Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

The best laptop is the one that will fit your needs. To decide what you want you'll need to first look at how you'll use it.

What's the better laptop to purchase: a mid-range Dell, HP or Toshiba running Windows 8 Pro, a terabyte hard drive, 2 GB dedicated graphics card and 6 GB of memory?

In this excerpt from Answercast #101, I talk about some of the variables involved in buying a computer. It will be different for each person.

Best laptop

You know what, I honestly don't know. I get this kind of question all the time. I really do. It pains me to have to answer this way but... It really depends on you more than me. It depends on:

  • How you use your computer;

  • What programs you plan to run on that computer?

  • How many of them run simultaneously?

  • Are they graphics intensive?

  • Are they computation intensive or do you just read email and browse the web?

  • What other resources are available to you?

  • Do you have a different place to take these things when it breaks? Depending on which manufacturer's computer you purchase.

  • Are there purchasing benefits and opportunities that would be available to you specifically in your area, or at the local stores, or for one or more of these particular models?

Quality manufacturer

The models that you list (Dell, HP, Toshiba) they all make good computers. They really do. I have a long history with Dell - but today, I wouldn't be averse to having either of the other two as well.

The problem is, like I said, the devil is in the details. The details vary from person to person. So it's not a question that I can answer directly.

I do have an article called What computer should you buy? and it really does talk about some of the characteristics of the computer that you should be looking at when you are thinking about buying a new computer. But as to specifically which one is better than the other? Not only does that answer change over time, it changes depending on who's buying the computer?

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6381 - April 5, 2013 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Greg Bulmash
April 5, 2013 2:20 PM

Seems like he's settled on the specs (6GB Ram, 2GB dedicated video, 1TB HDD), just not the manufacturer.

I think in this case, it's a question of reliability, level of OEM crapification (i.e. how much software you'll never use comes preinstalled and gets in your way), and support nightmares. On those criteria, it's been my experience and my family's that Toshiba wins or ties on reliability, and wins on level of crapification and ease of support.

April 9, 2013 9:23 AM

And when talking laptops, reliability should really be #1. I've always been partial to Thinkpads (first IBM, now Lenovo). Like the Timex commercial, they take a licking and keep on ticking. (Wonder how many of your readers have even heard that commercial?)

April 9, 2013 12:32 PM

There are so many new features coming out - such as touchscreen, solid state drives that are much faster, and models that weigh less - that make shopping for a new laptop an almost dreaded task. Meanwhile, my Lenovo Idea Tab is capable of doing many of the things that need doing.

Ideally would like a reliable ultra light laptop which is as fast as possible, as I only have 1G DSL. Suggestions welcome.

Mark Tier
April 9, 2013 2:49 PM

The first screen I use is reliability, based on guarantee claims. It's not always easy to dig up that information, but generally it seems that one-third of all laptops require a visit to the "doctor" in their first three years of life. Within that average are wide variations. Toshiba and ASUS used to have the lowest number of guarantee claims, now it appears to be Lenovo. I say appears to be (I just bought a Lenovo laptop to replace my ASUS which, in turn replaced a Toshiba) as the information available is sketchy and often anecdotal. And keeps changing!

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