PC for my wife.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by roland.g, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Title pretty much says it all. My wife wants a personal PC laptop. She says with years of using PCs at work and her frustration with OS X (read: reluctance to learn/know 2 OSes), she would like it if I just got her a PC laptop of her own.

    We have an iMac and I have a 13" MacBook Air (2012) as well, and while I have thought of putting Windows on the Air for her and giving it to her, so she will only ever boot into it, my guess is that idea would be met with resistance. I know you can get all the drivers, etc. to work, but the last thing I need is to take that approach and have something not work. I'll never hear the end of it.

    As a Mac guy from forever, I wouldn't really even know how to whittle down the choices in the PC marketplace and would really welcome some direction/suggestions.

    Can I expect a 13" or 14" PC laptop to have a full size keyboard. She uses a 15.6" Dell for work, so the keyboard can't be smaller. I hate to say I'm looking for an ultrabook for low weight because I would just prefer the best all around feature set depending on price. Certainly nothing with a touchscreen.

    Important Criteria:

    Windows 7 (she'll hate 8)
    Price preferably under $800 but that isn't firm.
    Full sized keyboard
    13", 14" or 15" screen
    4GB RAM or more
    WiFi and Bluetooth of course
    Preferably fairly light.

    Also would like a SSD vs a HDD but that isn't a dealbreaker.
    Optical drive is a non-issue.
    Webcam is also a non-issue.

    Any suggestions, brands, etc. would be great. Thank you.
  2. OLDCODGER macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2011
    Lucky Country
    Ermm ... You could partition the Air and install Ubuntu, then beam as you hand it to her and say "look what I did, just for you."

    *full disclosure: I am not a divorce lawyer* :)
  3. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Thank you for not being helpful.
  4. themumu macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011
    You've come to the wrong place to ask this sort of question. Everyone here uses and likes OS X. I got my MBP in 2008 and never looked back. I have had to use other computers for work sometimes (it was not my choice, they made me), and my experience has been that Macs have better quality hardware. I don't mean the CPU/GPU/RAM/whatever specs, I mean things like the quality of keyboards, buttons, touchpad, port placement, LCD - all the things you physically interact with as a user.

    So I would suggest you reconsider the idea of installing Windows on a Macbook of some sort. My Windows using colleagues don't always have it peachy on their factory installed Windows laptops (made by Asus, Acer, Toshiba - doesn't seem to make a difference), I don't think it would be worse on a Macbook.

    You can also try:
    a) a more Windows oriented forum
    b) just drop by a local big box shop and get whatever covers the requirements and has the lowest cost

    I'm gonna make a big assumption here and say that your wife probably does not care all that much about which computer exactly she has. If she did, she would have researched it herself, instead of asking you to get her a PC laptop of her own. If that is the case, go for option b) and don't overthink it.
  5. shiekh macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2006
    As a Mac guy you might want to have Windows under bootcamp; your Wife gets Windows and you can turn it back into a Mac when she is finished with it.
  6. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Yes, I could have gone to a more "Windows oriented forum" except that I don't know any, don't belong to any, and no not everyone one here is a 100% Mac user. Many MR forum members use both systems, whether personally or professionally and still actively purchase and use PC laptops for certain needs. I've run into many a comment from those folks over the years and was hoping some of them could comment based on their knowledge and the hardware they use.

    I also do intend to go to a big box retailer, but more often than not, I've found that folks who come here are more knowledgeable that your typical sales staff. Though I am a Mac guy, when I have options, I also tend to be more price conscious, though I still believe as any Mac guy would, in spending a little more on hardware than simply going for the cheaper route. That said I'm not getting her a $1,200-$1,600 PC laptop.

    Trust me I am very tempted to go the bootcamp route. However, that would mean getting a copy of Windows 7 ~ approx. $75-100 and seeing how well it worked. Then replacing my MacBook Air with a 13" Retina, and removing all my stuff from the Air, and reallocating the Air partition to almost entirely Windows as it would only ever boot into that. I have certainly considered that. I understand that this would give her significantly better hardware, a nice light machine, and an SSD. My only issues are that she could consistently run into issues as I tweak the bootcamp install to support drivers, etc. to make Windows work seamlessly. This route gets me a Retina to replace my Air, but is also the more expensive option.
  7. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Most (maybe all) "consumer" notebook PCs are, well, junk, based on what I've seen students use. I'd suggest a Lenovo Thinkpad, perhaps a X230. Don't consider their consumer-grade Ideapad lines.

    As nice as a MacBook with Windows might be, you would be paying both the "Apple Tax" and the "Microsoft Tax" (for the copy of Windows) which would put it well beyond your price target. And it's not obvious that it would be better. Heck, you can spill a drink on a Thinkpad and not be out a $1,000 repair bill.
  8. LaunchpadBS macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2008
    I gave mine a Macbook, she had no choice but to use OSX, she hates windows now :D
  9. zObsidian macrumors member

    Nov 25, 2010
    Consumer PC laptop hardware is pretty much the same, but varying in specs and configurations. There aren't very many differences in reliability among manufacturers. Unlike Apple with just a few different models, there are a million PC's and they keep changing so it's impossible to get a recommendation on a specific model.

    Sounds like you have the specs pretty much worked out, though I would recommend a bit more RAM, and maybe something with an i5 processor. An ultrabook of some sort would be best, just find something that matches those specs as best as you can and doesn't look overly ugly. When you get the computer, spend some time uninstalling all the crapware they come with.
  10. Ddyracer macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2009
    You could grab a a preview of windows 8 and see if it works (which it does) in bootcamp and if it works w7 will work as well.
  11. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
    Do the practical thing: what does she use at work? If it's too expensive, just go to Worst Buy and let them sell you something. When it craps out, you always have the option of saying, "I told you so." :D
  12. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    She uses a Dell at work. Heavy, big thing. Business class. Latitude I think. Docking. I found three HPs online for $600-$1000 that didn't look like bad options. All three had Windows 7 64 bit, i5s, SSDs, 13"-14" screens and weights of 3.3-3.6 lbs, one of which was a refurb.
  13. Mac_Max macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2004
    +1 on the X230. It's a great machine. Out of all the Windows laptops we buy for the business team and Linux based devs at work, the X230 is the only one that hasn't proved itself to be worthless garbage. All of the ultra books we've purchased have fallen apart or just run like crap. The X230 Is not as pretty as an Air or MBPr but the build quality of the internals are on par with Apple hardware.
  14. hachiman, Sep 27, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013

    hachiman macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Other than buying a macbook, you could buy an ASUS Zenbook.

    This one looks close to your spec except the windows 8.
    With SSD, RAM is not an issue anymore. If you look in that page, there is another Zenbook with the same spec but it has Windows 7. It's not shipped by Amazon so it may be tricky if you have to return it. I still use Windows 7 so I understand.

    I use both windows and mac systems. You are better off doing your research online first. You could try going to a car dealership to compare prices and specs but you will learn more taking the time to research yourself, which could take days if you want to go into details. Besides, salesmen don't have patience, car or otherwise. They are there to do one thing, sell, not to bore a potential buyer with nerdy details.
  15. m98custom1212, Sep 27, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013

    m98custom1212 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2013
    Toledo, Ohio
    You have plenty of choices for great ultra books but they all will come with windows 8

    Macbook isnt under 800...

    Thinkpad X1 Carbon (Check the Lenavo
    Ivy Bridge Acer S7
    Samsung Series 9 Lite or Regular (The plus will over 800 for sure)
    ASUS Vivobook
    ASUS Zenbook

    I also hate when people compare $500 laptops to Apple's Macbooks ($1000+
  16. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
  17. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Hi OP, I hope I can offer some assistance with this. What I would definitely recommend is a brand with good support. As you've come from an Apple background you'll be driven nuts calling some tech lines to get an RMA issued. In my experience, these are brands to avoid like the plague:

    Lenovo, ASUS, Acer. I beg you to avoid these three; I've had nothing but dismal experiences with them.

    Best support will be HP business (consumer support is crap), and DELL business (again, consumer route is rubbish). I think TOSHIBA are great but I'm biased as the company I work for are a TOSHIBA repair centre, meaning we get next day parts on any warranty repairs.

    Samsung, TOSHIBA and HP all do some decent priced ultrabooks. However I will once again have to say that HP's consumer support is pap. If you can go the business route with DELL & HP, we're talking onsite support and really quick RMAs being issued on the phone. I know it may be a little extra but I promise it's worth it if something goes wrong.

    I'm sorry I haven't mentioned products by name but I hope my input will aid your decision.

    Best wishes.
  18. Sassers macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2012
    You don't neccessarily have to be locked out of a Windows 8 laptop.

    My mom recently purchased a new computer with Windows 8 installed on it. Since she was coming from Windows XP and knows absolutely nothing about computers, I figured the Windows 7 look would be a bit more familiar to her than 8. So, I downloaded a prog called "Start8", which can be set up to automatically send her computer to the "Desktop" (looks and behaves like Win7) when she turns it on, and also adds the familiar Win7 start menu.

    That way, your wife could also poke around Windows 8 without losing the option to use it as a Windows 7 machine.

    I should say that I'm not 100% certain that she/you won't have to use Windows 8 for some esoteric things, but from what I can recall, it seemed like the file hierarchy and look of Windows 7 was all there in the "Desktop" tile option.

    As far as brands, my first (and so far only) laptop is my current MBA; when I was using Windows, I never had a laptop, so I can't offer any suggestions there.
  19. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I'll echo the recommendation for the Lenovo ThinkPads. I used them for years at work and they were solid and reliable. No the flashiest but they do work well.

    There's always hope. My wife and I both used Windows for many years, her as a network and email admin and me as a programmer. Since retirement we have both gone completely Mac except for me supporting some Widows programs I developed for a non-profit.
  20. Isamilis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2012
    My sister has also same resistance to Mac, and finally she took Lenovo X1. Spec wise is very similar with MBA 2012 that I had. The screen is great, 14". After 1 month usage, it clearly shown that the trackpad had been oily, like the old machine, while the MBA is still shine like new, even though MBA is 8 months older. The fan is also quite louder than MBA.
  21. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Thanks for all the replies. I tried explaining to her several minutes ago how I could have opted to load Windows 7 or 8 on my Air and let her use that but instead was simply looking for a PC. Of course she is under the misconception that her macro filled work spreadsheets and linked docs with live updating couldn't possibly work on a Mac running Windows. She is so clueless as to the hardware architecture and furthermore doesn't want it explained. She threw a tude and I left the room. That's it.

    I looked around and found some options today. I saw some HPs online, though I believe they are personal, not business, as well as stopping by Best Buy where I saw some Samsungs that I thought would work well. I looked at the Lenovo site, and it looks like the X230 would be $900-$1100 appropriately configured with only a 12.5" screen.

    Here are a few of the machines I found. Any reason 4GB RAM is not enough on a Windows 8 laptop with a SSD. It looks like it is soldered and non-expandable/non-upgradable, so I am worried that it is limited on RAM: Samsung Series 9 13" "Quad-Core" AMD, w/ SSD, max RAM 4GB

    This one is a little more than I wanted to spend: Samsung Series 7 13" i5 w/ SSD, upgradable RAM

    Of these two Samsungs, I believe the $750 model also doesn't have a backlit keyboard or as good of a screen.

    This refurb HP is $600, but the refurb only has 90 days warranty (can be expanded to 1 or 2 years with "service contract"), also had 4GB RAM max: HP Folio 13" i5 refurb - also available in a non-refurb for $950.

    This HP is $829. Ram is expandable to 16GB: HP Folio 14" i5

    At this point I am more leaning towards one of the Samsungs, but though I like the $750 price and most of the specs, I am concerned about the RAM limit, screen, and lack of backlit keyboard (though I don't think this is in any way important to her).

    Thanks again for any input. I hope to pick up or order something this weekend or early next week.
  22. xnatex macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2012
    Asus makes some nice laptops. I've heard good things about them. I hate Dell and am not a big fan of HP.
  23. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Now that I have a think, the place I work for have provided quite a few Samsung NP-530C ultrabooks (it was definitely a 530 something). The great thing is they have a dual-core i5, upgradeable RAM & hard-drive. As memory serves they don't have an SSD as standard but it's not much of a problem to get that sorted. I was fairly impressed with the machines, and they do feel quite nice. They're not aluminium, but they're not 100% plastic either.

    One of the main things with this model is that the trackpad is generous and really quite good. I'd also recommend installing the free 'touch freeze' program on any Windows laptop you get.

    Also the 530s came with Windows 7. I dunno if maybe there are some suppliers who still sell them -- but hopefully you can get one with an extended warranty for a good deal.


    May I also just add you must have the patience of a saint.
  24. Mal67 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 2, 2006
    West Oz
    Have you let her have a read of your comments in this thread? :)
  25. BayouTiger macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    I am big an Apple fanboi as any, but getting someone a Mac to run Windows full time if they are never going to boot into is silly. There are very good PC Ultrabooks that can be had that serve that purpose very well. Win8 is not the end of the world with a touchsceen and added start menu. In fact i bought an employee a Lenovo Yoga and after balking at first, he grew to really appreciate it, though he never really used the tablet aspect or flipped it.

    Personally, the Samsungs are nice. but I would not hesitate to buy a Thinkpad X1 at all though. I find the Lenovo's to be just a step up from the other PC's in quality to my taste.

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