I checked the online store this morning and the same Acer model mentioned above is not available in my area at the moment.
Sorry for providing you with the wrong info yesterday.
Numeric keypad is certainly a must for most of us. Middle to high end laptops usually include them, I think.
One thing to note, the links available at laptopmag only mention in detail about a specific model within both series of laptops. For example, both laptop offers i7 CPU versions and different configurations of secondary storage devices. The Dell Inspiron which I mentioned has a hybrid configuration: HDD + SSD.
That said, the Acer Aspire E5 series sold in my area does not contain any options to upgrade to i7.
I like the PC as it has long battery-life. The Dell Inspiron does not seem to have long battery life, per reviews, but it has less bloatware and the i7 processor you mentioned earlier.
Also, it comes with discrete graphics, the same as that of the Acer model, for your information, with 4 GB of dedicated VRAM.
The Dell Inspiron model mentioned above does come with an i7-processor and it is available at the moment in my area. The exact same specs as listed below.
To avoid confusion, here are the exact models I am considering (I replaced the earlier Acer model with the one available in my region).
Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (5570)
Intel Core 8th-gen i7-8550U processor
15.6 inch display
4GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon 530 graphics (dedicated)
8GB DDR4 2400 MHz RAM
1TB 5400 RPM HDD + 128 GB PCIe SSD) (128 GB is enough for me actually. My documents are usually stored in the Cloud and they rarely exceed 20 GB.)
Price: About 1000 USD.
Acer Aspire E15 (E5-576G-54KG and E5-576G-58RV)
Intel Core 8th-gen i5-8250U processor
15.6 inch display
2GB GDDR5 Nvidia GeForce MX150 (dedicated)
4GB DDR3L SDRAM
Price: About 650 USD
I am still looking for good HP and Acer laptops, but those with optical disk drives usually don't have RAM memory space beyond 4GB and the screens are usually small, anywhere from 13 inch to 14 inch.
Expensive ones have most stuff I need, but no optical disk drive. I am wondering if I need to give up something at this point.
But if given an option between optical disk drive and long battery life, I will go for the former one. Firstly, it is more likely that I need to use a DVD to store data and backups. Th extra long battery life of 8 hours is more appealing towards the travelers and business people. I will only use my PC at most for 2 hours at any given time, so a 4-5 hours battery will do the job, in my opinion. (Of course, if it has 7-9 hours of battery I will be even happy.)
It's not like I need to run simulations for 5-8 hours continuously. Powerful simulations are done using supercomputers or utilizes parallel computing.
Just my thoughts though, I am willing to accept comments and advice from others.
Also, just to summarize some of my unanswered questions, in case anyone missed them:
1. For laptops/notebooks (not 2-in-1s, detachables/convertibles etc.) Should I go for AMD or Intel processors, if given a choice?
2. Is it worth waiting for the 9th-gen Intel CPUs to arrive before I purchase my new laptop, or the 8th-gen processors are good enough?
My current PC's HDD is a 500GB 7200 RPM variant and although it is quite good (still no bad sectors after 7 years of usage!) I think it's a bit slow. This may be also due to my rather slow AMD A6 APU (1.4 GHz only).
Is it possible that with an 8th-gen i7, perhaps the faster clock speed will outweigh the HDD with slower RPM?
I am pretty sure it depends on the front side bus speed, but I couldn't find any info on that.
Is my reasoning above correct?
Does a 5400 RPM HDD really doesn't matter if I have say, an i7 processor?
4. Regarding the reviews, what are reputable websites which I can refer to?
Laptopmag and techradar seems reputable. Are there any other webpages I can have a look at?
Thanks for helping.