$3K laptop, help me choose.

Which laptop in no particular order…

  • Dell Inspiron 8600

    Votes: 1 7.1%
  • Apple 15" Powerbook

    Votes: 1 7.1%
  • AlienWare Area-51m™ Enthusiast

    Votes: 10 71.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 2 14.3%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


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About every 3 years or so my company give me money for a laptop. It is also my ONLY work machine. When I get to work I plug it into a 21" monitor and use USB KB/Mouse. This time they say ~$3000, so here is what I've come up with. All have their strengths and weaknesses, but which would you choose? Like I said, I'll have to use it for the next 3 years, and they'll all be repartitioned and have some for of Linux installed. And the nominees are:

Dell Inspiron 8600

Pentium®M Processor,1.7 GHz
15.4 in WSXGA+
Windows® XP Professional
1GB,DDR,333MHz 2 Dimms
64MB DDR NVIDIA® GeForce™4 4200 Go AGP 4X Graphics Upgrade!
4x CD/DVD burner (DVD+RW/+R)
40GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive
Integrated 10/100 Network Card and Modem
Dell TrueMobile™ 1400 DualBand WLAN (802.11a/b/g, 54Mbps) miniPCI Card
FREE! Dell TrueMobile 2300 Router w/ 1yr warranty w/ miniPCI Card purchase
Office Professional 2003 with Money®

Apple 15" Powerbook

1.25GHz PowerPC G4
1GB DDR333 SDRAM - 2x512 SO-DIMMs
80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 4200 rpm
SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
AirPort Extreme Card
15.2-inch TFT Display

AlienWare Area-51m™ Enthusiast

Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 3.0GHz 800MHz FSB w/ 512KB Cache
Area-51m Case with 15.4" WideSXGA+ 1680x1050 LCD Display
Windows® XP Professional
1024MB DDR PC-2700
AREA-51M NVIDIA FX go5600 Module with 128MB DDR
2x1x8x DVD-RW / 16x10x24x CD-RW Combo w/Software
Hitachi 60GB 7200 RPM ATA100 with 8MB Cache
Integrated 10/100Mb Ethernet NIC and Modem
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New Member
have you considered an IBM?

the T or A series should be around 3K meeting the same specs as the DELL.

I got a DELL last year, and its ok....I've seen/used the IBM lappies, and they're a much better build IMO. and I hate how quickly DELL discontinues support for their laptops! I can't even get a replacement for my spare battery cause the battery model has been discontinued...WTF...1 year?!

this would be my list in order of preference from the options you listed.

1. IBM
3. Alienware (who makes them for Alienware?)
4. Apple
5. if hell freezes over...Compaq.

good luck!


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I would buy an eMachine for 1/3rd of that budget. . . . No wait. It is a company work machine. :p

The software suite with the Dell would swing it that way for me. Both the Alienware and the Dell have the WSXGA screens. That would be quite the treat when using just the laptop display.

I am not sure which DVD burner I would prefer.

The P4 will be a power hog, don't know about the PIIIm @1.7.

Tough decision there. Do you have to buy it soon?
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Have to buy this week!!
I was supposed to have it done already. I'll go to IBMs site, and try to configure one close, and see what I come up with.


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Well I went to the site, and did a few configs. You can't even Get a GB of ram or a DVD burner. You can't get processors as fast. The closest config I could do to the Dell was almost $1000 more. Who pays $1000 more for LESS machine?


Proud H-Bomb owner
The alienware would be my choice. Since this is basically a "desktop replacement", I'd get the closests thing to it. Sure, battery life will be minute, to say the least, but it will run circles around all those other laptops. The hard drive is the real bonus IMO. All those others will most likely be running slow 4200rpm or if you're lucky perhaps 5400rpm hard drives. From reviews, that Hitachi drive appears to be one quick little demon.

I agreee that IBM builds one of the, if not the, most solid laptops around, but if you have to sacrifice so much performance for a similarily priced system, it's just not worth it.


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Originally posted by RDX
The hard drive is the real bonus IMO. All those others will most likely be running slow 4200rpm or if you're lucky perhaps 5400rpm hard drives. From reviews, that Hitachi drive appears to be one quick little demon.
Hitachi 60GB 7200 RPM ATA100 with 8MB Cache

I missed that. . . I would definately get the Alienware!


Resident Cynic
The Alienware would be my choice, provided you're not too fussed about battery life. The full P4 processor and 7200 rpm hard drive will use your batteries up real quick.


Active Member
yea get the alienware in that nice green colour!! but a laptop with a 7200RPM harddrive i never know they made laptops with that speed drive so id go for that!


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ordered the Alienware

There is a $200 discount if you order the 16" in Conspiracy Blue, so I did that. I turned in the PO for 3400, and they signed off on it!! It's the same config, only has " Area-51m Case with 16.1" UltraXGA 1600x1200 LCD Display". Our logo is silver on blue, and that will be silk-screened on it too. Can't wait to play with it!!


New Member
Originally posted by NewBlackDak
Like I said, I'll have to use it for the next 3 years
i pity you. i've only had my laptop 18 months and i'm sick of the sight of it! :rolleyes:


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The only saving grace is when I get one, they don't say spend $1200. I get to go pretty top-of-the-lin when I buy. It lasts a little longer that way. I don't think a 1GHz PIV with a gig of ram will be feeling slow any time soon. I'm sure at the end of it's life it will, but the one I'm on still does allright.


New Member
Are you limited to just those? Since Alienware is in the mix I assume you may play some games?
This is the next model up from the AlienWare, Includes the Mobility 9600 w 128 (not shared), and popout Mp3 Player and A built it TV Tuner. Also included in the $3K is 3.2, 1Gb Ram, and DVD writer. Been using them for quite a while and have never had any problems. They also offer the business lease.

Pro Star

16.0" SXGA TFT Intel Pentium 4 , 3.20 Ghz 40GB 512MB $2,550.00

16" SXGA Active Matrix Display,
8X AGP ATI M10-P Mobility™ Radeon™ 3D Accelerator
Intel Pentium 4 with HT Technology Processor 3.20 Ghz
512 MB SDRAM up to 1024 MB
24X Max. Variable CD-ROM, Optional DVD/R-RW Combo Drive, DVD/CDRW Combo Drive, 8X Max. Variable DVD-ROM *
Built-in TV-Tuner with Multi-Function Remote Control
1 Portable MP3 Player with 64MB SD Memory Card
Windows XP Home Edition, Optional Windows 2000 PRO, Windows XP Professional Edition,
1 Li-ION Battery
Built-In 56K V90 FAX/MODEM and 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet Lan Card

Does no one shop at Pro-star? This a fabulous machine for 2,550.

Upping to a GB ram($190) , and DVD-R/RW($275) and WinXP Pro ($90)

And there is still another media bay for a normal CD, CDRW or Battery. Pro Star


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I've never heard of them.

I did check them out just then, and the ATI card would be more important to me not for gamign, but form image quality. ALOT of what I do on my work machine is writing scripts and code. A big screen that looks good is important.

I thought about cancelling the Alienware, but I've never heard of this company, and and have no clue about repair or warranty work.


So Confused
I think you did right by going with Alienware. Those guys know what they're doing. I build custom machines myself so I rarely if ever recommend a mainstream brand. But if people have the money, I would say Alienware. Besides if you're working for a company whose giving you a $3K budget they almost surely have a corporate edition of office pro with plenty of licenses to go around. Just one thing, like the others mentioned, don't leave home/work without your power adapter!


Ex pert
psst, I'll sell you a $1000 e-machine to you for $3000, complete with reciept, and split the difference with ya :D


New Member
If you look at the Area 51, Pro-Star or Sager is just the OEM for them. Before painting and all.

I have had 2 and nothing but excellent things to say. Plus the extra machine for less cost (No Purchase order) I was buying for myself. I am waiting on the one I described to drop just a little more before taking the plunge once again.

I cannot vouch for the repair work, the only problem I had was with a battery, but they responded (e-mail) within 24 hours with the correct solution.

I am suprised that no one has heard of these guys, and it is a little weird to limit choices to the big 3 or 4, (not you in particular). And I am no way saying they are not as good or better or anything, it just seems like you have the PO guys at your mercy and with no limit to weight (most weigh in at 12+lbs) check them out if not too late. DO NOT PASS UP the purchase, that is too good to be true.


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I guess you could say I'm at the mercy of the PO. I don't have to use PO, but it makes my life ALOT easier. I'm not doubting you about their quality, but I had to make the purchase this week. A week is just not enough time to research and make an informed decision about a company you've never used(or even heard of in this case).