I'm planning to buy a new laptop and I thought I should stop by and ask you chaps for recommendations 'coz, you all seem to be pretty informative about these things.
Now, the laptop I'm planning to buy here should be around 300-600$. Nothing too fancy or powerful considering I'm going to use it mostly on studies... with a little gaming on the side, of course but not too slow either. My old man suggested that I buy a Dell laptop which is about 450$. It's hardware's decent, I guess but I'm kinda suspicious with the OS being a Windows 8. Heard some bad things about it, never used it before (or bothered to look it up) personally. Any suggestions?
If you can swing it inside your budget, try getting something with a discrete videocard. That'll usually play most games. My (2-year old sub 700 euro) laptop has an i5-460M and an AMD 5650M and it plays most games very nicely (like TF2, Dota2, Left4Dead2). It even plays Planetside 2 somewhat acceptably. In general, cheap laptop screens are 1366x768 and that's not a big resolution anymore.
If you can't swing that, try aiming for something with an Intel 4000 HD. That's a pretty decent videocard (well, it's built into Intel processors) all things considered. The Intel 3000HD is also OK, but a bit slower than the 4000.
If you don't even plan on playing anything vaguely modern or are playing mostly indie games, the graphics card doesn't even matter.
Otherwise, Win8 is ok. There's some really odd UI decisions I and others don't like, but nothing that you won't get used to.
What about the brands, then? I know Acer's cheap but I think they're prone to malfunctioning as of late. I know Dell was but that was years ago. The quality might be better than last time but who knows? Also, how Lenovo laptops or Samsung?
If you can find a Samsung Chronos Series 7 from 2011, I think you may be able to get a laptop in the upper limit of the price range you are looking for.
What makes this model remarkable, even more so than the one they brought out in 2012 is that its batteries last around 9 hours (!), else it is very well designed, has no problems with heat buildup which you will often get to catastrophic results from cheap laptops. It has a very good processor, plenty of RAM and a decent graphics card. While it is not a gaming laptop it will happily run almost everything you throw at it that is not a cutting edge 3D shooter set to max at a very acceptable pace.
It is very solidly built and quite nice to use.
If you can find one cheap, or refurbished, or even used (by a owner who treated it well) I would go for it.
Lenovo bought IBM's ThinkPad laptop line. ThinkPads are awesome, and I've heard Lenovo have mostly continued the trend.
My laptop's by HP and I like it. Recent Dells also feel pretty durable.