Help on Buying a New Laptop

Hi, I am trying a choose a good laptop to buy. But I am having a problem choosing the right processor. I have seen a couple of names like Athlon 64, Athlon XP, Pentium 4M, Pentium M, Turino, Celeron, Sempron etc.

I don't know much about processors, so I have no idea which one of these are good. I am mostly going to use the laptop for internet access, and some gaming. And mobility is not an issue because I am going to have it plugged in most of the time. I just want a processor which is reliable, fast, and cheap.

Thanks for the help in advance.


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
For what you mention any will do the job. If cost is your primary concern go with the cheapest. Unless you are going to engage in competitive Online FPS games you will not be able to detect much difference.

I just placed an order for a laptop and chose the middle of the road processor. Perhaps as important as the processor is the amount of RAM, I ordered 1GB of ram, anything less just doesn't make much sense now. 2GB added over $100 to the total, I don't think for our uses (similar to yours) it is necessary.
What kind of gaming are you talking about?
moose said:
What kind of gaming are you talking about?
Not anything in particular. Maybe some single-player PC games.

Dr Transport

Science Advisor
Gold Member
Swapnil said:
..... And mobility is not an issue because I am going to have it plugged in most of the time....
if your not going to be mobile, why spend the money on a laptop when for the same $$ you can get one really good, high-end desktop machine????
I've seen it a thousand times. People have laptops which they always use plugged in, but they might take them to work (and plug them in), or a relative's house, or even within the house between the bedroom, living room, kitchen, basement, or whatever. A desktop and all the accompaniments and wires is inconvenient to lug around, but a laptop can be moved without much pain, without really being "mobile" in the sense that they have to be on for several hours on batteries.

Back to the point, if you are looking to do "some gaming" and want it to be able to do that "some gaming" with games coming out for a couple years to come, then some of the lower-end systems mentioned will struggle. Battery power is not an issue, and I would guess that size isn't, either? Then mayb


Swapnil said:
Not anything in particular. Maybe some single-player PC games.
Without anything more specific it is tough to tell what you need - 3d graphics are a huge deal.

Anyway, I just bought a version of this laptop about a month ago: [Broken]

The default integrated graphics on any laptop will be extremely limited for gaming - it likely won't be capable of running any game that requires 3d acceptably (not to mention 3d desktop apps like Google Earth will have trouble). The lowest add-on graphics option for that notebook is the ATI Mobility Radeon 1300, 128mb ram ($49). That'll be able to play any game except the newer 1st person shooters (Quake 3, Doom 4, UT2003+), though if you are big into flight simulators you'll want more. For those higher end 3d games, you pretty much need the highest graphics option available.

For processor, by far the best out there now is the Intel Core Duo.
Last edited by a moderator:
The Intel Core 2 Duo is out too but I'm not sure how it performs. Dual core processors are great for multi-tasking but as far as I know it doesn't make running single processes faster, only multiple ones simultaneously. For laptops, the Intels are usually more expensive because they're more powerful, but the AMD Turion 64 is cheaper, may run cooler, and still performs great.
Last edited:
Whoops, looks like my reply got weirdly cut off.

It's Core 2 Duo, not Core Duo 2. Yeah, it's weird. And anyway, it pretty much beats anything, but it's rather high-end at this point, and you wanted cheap. Regular Core Duo is good stuff and a bit cheaper. If you see Centrino Duo, those are Core Duos, but just Centrino probably isn't. Confused yet?

Anyway, just about any laptop you can still actually buy in a store can handle the Internet and office apps. The "some gaming" is the hard part here. All we have to go by so far is single-player.

Do you play real-time strategy, like Starcraft and Command & Conquer, or turn-based strategy, like Civilization or Galactic Civilizations?

Do you play Role Playing Games like Fallout and Baldur's Gate? Or Action-Role Playing like the computer-destroying Oblivion?

Sports games like NHL2006 or Madden?

Flight Sims? Racing Games?

First Person Shooters? Half-life, Doom, Quake, Unreal, Counterstrike, etc...

Puzzles? Emulated old console games?

Just little nothing games you can download freely (and legally) off the Internet?

Absolutely all of the above?

Depending on what you want it to do, it could impact the cheapness of your laptop and make you need a new graphics card.

The Physics Forums Way

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving