Laptop for Kylie and the Grandparents #illumedati


Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. Today is just a short post about my thoughts on “Laptop for Kylie and the Grandparents”.

Photo by Junior Teixeira from Pexels

Another Laptop?

Yea.

My in-laws haven’t really needed to use a computer much since retiring and moving in with us. However, recently my father-in-law needed to use a computer. We pulled out their old one and it’s kind of on its last legs. The computer’s battery won’t hold a charge and can only run when plugged in. Additionally, it’s still running Windows Vista. I did what I could to get it running, but it’s slow and basically they just need a new one.

However, before buying one, we need to understand what kind of laptop they would need.

Portability

For the most part, they won’t be bringing this out to Starbucks or some other coffee shop. It will mainly be used at home. That said, it doesn’t have to be ultra-portable, but reasonable enough to carry around the house. For the same reason, as long as it has reasonable battery life, that’s probably fine too.

Screen Size

I used to love my 12″ Dell back in medical school, and I liked my 13″ ASUS for a long time. They were thin and light and awesome for portability. However, in general, I realized I didn’t need that kind of portability. Most of the time they were just at my house — and not going anywhere.

For that reason, I really think that the best screen size for a laptop is 15″, which usually equates to 15.6″ nowadays. I can’t imagine my in-laws squinting at 12 or 13″ screen. Also, when Kylie uses it, she’ll want a screen that big too. I doubt my in-laws or Kylie will be moving it around much except around the house. Kylie may need to bring it to school once in awhile, but that’s it.

CPU/GPU

In terms of processing power and graphics, it will mostly be used for the Internet and maybe some media consumption like YouTube or something. However, I want it to at least last another 3-5 years. For this reason, I wanted to go with one of the better processors, not just an Intel Celeron. However, I don’t think they’ll be needing a discrete graphics card since they won’t really be playing any games. The integrated graphics card is likely fine.

RAM

Ideally, I’d prefer to have more than 4 GB of DDR RAM. This is mostly to help it last a little longer. As it stands now, having multiple browsing windows in Chrome can already tax 4 GB. Having 6 (or more) would help.

Storage

I’d prefer an SSD if possible. However, this is one of those places I’m ok with using a 500 GB or 1 TB HDD. I think my in-laws would like to be able to access all of the pictures of the family on their own computer.

Price

Rather than a true price point, I wanted to focus on “bang for your buck” and a laptop that would last 3-5 years. Ideally, I’d like to stay under $300 for this though.

Other Considerations

I would like for Kylie to be able to use it too. My plan is that grandma/grandpa would have their own login for their stuff. Then I would make Kylie her own login for when she needs to use a computer for school. Also, I would place powerful restrictions on Kylie’s account for what websites she can access. This computer won’t really be powerful enough to run any real games and will mostly just be for education. My hope is that it will get her through the majority of elementary school.

Who are the contenders?

Well, after looking up “best bang for your buck laptops” on google, I found a bunch of contenders. The one that kept coming up was this one:

Lenovo Ideapad S145

Overall, this is a good pick for a very good price ($233).

  • Intel Pentium 5405U Processor 2.3 GHz Intel UHD Graphics 610
  • 4GB DDR4 SDRAM 500GB HDD 5400RPM
  • 15.6″ 1366 x 768 HD Display. Energy-efficient LED backlight.
  • HDMI, SD, MultiMediaCard, SDHC and SDXC, 1 x Combo Headphone/Mic Jack
  • Windows 10 Home in S Mode
  • Weight: 4.08 lbs

The processor for the IdeaPad S145 is a Intel Pentium 5405U. Now, this isn’t horrible, and it’s better than the Celeron. However, I think if I bought this processor the shelf life of this laptop would probably only be 2-3 years. Additionally, the 4 GB DDR SDRAM isn’t optimal, as I discussed above. I’m ok with the 500GB HDD, even if it’s only 5400 RPM.

After looking at this one, and other models in this price range, I decided to “price up” a little and began looking at laptops in “less than $400” range.

This is what I found:

Acer Aspire E 15

  • 8th Generation Intel Core i3 8130U Processor 2.2 GHz (Up to 3.2GHz)
  • 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED lit Display
  • 6GB Dual Channel Memory, 1TB HDD and 8x DVD
  • Up to 13.5 Hours of battery life
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 5.27 lbs

Normally this particular model runs $379.99 but can usually be found for less than $350, sometimes $330. However, right now it’s $309.

The major upgrades are:

Inteli Core i3 8130U versus Intel Pentium 5405U

This is a pretty significant upgrade. The Core series is significantly better than the Pentium series. For those who care, here’s the head-to-head benchmark.

6 GB DDR3 SDRAM versus 4 GB DDR SDRAM

While you may think that perhaps DDR4 is better than DDR3, let me assure you that for most users DDR3 versus DDR4 doesn’t matter that much. If you’re interested, go to Anandtech for more information and testing. Given a choice I’d probably build a new computer with DDR4 because of the motherboard options. However, in a prebuilt laptop, DDR3 versus DDR4 isn’t a deal breaker. What really matters for this laptop is the 6 GB versus the 4 GB.

The HDD are both 500 GB 5400 RPM, so that’s a wash.

Like I said, I would have preferred SSD, but this isn’t a deal breaker. I may end up just adding an SSD anyways. There’s a good video here.

Unforeseen bonus:

The screen on the Acer Aspire E15 is actually a 1920×1080 Full HD display whereas the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 is only a 1366 x 768 display. Not really necessary, but nice to have.

Obviously, what really matters is the price difference:

$233 versus $309

The Acer Aspire E15 is about ~30% more than the Lenovo IdeaPad S145. However, like I said, I believe the Acer Aspire E15 will last 3-5 years, whereas the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 will probably only last 2-3 years.

If we divide that by year, then it looks like this:

Low End Years (2 versus 3)

Lenovo IdeaPad S145 ($233/2) = $116.50 / year
Acer Aspire E15 ($309/3) = $103.00 / year

High End Years (3 versus 5)

Lenovo IdeaPad S145 ($233/3) = $77.67 / year
Acer Aspire E15 ($309/5) = $61.80 / year

In both of those scenarios, the Acer Aspire E15 comes out ahead. However, if the Lenovo lasts 3 years and the Aspire lasts 4, then it gets closer:

Lenovo IdeaPad S145 ($233/3) = $77.67 / year
Acer Aspire E15 ($309/4) = $77.25 / year

However, even then the Acer Aspire E15 wins just by a little.

What’s the verdict?

As you would expect, I opted for the Acer Aspire E15.

I always struggle with Buy the Best versus Buy Cheap. However, by exercising my own internal Value Cost Ratio and doing the math above, I think the Acer Aspire E15 is better for my daughter and in-laws need.

Anything else?

Yea, for those who might be looking for something a little smaller but just as powerful, you may want to consider this one:

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

  • 8th Generation Intel Core i3 8145u Processor (Up to 3.9GHz) | 4GB DDR4 Memory | 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED backlit IPS display; Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 1 USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port, 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Ports (one with Power off Charging), 1 USB 2.0 Port & 1 HDMI Port with HDCP support
  • 802.11AC WiFi ; Backlit keyboard; up to 9.5 hours Battery Life
  • Windows 10 in S mode
  • 3.97 lbs

It has a slightly better processor than the Aspire E15 and a 128 GB SSD instead of the 500 GB HDD. It has less RAM, at only 4 GB DDR4 SDRAM. However, since this is the “slim”, it weighs less, at only 3.97 pounds.

That said, it’s currently $350, so you’re getting higher and higher into the “less than 400 range”. In this range, you start seeing discrete graphics cards also, which I would always opt for. However, for many, that is overkill.

TL;DR

New laptop for Kylie and the Grandparents on the way.

I discuss my thoughts and reasoning for what I bought and why.

Whatever Wednesdays Sensei

-Sensei

Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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