Riff Raff Makes

Laptops and so forth

I'm on a train, using a Dell Latitude E4300 I picked up on the cheap, it's going nicely too, batteries not amazing but I'm getting use out of it easily enough. It's not much of a machine either, it's a 4GB ram model with a P9300 Core 2 Duo, I'll be chucking an SSD at it but it's running Windows 10 nicely, reasonably snappily at that too.

Oops, battery died, full charge to start with today might help

At this point there's an awful lot of older hardware that Windows 10 will run on just fine, there's also a lot of nicer, newer than this but not that new hardware coming out of enterprise places, like 2nd and 3rd gen i5s with good build quality and because there are people staring at a few thousand of them, they're very cheap. Just the other day someone asked me if I could get them sorted with a nice laptop, for general use - I got an HP 2560p with a second gen i5. I nearly ended up with it becoming my laptop by virtue of the fact that somebody had far too many of them and decided to sell them off for a lot less than that machine previously went for.

What will run for day to day use?

Anything from Vista onwards will run windows 10, go for 4gb of RAM at a minimum, skip anything that originally came with a basic version of Vista or W7. To be honest if you chuck a cheap 128gb SSD in place of the probably clapped out harddrive that'll come with it, it'll feel snappier than anything you've used sans one. Also while used harddrives are a bad buy I'd say used SSDs are a possibility.

Used SSDs for cheap upgrades

Ok so for just an OS and some basic programs, 60/64GB will cut it, however without doing the requisite drive bay conversion a 128gb will be a much better use for some light browsing and taking with you when you just need something to type on/see the interwebs. These SSDs are becoming easier to find at great prices use because they're not enough for a power user, so quick, virtually unused OEM SSDs from upgrades are becoming pretty common. Since you can't tell in advance, I'd suggest just buying models made in the last year used - that should be fine for a secondary machine.

What can you really do with one of these machines?

I'm using dreamweaver (yeah, I know, but I like the text editor) to work on this post, I have a few chrome tabs open and I'm able to run photoshop CS6 acceptably for sorting out any images I need to, this is already more than enough for those looking a browsing machine. This particular Dell isn't what I'd recommend for watching some youtube though, the screen is absolutely horrific, however there are lots of options, the HPs, like the Probook 6475b are ok screenwise and prettier. Also, the Dell and HP 17" monsters with dedicated graphics and great screens don't cost the earth, because they're so rubbish at portability but they'll absolutely give you a big laptop to enjoy in the house, one with some credible horsepower for doing graphics, some older gaming though maybe not video.

What about upgrading more

My Dell here is the perfect victim for some modernisation - it only has 1 USB 2.0 port and an Esata port, which does also work as USB 2.0. Oh, and a firewire 1394 too. I'll pick up an expresscard 34 adapter to give this a couple of USB 3.0 ports. The wifi already supports 5Ghz broadcasts, though not AC and the battery can be extended by my big powerbank. For RAM, I'll try it on 8gb but I doubt it'll make enough of a difference to keep those sticks from landing in something I use more heavily.

There are good points

While this Latitude isn't what I call to as the best built enterprise laptop, almost all of them have a bit more heft than a consumer counterpart. However this one's pretty light but solid as a rock, with an excellent keyboard for a laptop, sort of soft touch with a real enough ten keyless layout to make typing very easy. Well it's ten keyless but it has a number pad, so do a bunch of fujitsus and other smaller business machines, it's on the Fn key and while it's not as good as the real thing, it's far better than trying to use the number row.

Also, if you're a fan of clit mice. This is where you get them, it isn't just the thinkpad that has them. Also as much as the thinkpad's king of the business book, there's lots of awesome variations available, HP make some pretty cool transformer type things as a faster alternative to the Panasonic Toughbook, they often go pretty cheap because they're a bit of an unkown entity - the caveat to them being they use a 1.8" mSata drive.

So if you're looking for something to play with, abuse or just make use of, look to old enterprise notebooks, they usually come in good condition, they hold up better than their consumer counterparts and there's very few places they're not cheap.