There is nothing a geek likes better than to hear their spouse saythis computer is so slow”. 

It is practically permission to head out the door or straight to the Internet in that very moment and start the research towards purchasing a new PC or laptop to replace that slow computer mentioned earlier.

Well that recently happened in our house and it was related to the Gateway MX6455 (stickered lid pictured above) which I purchased in the Fall of 2006 – nearly 5 years ago.  This laptop had some great specs for those days:

  • AMD Turion 64 ML-37 Processor at 2.0GHZ
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 120GB Hard Drive
  • ATI Radeon Express 200M Chipset
  • Radeon X300 Integrated Graphics
  • 15.4 inch display
  • Windows XP (upgraded to Windows Vista and then Windows 7)

This laptop took me through a 7 1/2 month deployment in 2007 and was a travelling workhorse for me until I bought my ASUS Netbook about two years ago.  It was reliable and did what I asked it to do.  So with my netbook purchase I set the laptop up for my wife so she could do her writing away from her desktop machine.  This is how things have been until a week or so ago when she made the slow comment about the laptop.

So after a few days of research I decided to head to BestBuy to pick up a new laptop.  They had some pretty decent laptops advertised that would fill the purpose my wife needed for continuing her need to have a mobile work point.

When I walked into BestBuy I went looking for the laptop I was targeting a Gateway NV51B15U that was advertised for $329.  They had it in stock but before I finalized the purchase I scanned over some of the unadvertised deals they had.  I am glad I did because that is when I came across the Dell M5030 which was also priced at $329 – the same price as the Gateway NV51B15U – but this laptop had the upper hand on some of the specs.

Gateway NV51B15U

  • AMD E-Series Dual Core Processor at 1.6GHZ
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • ATI Radeon 6310 Graphics
  • 15.6 inch display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium installed

Dell M5030

  • AMD Athlon II Dual Core Processor at 2.2GHZ
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 320 GB Hard Drive
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD4250 Graphics
  • 15.6 inch display
  • Windows 7 Home Premium installed

So for the same price I could not pass up the extra specs on this one.  When I get asked about purchasing a new computer or laptop I tell people to buy within your budget and get the best specs you can get for your budget.  I also do not spend a lot of time on brands either.  I have bought Gateway’s in the past which is why I went looking at the Gateway first but I am more than happy to purchase another brand if it gives me more bang for the buck.

So now that the purchase is done what next?  That brings us to the name of this post Setting Up A New Laptop.

Here is a brief summary of what I do to get a new system ready for use:

  • Created the restore DVD’s.  A lot of laptops and PC’s no longer come with installation or recovery media however, all of them come with a means to create a set of discs for this purpose.  Before you take any other steps do this first so you have a means to return the system to its out of box state if necessary.
  • Verify everything is working. I go through the system and verify all the hardware is working as expected.  If there are any issues you will need to address that with the folks you purchased the laptop/PC from.
  • Remove unnecessary software programs. New systems come with all kinds of trial software and I go into the Uninstall Control Panel Applet and remove them all.  I replace the provided anti-virus software with Microsoft Security Essentials which takes care of anti-virus and anti-malware protection. Plus the updates are free.
  • Run Windows Update. Depending on when the laptop/PC was manufactured there may be system and security updates available so make sure to bring your system up to speed.
  • Install your software. All of us have the programs we use and so make sure they get installed.  Don’t forget all the helper programs like Adobe Reader, Java, etc. although when you need them you will get prompted to install them then.
  • Move your documents to the new system. In this day and age of flash drives this should be an easy process to shuttle the files from the old system to the new one.

At this point you should be up and running on your new system.

So do you have any other things you do when setting up a new system that might be helpful to others?  Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.