Budget is in the $600 range, but can go as high as $700 if it is justifiable. As high as $800 would have to really be a great deal for me to spend that much, but I could do it with a lot of justification.
Prefer 15-16", but have seen a few 13-14" that seemed like they would be okay. I tend to have multiple things going on, but a 17" is too big.
Would like an Intel i5 or i7 processor.
Would like at least 8 GB RAM, but 12 or 16 GB sounds very attractive to me as well.
Hard drive at least 1TB, as my current 500 GB hard drive keeps making me shuffle things off to an external drive...
I definitely want a touchscreen, but do not need a 2-in-1 (in fact, I would worry they would not be sturdy enough over time).
It must be able to support being plugged into a 2nd monitor (Samsung at home, Dell at work, both HD, both HDMI capable).
I carry it back and forth to work/school nearly ever day, so it must be sturdy.
I have liked Dell laptops in the past, but have recently read that there is not much difference between most of the reputable brands in the different categories (i.e., a budget machine of any brand is not going to last as long as a high end machine of any other brand, in general. Please correct me if I am wrong.)
I don't play games, but I do multitask with some pretty memory hogging programs - a typical scene would be having Excel, Access, and Word open, and possibly also PowerPoint (2-4 docs each), along with a statistics program (R Studio), and a molecular genetics program (Geneious, this is the true memory hog), and on occasion another specialized statistical program for population genetics open at the same time as all of that. This is, of course, on top of about 10-20 Chrome tabs, with at least a few of those currently active, including 2 gmail accounts, and frequently YouTube as well. Oh, and bibliographic software running at the same time as well (EndNote).
I can't think of any reason I really need a DVD/CD drive, as I haven't used my current one in at least the past year, so that is probably not a necessity, though it feels weird to get a laptop without one. I'm sure I will get over it though, haha.
I do need at least 3, but preferably 4, USB ports, but only one needs to be 3.0, as the others are typically used only for bluetooth devices or charging.
Lastly, I would like it to last for at least the next 3-5 years (both in terms of capabilities and sturdiness).
I don't think I care whether it is Windows 8 or 10; my current laptop is Windows 8, and I have no experience with Windows 10, but it seems like most Windows machines come with Windows 10 these days, so I don't want to limit myself in that way.
I have looked on Costco's web site, but there are a handful that fall into my requirements, and I don't know how to choose between them. I'm sure there are little things that a more computer savvy person would know about.
I don't need to buy right away - just in the next few months would be nice, as my current laptop frequently slows down enough to completely frustrate me, and has given me the blue screen several times over the past year. My current laptop is a Samsung, with an AMD A8 processor, 4 GB RAM, and 500 GB hard drive. It is fine when I don't ask it to do too much, but it really doesn't like to do any heavy duty multitasking.
Thanks so much in advance for your help!