How does the ‘PC Guy’ buy a laptop?

by Patrick McHugh


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Family, friends, students and customers ask me this all the time… “I need a new computer; what should I get?” Often times, it seems like they are expecting an answer that is filled with meggerbites and giggerhurts. Introspection sets in when I actually ask – What do expect to do with this machine? And what do you want to spend?

But before they answer the money issue, I generally discuss how computers at any given time are categorized as; “yesterday’s news,�� “current for the time” and “bleeding edge.” And then I further discuss the costs (again, in general) for each of these three categories. I also try to explain to them how computers don’t just get cheaper over time, and waiting, forever, is not going to work.

This brings us to the issue of the day; what happens when I need a computer? Computers for me are a 3-year commitment. I even insist on the three-year warranty with coverage for accidental damage.

I am a very heavy computer user for both personal and professional tasks. Like a lot of people, I browse the Internet, read the news, check my email, use The Facebook (inside joke), and play games. (Sheepshead, if you must know.) However, unlike a lot of people, I RDP everywhere, monitor PRTG, create, run, and test VMs, fing networks, putty, windirstat, and TFTP.


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My computer travels with me pretty much everywhere I go. I think it has as many frequent flier miles, as I do. Obviously, having a computer configured with the tools I may need for a customer, is required when I travel for business. Having a computer available when I travel for leisure, allows me to quickly look stuff up, stay connected, and solve occasional issues for customers.

Finally, I always considered myself a tech gadget person. Where the perfectly normal machine would suffice, mine needs to be a little glitzy, a little techy, even to a degree, a little nerdy. I do have a budget, though. The thing has to be practical AND affordable.

The search was over on 10/6/2015 – Microsoft announced the Surface Book. This laptop has almost everything I could want, including the glitzy detachable screen that becomes a tablet. The machine I desired had an Intel Skylake i7, 16 GB memory, 512GB SSD, at about 3.5 lbs. But Wait!!! Showstopper = the nearly $3000 price tag. It seemed like a lot of money for a Revision 1 model. Back to the drawing board.

The warranty on my current computer was expiring soon, so for nearly 8 weeks I scoured every website of anybody who sold laptops. People tend to have favorites, but we consider ourselves hardware agnostic. I would take almost anything that came close to the Surface Book, without its price tag.

The first challenge is that most “high” end laptops come with 8 GB memory and 16 GB is hard to find. Laptop universe gets smaller… I was interested in the Intel Skylake (6th generation processor) … smaller yet…. I also wanted to make this next purchase as light as possible – Ultrabook with 12 or 13-inch screen. (not too many choices left.) And it cannot be a Mac (ha, choices only reduced by one.

So what made the cut, from the last few choices? I settled for the Lenovo Yoga 900. This laptop/ultrabook meets all of my requirements for processor (Skylake i7), memory (16 GB), SSD (512 GB), weight/size (3.5 lbs./13.3-inch screen) AND budget – (A little more than half of the MS Surface.)

Ordered directly from Lenovo, able to swing 6 months free financing. New laptop landed this week and admittedly it meets all of my expectations, except a few minor irritations. There is no Ethernet or HDMI port. Nothing a few adapter purchases can’t fix.

The final word… moving into a new laptop is nearly as tough as moving into a new home. But just like moving into a new home, 3 years of flotsam and jetsam (trial versions, miscellaneous tools, and games I did not play) will end up being purged.

Patrick McHugh

Patrick McHugh

Patrick is a Network Engineer at Source One Technology and has been providing IT consulting services to schools, nonprofits and SMBs in Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dane, Washington , Jefferson, Ozaukee, Kenosha, Racine counties and across Wisconsin for over 25 years.

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