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4741 posts

Uber Geek


#275838 12-Sep-2020 13:04
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I'm needing to get my son a laptop for high school next year; he's very keen on one with a touch screen and 360-degree hinge, like his current Chromebook (he uses it for drawing, reading manga etc). 


I get that his preferences will generally either push the price up (for a decent-spec machine) or push the other specs down (screen, processor, RAM etc), which is why I'm thinking a reconditioned laptop may be the way to go.


This is the best-value I've found so far: $949 for an HP X360 14" with i5, 256GB, 8GB, 1080 from Kogan/DSE.


(DSE's site lists the processor as an i5-1021U; I can't find that on Google searches, which point to an i5-10210U - is that what they mean? DSE's help desk claims they can't confirm or promise the exact specs of the reconditioned devices, which seems a bit sus.)


PB Tech has a similar HP for a similar price, but with an N5000 processor - is that going to be adequate? 


I know he's keen on being able to play Fortnite on it, and I've warned him laptops at this price are going to run it pretty poorly if at all. Looks like the  i5-10210U can run it at pretty low res, but that's pretty low down our own priority list (given he can already play it on a Switch or PS4).


I'd welcome any further suggestions or advice, including on the options I've identified above. 



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4741 posts

Uber Geek


  #2563792 14-Sep-2020 14:33
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A bump for the working week!

172 posts

Master Geek

  #2563807 14-Sep-2020 15:00
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That pentium is a pretty old and low power chip --- I'd avoid. The x360 looks like a pretty good value for me. The biggest caveat is the DSE warranty...seems like they expect you to fight them under the CGA, if they'll even honour it:  


321 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #2563840 14-Sep-2020 16:15
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Lose the convertable and touch screen option unless its absolutely necessary. The requirements that you mentioned are more like $1500 minimum. 


One thing i didnt see in the specs was size of the machine. Is this a consideration? 


Allowing for lighter weight, graphical performance this is something i found.


As for the specs you mentioned. Dont bother trying to get any Intel iGPU to play fortnight. Some of the AMD iGPU's might do okay but only if they have dual channel ram at reasonable speeds. 





910 posts

Ultimate Geek


  #2563843 14-Sep-2020 16:20
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I'd prob push for a local supplier for warranty reasons as well.


When I was hunting for a replacement laptop for my year 12 daughter (her one broke just before lockdown) there seemed to be a price brackets of:


$500 - low spec with 128 SSD Windows 10


$1000 - 8G Ram 256G SDD, 15" screen window 10 machine


And $1400+ for 16G ram 512G SSD  W10 machines.




I would expect that your school will want to spec 16G ram for Year 12 if your child did digital, so you maybe facing a new machine in year 11 (if you followed the School Specs)


I'd recommend the laptop I purchased from PB tech in April as it was touchscreen but they are now OOS.


I ended up going down the cheap and cheerful $500 machine for the first 2 years and expected to upgrade after 3 years - or in my case 2.5 years :(  




Good luck.



326 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #2563877 14-Sep-2020 17:37
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A bit over your budget, but this could be a good option

892 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #2563900 14-Sep-2020 18:01
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Allowing for lighter weight, graphical performance this is something i found.


As for the specs you mentioned. Don't bother trying to get any Intel iGPU to play fortnight. Some of the AMD iGPU's might do okay but only if they have dual channel ram at reasonable speeds. 




Ended up grabbing one of these yesterday for the family to use for mostly general usage. Previous laptop died in a not easy to fix way (power barrel jack broken...may have a go at fixing but it was an old laptop anyway).  This may get a little bit of gaming e.g. daughter is playing the Sims 4 on it in Ultra Settings and its fine from what I see. Not silky smooth but fine. Probably not great for a game requiring rapid reactions.


Couple of things about the laptop:


On the plus side:


  • Quite light - I'd be happy lugging it around (though I'd go a 14" screen for a school laptop if it were for my kids)
  • Pretty reasonable screen. Its a matt finish which I prefer (isnt touch screen - which I personally dont care about)
  • Keyboard feels OK (less travel than I like...but I use a mechanical keyboard for my daily driver)
  • Plenty of USB ports
  • Separate and full size HDMI port
  • Separate headphone jack
  • Fingerprint reader in the power button (why dont others do this?!?) and it seems very quick
  • Boots super quickly and is generally very snappy
  • Very little bloatware (from Huawei....still the usual Windows 10 junk of course)

On the downside:


  • Ram is soldered so not upgradable
  • Camera is in the keyboard (key pops up to show it). Havent used it, but being low down I dont expect a great viewing experience from down there. We have a good external one we'd use anyway
  • Battery life seems average (not terrible...just not great either)
  • Only the 1 USB C port which is used for charging - I'd have preferred 2
  • The disk partitioning out of the box was strange... 80GB Windows partition (C:) and 140ish second data partition for the D:  Was easy to remove the D: and expand the C: (this might be a personal preference)
  • Came with Windows 1903 and took forever to update (though that's mostly a MS fault)

Overall its a decent laptop though with a few (for some) issues.

20 posts


  #2564027 14-Sep-2020 20:16
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Coming from me being a teenager in high school at the moment. I'm in Year 12 (6th form?).


I went with a gaming computer because the specs could handle CAD programs I use in some subjects. Even though the specs of this laptop could be in a normal looking laptop, I chose the gaming computer since the heat sinks are bigger.


The specs may be powerful but it doesn't mean anything if you cannot use it before the machine over heats and shuts down.




Away from my current computer and to my old computer being a touch screen computer:


The downside to the touch screen was my school bag being packed with books. The books would crush on the laptop. This made the touchscreen sensors think I was constantly clicking. For a while I was locked out of my computer as it kept clicking off the password field. I later turned touch screen off in device manager.


Just a worthy of note - This issue is easily mediated by a hard case laptop sleeve.




For 360 degree hinges.....  I'll grant that I see other students use it like an art easel but very rarely, But each to their own. The hinge quality is something I cannot comment on.


Although - I do prefer laptops that have the heat vents on the bottom or sides. Laptops with the vents at the bottom of the screen make the screen hot during use. It maybe a factor in the long term for the screens life.




Weight is a consideration. You may think they modern schooling doesn't have books, you're wrong! In NCEA there's a workbook for everything, 'SciPad's are heavy things to carry all day. I think something under 1.3kg should be manageable with the weight of books. Student's only have their bags on between classes and moving into break.




Chromebooks are okay at my college.... But they recommend a device that can have their license of Office365 installed, possibly any more apps from subjects.


You don't need much storage (unless you've got specially programs) as things are moving towards cloud based applications. I know I've mentioned Microsoft office but in reality most teachers use Google Classroom. This goes with the Google office suite and cloud storage.




Side notes:


Someone I know goes to Saint Kentigern College (a private school), he had to have his laptop reset and under administrator control of the school. Just a worthy of note if your school does that. But public schools likely won't bother.


It may also be helpful to have an HDMI socket. It's amazing how many times a dongle gets used when a students present something on the projector and their laptop only has USB-C. Theoretically teachers should display it from their computer, but it may be nice for the students laptop to be capable 😀.



4741 posts

Uber Geek


  #2564467 15-Sep-2020 16:15
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Thanks for all the responses; lots of really useful advice and food for thought - I'll talk it through with my son. I understand the idea of going for a cheaper laptop for the first few years, but I'm not sure if he'll be so keen on that approach!


My son already makes good use of the 'tablet' mode on his Chromebook - does a lot of drawing/art with it, plus reading manga on it - that's why he's so keen on retaining this feature. From what I can see, there are few (decent-spec) 360s at the c $1k mark other than the HPs that DSE sells (as per my link); I agree that there's some risk purchasing from them, which is the main negative as the device itself ticks the necessary boxes.


I'd seen a lower-specd version of that Asus Vivobook on PB Tech's site before; this is definitely a better machine, and on sale it may make it down closer to our ideal budget so thanks for that link.


Happy to give up on the idea of trying to get a computer at this budget that can play the games he wants; that's what he's got a PS4 and Switch for!


Yeah, I'd been looking at that Huawei; certainly offer the specs I'm after at an ok price (looks like it's been as low as $900), and if my son's ok without tablet mode...


Screen size isn't so much an issue - he's going from a 11.6" laptop, so I imagine he'll be ok with a 14 or 15.6"; weight, as someone has mentioned, is probably more of a concern.


Anyway, appreciate any further suggestions and ideas.

326 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #2564493 15-Sep-2020 17:00
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The Vivobook should be able to play fortnite too at lower settings as I think the amd vega graphics are slightly better than the intel UHD graphics at that price range


Hopefully it'll go on sale before next year for school :)


4741 posts

Uber Geek


  #2566202 16-Sep-2020 19:54
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So a bit over budget - $1200 (while on sale) rather than the aimed-for $1k - but how does this computer stack up?



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