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Recommendations for laptop PC under $600

not-so-newguy

Explorer
Hi!

After nearly a decade of owning only tablets, I'd like to purchase a laptop that'll meet my needs and I think I can do this for under $600.
Here's what I'm looking for:

School I am taking an online course. I need to save some PDF documents for this. Also, possibly do some writing

Zoom/ Roll 20 (1) I do weekly play readings. (2) Since my D&D group is kaput because of social distancing, I'd like to try some gaming with strangers on the internet.
I need a camera/microphone. Nothing special here. It just needs to be reliable

Gaming 8gb RAM. I miss playing turn based strategy games on the PC, but I'm sure that I won't need the latest and greatest games out there. This should be enough, right?
 

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After nearly a decade of owning only tablets, I'd like to purchase a laptop that'll meet my needs and I think I can do this for under $600.
Here's what I'm looking for:
...
Gaming

You can certainly get a laptop for under $600. The gaming is going to be the hardest part to fit in. With an Intel processor, you don't want to go any lower than an i5 chipset, and even then the onboard graphics are going to be a limiting factor in gaming. With an AMD processor, pay close attention to that graphics card it has. Anything listed as just "AMD Radeon Graphics" probably isn't going to cut it.

I would recommend looking up games you think you'll play on Steam and looking at the minimum hardware specs, then use a website like Home - UserBenchmark to compare the minimum vs. a laptop you're looking at. Ideally, you want to be well above the minimum specs.

I would also highly recommend planning on using an external monitor. At $600 you're probably going to have either a small or low resolution screen. A monitor will help a lot. Make sure you know what plugs both your laptop and monitor have.

For desktops I recommend looking at refurbished equipment. On laptops, the battery and screen on used systems are a lot more of a gamble. Also, the used market is probably abnormally high priced right now.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You can certainly get a laptop for under $600. The gaming is going to be the hardest part to fit in. With an Intel processor, you don't want to go any lower than an i5 chipset, and even then the onboard graphics are going to be a limiting factor in gaming. With an AMD processor, pay close attention to that graphics card it has. Anything listed as just "AMD Radeon Graphics" probably isn't going to cut it.

So, I'm going to push back a bit here. It depends on what kind of gaming you're trying to do.

The OP mentions turn-based strategy games. The requirements for that are rather less than, say, modern fast-paced first-person shooter games.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So, I'm going to push back a bit here. It depends on what kind of gaming you're trying to do.

The OP mentions turn-based strategy games. The requirements for that are rather less than, say, modern fast-paced first-person shooter games.

Most FPS run in ps4 and Xbox 1. You don’t need currently gen hardware to run most games.

but laptop graphics Cards are meh. So that will be the most limiting factor anyways.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
My take is:

1. processor is more important than graphics card. But you can’t totally skimp on graphics card.

2. More ram is better than faster ram but you only need really enough to run the programs you want to run or maybe a little more.

3. Look at the games you want to play and make sure to hit min ram needs. If you don’t the game is likely to play super choppy. You can make a slightly slower processor or graphics card work usually by turning settings down to ultra low.

4. Think about storage capacity. Most games are large. Solid state drives boot up really fast but may not can hold more than 1-2 of the games you want installed at a time.
 

not-so-newguy

Explorer
So I'm looking at this right now:

2019 Lenovo ideapad
S340 15.6" HD Premium Home & Business Laptop, Intel Quad Core i5-8265U Upto 3.9GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, USB-C, WiFi, HDMI, Webcam, Windows 10, Dark Orchid


Screen Size 15.6 Inches
Max Screen Resolution 1366 x 768 Pixels
Memory Speed 3.9 GHz
Graphics Coprocessor Intel UHD Graphics 620
Chipset Brand Intel
Card Description Integrated
Wireless Type 802.11ac
Other Technical Details
Brand Name Lenovo
Series Lenovo Ideapad
Item model number LENOVO
Hardware Platform PC
Operating System Windows 10
Item Weight 3.96 pounds
Product Dimensions 14.09 x 9.64 x 0.7 inches
Item Dimensions L x W x H 14.09 x 9.64 x 0.7 inches
Color Dark Orchid
Rear Webcam Resolution 1.2 MP
Processor Brand Intel
Processor Count 4
Computer Memory Type DDR4 SDRAM
Flash Memory Size 128 GB
Hard Drive Interface PCIE x 4
Power Source Battery Powered
Batteries 1 Lithium Polymer batteries required. (included)

For an example of what games I might buy, I'm interested in Civilization VI on steam.

RECOMMENDED:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7x64 / Windows 8.1x64 / Windows 10x64
Processor: Fourth Generation Intel Core i5 2.5 Ghz or AMD FX8350 4.0 Ghz or greater
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: 2GB & AMD 7970 or nVidia 770 or greater
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 12 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Device
 




FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Not sure what you mean by "solid state drive." Can you elaborate a little?

hard drive. Solid state is kind of like a large flash drive so it’s faster and less moving parts. Old school hard drives are cheaper so you get more memory for same price. They are noticeably slower though.

most new laptops have a solid state from what I’ve seen.
 
Last edited:

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So I'm looking at this right now:

2019 Lenovo ideapad
S340 15.6" HD Premium Home & Business Laptop, Intel Quad Core i5-8265U Upto 3.9GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, USB-C, WiFi, HDMI, Webcam, Windows 10, Dark Orchid


Screen Size 15.6 Inches
Max Screen Resolution 1366 x 768 Pixels
Memory Speed 3.9 GHz
Graphics Coprocessor Intel UHD Graphics 620
Chipset Brand Intel
Card Description Integrated
Wireless Type 802.11ac
Other Technical Details
Brand Name Lenovo
Series Lenovo Ideapad
Item model number LENOVO
Hardware Platform PC
Operating System Windows 10
Item Weight 3.96 pounds
Product Dimensions 14.09 x 9.64 x 0.7 inches
Item Dimensions L x W x H 14.09 x 9.64 x 0.7 inches
Color Dark Orchid
Rear Webcam Resolution 1.2 MP
Processor Brand Intel
Processor Count 4
Computer Memory Type DDR4 SDRAM
Flash Memory Size 128 GB
Hard Drive Interface PCIE x 4
Power Source Battery Powered
Batteries 1 Lithium Polymer batteries required. (included)

For an example of what games I might buy, I'm interested in Civilization VI on steam.

RECOMMENDED:
Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 7x64 / Windows 8.1x64 / Windows 10x64
Processor: Fourth Generation Intel Core i5 2.5 Ghz or AMD FX8350 4.0 Ghz or greater
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: 2GB & AMD 7970 or nVidia 770 or greater
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 12 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Device

looks solid. I’m not sure the graphics card meets the requirement for the game you posted but as long as processor and ram does the game most likely will still run on low settings.

there’s sites that compare graphics cards. I know toms hardware used to do that a lot. You may can find something there To see how it stacks up to the listed ones in the requirements. I’d say you wont find a much better graphics card in a laptop though - not in that price range.
 

Sure! It's like a type of hard drive:

"While SSDs serve the same function as hard drives, their internal components are much different. Unlike hard drives, SSDs do not have any moving parts (which is why they are called solid state drives). Instead of storing data on magnetic platters, SSDs store data using flash memory. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they don't have to "spin up" while in a sleep state and they don't need to move a drive head to different parts of the drive to access data. Therefore, SSDs can access data faster than HDDs.

SSDs have several other advantages over hard drives as well. For example, the read performance of a hard drive declines when data gets fragmented, or split up into multiple locations on the disk. The read performance of an SSD does not diminish based on where data is stored on the drive. Therefore defragmenting an SSD is not necessary. Since SSDs do not store data magnetically, they are not susceptible to data loss due to strong magnetic fields in close proximity to the drive. Additionally, since SSDs have no moving parts, there is far less chance of a mechanical breakdown. SSDs are also lighter, quieter, and use less power than hard drives. This is why SSDs have become a popular choice for laptop computers."

Not sure what you mean by "solid state drive." Can you elaborate a little?
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
There's a bunch that will do a small SSD for your boot disk, and then a big-honking 1-2 Terabyte HDD for bulk storage.

notably I was looking on the 600 and below end about a year ago. most all the newer models I seen In the stores all had smaller SSD’s and nothing else. Like 128 GB was most common. Only the old models had any kind of HDD in them. Not saying none do - but that was my most recent experience.
 


2019 Lenovo ideapad
S340 15.6" HD Premium Home & Business Laptop, Intel Quad Core i5-8265U Upto 3.9GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, USB-C, WiFi, HDMI, Webcam, Windows 10, Dark Orchid
...
Graphics Coprocessor Intel UHD Graphics 620
...
Flash Memory Size 128 GB
...
For an example of what games I might buy, I'm interested in Civilization VI on steam.

You'll be okay for gaming, but not great.

Civ V on a very similar Intel CPU and GPU: UserBenchmark: Can I Run Sid Meier's Civilization V on a UHD Graphics 620 (Mobile Kaby Lake R)

For comparison, it's a tiny bit behind Civ 5 on a 6-year old GTX-750 with a desktop grade i3 CPU: UserBenchmark: Can I Run Sid Meier's Civilization V on a GTX 750-Ti

Realistically, that's probably pretty optimal for the price point you're aiming for. You might be able to get a little more bang for your buck with an AMD Ryzen processor, but I have to admit I'm a lot more familiar with Intel's options that AMD's.

As others have pointed out, the disk space on this machine is a little small but manageable. It will be fine for schoolwork, but that 126GB will go faster than you expect: Windows specs a minimum of 16GB, but is closer to 32GB in practice. You want to keep at least 16GB unused for optimal system performance. Civ 6 takes 12GB of space, minimum. That's almost half of the space allocated before you've done anything else. Take a look at the amount of storage used for photos, movies, and apps on your tablet/phone and see if you think you can get by. A portable hard drive is highly recommended.
 

not-so-newguy

Explorer
looks solid. I’m not sure the graphics card meets the requirement for the game you posted but as long as processor and ram does the game most likely will still run on low settings.

These are the MINIMUM requirement for the game:
Graphics: 1 GB & AMD 5570 or nVidia 450 or Intel Integrated Graphics 530

2019 Levono
Graphics Coprocessor Intel UHD Graphics 620

So just for my own knowledge, the pertinent info here is "Intel UHD Graphics 620" and "Intel Integrated Graphics 530" ???

Costco has an inexpensive laptop that had 1tb hd and 12gn ram. It is am Intel I3

Do you remember the name?



Now I'm looking at Acer Aspire 5. First question off the top of my head, what's the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 10 Home? Is it the quality of security being provided?
 

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