What Laptop would you recoment to a non Linux user starting University/collage

I’ve just had a conversation with a friend about what laptop he should buy for his partners daughter for university she starts next week. The Big box store he was in was suggesting a Chrome Book, even though they had no idea of the use case of the laptop. It turns out she will be making and producing Videos as part of her studies. As I was initially informed her budget was around £300/$360 I suggested the best spec refurbished Dell or Lenovo or even a Toshiba Z30 or better, she could get for her budget, but even then it’s unlikely to have dedicated graphics which would be useful for processing video.

As it turns out the budget is a little better than initial thoughts as he decided he will help with the purchase, anyone got any suggestions of a good laptop for video editing preferably with dedicated graphics, 15" screen and DVDRW drive for project work.

What would be your suggestions?

PS. I’ve just been told that the video work she will be doing is only occasional light videos created on her phone which if any substantial editing is needed she can use the University Mac’s for this. So dedicated graphics is less of an issue.

As a member of the #thinkpad-mafia my views may be warped, bear that in mind.

I’d recommend a Thinkpad T550 i5 or i7. Lot’s of them (and T450’s) are just getting off corporate leases and are available over here for reasonable prices.

Be it Linux or Windows it should do everything she would need and for a long time. It checks all the boxes, well besides one. And that’s the DVD drive.

Would a USB connected DVD drive be a possibility or does she need it to be internal?

You could drop down to a T530 which is still an awesome laptop that does have an internal drive. You’d likely need to put a new battery into the pricing on one of those.

Good luck on the quest.

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I’m a Thinkpad fan, I don’t know much about the T550 (or T450 for a slightly smaller, more easily lugged about machine) but I’d say they would be worth a serious look.

So much depends on the use case for it, any would do for the “office” type apps, I’d look at models with at least a 1600x900 display (like my T430) for a 14" or 15" screen. A 1080p screen at 14" or below I find a bit hard on the eyes (but mine are old eyes). I know my T430 can be upgraded to an i7 and dedicated nVidia graphics (I think I saw a YouTube with someone upgrading a T430 with eBay parts) so I’d be surprised if the later machines couldn’t be - worth checking out anyway.

Does anyone still really still need a DVD/RW drive?

A Dell refurb wouldalso work, but I’ve always ound them to be a bit bulkier and heavier, and would a student want the extra weight?

I’ve had mixed experience with HP laptops, my EliteBooks are fine but others I’ve had or seen seem to be less robust than I’s like and the keyboards annoy me, the legends wear off the EliteBooks.

I’ve not had much contact with Toshibas (except a Chromebook) for years so will leave commenting on them, or Acer or Asus although I had good luck with both those 12 - 15 years ago.

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Thanks Frank, yes a USB DVDRW drive is an option and I had sugested this to my friend. I am also a Lenovo fan but Dells can be very good machines as well and I own a few :rofl:

The DVD drive would for the most part probably replace the need for a dedicated DVD player if needed for entertainment use, either standalone with the laptop or connected via HDMI to a larger TV screen.

Thinkpad’s are the way to go. You can get very nice ones off ebay for less than $200 US.

I would not go HP. I have had the battery expand in both my Omen gaming laptop and my work laptop (Elitebook). I have never had the issue with a Thinkpad, even the “cheaper” E series.

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Thinkpad. Or, if it doesn’t HAVE to be Linux I’d even say a used MacBook Pro that can run Mojave if she wants to only do video editing and browsing. Don’t hate, that’s just my 2 cents :grin:

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People still listen/watch DVDs? who knew with so many streaming services

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I’m old school I still buy Blu Ray and DVD’s and do not have any subscriptions to any streaming services, if Amazon hadn’t hiked the price of Prime here in the UK I might still have that, but for what I would use it for I can not justify the cost as I already pay £60/month for my cable internet and TV package I just cut the cord on the land line for phone, as our Mobile package is adequate for all our call needs.

Thanks for your help everyone, she ended up with a Dell refurb which did what she needs and within her budget.

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There was a time where I would have never considered used as a viable option for a laptop but PCs are so solid anymore that it’s really hard to justify brand new unless you absolutely need it.

My son is really loving his Dell refurb that he got with some gifts of money for his “graduation” from grade school. It has been a great machine to do coding on. I think he is still running EndeavourOS which was the USB stick install that we had handy when his new rig arrived. What I appreciate about the Dell refurbs is that they seem to be the business line of computers and appear to be just a little bit better made than the consumer grade stuff that you often see at Best Buy. He got one of the 7000 series ultrabooks, and has had excellent battery life on EndeavourOS (6-8 hours on a used battery), a very nice keyboard experience which is super important to him with all of his coding time, and overall the hinges and casing just seem to be a higher quality than what I used which is normally a consumer model from Best Buy. I hope your friends daughter enjoys her experience as much as my son enjoys his.


That is exactly why I like refurbished laptops, the models sold in big box stores tend to be aimed at the market of the casual user and not very robust at all. As it happens I’m on one of my Dell E7440’s as I write this, and it’s a great laptop. Also has the benefit of taking a 2.5" drive and a mSATA drive so you can have the best of both worlds a fast OS drive and a cheap larger capacity HDD for storage if that’s what you need, or loads of space for testing distros as is your want :grinning:

I have bought many Asus Zenbooks, and i have never been disappointed with them.

I wish the Dell Refurb site listed that detail on their site. I also wish that they made that evident in the e7440 manual. It looks like the only significant difference between the e7240 and e7440 models is the ability to add a 2.5 SSD or spinning rust drive on top of the mSATA SSD drive that they usually come with. The e7440 manual is basically exactly like the e7240 manual but with different pics for internal views of the laptop. Although it isn’t mentioned in the manual anywhere that the e7440 can accept a 2.5 into the same bay where you have your mSATA drive, you can kind of make out from the pics that you could do that. I would never have known that you can have two drives installed in a e7440 if you hadn’t mentioned it. My son has the e7240 model which only has a mSATA drive with no room for a 2.5 drive, but that is okay, because he doesn’t “hop” on that machine. He has EndeavourOS set up on there with all of his development tools working just great for his needs.

As a whole when looking at the Dell Refurb site, ebay, or others, I’m often longing for just a little bit more system information like: what type of RAM; how many RAM slots, and are both of them full currently; how many hard drive slots, along with in a desktop, do I have the proper number of power cables from the power supply to run all the drives; what type of SSD (often they don’t tell you if it is a mSATA or 2.5 SATA connection). Since I’m often trying to match up what I have in spare parts or what additional parts I might want to buy to expand the RAM or hard drive space this information would be helpful.

Not exactly in the same bay, but the mSATA bay sits right next to the 2.5 inch bay in the E7440. In fact many of them originally shiped with an mSATA drive which perversely was enclosed in a caddy in the 2.5 inch bay leaving the mSATA bay clear or with a Mobile Data WLAN card installed to enable the installation of a SIM in the slot under the battery.

You’re right, in the pics that are in the manual they have the mSATA in a caddy that is in the 2.5 bay, but it looked like you could install the 2.5 on top of the mSATA, but I bet that the caddy holding the mSATA wouldn’t actually allow that. I didn’t realize that you could install the mSATA in the same slot that you can install a mobile data WLAN card. I seem to learn something new every day when I come to the BDLL Discourse. Thanks @TonyHughes! I think the e7240’s lack the 2.5 drive bay and don’t have a spot for a Mobile Data WLAN card. I don’t think my son will allow me to take off the bottom of his new laptop to check for sure.

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The E7240 looks like the same configuration underside as the 7440 so taking the base plate off is as simple as removing the battery and taking out a couple of screws to release the cover. The whole base plate comes off and you can get at everything RAM, SSD, and other cards. Although I can see the reluctance of allowing someone to start pulling your favorite new toy apart :rofl::rofl: