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I want to buy a laptop for about $400, maybe $500 max. I am not particularly well in finding good quality laptops at a good price range.

I was looking for i5 with 6-8gb ram. Touch screen isn't absolutely necessary.

I was looking at the Lenovo Flex that was recommended in the mainstream laptop post: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6ZI...revol03-20
That looks pretty amazing, except its a bit more expensive than I would hope for.

Then I was looking at a refurbished laptop on Bestbuy: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-geek-squa...Id=3301012
Only problem, is that people HATE the track pad. It supposed to be rubbish.

My main purpose for this laptop is to do school work on it.
My second purpose is movies.
My third purpose would just be an addon if it was possible, gaming. I can just upgrade my regular PC instead of paying more just to be able to game on the laptop.
I am hoping that it wont be bulky and around 15 inch so I can carry it in my backpack. If it's cheaper though, I would consider it.
My .02 on laptops for school/home/office type use.

1) SSD is a must. If you can fit all your data on a 250GB SSD then I highly recommend doing this. Besides, it will force you to work out a backup strategy for larger items (like all your photos).
2) 8GB RAM. 6GB is OK, but 8GB is better.
3) A Core i5 is nice, but a 4th generation core i3 is OK for typical office/school applications like word, powerpoint, excel etc. They do OK playing movies also. I'd take a core i3 with an SSD over a core i7 with a spinner HDD any day.

Important things for me are the keyboard and the screen. Once I find a screen and a keyboard I like (the brands) I can shop for the CPU/RAM/Feature specs. Matt-B's page is great for sorting these out. Then factor in around $100 for a good quality SSD and you are set.

Gaming? I think you will do better spending your upgrade dollars on a desktop but it depends what you are wanting to play.

Good luck.
SSD I definitely want to put in. My intentions, even if not immediate, is to get a 256gb ssd and use the harddrive already in there and make it into a external hdd.

Gaming isn't a huge factor for me. I don't plan to play games on it at all. I wouldn't mind being able to play csgo or something on it. I don't plan to play bf4 or other intensive games on it. But again, it's a small factor for me.

If the i3 with an upgraded ssd is the best future proof way to go, then that's what I'll do.

Do you guys know of any good i3 laptops with a great keyboard, mouse, and screen? I wouldn't mind a 1080p screen for movies. Big Grin
My opinion is to visit a best buy, a staples, a big box like a costco and look at the screens and feel the keyboards. Just look and window shop, then come back and research the specific model.

As far as the i3 vs the i5, an i5 will be more future proof, however if you are squeezed for budget I think the SSD will have a bigger improvement in noticeable performance than a faster CPU or more CPU cores available.

Also, not all laptops have two drive bays so factor that in also.

edit: and I'm assuming you saw this... http://www.hardware-revolution.com/best-...arch-2015/