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  1. #1
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    I came across PCSPECIALIST and messing around with buying a new laptop.

    Mine is 7+ years old, and whilst runs OK is a little slow for what I use now.

    So, my question is, is this better to do?

    I've spec'd up one, I'm OK with most things, but unsure over processors i3/i5/i7's etc. Also Wifi/Lan etc.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    I would just buy one off the shelf. The thing with custom PCs is you can pick and choose a precise spec and the parts you buy (assuming you buy good brands) will usually be of a higher quality than the OEM parts and often carry more warranty. This isn't the case with laptops AFAIK, they will be OEM boards and they just add components to them. If the price isn't much different then may be worth a go but personally I wouldn't bother.

    I would ask yourself do you need a Blu-ray player? I would say most people rarely use discs at all so would be tempted to get a laptop with no ODD or an ultrabay where the ODD can be replaced for a second HDD. I am surprised they are offering a SATA2 HDD, I would personally get a SATA3 SSD, i5 is a good middle ground and worth it, if you intend to game then graphics will be a consideration. Often laptops can't have the GPU upgraded or added later.


  3. #3
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Quote Originally Posted by evilsatan View Post
    I would just buy one off the shelf. The thing with custom PCs is you can pick and choose a precise spec and the parts you buy (assuming you buy good brands) will usually be of a higher quality than the OEM parts and often carry more warranty. This isn't the case with laptops AFAIK, they will be OEM boards and they just add components to them. If the price isn't much different then may be worth a go but personally I wouldn't bother.

    I would ask yourself do you need a Blu-ray player? I would say most people rarely use discs at all so would be tempted to get a laptop with no ODD or an ultrabay where the ODD can be replaced for a second HDD. I am surprised they are offering a SATA2 HDD, I would personally get a SATA3 SSD, i5 is a good middle ground and worth it, if you intend to game then graphics will be a consideration. Often laptops can't have the GPU upgraded or added later.

    Thanks mate.

    Re second paragraph:

    That particular spec came with no option to remove. I have an external USB DVD/RW and wouldn't need a Blu Ray so could easily do without that.

    I'd much prefer an SSD over a SATA 2, I would need the higher speeds as I do transfer a lot of data around from HD to USB etc. I don't game on it at all, it's all torrents and online media with video playing via HDMI out etc.

    Are there any variations of i5 better than others?
    Would 8GB be OK as a standard amount, presuming it's x1 8GB, laptop may have the option to add another 8GB at a later date.

    Regarding SATA3 SSD are there any speeds to ignore or go for, and the cache MB etc? Or is all this too much info and doesn't really matter for my use?

    Also, presuming online is cheapest, is there any retailer one should look to? Amazon over Ebuyer? for example?

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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    The whole i5 range is good, I'm not sure if some are dual core and others quad or if they are all quad now but I have always gone for the quad core models in my PCs, mobile versions may be different. For your use any of them should do, the i5-4xxx are the Haswell range so latest architecture.

    8GB is more than enough ram, even for running VMs, most laptops have 2 ram slots.

    SSD I would get samsung or crucial, I just got the 850 Evo from Amazon France for a lot cheaper than here, use this site to find the cheapest amazon site: [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

    Thanks to evilsatan

    BigBrand (19th April 2015) 


  5. #5
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Thanks bud, will have a look around!

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    DF VIP Member MartinC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Totally agree with evil custom laptops are not worth the hassle, you would be better putting your pennys towards a high end model from your fav manufacture or like IBM.

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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Yeah I forgot to say, Thinkpads are my favourite, the T series is what I tend to get. The retail tag is very high but you can get them on eBay or even refurbished models with a year of warranty left for a fraction of the retail cost. The s models (T430s for example) are thinner and lighter but I don't think they feel as robust, a bit flimsy. But the T430 is a bit of a tank if you carry it around all day like I do.

    Thanks to evilsatan

    BigBrand (20th April 2015) 


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    DF PlaYa AP0ll0UK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Buy a Surface Pro 3 + touch keyboard + extended warranty if you've got the cash - I'm a convert!

  9. #9
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Just a quick Q guys, what's the different in LAN & WIFI modules? I want to ensure I can get 5G WIFI.

  10. #10
    DF VIP Member MartinC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Most modern laptops will have 5G WiFi, LAN means an actually port on the laptop to plug a network cable in, depending on size and model of laptop, it will either have a Network port built in or you will be able to get an adaptor to give it one.

    In any case as long as you don't buy a cheap and nasty laptop from a brand that no one has ever herd of I would be surprised you would not get what you need. But always wise to check, you can always find a couple your interested in, and then post links/model numbers and I am sure myself or someone will check for you.

    Thanks to MartinC

    BigBrand (20th April 2015) 


  11. #11
    DF PlaYa AP0ll0UK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    As long as your WiFi adapter is dual band then you should be ok on 2.4 and 5GHz. As MartinC mentioned, make and model of machine helps if you're buying brand new. Or Control Panel > System > Network Adapters should tell you exactly what chipset the WiFI adapter has if you can get that information from the seller if you're buying used as adapters can be changed on a lot of machines.

    Thanks to AP0ll0UK

    BigBrand (20th April 2015) 


  12. #12
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    This is what I'm looking at now. Picking an i5 over an i3 seems to jump in price.

    I'm only really interested in something more powerful than mine now, with USB 3.0 and something that will work well with my WIFI and a good connection via Ethernet to the router 150MB line.


    I have an Acer Aspire 5536
    AMD Turion x2 Dual Core 2.30GHZ
    4GB RAM (2.78 usable?)






    Processor

    • Intel® Core™ i5-4210U Processor, 1.7 GHz
    • 3M Cache
    • up to 2.7 GHz

    Memory

    • 8GB RAM
    • (4GB On-Board + 4GB DDR3L DRAM)

    Hard Drive

    • 1TB 5400RPM

    Optical Drive

    • 8.9"mm 8X Super Multi with Double Layer

    Software

    • Operating System: Windows 8.1 64bit
    • Microsoft Office 2013 Trial

    Display

    • 15.6" LED Backlit
    • Resolution: 1366 x 768 HD

    Graphics

    • NVIDIA Geforce 820( N15V-GM)

    Audio

    • Sonic Master

    Networking

    • LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps
    • 802.11bgn+Bluetooth 4.0 (Single band)

    Power Supply

    • 65W AC Adapter
    • Output : 19V DC, 3.42A, 65W
    • Input : 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
    • 37WHrs, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion Battery Pack

    Dimensions

    • Width 380mm
    • Depth 251mm
    • Height 31.7mm
    • Weight 2.3kg

    Interfaces

    • 1 x USB 2.0
    • 2 x USB 3.0
    • 1 x Headphone-out & Audio-in Combo Jack
    • 1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x VGA

    Warranty/Miscellaneous

    • VGA Webcam
    • 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty




  13. #13
    DF VIP Member MartinC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    That defiantly has the connectivity you need.

    I must admit I would aim for a laptop with an SSD disk, it would put the price up but it would make a drastic performance change.

    Tosh do some nice laptops, my 2 previous laptops before my current DELL was tosh, but it all comes down to budget and what your doing with it.

    Thanks to MartinC

    BigBrand (20th April 2015) 


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    The U range of processors are low power but also slower than the M range iirc. It says single band on the wifi adapter which might be a concern for you and I don't like the sound of onboard memory as if the onboard ram fails you won't be able to replace it without replacing the motherboard. When it comes to SSD I would personally buy a laptop with an HDD (you then have more choice to find right spec and budget) then add your own SSD as laptop with SSD already inside will probably use a worse model than the Samsung/Crucial drives. Also as you will be reinstalling the OS it will be a clean install.

    Thanks to evilsatan

    BigBrand (21st April 2015) 


  15. #15
    DF VIP Member MartinC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBrand View Post
    • 802.11bgn+Bluetooth 4.0 (Single band)
    Doh missed that, will teach me to try and multi task and do many things late at night.

    Good thinking about the SSD, much better choosing one your self.

  16. #16
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Sorry not been back on this yet, hectic.

    So from all your advice (thanks boys) if I understood correctly, for my budget I should ideally look for

    * i5 2.5ghz or more
    * M range over U (I'm not arsed about noise, more performance)
    * Aim for higher number range on the i5, the higher the better (i.e 5200 over 3860 etc)
    * Ensure WIFI is Dual Band not Single Band
    * Chose a basic HDD (small) and look to upgrade to my own SDD later on
    * Aim for 16GB RAM (Will be used as media streaming/downloading and processing large files)

    Is there anything obvious I'm missing, as the rest is normal to me IE USB 3.0, size, brands to look for etc)

    Is there any secret industry guide to places to go? I'm aiming for places that support Quidco, and looking at Amazon, Ebuyer, Ebay, Laptops Direct etc
    Last edited by BigBrand; 13th July 2015 at 07:25 PM.

  17. #17
    DF Super Moderator Over Carl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Just to throw in another point of view, my preference is for corporate grade laptops.

    They tend to be a bit more plain looking than domestic laptops but often are more sturdy and are made to be easily serviceable. E.g. On many Dell Latitudes, I've purchased keyboards for around £30 and fitted in 5 mins or less. I remember being given a mate's gf's Samsung that needed a new keyboard - prices we got were about £25 for a Chinese keyboard or £150 for original keyboard that was stuck to the whole palmrest assembly. We got the £25 one, I spent hours stripping the whole thing down, then I realised why the original was sold with the palmrest - because they were permanently stuck together in the factory. I managed to split them and fit the Chinese one but it never worked right as it was bouncing when pressed.

    Thanks to Over Carl

    BigBrand (13th July 2015) 


  18. #18
    Banned BigBrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    Thanks, I'm fine with aesthetics, it's definitely the engine and build I want more.

    Can you throw the name of a few more corp grade ones?

  19. #19
    DF Super Moderator Over Carl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    I only mentioned the Dell Latitudes as they are what I am most familiar with.

    I remember IBM's seemed to be the best built but pricey, I believe Lenovo have carried on in that tradition with their T and X series, although others on here are probably more familiar with their latest offerings.

    HP also have a reasonably strong name in this department, but I never quite liked them as much as the Dells. Unfortunately I don't think HP made things easy with their model numbering so I'm sorry I can't think of any off the top of my head. I remember pissing around with an old Dell and an old HP both from same era and both with same processor and was surprised the HP definitely seemed quicker, although that was only one particular ancient model I did a side by side test on.

    The things to note that may be disappointing on business class laptops is you often don't get a super high end video card option, and speakers may be less "involving" than those on consumer models.

    Thanks to Over Carl

    BigBrand (13th July 2015) 


  20. #20
    DF VIP Member MajorFU's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is building a custom laptop better than buying one?

    I bought this one for my lad, a lovely bit of kit and got 10% off as mate works there

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

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