View Full Version : Best light and small 14" or 12" laptop?

January 12th, 2007, 10:13 PM
Hello everyone, I am a university student looking for a good light and portable laptop for school and home. I am even willing to buy a barebones notebook and build it myself if I can find better deals on certain parts, maybe even used parts (however I'm not sure how much I can trust ebay for example, but there are some on www.tigerdirect.ca that I may buy).

I am graduating this year but going to continue my education later on. That being said, I would kind of like to treat myself by maybe getting something that is a bit more powerfull than what I truly need. Because the crappy Dell Inspiron 1000 would work for me but it is very very slow (and it would not support some of the games I play)!

I guess that i'm looking for something that has the following:

- Intel or AMD 64 bit processor (dual processors would be good)
- 1 Gb of RAM
- 80 Gb 5400 rpm hard drive (a good cache would be nice but not necessary)
- Preferably a Nvidia video card due to the fact that I have read that they are better supported than ATI with Ubuntu. 128 mb would be fine. Integrated graphics could be acceptable.
- Wireless card or built in wireless
- 14.1" or 12.1" Wide Screen WXGA
- If it's light than would be great!
- Of course able to support Ubuntu
- A dual boot with windows would be nice for gaming

I have been looking the following notebooks:

- Alieware Sentia m3450


- MSI notebooks, I may even get a 12" screen.


- I've looked at some Dell's and Acer's

I don't do much heavy gaming, the most demanding of the games I play would probably be Never Winter Nights. I also kind of want to buy a different brand of notebook, which is why I looked at Alienware and MSI. MSI seems neat, especially because of their barebones deals. I have looked at vendors for MSI that I found on the MSI site however they don't seem to allow you to customize the notebooks that well.

Specific questions:

Does anyone know how cramped the 12" MSI keyboards are? Considering that I would be using it everyday.

Does anyone know of any online purchasing sites for MSI in Canada?

I've read some problems with some Alienware notebooks in forums, has anyone heard anything good or bad about their products?

I suppose that my spending limit including tax would be around $1100 USD. So I'm just curious what the Ubuntu community thinks, I am in no rush, just doing some research on the subject. Any comments/help would be appreciated.


- Scott

January 13th, 2007, 08:37 AM
Look at Averatec they had a nice little 12 inch laptop (can't remember the model) and it is Ubuntu compatible (I was looking at one so checked out all the compatibility stuff).

January 13th, 2007, 08:55 AM
DO NOT BUY ALIENWARE. I know people who have bought from them and end up paying 100s to 1000s over a realistic price and get buggy products that they have to send back.

I have an Acer. It's been good, though the DVD burner is dying (perhaps because I'm a little too rough with it?). The things I'd note about acers is that not all of them have the best hardware for linux, though some do, and they often have curved keyboards which are REALLY nice to have on laptops.

I know a lot of people with Dells, they are OK, but the cases seem a little cheap and I know a number of people with screen problems on them. Cost wise, they charge too much for basic upgrades, like switching to more RAM and that kind of thing.

HP seems to make decent computers. I can't speak to linux compatability, but the ones I've dealt with I liked. I think as you upgrade they tend to get overpriced.

ABSPC.com used to have some decent custom built whitebooks for a reasonable price.

I also recomend into looking up ASUS whitebook notebooks and prebuilt notebooks because they have many models and you may find what you're looking for.

But definately a no on the alienware.

January 13th, 2007, 01:12 PM
Alienware laptops are just laptops bought from an OEM, painted some odd colour and then marked up a grand or two, so yeah, don't buy them. If however they have specs you like then you'll probably be able to find out who they have been "repainting" and get that instead.

January 13th, 2007, 06:22 PM
Thanks a lot guys, I will stay away from alienware.

I checked out the Averatec laptops and it seems like I could get several different models in my price range, so I'm going to keep them in mind. I also was looking at the ASUS whitebooks and some built ones, I may be able to find those for a good price as well. The ABSPC seems like a good site and I found a few MSI notebooks on there that interest me.

Do you guys think that it would be strenuous to use a 12"-14" all of the time? I may be leaning closer to getting a 13"-14" because of the keyboard and screen size.

Are there compatibility issues due to the size for these small and light whitebooks (hard drives for example)?

January 13th, 2007, 06:35 PM
12-14 only if you have small hands.....actually most men prefer something in the 15" area.

The issues I hear most about in the small lightweight portables, is the fact that if they are used roughly or dropped, you can kiss them good bye. Something a little heavier seems to handle life better.

January 13th, 2007, 07:15 PM
You and others may wish to read this about Dell first.


January 13th, 2007, 07:37 PM
12-14 only if you have small hands.....actually most men prefer something in the 15" area.

The issues I hear most about in the small lightweight portables, is the fact that if they are used roughly or dropped, you can kiss them good bye. Something a little heavier seems to handle life better.

I guess I will aim more for the 14" then, i'll try and get the best of both worlds.

You and others may wish to read this about Dell first.


Wow that's good to know, I've heard abou the battery recall but not about the overheating problem. I'll keep that in mind! That is pretty horrible that they sell the defective products even when they are aware of them.

January 13th, 2007, 08:53 PM
Thinkpad X series.

Alternatively look at Flybook but they are not as powerfull as the core 2 due laptops.

January 13th, 2007, 09:01 PM
I second the Thinkpad X series. If you get a small laptop, you are not going to be gaming on them as they all come with integrated graphics chips, usually Intel GMA 950s or ATi Xpress. You can probably play games like WoW on low settings but don't count on anything more.

On top of that, X series are VERY durable machines - made of magnesium or titanium cases. They last.

January 13th, 2007, 11:07 PM
I second the thinkpads. They are very linux compatible. I know a lot of people with smaller notebooks like macbooks, other stuff that has 12 inch screens or so. I think that people who use them are a lot more likely to hunch over their small screens, though I haven't come across anyone who really complains about the small keyboards. I don't think I'd like them, personally, but I guess it's kinda a preference thing.

If I were going to buy a laptop right now, after thinking about it more, I'd probably
view ASUS and IBM as the first places to look, and after that I'd look at the other options I mentioned in my first post. (But NOT Dells or Alienwares for sure ;) )

Kernel Sanders
January 14th, 2007, 12:32 AM
Honestly, i'd go with a MacBook and Ubuntu :cool:

January 14th, 2007, 12:46 AM
The HP nc6400 might be a reasonable choice - HP lists it as linux compatible. The only drawback is its price (starting at about 1500 €).

January 14th, 2007, 03:06 AM
The Thinkpad X series laptops seem kind of expensive... I understand that maybe their build contributes to this but I'm wondering why it would be so expensive otherwise? Perhaps the fact that they are very small computers? After doing some browsing it seems that the 12" are in general more pricy than the 14"'s for example. Then I was seeing that a 15 to a 15.4" screen on a laptop would bring the price up a bit.

It seems like the Flybook and HP is a bit too expensive as well, I think I will be mainly looking at the ASUS and MSI notebooks (and maybe a macbook, i could get one refurbished for about $1000 CAN with a 1 year waranty. I'm not sure what the waranty covers however...).

January 14th, 2007, 06:06 AM
Macs are nice, but expensive.