Sorry for posting this here, but I didn't know where else to put it. This site could really use a Technology forum.

Anyway, I'm graduating from college in the spring and my Dell laptop (4 years old) is starting to putter like an old man and I have to keep it on a cooling pad all the time to have it run semi-normally. It's a decent computer (Inspiron 6000, 2 gigs of RAM, 128 Radeon X300 GPU, 1.86 GHz, WSXGA +1 screen: 1680 x 1050) and I've used it as my main computer for years. I've had a few things replaced because my warranty covered them but it expires in December and I think it would be smarter to think about a new computer than to spend another $100 to extend the warranty.

I recently bought an Asus Eeepc 900 which I love and have been using for school and on the go browsing/email. I am extremely comfortable with using it on the go. (Netbook + Ubuntu Karmic NBR = :-D)

Enough with the introduction. I've decided that my next computer could either be a desktop or a laptop. I don't want to want to take a step backwards in computing power unless the value is just unbeatable (i.e. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883103228&...) What I'd like from you all is a bit of help finding a new computer. I consider myself knowledgeable, but am always open to advice.

What I use my computer for:
I don't game that much anymore, but I do watch videos on Hulu and sometimes HDMI video files. When I do game the most taxing game is probably counter-strike source, but I mostly play RTS games like Starcraft or Civ 4. Naturally, I also do a lot of web browsing and basic word processing/powerpoints for school/work. Also, there is a good chance that my new computer would run Ubuntu or at least dual boot it with Windows.

Summary:
1. I want a new computer that's as good or better than my old one unless the value is incredibly good. Old specs: Inspiron 6000, 2 gigs of RAM, 128 Radeon X300 GPU, 1.86 GHz, WSXGA +1 screen: 1680 x 1050
2. It can be a laptop or a desktop. (Do not already own a monitor)
3. Price is a big consideration. I'm a stereotypical college student who is always looking for disgustingly good deals because my funds are limited.

Thanks for any help you all can provide. I usually receive helpful responses from this site.

Edit: Deanna made a good point about me not listing a price. I didn't list one intentionally because I wanted to see what people would generally suggest and because I really don't know what I want to spend. I could say 500 dollars but if there was a great value for more I would probably look in to it. I'm not looking for a particular price as much as I'm looking for a really good value to dollar ratio... so mac people, even though your hearts are in the right place, I highly doubt I'll get a mac unless I pick one up off of Craigslist.

Tags: computers, laptop, netbook, ubuntu

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My own main interest is money. In the interest of saving you some, have you considered reformatting?

Also, if it helps, there is a "Geeks" group here.
I change operating systems almost as frequently as I change my socks so reformatting would do me little good. I really think that my motherboard is going bad (I'm currently trying to get dell to replace it). Although that is sound advice, for me it's not all that helpful because I'm pretty sure that most of my problems are symptomatic of my deteriorating hardware.
Have you thought about a Toshiba? I've had one for the last three years and haven't had any major problems. It got me through grad school, where I was online for at least four hours per day (an online program).

I would suggest an Apple, but you said that price is a consideration - they're great but pricey. I got an iPhone in July and am so impressed with how it works that I'm getting an iMac.
Lucky you. When I graduated in 2003, I was still using a monitor with an 800x600 max resolution. Mind you, I had spent the last 2-3 years writing applications in Visual C++, which divides precious screen real estate into several even smaller blocks. Nightmarish.

(Now I'll step aside as all of the OLD guys start in on their "well, in MY day" rants.)
It was tempting... and I'm only talking 1998. :D
Since money's an issue, I'd suggest that you cruise Craigslist religiously. Also, keep an eye out for acquaintances who are upgrading "just because." If you're comfortable with a computer (meaning that you can spot a good deal), you can save a lot of money by going second-hand. Especially if you're gonna wipe it and install Ubuntu anyway.

Heck, if you're just gonna install Linux, why not just buy a top-of-the-line toaster to boot it up on? :)

I bought an awesome laptop for $300 on Craigslist, used it for a couple of years, then sold it (again on Craigslist) for $300. Then I turned around and bought an almost-brand-new laptop from a co-worker for $200. Ended up with a great new laptop and made $100 in the process (in the short-run, anyway).
Although I love linux and run it 99.9% of the time, it is nice to have the option of running some more demanding programs in windows. (:cough: games :cough:)

I'm seriously considering the little nettop linked in my post. I think for the value it's fantastic. I've read that it can't handle hulu though and that's a deal breaker for me. I'd like my computer to be at least that good.
1 GB RAM and 1.6 GHz processor would be dealbreakers for me. The rule of thumb is to always buy more than you need today, and that Acer is already way behind; you can't run Vista or Windows 7 on anything less than 2 GB RAM.

Seriously, I suggest that you go to your local Craigslist and watch for a week or two as computers roll by. I guarantee you that you can find a better deal there than Newegg.

Another idea is to keep an eye on SlickDeals.net. They often run good deals on computers.
I would most likely use the computer as an "economy" edition computer. I know it's not that powerful but for surfing and mobile web it's not that bad, not to mention that it can be used in conjunction with an HDTV, but that aside I have taken a look at craigslist and see promise in a Toshiba that's listed there. Though I do have to say that Newegg has some extremely good deals sometimes. I bought my netbook from there for a great price.
I've always liked HP laptops... I'm a serial re-formatter myself and am constantly switching up OSes and re-partitioning, and my 3 year-old HP is holding up fine. I'm not sure about prices where you are, but I'm sure you could get a decent core 2 duo for under $1500.

One thing I always check for in a laptop is an exhaust vent that's on the side or back of the computer, not underneath. I never figured out why manufacturers thing you want a blast of hot air in the crotch while you're surfing the net!
I'm with you, Shaun. My old laptop was an HP, as is my current one. Great products.
If I bought a mac I would HAVE to run linux on it.

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