Which CPU series' will do the job?

I've been doing research on laptops, but am bogged down by so much information. I hope someone here can help.

I need a laptop for home use that will initially be used to stream video (Hulu), and run itunes while playing games/surfing. If my desktop dies, this laptop will have to fill the gap for a few years, and additionally run Office, Sketch-up, old versions of Photoshop, Autocad, and play casual games online.

I currently have an 8-year-old Dell Dimension 4600: XPpro/512mb RAM/75gb HDD(48GB used)/Intel 82865G graphics/Intel Pentium 4 3.06GHz, which may be old, but courageously carries on doing all of the above (albeit slowly).

There are too many CPU options for a 2GB DDR3 RAM/250GB HDD (or better) combination for me to get a handle on. I've been to notebookcheck's processor ranking site (, and finally understand, for example, that an Athlon II P320 isn't as powerful as an Intel i-3-370M. This was helpful, but I don't know how to apply such rankings to my needs.

In short, what's the lowest-ranking CPU series (both AMD and Intel) that I should even be considering? I know GPUs come into play here, so if integrated graphics won't work for me, please let me know.

When I've narrowed down my list of laptops I'll be back for advice--Thanks!

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Here I go with the i5 or the dual core i7m.

But my laptop that plays hulu and more in 1080p is a lowly Lenovo y530 with old core 2 duo and integrated Intel 4500MHD video.

I wonder if you are asking if a dedicated GPU and Video RAM is required so my answer to that is no.

The i3 series with 4500 or similar GPU should compare well with my y530.

As to what model? Please use the Laptop pickers at the top of this forum.

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Thanks for the quick response

Sorry I didn't get back here sooner, but as it often does, life got in my way.

Are you saying I shouldn't go less than an i series? Which i series, Arrandale or Sandy Bridge?

I've gone the laptop-picker route, but I want to base the choice on my
own needs and preferences. A great price on an i3 might not be worth it
for me if the case is flimsy, if there's no optical drive, or the
manufacturer has a poor reputation. I mean, if HP had my perfect laptop
for only 300 bucks, I still wouldn't touch it!

I've got a strict budget of $500, so choosing will be a balancing act.

What I don't understand is the real-world application of the various
processors. Which series of CPUs will successfully handle both video
streaming and multi-tasking (itunes while browsing/playing casual online
games) but still be usable 3-5 years down the road?

I'm not looking for the fastest CPU on the market, just the best value
in overall performance. My desktop is 8-years-old, so anything has to be
an improvement!

Thanks for your patience with my questions.

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Given that spec.

"What I don't understand is the real-world application of the various processors. Which series of CPUs will successfully handle both video streaming and multi-tasking (itunes while browsing/playing casual online games) but still be usable 3-5 years down the road?"

I have to write that future prediction has me writing there is no such machine made for this. While my bet is any nice enough i3 will work fine using my older y530 as an example, your spec has me write there are no laptops for you today.

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I appreciate you taking the time to help--maybe I'll just stay in the desktop arena and wait for a good sale!

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If you are thinking still thinking on a laptop

I think you more likely to be usuable in 3 to 5 years with a newer processor. Intel is planning on another processor release before the end of the year. Typically there are features of the new processors that software writers can take advantage of. A desktop is top of the line desktop will be more powerfull then a top of the line laptop. its too hard to predict what technology will be like in 3 to 5 years. It may be all cloud based by then and you won't need the resources you have today. I would evaluate what u need now and try to get the latest technology which will help with being usable in the future. I myself allways purchase most advanced processor. My first laptop was a (1998)386 MMX but that was before processoras were designed for mobile use only. Then i purchased 2 pentium (2000 & 2002)4's , then i got the first Intel Mobile the penitum M processor (2005), next a duo core (2007), (2009) a quad core and just recently a Sandy Bridge i7 ( 2012 which i love). All those pcs will run today except the 386 MMX.

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They Pentium M

machine is what i used to test new operating system Betas. It was a Sager and came with no OS so the OS wasn't tied to Sager and there was no crapware. I could replace the CD/DVD player with a second battery and if i needed parts for it they are available on the internet today. I really loved that laptop but that Pentium M was Intels first gab at a mobile processor.

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Found a laptop

Just before your post I managed to snag a Lenovo G series, 4gb RAM, 500gb HDD, i3-2310M for $499. I'm pretty thrilled, since I had my heart set on Lenovo, but figured I'd have to wait until I'd either saved more cash or the Publisher's Clearing House man showed up on my doorstep!

In balancing the options vs my needs, I realized portability was most important (although only as far as the couch or kitchen). In a few years I'll look to get a new desktop, but will still have the laptop to stream any TV shows I missed or to play mindless browser games without being locked to my desk.

Next step--researching routers.

Thanks for your post--I appreciate the insight into longevity and how to choose.

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