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Student Laptop Choice

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July 31, 2012 9:25:53 PM

I am looking at these three laptops and had a few questions that I hope you can answer for me.

http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/Len...

http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/satellite/S850/...

http://us.toshiba.com/computers/laptops/satellite/S850/...

1) What kind of battery life will a dedicated card get vs the integrated 7660g?
2) Will the heat from the 660m kill the laptop faster than the 7670m or the 7660g?
3) Which laptop has the best build quality?
4) Will the lower powered GPUs be sufficient for medium settings on most new games?

I need it to be portable enough to carry to class without killing the battery or weighing me down. I figure the a10 will get the best battery life but I don't know if it will offer the power I would like.

I will be using it for school work in engineering classes over the next four years and for medium gaming. I would like to be able to play newer games and hopefully games into the near future. I also would be using it for photo and movie editing, CAD, and video transcoding.

Thanks for your help.

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August 1, 2012 4:05:13 PM

I would stay away from Lenovos since their lasting build quality generally tends to fall apart after a year. We have Lenovos at work and we have to cycle them out every year because the hardware ends up dying no matter what the use is. I know that the AMD CPUs tend to have heating issues, but they are generally better for overclocking, if that's your thing.

If you're going to be doing engineering work, especially CAD rendering and Matlab, you'll want a good workhorse processor and not an Intel integrated GPU, look for a Nvidia or ATI GPU. The problem with these GPUs is that you will need to carry around your power adapter wherever you go, so between power and portability, it really is a toss up for what you want to get accomplished. Are you really going to be doing engineering work on your laptop at school, or are you going to be doing it in your apartment or dorm?

From your needs, definitely shoot for a gaming rated laptop as it';ll be able to handle the video editing and CAD rendering, but don't be surprised if you'll only be able to get 2 hours out of a 9 hour rated battery doing those processes. Good luck
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August 1, 2012 4:41:13 PM

Out of the 3 of those, the Lenovo has the best specs for your needs. It has an i7 and a good GPU. Battery life would be pretty much crap though if you are rendering and gaming so you need to be always plugged in.

No, the integrated graphics card will not be enough for gaming. Not too sure about rendering.

I have the Ideapad y580. Build quality-wise, so far it has not broken down on me. Its about 2-3 months old now *knock on wood*. Toshibas have ok build quality. Not the best but not bad either. I would suggest looking at Asus laptops if you are concerned about build quality. I have a 4 year old laptop that still works very well. Also, Asus has an accident protection warranty. If in the first year you caused accidental damage to your laptop, you can send it to them and they will replace the laptop for you. Its a one time deal though so you better not accidentally damage it again. Lol.

Heat-wise, the ideapad y580 has its fan base-settings to "silent (or something like that)" which means all fans are running really slow to stay as quiet as possible. You have to adjust the fan speed for it to run appropriately. Its easy though so don't worry. Again, I'm not sure about video editing but in terms of gaming, you will always have heat. Its best if you have a laptop cooler to help with cooling. Otherwise, just make sure the back is slightly raise to help with air circulation. Yes, heat will kill your laptop quicker. But, again, my Asus laptop is 4 years old, wasn't put on a laptop cooler, used for gaming, and is still working. Based on my experience, heat is almost a non-issue.
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August 3, 2012 3:47:04 PM

I have heard a lot of people praise lenovo for their build quality so I am not as worried about that anymore and because of the superior components of the y580 I will probably go with it. I can get the one I linked to for $829.99 with a student discount but I was wondering if it would be worth it to drop the hard drive size from a 1TB 5400rpm to a 500GB 7200rpm and get a the one with a blue-ray drive and 1080p screen for $959.99. I don't think I want to lose all that space over the screen resolution and likely wouldn't use a blue-ray drive but the resolution would be nice. What do you think?

Edit:
Forgot to link to the laptop. http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/usstude...

Would an extended warranty be worth the cost?
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August 4, 2012 10:17:27 AM

Starkiller93 said:
I have heard a lot of people praise lenovo for their build quality so I am not as worried about that anymore and because of the superior components of the y580 I will probably go with it. I can get the one I linked to for $829.99 with a student discount but I was wondering if it would be worth it to drop the hard drive size from a 1TB 5400rpm to a 500GB 7200rpm and get a the one with a blue-ray drive and 1080p screen for $959.99. I don't think I want to lose all that space over the screen resolution and likely wouldn't use a blue-ray drive but the resolution would be nice. What do you think?

Edit:
Forgot to link to the laptop. http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/usstude...

Would an extended warranty be worth the cost?


Hmm.. When I upgrade I always think about performance boosts. A blue-ray drive, in my opinion, is not worth it. If you have another device where you can watch blue-rays then there is no point. Also, movies are more and more coming in to digital format. Its pretty much useless for me.

The screen resolution is a nice upgrade. Battery life will be shorter though but since we advised you to keep it plugged in, I don't think that will be an issue.

The HDD RPM increase is also worth it. Typically, in a laptop situation, bottlenecks are almost always in the HDD. A faster HDD will yield better performance so the lost space I think is justified. In fact, if you can afford it, I would advise you to get an SSD too. If you get an SSD, you can just switch back to the 5400 RPM HDD. Install your OS and important programs in the SSD and keep the HDD as a simple storage device.

If I would have to chose between screen resolution and SSD, I would choose the SSD route. Again, all depends on the budget you are willing to spend.

No, extended warranties are not worth it. Most computer problems that occur in laptops are software-based and can be resolved pretty easily (i.e. reformatting if worst comes to worst) especially if you have a friend or somebody who is fairly knowledgeable with computers. Hardware failure is pretty rare after the manufacturer's warranty.

Besides, even if you get an extended warranty, in my experience, they would still give you a hard time getting things fixed in your laptop. Its not as silky smooth as they make it out to be. I'm not talking about Lenovo customer service just to let you know. But I;m talking in general. :) 
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August 11, 2012 5:37:16 PM

Best answer selected by Starkiller93.
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