Right, so I've searched quite extensively for a new laptop (I live in Ireland) and I can't post the website but here are the advantages of the two laptops compared:
First Link (MSI)
-170 euro cheaper
-Mouse and Carry Case included (which I will have to buy for the other one for approx 30 euro)
-70GB more HDD (320GB vs. 250GB)
-Lighter (2.6kg vs. 3.3kg)
Second Link (Toshiba)
-More Cache (4MB vs. 2MB)
-Better Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 / 2.4 GHz vs. AMD Turion 64 X2 mobile technology TL-60 ( Dual-Core ))
-Bigger Screen (1440 x 900 ( WXGA+ ) vs. 15.4" TFT 1280 x 800 ( WXGA ))
-More RAM (3GB installed with 4GB max. vs. 2GB installed with 2GB max.)
(BTW on the specs for this laptop, under graphics it says the card is a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 yet it goes on to say that this card is 512mb and afaik the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 is only 256mb. Is it possible that the description is wrong and it's actually a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT which (I think) has 512mb?)
Haven't really looked through the American sites out there as many of them don't seem to ship to here. The same goes for many of the U.K. ones.
I can't decide whether the extra money on the second laptop is worth it for the extra specs. I know nobody here can read the future, but if it would be possible for someone to speculate whether the extra lifespan added by the specs is worth the extra cost?
So basically what I'm asking is it better to splash out on better specs and keep the laptop for a longer time without buying a new one or is it better to buy one with more mediocre specs and upgrade to another mediocre specced laptop after a shorter length of time?
Just in case anyone can recommend anything better...
1) What is your budget?
Up to 900 euro approx.
2) What size notebook would you prefer?
15" - 17" screen would be good.
3) Please select your country's flag as a post icon and tell us what country are you buying this in.
Ireland. But I can get it shipped from abroad if the site ships internationally.
4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
5) What tasks will you be performing with the notebook?
College work, something in-between hardcore and casual gaming, general internet browsing, downloading.
6) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places or leaving it on your desk?
Yes, I will be taking it with me to different places. Probably about 75% home usage. 25% outside usage.
7) Will you be playing games on it; if so, which games?
Yes. Right now, command and conquer 3 and WoW mostly. Although in the future I will probably be getting more new games as I am just entering into a period where I have more free time.
8) How many hours of battery life do you need?
2hrs+ or so should be good.
9) Do you mind buying online without seeing the notebook in person?
10) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista), Mac OS, Linux, etc.
Windows. Vista if possible.
11) From the choices below, what screen resolutions would you prefer?
All of them look ok to me. But WXGA or WXGA+ - 1280x768/800 or 1440x900; seems the best for me.
12) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen?
Not sure... no preference I guess, unless people can recommend one or the other to me.
13) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
To some extent, but I'd prefer an ugly laptop with better specs than a stylish one with worse specs.
14) When are you buying this laptop and how long do you want this laptop to last?
Depends on how much I'm spending. Hopefully I'm not being unrealistic here, but with 800+ spent I'd expect a good 8 years lifetime and with 500 something more like 4-5 years might be reasonable.
15) How much hard drive space do you want; 40GB to 500GB?
120GB+ should pretty much cover me but the more the better.
16) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a CDRW/DVD-ROM, DVD Burner or Blu-Ray drive?
They're not necessary for me, but they would be a nice feature to have.
p.s. can anyone let me know if cache size actually makes a significant difference to performance?