My Ideal Setup – Laptop

It took me one month to have an ideal setup that I can use it in peace and focus more on what I am doing on it. A person who cannot multitask at all and easily distracted like me needed something different than what I am used to. My goal was to focus only on one task at a time. If you are a multitasker, please disregard it and read it as a story. And if you are like me, see if you can relate something with you and also see if you can apply it to your daily life. It is a long and detailed journey, and to keep the focus as high as possible, I divided the story into different posts. So that you will not have 20 pages long article to read in front of you. Enjoy, stay safe, and stay well. In case of any questions, suggestions, or contributions, please send me an email.

Each day I become more against buying new stuff and want to spend my money on second-hand things rather than spending a thousand euros for a brand new one. And this is what I did in this journey. I found a nice, barely used Dell XPS 13 (9343) and bought it. Before buying, I didn’t know that this model has a dynamic contrast problem on its screen where it happens on white backgrounds. Basically, it washes the colors with white, and then with 3-4 seconds delay, other colors appear on the screen. Without a doubt, it is really annoying. The solution I found is using the redshift and set the temperature of the screen to 3500. It works. If you have the same model and the same problem, I highly recommend redshift first rather than spending money to replace the screen.

Anyway, when I am going to buy a second-hand laptop (or anything), I check:

  • What is my total budget?
  • How long can I use it?
  • Is it upgradable?
  • How rough is it used?
  • Screen and hinges
  • What is the overall battery capacity?
  • Case screws
  • Keyboard
  • Touchpad

I had a 500 euros budget, and I wanted to buy a second-hand laptop that I can use a minimum of 3 years. If I guestimated a CPU with a lifespan of 10 years, Ivy Bridge or a newer one would be my choice. Based on this, I searched for the marketplaces and found some laptops lowest at 300 euros and the highest 500 euros. Are there any of them have upgradable parts? This is where I had to sacrifice some of the features I want. I could pay less and try to upgrade immediately, I could pay more and upgrade after 1-2 years, or something that I couldn’t upgrade will perform the way I want for the next 3 years. I narrowed down my options and decided to check one.

Generally, I start with the chassis; especially DC power jack, USBs and other ports -if there are any. There were no visible damages, and it was already a good sign. Then, I check the screws. The interesting thing about screws is that they will tell so many things. If you see so many scratches on them or deformation, then you can imagine that laptop chassis opened so many times for various reasons. Indeed, it is typical for old laptops, yet it shouldn’t be overlooked either. In my case, all were fine. The screen was OK -except the fact that dynamic contrast I discovered later on, and there were no dead pixels (some dead pixels are acceptable). Hinges were not wobbly, nor there was an empty space when you lift the screen to a certain angle. If you feel there is a space or some wobbliness, it must be a no go. When I consider it will be continuously used for a minimum of 3 years, it is a gamble due to some hinges are hard to fix. Battery capacity was 80%, and for me, anything above 50% is excellent. An upgrade could be an option at this point, too (brand new battery for my XPS is around 60 euros). And keyboard. I immediately check space, enter, and backspace keys. If one of them is having some difficulties or requires a certain angle to press, then it is a no go. But all were fine. My final stop was the touchpad. In my eyes, it is the most unreliable part of the laptop. Today, it may work. Two days later, it may not. It is always good to feel comfortable with the possibility of mouse usage. Finally, the touchpad was fine, too.

Above is just to create a framework of what someone can look into in terms of buying a second-hand laptop. I am not a second-hand guru or anything, but it helps me a lot to buy something decent and worth every cent I paid for. For my Dell case, I paid 350 euros for the laptop, and 149 euros for 1TB Samsung 860 EVO. After I bought the laptop that I needed and the way I needed, I had to install the OS that I needed and the way I needed it.

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