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I am in a situation a little different from others described in other posts, so I will try opening my own thread.

I am looking to buy a laptop, and someone else is paying for it. I can go as high as $1000, probably. But my requirements for performance are fairly lite: beyond Chrome, Notepad++, and some other programs (emulating PSX/N64), the most intensive thing I do with any regularity is run Sypder and other Python-related software for data analysis and machine learning. The computer I work with now has 8 gigs of ram and it's been totally fine.

If it were my own money I'd get something on the cheaper end. Since I'm not paying for it, though, I'm very interested in durability over time--it isn't likely that the next computer I buy after this one will be paid for by someone else. With that in mind, I'm looking for a laptop with a metal casing and a sturdy, compact feel. The weight makes little difference to me as long as it isn't made of lead.

To summarize, here are my requirements:

  • Windows laptop
  • Under $1000
  • Minimum 8 gigs of ram
  • Metal casing, sturdy feel
  • Long-term reliability important

Alternatively, if you have any advice for navigating this situation, I'd appreciate it.

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  • ASUS Zenbooks are full-metal, Dell XPS's should be metal on the outside and hard plastic on the inside, Lenovo ThinkPads are (still?) known for long-term relieability / durability. I don't have any particular experiences with any of these (and didn't look up prices) but that should give you a starting point. – SEJPM Jul 18 '17 at 16:37
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Just having metal won't necessarily make your laptop more durable (It depends more on construction and some laptop manufacturers put a metal coating over plastic), but if you want to maximize your durability you could consider something like a toughbook (which is constructed with a magnesium metal alloy).

They are usually around the $1000 price range and have pretty good specs as well. As it happens there is one on sale at Newegg for $500 (MSRP $3,800). It hits all the sweet spots in your requirements too. enter image description here

It features a Intel Core i5-3320M, so the cpu isn't exactly breaking records, however; it has 8gb of DDR3 RAM as well as a bonus of 128gb SSD (which in my experience makes even underpowered cpu computers quite snappy). It comes with Windows 7 Pro, but you can always buy Windows 10 for it, if you want the latest and greatest from Windows 10 (small optimizations, windows apps, cortana search).

These things are supposed to be REALLY tough, and I believe that the US military uses these types of laptops in the field. You'll have a tough time breaking one of these with daily use.

In addition, the official sales website claims:

In addition, a 6-foot drop & IP65 certified design with a full magnesium alloy case, helps to ensure that the Toughbook 19 will stand up to the most rigorous environments.

Tested by national independent third party lab following MIL-STD-810G Method 516.6 Procedure IV for transit drop test and IEC 60529 Sections 13.4, 13.6.2, 14.2.5 and 14.3 for IP65

It also claims to come with a gratuitous battery life of 10 hours.

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I just moved from a MacBook to a Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 (4th gen), and I purchased a refurb directly from Lenovo. 8GB RAM, i7, and smallish SSD. I swapped out the SSD for a 1TB nvme after purchasing the Carbon X1. Total price was around $1200. Very very happy with this machine.

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  • As Bren said I would look at ThinkPads, for the biggest you have you could either get a pretty decent ThinkPad or if you looked on a site such as eBay you could get a second hand one that should still be in great condition and that will have a little extra power for the price. There are loads on eBay due to them being used a lot in industry meaning you can by a huge range of them for a good discount! – Mike Johnson Aug 30 '17 at 13:13
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You will hate to read that but I would strongly recommend you to buy a MacBook Air. 13" for, you guessed it, $999.00.

Here the specs

1.8GHz Processor 
128GB Storage
1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz
8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory
128GB SSD storage1
Intel HD Graphics 6000

I bought a Mac to get my projects into the Apple ecosystem and I just KNEW I would never touch it again but within hours it became my main device for everything. Music production, photoshop, programming, a bit of video editing, creating websites, ... It's so nice not having to deal with Microsoft's flawed OS. You can install Windows on it (which wouldn't make too much sense) but you'll find most of the software for macOS as well.

Idk why metal casing is important to you but if my Mac can survive 3 years of being thrown around in a student's rucksack, you should be doing just fine with it. Battery life is also extraordinary.

Also, they keep their price tags for ages.. you could easily sell it for more than 500 bucks in 4 years if you kept it in good condition.

Like I said, you won't like this reply but please consider it. I regret having been so stubborn for so long, getting a Mac earlier in my life would've made it a lot easier.

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  • OP wants a windows laptop. – Cheloide Jul 19 '17 at 13:41
  • Which is why I mentioned the compatibility as well as the possibility to install a second OS on it. Did you even read my answer? – user5682822 Jul 19 '17 at 22:08
  • I don't think that was an option in the original question @user5682822 , it certainly wasn't mentioned anyway. – Edward Nunn Jul 23 '17 at 8:37

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