Finally, we’re getting to the more exciting stuff — it’s only after you pass the R10,000 mark and verge up on R15,000 that notebook computers start to really take shape. High-end processors, substantial allocations of RAM, decent amounts of storage — you know, what you’re looking for when you head out to buy a notebook.
But finally making it to decent hardware is a little hard on the wallet. You need up to R15,000 (and we’d recommended getting as close to that price as possible) to play in this particular pool but you’ll be glad you made the investment. Durable office machines, stuff for studying, and even a little light gaming is possible at this price point.
If you’ve got R15,000 and are looking to upgrade your notebook in South Africa, these are the setups you should be considering at retail right now. Plus one that you might want to stay away from… not because it did anything wrong, just because it’s a bit of a trap for the unwary.
Acer Swift 3
There’s a lot to like about this rather fetching blue-hued Acer Swift 3. First of all, you’re definitely going to stand out in the boardroom or wherever you choose to use it. Secondly, it’s got a fine set of internals to go with it. There’s an 11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 powering this machine, backed up by 8GB of RAM (which, sadly, can’t be upgraded. No, not even if you crack the case open) and 512GB of SSD storage. This 14in 1,920 x 1,080 office machine will get you through just about any office task without sweating, and it’ll do a few more exotic things for you if you ask nicely. A fingerprint sensor, USB-C support, older USB slots and even a full-sized HDMI round out the features, with a full set of wireless connectivity options also being available for you to fiddle with.
Buy it from Takealot | R14,000
You might remember this one from our Under R5,000 list of notebook computers. At the time, we did point out that it comes in a variety of flavours. This is one of the sweetest. A 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor sits inside Lenovo’s solid black chassis, along with 8GB of RAM and 1TB of hard drive storage. Those are respectable specs at any price. This 15.6in notebook also includes Intel’s Iris Xe graphics (don’t get too excited, it’s still not a GPU), most of the ports you’re expecting (bar USB-C and ethernet, which are not present) and runs Windows 10 Home. This Lenovo S145 is powerful enough to get the job done for some time to come.
Buy it from HiFi Corp | R14,000
HP ProBook 455 G7
Ryzen shine! HP’s ProBook 455 G7 uses AMD’s Ryzen 5 4500U chipset as its main brain. Available from Evetech, there are a whole range of different configurations available. We’ve opted here for the 24GB RAM/1TB HDD version of this 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 notebook, because it’s got the highest numbers, obviously. Plus, thanks to the integrated Radeon graphics, it’s got a chance at running a little digital entertainment on your downtime. It’s running Windows 10 Pro to boot, which you may appreciate from your Windows computer. Included are: a fingerprint reader, SD card reader, webcam, USB 2.0 and 3.1 ports, USB-C support (with power delivery), audio jacks and (since this is being sold where it is) a notebook bag for you to lug it around in.
Buy it from Evetech | R15,000
Lenovo IdeaPad L340G
Okay, so we’re cheating a little bit with this one here. It’s not normally under R15,000 and it’s not the most powerful machine on this list but it does have two things going for it: masses of storage and a dedicated GPU. There’s a 9th-gen Intel Core i5-9300H processor running inside and there’s just 8GB of RAM (DDR3, more’s the pity) but there’s also a 3GB GTX 1050 GPU stuck inside there. Which, yes, is two generations old but a desktop version of the GTX 3060 will cost you R11,000 on its own. Calm down. This Lenovo will play a few games, is what we’re saying. Some of them will even look pretty darned good while you’re playing them. You’ll also get a backlit keyboard, because it can’t play games unless you can see its keys in the darkness.
Buy it Incredible | R15,000 [on special until 10 May 2021]
Asus Vivobook Core
Asus’ notebook is typical of the Vivobook range — it’s got a largely pleasing design but it’s really what’s on the inside that counts. And the Vivobook Core has it where it counts, with a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 (the 1035G1) handling all of the important processing in this setup. There’s 8GB of RAM pushing pixels around on Windows 10 Pro, the 15.6in display is properly HD, and there’s also 512GB of SSD storage to muck around with. Unusually, there’s a backlit keyboard but don’t let that fool you — it’s only packing Intel’s Iris Xe graphics tech so don’t expect to turn it into a streaming machine. It’s home office, regular office or studying for the Asus Vivobook Core. And it’s good at it.
Buy it from Takealot | R14,250
One to avoid
Dell Inspiron 5482
Let’s just start by saying that there’s nothing wrong with this notebook, as such. But compared to everything else on this list, this Dell Inspiron 5482 just doesn’t justify its price. It’s packing a full HD 14in display (at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution), which is neat enough, but the rest of this admittedly versatile machine just doesn’t make the grade. It’s running Windows 10 Home on just 4GB of RAM. There’s a solid terabyte of storage but it’s a conventional HDD so there’s nothing really special happening here. Worst of all, though, is the Intel Core i3-8145U processor, a circa-2018 CPU that was fair when when it launched. But stacked against the competitively-priced Intel 10th- and 11th-gen machines listed here, this Dell isn’t the best use of your laptop budget.
Buy it from Game (if you must) | R13,000
Header image by Junior Teixeira from Pexels