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Advice on laptop for college

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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April 5, 2011 4:28:23 AM

Hey all, so I'm going to college next year and need to buy a laptop. I'll be majoring in Computer Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

I've narrowed it down to a few options, and figured I should post before I spend the money. Can anyone from RPI give me any advice? Anyone from my major? How about just general advice about laptops for college?

General Requirements
Already have OS, software, peripherals, external storage, etc. I'll be dual booting Win 7 and Mint, and will bring my desktop also. I just need something that I can take notes on in class and use in the library or on the road. Basically, something that I can get serious work done with whenever I'm away from my desktop in the dorm. Mostly that means web, word processing, programming IDEs, minecraft, and MATLAB/simulation/modeling. So whatever I choose needs a little beef.

Specific Requirements
Sandy Bridge if possible (unless there's a good case for AMD... haha nvm). 13" to 17" screen (give or take). SSD, SATA3, USB3 options are good selling points. Netbooks are out of the question. It also has to be durable, and friendly to future upgrades and overclocking.

Budget
Hopefully less than $1500. However, I'm willing to spend a little more for a laptop that will last me 3-4 years instead of 2-3. I definitely can't spend close to $2000.

Option 1 - Tablet Ultraportable
Lenovo X220 Tablet - $1800+ (TBA, estimate) (review of the non-tablet X220)
I love the keyboard and battery life. Performance is much better than I expect of an ultraportable, and the price is justifiable. I'm a fan of lenovos for the build quality. But I wish a slightly larger option existed with discrete graphics. I want a portable system, but I don't know if I need an ultraportable system.
The main selling point (for me) is tablet mode, with a Wacom digitizer pen. There's no way I'd take notes with a touchscreen keyboard, but a digitizer pen would be awesome. I would definitely encrypt the drive and use the biometric scanner. A SSD is an expensive but justifiable option.
For an ultraportable, I'd be forced to shell out for the docking station and connect that old CD-R drive I have lying around. This option stretches my budget to the max (evne with student discounts), good thing I'm planning this early lol.

Option 2 - Non-Tablet Powerhouse
Toshiba Qosmio X505-#### - $1300 to $1800
Yesss, powah. The specs are ideal, and this one (unlike the Lenovo) even has a CD drive... hold on, is that a mofo BD-combo!? The only downside is the weight and the price (Toshiba doesn't offer student discounts). And those are big downsides. Also, it doesn't have a tablet mode.
I'm leaning towards a Toshiba because it's less expensive than an ASUS G73JW and of better build quality (or so I've heard).

Option 3 - Realistic All-Around
If all else fails, I'll take a closer look at the latest Sandy Bridge options with however much cash I have atm. Something like the Lenovo T5## or Toshiba Satellite

TL;DR - I'm leaning towards a Qosmio, but any suggestions for tablets (with digitizer pens and keyboards) vs desktop replacements vs all-around laptops for an engineering student?

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June 9, 2011 10:45:51 PM

Did you make your decision yet? I own a Qosmio x505-Q890 and it is, hands down, the best all-round laptop I have ever used. Enormous power, beautiful visuals, killer look, great build, zero problems. Of course, I don't lug this sucker around much so if weight or size is a concern, this ain't for you. But I wanted a machine with amazing specs and I got that in spades. Unfortunately I don't think they are still making them with an SSD drive option, but you could always add that yourself...
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