ebuyer daily deals 40% off

 

laptop under 350

As technology evolves prices of once expensive technology can drop. Laptops are a perfect example, once costing thousands you can now pick up budget netbooks for under £200. But what are these computers like and can you really get a good, full size, laptop for under £350?

We’ve got three laptops all for under £350 [as of 12/11/2013] to compare: They are the Asus X551CA, Asus X102BA and the Toshiba Satellite C50-A-166.

But first let’s start out with a few basics:

A £350 laptop will not be suitable for everyone, if you’re using a laptop for video editorial, high end graphics or gaming these models aren’t for you. The computing power is simply not high enough and you could become frustrated.

Having said that not everyone will need such power in a laptop. If you’re a student or class yourself as a ‘standard user’ e.g. Browse the Internet, edit pictures, work on office documents, chat online, watch movies etc… budget laptops can be the perfect option for you.

How do you measure a laptop?

shutterstock_53264473

The three key features to look out for on a laptop are the Processor, RAM and Storage. These three things dictate the speed and storage capacity of your computer- As a rough guide the higher these aspects are, the more expensive & faster the laptop is[This is a rough guide for these purposes].

To complicate things a little, there is the additional aspect of a Graphics Card– but this is usually reserved for higher-end laptops that require high quality moving images.  Screen size and additional benefits may also raise the price, but not usually change the speed.

Suitability

When we talk about suitability for roles, what we mean is the power of the laptop and its capability to run programmes at an “acceptable speed”. So as you can imagine a £1500 gaming laptop has more processing power to play a complex game. One at £250 would still play the game but the speed would be unacceptably slow.

What’s included in the price?

Unless stated otherwise, laptops come as stand-alone machines. You will get the laptop, charger and battery, with the current operating system installed (Windows 8 at the moment). All you need to do is turn it on and input your details.

What you need to consider, is that in most cases you will need to add some office software- Anti-Virus and any additional programmes you want. Many laptops have their own built-in software so always check in the product description of what’s included.

So let’s have a look at what you can get for under £350;

Under £300

tosh sat 1

This is the basic level. You will find laptops under £300 that are perfectly suited to simple office tasks.

The Toshiba Satellite Pro C50-A-166 is great value laptop, it contains a basic Intel Celeron processor, which is perfectly suited for simple tasks and internet browsing. It’s by no means the fastest processor but for under £300 it will do a good job.

The laptop also has 4GB RAM to work with the processor and a spacious 500GB HDD. To put this in perspective a 500GB Hard Drive will store the equivalent of 140,000 songs or 200,000 photos. So plenty of space.

As is standard with most laptops the screen is 15.6″ with a built in Webcam + Bluetooth set, which is always handy for Skype conversations and transferring material, it also comes with Windows 8 64-bit.

 

Around £300

asus touch

The Asus X102BA-Touch is a fantastic value Touch Laptop for under £300. To say touch screens have only been part of the laptop world for around two years, the price point is astounding.

Like the previous laptop this computer is designed for basic office tasks. However this is a far more compact and light machine, ideal for those on the move.

The screen is 10.1” multi touch responsive so you can have the benefits of a tablet with the stability and larger specifications of a computer.

What’s also great about this particular model is that it comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office. A product that can usually cost up to £100 to add.

Under £350

asus laptop 1

As we said at the start of the page the value of a laptop is judged usually on its Processor, RAM and Storage. This is why the Asus X551CA Laptop is valued higher that its counterpart.

The Asus is a fantastic value machine for the specifications. The Intel i3 inside the Asus is a middle-to-high end Processor, suitable for a wide range of tasks. The processor is far and above greater than the Intel Celeron or Pentium and is suitable for all office tasks, photo manipulation and simple video editing work.

This is twinned with a beefy 4GB RAM and 500GB hard drive. You can even upgrade for a small amount to the 6GB RAM, 1TB HDD version: that’s over 1000 GB of storage with a lot of memory!

The X551CA has a 15.6” screen with a built in webcam and Windows 8 operating system.

LAPTOPS AT EBUYER

So to answer the question: “can you get a good laptop for under £350”? Yes you can, but always consider what you’re using it for. It’s better to buy bigger now than be left behind in a few years’ time. Remember to cater to your budget and don’t forget you will usually have to add Anti-Virus, Microsoft Office or similar software.

15 COMMENTS

  1. “1TB HDD version: that’s over 1000 GB”

    Wrong. the standard HDD uses manufacturer method of measuring space. this means that a 1 TB drive actually gives you 930 GB of storage.

  2. Simon: 1 TB is 1000 GB and 1 TiB is 1024 GiB. The problem lies in the fact that hard disk manufacturers use GB but Windows uses GiB and mistakenly identifies it as GB.

    It is correct that 1 TB is not OVER 1000 GB, it is exactly 1000 GB

  3. It is a fact that you will always want to push the boundaries of your machine. My old Pentium struggled to do two things at once. My Quad core does it fine, but struggles with photo manipulation. The more you can do, the more you will try to do, and that has to be good!
    Research, review, and get the best you can afford!

  4. George,
    I use Autocad 2011 on my four year old Toshiba Satellite, 4GB (or GiB whatever) and the graphics card that came with the machine. It is workable but I would not wish to spend a whole working day, five days a week, using it. Before I retired I was used to a 21″ screen and a powerful desktop pc that had been set up by the IT dept.
    So the answer is ‘Yes’, but only for minor work, say, revisions to existing drawings or small stuff.

  5. I would NOT advise buying bigger than you need…. reality is that by the time you actually need bigger, it will be cheaper and even better than the one you bought today….same applies to upgrading an existing machine… it is better to just buy a newer machine… but don’t buy it bigger or better than you actually need… that’s just wasting money… just buy the cheapest machine that does what you want now…

  6. I thought Windows 8 had very good virus protection software. Also there is very good free office software available. I use Libre Office as I was unwilling to buy Office when the free trial period ended on my laptop, especially as I did not realise it was a trial when I bought my laptop.

    No my query: can you use a mouse with the touch screen laptop if you are having difficulty with the touching?

  7. Windows 8 has been reimagined to be all about you. Put what matters most right on your Start screen, and get instant access to your people, apps, sites and more, so you can spend less time searching and more time doing. The intuitive, fast, and fluid design of Windows 8 is perfect for Toshiba laptops, thin and light Ultrabooks, convertible touch-screen Ultrabooks and all-in-one PCs.

  8. But what would the lowest acceptable spec (and price) be for a laptop capable of music production? Big-name brands and suppliers each have their own take on the subject but what if I want to go it alone and source one myself? The information available is sketchy and prices vary considerably so help and direction would be appreciated.

  9. It’s difficult to say outright as usage, composition size and software would vary. Audio production is not as demanding as video production so it can certainly be done from a home device.
    As a rough guide for the minimum requirements: Using standard software you will need at least a Intel i5 processor or AMD equivalent. RAM of at least 4GB – I would say 6GB for multi-channel recording. Your Hard drive should be 500GB+, Any other storage should go on a backup drive as to not cramp the drive. If you can get a SSD go for it but price will rise. An improved soundcard would be useful but you will need to buy an external one as it is a pain adding it to a laptop. Additional Graphics card are not a necessity but look for a laptop with as many connections as possible – USB 3/HDMI/FireWire.
    Price-wise, I guess were talking around the £500-£550 mark all in. Naturally the higher you go the better the kit, the more smooth your production will be…
    Other Audio producers feel free to chip in!

  10. About audio production …
    I’ve been using pc’s for audio production for over 10 years so I do know a thing or two about it. The main computer in my studio uses a fairly old (it was state of the art at the time lol) dual core pentium running at approx 2.8Ghz and has only 2 gig of ram – hard drives are standard sata and for what it’s worth it has a pretty reasonable graphics card (really doesn’t matter though). I use a delta 1010 soundcard with external rack mounted ‘breakout box’ and that does matter a lot – your sound card will be the biggest influence on your recordings.
    The above will happily deal with multi-track audio up to about 60-70 tracks, though if you use tons of vst/dx plugins then that will reduce the possibilities a bit, but even so I can run maybe 20 plugins with 50 or more tracks totally glitch free. Software synths do use a bit more though.
    I would never recommend a celeron for audio work – they just can’t handle it lol, but anything from a dual core pentium (or AMD equivalent) upwards will be fine. 2Gb of ram is enough for most tasks, but hey – you can never have too much ram ! The biggest thing is the soundcard – for a laptop you will probably have to go USB as there are very few good internal cards for laptops. There are loads to choose from – a decent starter USB audio interface can easily be had for under a hundred pounds – I would recommend items from Focusrite, M Audio, MOTU etc – any good make should be fine but read some reviews first and make sure it does what you need !
    Just a couple more things …
    Screen size matters a lot – the bigger the better ! I use a 24 inch 2ms monitor and it’s still not big enough by far lol.
    64bit vs 32 bit – without a doubt you will have way less problems with a 32bit system. Many audio plugins and even recording software like acid etc can struggle or not work at all on 64bit systems (from personal experience). So – best to make sure any potential laptop will run 32bit – are drivers available ?
    Hard drive size – the bigger the better ! Think 1Tb is massive ? think again – a large multi-track project can easily reach 30Gb and more when you factor in all the tracks, the mixdowns and various other things. I have projects that exceeded 50Gb so anything less that 750Gb is probably too small in the long run.

    That’s it ! Any questions just ask and I’ll do my best to help 🙂

  11. I bought an hp probook4350s a couple of years ago on ebuyer for £299, fantastic deal! Ok I put 8gb ram in it for another £50 but the performance is top notch – windows experience index 5.9 – with the gaming graphics being the lowest score. Which is just what the article says, but to be honest making movies with it racing my i5 desktop with a similar amount of ram it really doesn’t give much away at all. Good quality laptops for under £350? Definitely! But choose carefully!

  12. Thanks for all the info, guys – it’s great. Would you all recommend that, whatever I decide and choose, that the machine is used solely for music production i.e. day-to-day email and internet etc to be done with a separate pc/laptop?

  13. Hi Paul
    If you can afford to have a seperate pc for audio production then it’s a good idea to go that way for several reasons …
    Firstly it means you can set it up for just that specific task without needing to worry about other applications.
    Second – if your audio production pc does not connect to the internet, does not process email etc, then you have no need for anti-virus or firewalls on that system. Anti virus and firewall software can really mess with audio (and video) production, eating up resources and causing glitches and such, and it’s just not required.
    Obviously if you download anything for your audio pc then it should be scanned on your ‘net’ pc before you install it, but once it has been given a clean bill of health there is just no reason to have av/fw software constantly checking it in your audio enviroment.
    I have never had a problem with the above – I do not have any ‘protection’ installed on my audio pc and it’s fine. Just don’t let it connect to the internet – in fact remove anything you can from your audio pc that isn’t needed for audio production or isn’t required for windows (or whatever you run) to work, and make sure anything you do install get’s scanned elsewhere first.

    Hope that helps 🙂

Comments are closed.