The quest for the best business laptop deals

by Goh De No
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We’ve recently hired a graphic designer at my company because having artwork done internally is much more efficient and gives me more control than over an agency.

So being the “IT guy” I have to take care of his computer needs. My colleague had an Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch from a couple of years back, so it’s running pretty sluggish by now.

Opening a few larger image files took a few seconds for this old MacBook Pro to do.

Of course, I had to get him a new computer because his efficiency is being killed by his device. The hunt began, and because he’s a graphic designer, I started looking at used Mac devices.

Me being me, prices for Macs are not really acceptable. I wanted him to have at least 8GB of RAM with a dedicated graphics card, and an i5 processor, preferably with a Solid State Drive (SSD) of 256GB and above.

Used Macs are hard to come by, and Bruneians don’t understand what depreciation is when selling second hand items (unless if it comes to automobiles).

So, I scrapped the idea of a Mac and went the PC route, essentially forcing my graphic designer colleague to move away from OS X to Windows 10, something that I was very pleased with myself for (sorry, Izam).

It started out with Dell. I went to the Singapore website because Bruneian prices are very much on par with that already, so I could choose out the specs I wanted and buy it here.

But nothing with the above specs I found were below B$1,000.

So I went around, to the local Asus distributor, and I spotted the A456UR series. It had an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 930M graphics card, along with a 500GB hard disk drive.

It was below B$800, which I thought was a pretty good deal. I just had to upgrade the RAM for another B$100-B$150 or so, and it will be at the specs I set out to get.

There was also the A556UR, which was B$900+ with an Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia Geforce GT930MX graphics card, but only 4GB of RAM, which will cause me to exceed my budget of going below B$1,000.

Again, me being me, I look at all possibilities before I pull the trigger, because I am a consumer, and I should make my final decision after exploring all possibilities to see what is the best possible deal.

So I went to look at Acer devices, then HP, and I had a short work trip to Sabah where I dropped by Karamunsing Complex to check out the huge selection of laptops from Lenovo, MSI, and all the other aforementioned brands.

I found out that Brunei laptops are cheaper than Malaysia. Forget about that exchange rate, the specs that I was looking for were all RM2,399 and above.

I found one for RM2,199, which is about B$700 and with specs similar to the Asus A456UR I mentioned earlier. Considering warranty to be in Malaysia rather than in Brunei, the price difference of B$50-B$70 was not worth pulling the trigger for.

Furthermore the price range of RM2,199 to RM3,000 were often without 8GB of RAM.

So I left Sabah empty handed, and came back to Brunei and visited one of the larger distributor of Dell PCs in the sultanate.

I saw a Dell Vostro 14 (3459) for B$799. Why so cheap? There had to be a catch. So I browsed the specs sheet and found that it has a 6th generation i5-6200U processor instead of the current 7th generation processor. Which was totally fine.

It also had 8GB of RAM on board and an AMD Radeon R5 M315 2GB dedicated graphics card, but it did not have an SSD drive. Instead it has a 500GB traditional hard disk spinning at 5400RPM.

The Dell Vostro unit was on clearance because of its 6th generation processor, and minus the hard disk, everything was spot on, so I bought it right away, 99 per cent confident that I got the best deal for B$800.

The hard disk will be replaced by an SSD drive in the future if performance of the laptop is slower than needed to be. But having used a Dell Vostro previously, these units are built for business use equipped with a LAN port, VGA, a CD-drive and three USB 2.0 ports.

The 14-inch screen has anti-glare capabilities which is nice for overly bright areas as it cuts down on you looking at a reflection of your head and shoulder outline. It weighs just under two kilogrammes and has a battery good enough to last you five hours unplugged under normal use.

All-in-all, this is a pretty solid laptop at the right price, and it goes to show that you don’t always have to go for the newest and shiniest device to get things done!

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