This topic contains 22 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  songbird 4 months ago.

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  • #4381


    I’m looking for suggestions for a new PC. The last one I bought – a £250 number from Currys – was really disappointing, so I’m looking for something a bit better. Budget max £500, on top of using it for internet, word processing and spreadsheets I also need to run stats applications like Stata/EViews. Ideally something without tons of bloatware if that’s possible these days.

    Any ideas much appreciated.

  • #4382


    For the best bang for the buck building your own computer and cutting out the middle man is always a good idea. I find that most pc manufactures always seem to stuff their computers with the cheapest harddrives, ram, cpu, motherboards etc possible and then stick on a premium price. If building you own pc isn’t an option look for something that has a good cpu (such a midrange intel i5 cpu), ssd, and lots of ram, the standard 4gb ram most pc makes pack their computers with is nowhere near enough for modern apps nowadays.

  • #4383


    Definitely avoid Lenovo -worst computer manufacturer ever from my experience!

  • #4384


    Desktop or Laptop?

    If it’s a Desktop, consider getting a Barebones Bundle from somewhere like Novatech.

  • #4389


    Building a PC is fun, but the fun wears off if you don’t have the patience to trouble shoot.

    For an easy life get a computer off the shelf. You’ll get a Windows licence and an operating system full of bloatware, but you’ll have a licence.

    You can then go to the Microsoft website to download a clean version of Windows 10. If you choose then you can wipe the computer clean of all bloatware and install a clean operating system.

  • #4390


    Thanks for the replies. Laptop not desktop and, really guys, if I had the skills to build my own computer, I wouldn’t be here asking basic questions about what to buy!

    • #4439


      You seem like a real jerk.. surprised if anyone actually likes you in real life if that’s your attitude.

  • #4430


    The Dell outlet store gives you value for money.

    Get i5 or i7, with as much RAM as they offer.

  • #4431


    Might be worth looking for something you can add additional ram yourself, I did this with my old sony Viao, and a couple of Mac’s not as hard as you might think and much cheaper than buying it in place, made a big difference to my Mac, when from 4GB up to 16.

    • #4432


      I don’t disagree that added RAM improves performance but I do wonder what everyone needs it for. I control my business from a <£500 laptop with only 4GB of RAM running multiple concurrent applications. Speed isn’t an issue. Your computer is only as fast as the slowest part and it’s no good having lots of RAM or a fast processor if the hard drive is slow.

      Therefore, and to hugely simplify the task of selection, confine your search to laptops with an SSD (solid state) drive.

      • #4433


        but I do wonder what everyone needs it for.

        Inverting sparse matrices 282,429,536,481 elements in linear dimension…

        More seriously – with less than 8 Gb RAM a modern bloated OS and apps can struggle – swapping to disk a lot. You won’t notice that performance hit so much with an SSD but you might notice the increased wear and failure level on the SSD… I get buy just fine for everything except heavy maths with a 2012 laptop with 4 Gb RAM and an SSD, but it’s running Ubuntu not the current version of its original flavour OS.

  • #4434


    Guys, you’re doing a lot of willy waving here…

    • #4435


      Sorry! I’ve been procrastinating on a serious answer.

      I’d be tempted to look for a compact laptop second hand with 256 Gb SSD and 8 Gb ram from circa 2014/2015 from a big manufacturer.

      If you’re using this for stats packages is it educational? Does your institution have any links to suppliers with student deals?

  • #4436


    I always check the CPU rating of any ‘deal’ on Passmark ( – this might make it obvious why your last PC was cheap and underperformed.

    An SSD is very good for improving start up time and also loading of applications and data – hybrid drives provide some of these benefits and remain low cost.

    Additional RAM will help if doing a lot of number crunching, but if you are not multi-tasking (using multiple apps at the same time) then I would say 4GB would be plenty, 8GB preferable. Numbers don’t use a great deal of RAM, even when being crunched but they might require a decent CPU!

    Hope that helps.

  • #4437


    I’d go for second hand or refurbished. My current laptop (Dell 7559, i7, 16gb RAM, 4k touchscreen, dual SSD/mechanical drive) was from eBay a year ago and only a little over your budget.

    My wife got a refurbished HP from laptopsdirect at a little less than your budget, can’t remember exactly spec but it’s fairly quick and she’s been very pleased with it

  • #4438


    My recommendations for your shopping list should include:

    Intel i5 (or i7 if your budget will stretch – but that’s less crucial than the other things in this list)

    16Gb RAM (or 8Gb as a single module and leave £85 in your budget to buy and fit a second 8Gb to give a total of 16Gb)

    A hard disk that is a SSD (Solid State Drive). This is much faster than a traditional hard disk which has mechanical moving parts. 256Gb minimum size. Don’t be tempted to go for a much larger mechanical disk, eg 1Tb.

    To get all this for your budget you need to compromise somewhere. Perhaps 2nd hand, perhaps manufacturer reconditioned (eg Dell outlet as others have mentioned above), non-touch screen, or a smaller screen than you might otherwise go for (eg 15″ instead of 17″).

    Don’t waste money on fancy graphics cards, you don’t need them for the uses you’ve outlined.

  • #4482


    Dell no question. No bloat wear and good value, look at business models (non glossy screen) intel i5 processor 8 or 16 MB ram Ssd drive and Windows 10. Should get what you need for £500

    • #4485


      I heard a rumour that Dell would make components in such a way that you could only buy spare parts or upgrades direct from them, such as wiring up RAM chips the opposite way round to regular RAM chips.

      Was this just a rumour or do Dell actually customise components so that you have to buy from them?

      • #4486


        I had no issues at all putting more RAM and a SSD in a five year old Dell laptop (M101z) recently.

      • #4487


        Dell sell sufficient volume to allow them to use customized motherboards and other components in their desktop & laptop products, while other smaller PC builders use off the shelf components. However I can’t remember coming across a Dell laptop that wouldn’t accept off-the-shelf RAM or Hard disk.

        Anyone looking to upgrade a laptop needs to be aware that laptops normally use different RAM (SODIMM) and hard disks (2.5″ not 3.5″) to a desktop PC. So double check before you click “buy”.

      • #4488


        Was this just a rumour or do Dell actually customise components so that you have to buy from them?

        They certainly used to do this, but it was upwards of a decade ago. I had to fix a Latitude where the hard drive had a special adapter glued on, in such a way that it was impossible to get it off without breaking it. So you had to buy a new hard drive with adapter from dell to replace it. I haven’t seen anything similar for a good many years, and in fact I would say the business desktops (e.g. optiplex) are one of the best on the market from a maintainability point of view. Everything hinges or slides out without tools.

      • #4489


        The only issue I have had with Dell is they had a tendency to use some custom hardware on the power/ front panel connections which meant if the motherboard died then replacement with a non-Dell one was more awkward. I also had one front panel fail which put the computer beyond economic repair. That said I have been mostly using Dell PCs for over a decade and this is my only major gripe about them.

  • #4490


    My PC is 8 years old. It was nothing special at the time, i.e. 4gb RAM and 500gb hard drive. It runs everything I need (internet, Office, Photoshop, video editing etc) and is absolutely fine. Most of this is from wiping the hard drive and reinstalling from scratch. I can’t imagine the need to spend £500 on a new PC to just do the things you need to do… A second hand PC, with a fresh install of Win10, should be absolutely fine.

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