HP/Compaq vs Dell vs Gateway for new notebook? Your experience?

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Thread Starter
Jan 4, 2007
I would like to buy another notebook. I have heard good things about Dell & Gateway & have had positive experiences with Gateway. But the same specs are lots cheaper at HP/Compaq.

I want XP OS which Gateway doesn't offer but they said they could give me detailed instructions on how to uninstall/install OS. My techy son could do that. Dell offers XP on several & none for the HP & one Compaq.

Is it worth it to pay more for a Dell or Gateway? Am I overlooking another good brand?

I am rather disillusioned with used computers as the one I am using now is literally falling apart and I have only had it 8 months.

I hope this is the right forum for this thread. If not, please move.


Dec 9, 2004
If you really want to run Windows XP, buy a laptop with it already installed. HP is not providing Windows XP drivers for many of its new computers which means you could have problems running certain hardware components under XP

I don't have any experience with Gateway laptops and haven't read much on them recently. If they assure you that they provide Windows XP drivers for their new laptops (and I would verify this on their website unless they'll be including a disk with the system) and you already have an unused Windows XP license, a Gateway laptop might be an option.
Jul 7, 2007
Dell computers (well mine at least) come with so much ... uneeded Dell "stuff". It's good but I don't use a mojoity of the stuff that came with the computer.
Jan 10, 2005
I have had: an IBM Thinkpad, a Winbook, and now an HP Pavilion.

The Thinkpad was a lemon - never worked reliably, but that may have had something to do with the W95 OS. Plus, it cost me $6000 dollars, though that was back in 1993.

The WinBook was more reliable than the Thinkpad, but it too had some problems. It cost me $3000 bucks, but that was back in 1997.

This HP Pavilion Notebook I have now is OK (so far), and it cost me $1500 bucks back in 2004.

So, you can draw several conclusions from this:

1. Well known brands can have lemons, but the risk of getting one in a well known brand (like Dell, Gateway, HP, or IBM - IBM has changed owners now, so I don't know if the new company has the same "brand recognition"). I apparently just got "lucky" with my Thinkpad (or maybe I would better say "UNlucky") because IBM IS a pretty well known and reliable brand.

2. The prices have certainly gone DOWN over the years (stating the obvious, but it's remarkable to me that now for about a quarter of what I paid in 1993, I have a machine that is more than 4 times more powerful - WAY more than 4X).​

When buying a new computer, you should consider your own skills at using one. What I mean is this:

If you are an experienced user and not afraid to "crack the case" (which is risky on a notebook, NOT like opening a tower on a Desktop), than you can get a cheaper, less well known, brand because you may be able to deal with the higher risk of problems.

But if you are a novice, or otherwise not confident of your software AND hardware skills, than you probably ought to go for the more expensive well known and less risky brand names.

The better your skills are, the more risk you can take.

For example, I learned enough about troubleshooting with that ThinkPad so that I was confident enough to buy the WinBook, which was a lot cheaper than other brands, but a LOT more risky relative to technical problems. (As it turned out, the WinBook didn't give me near the number of problems the ThinkPad did - so with the WinBook I really DID get lucky).

So, consider your own skills when selecting a machine to purchase.​

Something else to consider when buying a Notebook is the brand of processor. This is especially important in a Notebook because with Notebooks, HEAT is an issue more than it is with Desktops. That's because a Notebook has a much smaller and packed interior AND smaller fan, thus cooling air circulation is less than in a Desktop.

For example, Celerons run hotter than Pentiums, BUT Celerons make for a cheaper machine.

Many buyers are attracted by the significantly LOWER price of a Celeron equipped Laptop versus a Pentium equipped Laptop.

But, you get what you pay for. With the cheaper Celeron equipped laptop, you are going to have to watch for heat issues more than you would with a Pentium equipped machine. Many Laptop owners suffer "buyers remorse" when they realize that the noisy fan comes on A LOT. That's because they got a cheaper BUT HOTTER Celeron equipped machine.

I have an AMD processor, which runs pretty hot, but I regularly clean out the vents (with a shot of compressed air) and I also run cooling software, and I also keep it elevated when in use so that air can circulate under the case too. And I monitor the temps of the MB and the HDD and the Processor. If they start to get too high, or if the fan starts to cycle on a lot, then I shut the thing down and put it in a cool place, sometimes with a small external fan blowing on it. In three years (knock on wood), I have not suffered a heat related problem.

So, you CAN get a cheaper and hotter processor, but you have to be extra careful and make sure you cool it more.

Any brand name is as good as another (I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me on that one, and to be fair I should say that some are SLIGHTLY better than others), mainly because the "manufacturers", the Dells, the Gateways, the HP's etc., are really "Assemblers". The actual manufacturer of your hardware is one of only maybe four outfits in Taiwan (or Mexico) that make all the parts. The Assemblers, what most people call the "manufacturer", are really only engineers and they design how those parts go together in the assembly.

Now the Dells, Gateways, HP's etc. ARE responsible for SERVICE. So you might want to select the one that is currently rated highest in the Service department. I say "currently" because the service ratings (listed in trade magazines, like PCWorld) change from year to year. For example, HP was once rated pretty high in Service, but now they're toward the bottom of the heap. And when I had that ThinkPad lemon, thank goodness IBM's Service was excellent, because I had to send the thing in to them frequently. I'd send it in, and then I'd get it back, a repair or a replacement, in just a few days.

And a lot of "manufacturers" have outsourced their Service departments offshore, so remember, if you end up talking to someone who speaks English as their second language, you may have to explain your problem "slowly". Plus, most service folks operate from a script - they'll suggest troubleshooting according to what's "pre-scripted" for them. If you have to troubleshoot, you may do better coming to forums like this one.

And then there's Reliability ratings. These work hand-in-hand with Service ratings. If the Reliability rating is low, then if you get that brand, make SURE the Service rating is high. If the Reliability rating is high, then you may be able to risk a lower Service rating because you have less risk of needing Service.

In conclusion: the buying tips . . .

1. Brand names have less risk, but still there are lemons. The greater the Reliability rating, then the less risk you may have of needing Service. BUT THERE WILL STILL BE SOME RISK OF NEEDING SERVICE!!!

2. Match your skills with troubleshooting with the brand you select, and also with the expense.

3. Expect to compensate for extra heat if you choose to buy a cheaper processor in a Laptop.

4. You're never going to eliminate all the risk, but at least you can reduce the risk with an informed purchase.​

Finally, do your homework (and your post here is a good example), read all the latest reviews and visit the "manufacturers" discussion forums. Just remember though that when you visit the "manufacturers" discussion forums, your going to get a biased view of the machines. That's because the posters in those forums are posting because they have problems. You're unlikely to see a post that says something like "I'm satisfied". But you can get a good idea of the frequent problems with that brand.

As far as XP and Vista, get the machine that you want and then worry about the OS. If you want to revert to XP on a machine that comes with VISTA preinstalled, you can always have your "Techy" son do that for you.

Good luck . . .


Gone but always remembered
Jan 9, 2004
Hello BobJam,

Just wanted you to know that I find your post to be an excellent one. (y)

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