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Laptop for Stats Grad Student: Dell v. Lenovo?

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June 20, 2011 11:05:05 AM

Hello! I am new here, and I have a question regarding the pro v. cons of a couple different laptops...

I am going back to school this Fall, and the bulk of my program will center on policy (so writing papers) and running statistical software (I think the main program my school uses is STATA). I'm also doing a certificate program on top of my masters, and those classes will be in informatics and done entirely online. I will be using my new laptop mainly for school, although I'll probably use it for some basic non-school related activities as well. I'm not a gamer... other than some occasional solitare lol... so I don't need a laptop that is a high performer in that area. I do want something that can handle lots of stats and large databases, so performance overall is important; my grad school program is only one year, so I'd like to get some use out of my laptop once I'm back in the workforce as well.

So far, I've been mainly looking at the Dell Inspiron 14r second generation and the Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E420, although I'm open to other suggestions. I've gone through online and put together customized models on both sites, and they both come out to around $1100, so price seems pretty comparable. I added upgrades (unless these things came standard) like Windows 7 Professional and the Intel i5 processor.

I'm curious if any one had any thoughts on these two options. I'd love some information that would make my choice easier, as they both seem to be about the same, at least to me, right now. Thanks!
a c 244 D Laptop
June 20, 2011 6:36:01 PM

Hello and welcome to the forums
Please post the full specs of the laptops you customized.
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a b D Laptop
June 20, 2011 6:49:21 PM

also a tip of advice, google for which fatures win7 professional/ultimate offer over home edition. Chances are, you don't need those features and you'll be overpaying $70 out of lack of research.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 20, 2011 7:28:14 PM

Im also curious to see what you had chosen for your options in the $1100 range.
Based on your description of the intended usages I would have expected something close to $700~$800.
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June 21, 2011 1:44:31 AM

Well, I think each base model is about $650. I'll start with the Lenovo...

ThinkPad Edge E420 laptop, $671.04 with these features (I may write too much. I'm note really sure what features matter):
Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
Microsoft Windows 7 XP Mode - English
14.0" W HD (1366x768), AntiGlare, Midnight Black
Intel HD Graphics 3000
4 GB DDR3 - 1333MHz (1 DIMM)
UltraNav with TrackPoint & touchpad
720p HD Camera
500 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
No Micro Solid State Drive
Multi Recorder Optical Drive (12.7mm)
6 cell 2.2Ah Li-Ion Battery
Country Pack North America with Line cord & 65W AC adapter
Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000 (could also do ThinkPad b/g/n, but Intel sounded better?)
1141 : 1 Year Transactional Warrenty

Add-Ons:
Bluetooth 3.0 ($19.20)
McAfee Internet Security 2011 - 15 month ($27.84)
3YR Onsite + 3YR ThinkPad Protection Warranty Upgrade ($220.15)
Computrace LoJack for Laptops Standard 1 Year license ($31.45 - I'll be lugging around downtown Baltimore lol)

Total Price: $969.68 (I would still need to buy MS Home Office and MS Access and a few other accessories.)
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June 21, 2011 2:07:54 AM

Now the Dell... I called their customer support line a couple days ago, and the guy put the package together. I wanted to call back to get it reconfigured, but I didn't have a chance tonight. I may be a little off in what I describe:

Dell Inspiron 14r (I thought it was 2nd Gen, but it doesn't say that now that I"m looking)
4GB Shared Single Channel DDR3 Memory
Intel HD Graphics/HD Graphics 3000 with up to 1.6GB Dynamic Video Memory
500GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
8X Tray Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)
McAfee SecurityCenter, 36-Months ($89 - I want to pare this down)
2 Year Advanced Service Plan ($80)
DataSafe 2.0 Online Backup 2GB for 1 year
Windows 7 Home Premium to Wind ows 7 Professional - Anytime Upgrade ($79.99)
Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2010 & Access ($238)

The total comes out to $1,101.20
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 21, 2011 2:52:30 AM

Check and see if you qualify for the MS Office Professional Academic Edition $80

Check and see what your school recommends for an AV/Malware program.
Good chance it will be one of the free options like Microsoft Security Essentials.

You can get laptop tracking software for $10 a year through NSSI.
Also check the personal property policy through NSSI which covers Accidental Damage, Theft, Fire, Flood, Natural Disasters, Vandalism and Lightning Strikes.

I don't see any compelling reason to upgrade to Win7 Professional. Stick with Home Premium.
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 21, 2011 3:03:57 AM

"running statistical software" Are you going to want a dedicated number pad on your laptop keyboard? That will determine if you're able to get by with a 13"~14" laptop (no number pad) and a 15" model (with number pad).

Here is a 14" model worth looking at: Lenovo IdeaPad Z470 Sandy Bridge" Core i5 Laptop ~$780 with 3 year basic warranty upgrade.
Core i5-2410M, 8GB RAM, 750GB 5400rpm, 14" 1366x768 LCD w/ HD 3000 graphics. WiFi/Bluetooth included.
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June 21, 2011 3:07:51 AM

Thanks for the advice! Yeah, the Lenovo comes standard with the Windows 7 Pro, but you have to upgrade with the Dell.
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June 21, 2011 12:34:54 PM

What do you think are the pros and cons of all these different laptops, assuming they have similar configurations? Am I missing any key features?
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a c 572 D Laptop
June 21, 2011 3:00:48 PM

One 'con' for both the Edge and Inspiron 14r is that they're consumer grade laptops.

If you're comfortable with getting a laptop priced around $1100 I think you'd like one of the business grade laptops.
Examples would be the Lenovo T420 or Dell Latitude E6420.
Advantages would be a laptop designed and engineered for the heavier duty cycle that businesses require. An overall increase in ruggedness and reliability.
You also get an anti-glare LCD screen - handy in office (or classroom) situations where you can't adjust the lighting. Also a better choice for outdoor viewing.
And you can get a 1600x900 resolution LCD screen upgrade for more working 'real estate'.
Thinkpad T420 $1,138 when configured with Core i5-2410M, 4GB RAM (choose 1Dimm option for future 6GB or 8GB upgrade), 320GB 7200rpm HDD, 14" 1600 x 900 Anti-Glare LCD w/ HD 3000 graphics.
Other options included: Win7 Pro, Bluetooth 3.0, 3YR Onsite warranty.
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June 21, 2011 8:20:36 PM

I also looked at the IdeaPad that you posted... that looked like a really good deal. It seemed very similar to the ThinkPad Edge in terms of components. It seems like their marketing for the IdeaPad is a little more geared to consumers than the ThinkPad, but do you think there is a huge difference, at least compared to the Edge?

I looked at the T420 and the Latitudes... it really looks like a nice machine, but I think that is starting to veer out of my price range right now :(  I'm pretty sure I would need the spill/damage protection (I have a toddler lol), and that ends up getting a little pricy
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Best solution

a c 572 D Laptop
June 21, 2011 9:15:50 PM

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/laptops/thinkpad/edge-series/intel-14

IMO the Edge is a more of a consumer laptop - but marketed as a business machine with 'enhanced multimedia' capability. The Z series is marketed as 'an affordable entertainment' laptop. Both exceed the basic requirements for a student/SOHO laptop.
In laptop performance you'd have near zero difference when configured with the same CPU/RAM/HDD.

Either choice, with a Core i5 CPU & 4GB RAM, will do a great job running STATA software. It's hardware requirements are fairly modest.

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420s Notebook review

I haven't seen any Z370/470/570 reviews from the 'usual sources' yet. But they shouldn't stray too far from the previous Z360/460/560 that did really well. I had the use of a Z560 for a couple weeks and thought it was great, especially the keyboard.
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June 28, 2011 12:08:24 AM

Thanks for your help! I was about buy the Lenovo Z470, but then I sat on it a couple days. I did a fresh search, and I found an HP that seemed to suit my needs. The ProBook 4430. It only has 320gb of ram and an i3 processor, but other than that, t was very comparable. It was also a good deal less expensive than some of the other models (only $528).

Hopefully, that ends up being good!
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June 28, 2011 12:52:19 AM

Best answer selected by cs127.
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