Buying a laptop

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stevepusser
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Re: Buying a laptop

#21 Post by stevepusser »

Don't forget that many of those 32 GB craptops are those Bay Trail Atom machines with Broadcom SDIO wi-fi. Those are royal pains to get working on Linux, if at all, and the touchpads are also quirky.

At least try one out with a Live USB first if you must have one--otherwise you can't go wrong with an older Thinkpad.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#22 Post by qyron »

stevepusser wrote:[...]get a used/refurbished Thinkpad 420 or similar on Amazon that has aged out of the business world.[...]
I wish I could do that. I honestly do. Last time I took the trouble to look into such market, it was dead. Either because companies enter leasing agreements with whatever companies they like, meaning that the old machines are usually "bought back" and disappear from the market or because the companies can't sell assets; our fiscal law states that company property devalues at a fixed rate per year, with such value being deductible at taxes but this also means that any equipment once it reaches a zero value can not be sold and must be destroyed, in order to be removed from the books. Not even workers can buy or keep the equipment for free.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#23 Post by stevepusser »

I found some on the US Amazon site the last time I looked; but you may not be able to use that...

https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-T430-LED- ... 1T08QZSMMG
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Re: Buying a laptop

#24 Post by qyron »

fopenp wrote:I don't know where are you all living... In my country with $50 or $20 you can just buy a broken and cannibalized laptop!

The OP has not explained whether this laptop must be a main computer, a secondary computer specific for something (just spreadsheets?), an experimental machine, or whatever.
General purpose machine, with web navigator and email manager capabilities, for running office applications.

Cannibalized machines are not a good option from what I've seen. Everyone and their uncle have become experts at taking apart laptops lately and perfectly good machines are taken apart beyond point where considering rebuilding can be a worthy gamble. I've seen empty carcasses with asking prices of €60.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#25 Post by qyron »

stevepusser wrote:I found some on the US Amazon site the last time I looked; but you may not be able to use that...

https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-T430-LED- ... 1T08QZSMMG
I can't, Steve. US market is basically off limits for me. Importing for that market implies paying heavy duties plus VAT. The end price could be more than a new machine here.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#26 Post by Deb-fan »

Those government policies are insane! Destroying perfectly good hardware for such stupidity? That really aggravates me dammit! Sounds like major corruption in action, as usual, somebody is raking in money on such an arrangement, politicos too, bribes. All this is just business as usual in my experience, here in the US too but at least not in this. Someone can easily get quality used systems.

Nopers @Steve, OP doesn't have access to US aimed resources. Would surely be subjected to VAT = value added taxing, which apparently is really costly for those subject to it. Though BIG TIME +1 on you and views on Broadcom! Using dkms or module-assistant just to get WiFi working has been a real pain for me. Honestly wouldn't be depending on what a nixer's doing, dkms does work great anyway. Still compared to having to deal with what OP's facing, better count n consider my blessings.

Oops I also should've read what OP posted above before posting my drek. It's subject to import duties too?!? Omg situation there is just all kinds of wrong.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#27 Post by fopenp »

qyron wrote:I can't, Steve. US market is basically off limits for me. Importing for that market implies paying heavy duties plus VAT. The end price could be more than a new machine here.
A refurbished laptop bought outside of EU implies VAT duties. So IMHO buying in the EU is the right choice for you (qyron).

In my country there are physical shops specialized in refurbished laptops. Discarding museum pieces, I recently seen that a usable used laptop costs more than 350 EUR. I wanted to buy a laptop and, luckily, I also wanted to go into a normal shop for watching the prices for a brand new laptop.

I bought a brand new laptop some month ago (actually manufactured in 2016) with a discounted price of 380 EUR. It's an AMD A12 with 4x 2,7 GHz CPU (boost at 3,4 GHz), 8 GB RAM (DDR4, way faster than my DDR3 machines), NVMe storage (more than 1 GB/s), USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 port, 15" screen, H264 and HEVC hardware decoder, HDMI output (which I connect it to my 22" TV).
It's noisy (because it's an ultrabook) but I'm absolutely satisfied, because is really fast in many tasks (and I also have another 8x 4,0 GHz desktop CPU). The hardware is new and, thanks to linux, I'll have at least another 10 years compatibility with free and non-free drivers. Another bonus: no scratches or faded parts at all!

So, for a main machine, I suggest you to reflect on this: it's better saving money today and using a precarious machine for years, or is better accumulating money and buy a modern machine (for 400-500 EUR) which will go fast for a decade?

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Re: Buying a laptop

#28 Post by stevepusser »

Compared to these oddball Broadcom SDIO wi-fi chipsets, getting wi-fi working using broadcom-sta-dkms for its compatible chips is a walk in the park. :(
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Re: Buying a laptop

#29 Post by stevepusser »

[quote="fopenp"]
...
I bought a brand new laptop some month ago (actually manufactured in 2016) with a discounted price of 380 EUR. It's an AMD A12 with 4x 2,7 GHz CPU (boost at 3,4 GHz), 8 GB RAM (DDR4, way faster than my DDR3 machines), NVMe storage (more than 1 GB/s), USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 port, 15" screen, H264 and HEVC hardware decoder, HDMI output (which I connect it to my 22" TV).
...[
/quote]

Do you have that hardware video decoder working in Linux? I know we have it working out of the box for Intel GPUs with va-api on MX Linux, and suspect we also have it working for AMD GPUS, but don't have any hardware to test that, and it's tough to get users to test that for some reason.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#30 Post by sunrat »

I just bought a used notebook yesterday for travel so only needed low specs. Its a Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e, a model which was targeted at the school market. $AU395 (new they are ~$AU920), about 18 months old and looks almost like its never been used.
11.6" touch screen which folds 360° so it can be used like a tablet, Celeron 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM, 120GB SSD, Win 10 Home.
Installed Debian Buster from netinstall, then kde-plasma-desktop after rebooting, and subsequently copied the package list from my production system and installed all those. I was actually a little surprised the install went so easily.
Everything seems to work although I didn't test thoroughly as it was late by the time I finished installing. Installed with ethernet but wifi was detected during install so will test that later. Didn't test the touch screen and tap didn't work on touchpad although scrolling and buttons were really good. Very happy with it so far.
I'll add inxi info later when I boot it again.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#31 Post by Deb-fan »

@Fopenp, that's a beast of a system ... nice. Sounds like something OP should definitely consider too. If they have some kind of decent enough credit or reasonable payment plan arrangement that doesn't include extortionate interest rates. Here in the states payday loan and rent to own places can legally charge people more than what mafia loan sharks generally do. Yikes. You buy new and pay it off you have most control of features, spec's and components. Can make sure you don't end up with a problem child hardware component, ie: Broadcom. Plus you should get warranty coverage with it there? Something breaks, they've got to fix it.

Only ever bought one laptop new myself and yep, ironically the hard drive did blow out in less than a year. Had them send me a shipping box with shipping already paid on it, sent it back to them. They had to fix it and send it back to me. They had to cover all shipping costs both ways too. Lol ... at first they actually offered to just send me a new drive and I could install it. Nope that's why I bought w a warranty. You/they got to handle such hassles.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#32 Post by Hallvor »

fopenp wrote: So, for a main machine, I suggest you to reflect on this: it's better saving money today and using a precarious machine for years, or is better accumulating money and buy a modern machine (for 400-500 EUR) which will go fast for a decade?
Computers tend to last longer than their usefulness. I still have a working Commodore 64 from the early 1980s.

I would rather have a high quality second hand computer, not only because it is a high quality piece, but because it is a few years old and almost certain to work with Debian stable.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#33 Post by fopenp »

stevepusser wrote: Do you have that hardware video decoder working in Linux? I know we have it working out of the box for Intel GPUs with va-api on MX Linux, and suspect we also have it working for AMD GPUS, but don't have any hardware to test that, and it's tough to get users to test that for some reason.
Yes, I use the amdgpu driver and I never had any problem with H.264 and HEVC. VDPAU works out of the box in Debian.

I tried to playing Big Buck Bunny at 1080p60 with H.264 and HEVC encoding, using mplayer. VDPAU has been automatically chosen, and the videos are always fluid. Mplayer complains that my system is too slow... it's the opposite! "vdpauinfo" command indicates the following supported profiles: H264_BASELINE, H264_MAIN, H264_HIGH, HEVC_MAIN... and others.

I've installed and upgraded a new MX 19.1 (Patito Feo) AHS x64 and I seen the same results.

P.S.: In MX I had to use a Wi-Fi dongle key because the (staging) "r8822be" module for my Realtek 8822BE Wi-Fi chip has not been compiled into kernel.

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Re: Buying a laptop

#34 Post by arzgi »

Hallvor wrote: Computers tend to last longer than their usefulness. I still have a working Commodore 64 from the early 1980s.
Those times electronics was more coarse, wider conduct lines etc. I had long a Spectravideo SV-328, which back then here was the biggest rival to C64. I kept it till I noticed have not touched it for 5 years, so discarded it.

I have had many mother boards breaking last, err, n years. Add on cards too.

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Re: Buying a laptop

#35 Post by Hallvor »

Yes, by all means, those things were built to last, but I am not suggesting that people should keep their hardware for 40 years. I have not owned hardware before that I didn't want to throw in the garbage bin after maximum 10 years and get something new, even if they worked flawlessly.

I have never had any big problems with hardware failing, except a HDD and a motherboard, but the latter was my own stupid fault. I am sure it would have lasted much longer without my abuse. :lol:
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Re: Buying a laptop

#36 Post by stevepusser »

Just to get back a bit to HEVC, I built the latest release of Mystiq transcoder for MX 19, and added a preset for MKV h.265 No Resizing High Compression, (copied from their MP4 preset) and it works very well to shrink my h.264 encoded video collection by a considerable percentage size without loss of quality and embedded subtitles. I never could figure out how to do that simply in handbrake, though now of course I know the ffmpeg flags since Mystiq can show that.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#37 Post by qyron »

This thread picked up a life of its own but I thought I should come back, now that I took the risk, and tell how things actually went.

I eventually got one of those machines. It was a slightly better model, with an Intel N3550 CPU, 3GB of RAM, 500GB HDD and the same 32GB eMMC. I got it for less than €200, with two years warranty, brand new. It also has a SD card reader, which was a surprise, as it wasn't listed on the product page.

Debian 10 installed like a breeze in it (I opted to load the system to the main hard drive), even alerting me that the wifi card required a given package to be installed (I let the installer work it magic and then installed manually the package from the non-free branch), the machine works fine, it's very responsive abd does the job. The only thing I haven't been able to get configured was the function keys; I'll eventually try to get that working too.

I may eventually get one of the cheaper models (under €150), with only the 32GB eMMC to try to find out how can I fit a fully functional linux in there.

Is it the best laptop I ever used? Not by a long shot. I haven't installed that many laptops over the years but my first laptop (an MSI MegaBook, with an AMD platform) was comparatively much more painful to install and getting wireless to work was close to impossible, with the hardware constantly halting or complaining no drivers were available. If this little machine was AMD based, I'd be a lot happier camper but as it is, it was not a bad deal.
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Re: Buying a laptop

#38 Post by Head_on_a_Stick »

Eva Smith wrote:I'm thinking of MacbookPro 2019
No. Just no. If you want a quality laptop then buy a ThinkPad, Lenovo offer Ryzen versions now and the new 4000 series is out next week. I'm buying one :)
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