What's The Best Value Laptop For $2,000? We find out!

Staff Writer By Staff Writer - July 4th, 2018
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Here at PB Tech we have a lot of laptops, in fact we stock hundreds of different models! With that in mind, we understand that if you're looking at getting a laptop it can be a little overwhelming trying to pick one.

In this article, we’ve taken a handful of our most popular models to give you an idea of what you should be looking for when picking a Laptop.

In terms of price when purchasing a laptop, the sweet spot tends to be between $1600 - $2000 NZD for a modern laptop with great features such as a touchscreen and a thin & light design.

Let's meet the candidates! 

The 5 models sitting between these price points that we’ve picked out, from least expensive to most expensive, are:

  • HP Probook 430 G5
  • Lenovo Miix 510 (2-in-1)
  • Dell Inspiron 5579
  • HP Elite 840 G3
  • Surface Laptop i5 Model - which has been upgraded for free from Windows 10S to Windows 10 Pro

Let’s take a look at what this price range will offer you in terms of:

  • Design and Build quality
  • Portability
  • Screens
  • Performance
  • Battery

Design and Build Quality

In terms of build quality most modern laptops are pretty sturdy, usually cased in a plastic housing seen in the Dell Inspiron 5579 and the HP Elite 840 G3 & HP Probook 430 G5. This plastic housing can put up with a bit of a beating and should realistically survivor minor bumps and drops, but more and more device exteriors are beginning to be made out of metal.

The Lenovo Miix is a unique option in today’s comparison, as it’s the only laptop model classified as a 2-in-1 device. Designed in a tablet-like form factor, the front part of the laptop protects the device’s touch-screen and has a keyboard & track-pad built into it to easily switch from tablet to laptop mode. The housing of this device is made from metal, which makes the exterior a little bit stronger and tougher than the plastic casing mentioned above.

On the other hand, the Surface Laptop is arguably leagues ahead in terms of materials used to make the exterior. The aluminium casing is strong and lightweight with its keyboard deck made from Alcantara. This gives the laptop a luxurious look and feel, taking the cake in terms of design and build.

Winner: Surface Laptop

Portability & Screen Size

Overall, the screen size of a laptop often determines how portable the device will be.

If you're looking to take your device with you to work, or to class, or even just around the house, picking a laptop that’s thin and lightweight will make things a whole lot easier.

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to screen size is portability and where you will be using your device. 13-15" screen sizes give you a good amount a space to work on while keeping the overall form factor small enough to fit in a bag. The smaller the device, the less weight you will need to lug around to get from A to B.

Another thing to think about when it comes to screen size is how you will be using your device and what you will be using it for. The Dell Inspiron has a massive 15.6” screen which makes it a little too big to be carrying around all day. However, a large screen will allow you to work on projects that require detail or screen space such as design or editing work, or even a bit of gaming. If you’re planning on keeping your laptop in one stagnant place for most of the day, such as your work office or your desk at home, a larger screen size & laptop body means the device can fit a lot more specs.

Both the HP's and the Surface Laptop sit around the 13" screen size. This is a good size for carrying around, but the surface laptop is noticeably lighter and thinner than both the HP models. That being said, all 3 models are portable and will easily slide into your standard school bag, backpack or laptop case.

The Lenovo Miix on the other hand, being a 2-in-1 device, allows for extremely easy portability. You can easily slide this into almost any type of bag and carry it around without getting sore shoulders.  One downside with this 2-in-1 form factor is that the keyboard doesn't feel as nice as one built into the laptop -  and it’s also the only laptop mentioned that doesn’t have a backlit keyboard, which can make working in dim lights or at night tricky.  That being said, it gets the job done and could be worthy trade-off for the extra portability.

Winner: Lenovo Miix

Screens

Screens are an important part of your laptop experience. A screen is your window into your content.  Aside from considering how screen size will affect portability, it’s also important to consider the screen resolution and how “HD” your content will look on your laptop screen.

One thing to consider when looking at screens is resolution. Let’s dive into this.

We sat all of these laptops together to compare brightness, contrast and overall quality of each screen. For a visual example, check out the video review below.

The HP Elitebook is the only unit on the line-up to have a screen resolution under 1080p. We personally believe that this can be too low, as 1080p is a good standard screen resolution for manufacturers to strive for. That being said if you’re a user that doesn’t care too much about resolution or you’re purchasing a device for someone that doesn’t need a high-quality screen, the HP does substitute other good specs at a lower cost.

Other than resolution, some things to look for are the brightness and viewing angles of your laptop screen. By turning the screen left to right as well as up and down you will be able to see if the colours shift at all and how your screen reacts to light and movement. We tested these out in person, which again you can see below in our video review.

Both the Lenovo Miix and the Surface Laptop have very good view angels and brightness. The HP screens shifted in quality a little when moving from side to side, but the Elitebook seemed to be slightly better than the Probook.

When comparing all of the screens lined up, we found that the Dell Inspiron seemed to have the dimmest screen, with some colours that seemed a little off. That being said, all of these laptop screens look pretty decent by themselves – it just helps to compare in person if the quality of your screen is an important factor in your purchase.

Winner: Surface Laptop

Touch Screens

Touch screens aren’t a necessity in laptops, but they do add value to several parts of your laptop experience. Many features and behaviours when using a laptop are just better with touch screen, such as accessing tool bars, scrolling down long pages, note-taking, and drawing. Many modern home and study laptops come with touchscreens – and all of our 5 models in review do too – but only 2 of these models have a dedicated stylus pen.

Touch-screen features become a whole lot more useful when paired with a pen or capacitive stylus. The Lenovo Miix is the only unit that comes with one in the box, with 2018 levels of pressure sensitivity and it performs quite well for most touch-screen tasks.

The Surface Laptop has built-in support for Microsoft’s Surface Pen, but it’s not included in the box. Getting a Surface Laptop will adds another $160 purchase on top of the laptop.

But for that $160 you’ll get double the levels of pressure sensitivity at 4096, which means you get more precision and finer control while also requiring a lighter touch. When you're trying to replicate the feeling of pen on paper this  makes a huge difference. We believe that it’s arguably one of the best stylus's out right now, so if you need to annotate documents, enjoy drawing, or you just like navigating on your device with a pen, that little bit extra could be worth it to you.

Winner: Lenovo Miix & Surface Laptop (depending on whether or not you want to spend the extra $$$)

Performance

Running a programme named 3D Mark Cloud Gate on each of these devices, we can get an overall score of the power inside these machines. To keep things fair we had to run all these benchmarks at the resolution of our lowest machine. Our results proved that price doesn’t necessarily equal better performance.

  1. Dell Inspiron: 7474
  2. Surface Laptop: 6242
  3. Lenovo Miix: 6073
  4. HP Elitebook: 5672
  5. HP Probook: 5077

The Dell Inspiron surprisingly smashed this review, with the Surface Laptop coming in close behind, and then the Lenovo, our second cheapest on the list - came in third. Can you believe it! Both of the HP laptops fell in 4th and 5th place.

Winner: Dell Inspiron

Battery Life


One of the most important features of a laptop is battery life, especially if you will be using your laptop on-the-go or in environments where you can’t be near a charging port.  

We ran a Final Fantasy benchmark on loop, with each laptop set to max battery performance, max screen brightness, with WiFi on, to mimic a realistic use of battery life. To see a fast-forwarded time-lapse of this test, check out our video below around the 6 minute mark.

Most of the laptops ran out of juice with timestamps pretty close to each other, with the Dell Inspiron tanking first, quickly followed by the Surface Laptop. The Lenovo Miix followed about 20 minutes later.

Both of the HP computers were ace on battery life - the HP Eitebook died about the same time as our GoPro, and the HP Probook was still powering through well after everything else. At the end of the trial it was still sitting at around 16% battery left. This is most likely  due to that lower resolution display, but to for both models to be at the top HP must be doing something right!

Winner: HP Probook

So who came out on top? Let’s look at value for money.

Taking the placements for each model over all these categories and then factoring in price, here are our results.

5th Place is the HP Elitebook. While being a great laptop, and even coming second in the battery life test -it has unfortunately fallen short compared to the other machines here. 

4th Place is the Dell Inspiron. This model mostly fell short due to the portability and battery performance, but it is a business laptop. It benchmarked the highest, and if it’s just going to be used around the office could be a great choice.

3rd Place is the HP Probook. This is another great choice, as long as you can live with a screen sitting under 1080p – which, let’s be honest, most people probably could! It topped the battery test, and was the cheapest out of all these models. Kudos to HP for this one.

2nd Place is the Surface Laptop – which makes the Lenovo Miix the winner of our testing review.

The Surface Laptop and Lenovo Miix were neck and neck the whole way through, and obviously out of all the models we looked at, the Surface Laptop really is nice. It’s got a luxurious, light design, the screen on it is amazing, and it has pretty top notch performance.

But the Lenovo Miix has a solid build, is extremely portable, the screen and battery life was right up there with the Surface Laptop, and had only slightly less performance – yet despite this, its $400 cheaper. If you’re looking for value for money, the Lenovo Miix is the laptop to get.

 

Popular Laptops At PB Tech


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Staff Writer

For the words, not the glory!

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