native one would really be needed. Though it's rarely on the top of any spec sheet for new machines these days!
  21. dmachine thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 22, 2005
    Since Apple just released Boot Camp will I have an easier time being able to use Windows if I get a MBP. Anyone try installing boot camp yet? Will I get all of the functions of Windows as if I am running it on a non Apple branded PC?
  22. Oryan macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2005
    Lincoln, NE
    I don't have a MBP (yet) to try it out on, but it sounds like Windows will be fully functioning. What Apple did was adapt Windows so it could boot using EFI (instead of BIOS) and wrote a couple hardware drivers for the intel macs. Unless there's a bug in there, it should work fine. Remember it's only a beta though.
  23. GilGrissom macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2005
    As I understand it Apple have added BIOS support to their EFI boot system with the firmware update. They haven't actually made any changes to Windows (as you bring your own bog standard XP Home/Pro SP2 CD with you).

    It seems like a better solution, more feasable for your laptop, but there is still some problems/issues/missing bits, whatever you want to call it. The system clock, for one, doesn't update in XP as it cannot recognise the Mac's internal clock, and you cannot use the iSight yet.
  24. dmachine thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 22, 2005
    Well I just found out from my college that I would have no problem getting a MacBook Pro, which makes me very happy. Now the question is should I wait until closer to when school starts,which is on August 21, or should I just buy it now? Does anyone think that there will be any major changes between now and August?
  25. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

    Nov 17, 2004
    The Msp
    If you don't need it now, I would wait. They'll no doubt release a 17" version at least, and this version may undergo a revision by August. Maybe some of the kinks will be ironed out. If you need it now, though, it's a hell of a machine, I'd say go for it.

Share This Page