Laptop for college

First off, I'd like to apologize for posting here and effectively adding to the slew of college laptop guidance requests, however I feel that it would be worth it to get some experiences opinions (seeing as I've never actually owned a laptop before).

I've been looking for a laptop recently, but I can't seem to find anything that meets my criteria.

I am going to be majoring in Mechanical Engineering, so I'd like it to be able to run Autodesk products well.

These are some things I would like or are important to me:
- At least a 320GB HDD (7200rpm strongly preferred)
- Widescreen (like 16:9 or 16:10) but I'd like to avoid weird resolutions (for example 1366x768)
- 2-4GB RAM
- Back-lit keyboard strongly preferred
- Webcam (2.0MP preferred but 1.3MP should be acceptable)
- Battery life should be around 3 hours (in a perfect world it would be 4+, but that might be unreasonable for what I'm asking)
- Good build quality (I heard that HPs break often?) and should not be prone to overheating
- At least Windows 7 Home Premium

One more thing that makes my search difficult is that I would like to be able to run most modern games smoothly. So a dedicated graphics card would be nice, but that makes things like battery life a luxury. I am in need of advice on whether I should be looking for a laptop with dedicated graphics or integrated graphics.

My price constraints are fairly tight - The highest I can spend is maybe $1200, but that's even pushing it. Hopefully I don't come off as crazy for asking all of this at such a low price.

I realize that I'm asking for a lot here - Yes, I am very picky.

I would appreciate any advice whatsoever.
Thanks for your time.
12 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Wow someones asking for a lot. Way to ask for the perfect laptop. this will fit in great with all of the hundreds of other requests for the perfect laptop. You people make me sick.
  2. trololol said:
    Wow someones asking for a lot. Way to ask for the perfect laptop. this will fit in great with all of the hundreds of other requests for the perfect laptop. You people make me sick.

    To be fair, I did say that I realized I am asking for a lot, and I also did apologize because I knew that there are probably many more posts like this one.

    Instead of just flaming, would you be able to find anything that meets at least some expectations with a bit of compromise? Or maybe point me in a different direction with some of this stuff?
  3. No.
  4. Best answer
    Sager NP5165 You can customize it, I suggest getting the i7 and more ram for Autodesk. It comes with a GT 555m graphics card which is enough to play most games at med/high settings, not sure how good it is for 3D modeling etc.
    Battery life is 3-5hrs according to the site.

    Sager N8130 this one is at the upper end of your budget, but it come with a i7, 8GB ram and a GTX560m which would run most games on high settings.You might want to look at a glossy screen vs matte screen in a physical store to see the difference, this one comes with a glossy screen by default. Battery life is only 2-3hrs.

    There are more laptops here

    Note: these prices do not come with a operation system. You will have to add it, from the site: ~Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit Installed (64&32-Bit CD Included) w/ Drivers & Utilities CD's + Microsoft Office Starter 2010 - Included with OS Purchase ( + 80 )

    P.S. Ignore the troll

    .:Edit:. forgot that this is your first laptop, the battery life is usually "up to" which means low brightness + wifi/bluetooth off + typing a word document type of scenario. You will be lucky to get 30 mins on battery if you are gaming at high settings.
  5. yeah xoticpc is where you should be looking at if you need a backlit keyboard. They offer backlit keyboards for sager laptops even if it's not specified on the website, so just call them up and ask if the laptop you looking at can be fitted with backlit keyboard.

    Another optioin, if you're looking for backlit keyboards are Alienware or MSI.
    MSI is available through xoticpc website.
    alienware was linked above.

    Autodesk is actually isn't too demanding of a computer while you're drawing in 2d, extra ram definitely helps, if you can get 8Gb, def do that. 3d is just not that great on autodesk for now, maybe in a few years when they improve.
    But major cad in ME curriculum would be solidworks, that program if dealing with big project files can be a hog, just because of the way it specifies all the objects.

    anyways, you already got good advices here, so take a look around after you think you've picked what you need, run it by this thread one more time so folks can okay it or if you got any questions about the particulars.
  6. AFAIK Windows 7 Professional is still $30 for students, you just have to provide a .edu email address. So if you can get one without an OS, that will save you a bit of money.
  7. Thank you everybody for the guidance.

    I actually do have a copy of Windows 7 Professional that I got through my school's technology department so getting a laptop without an OS pre-loaded is a viable option.

    One thing that has caught my eye in the market is NVIDIA Optimus. It allows for dynamic switching between an IGP and a discrete GPU, which sounds fantastic because it will save on battery power when I'm not doing any graphics-intensive things. Has anyone had a laptop with Optimus who can say anything on its behalf?

    ATI apparently has something similar (the name escapes me), but I have not heard great things about it. I was looking at HP's dv7 notebook:
    It looks pretty good, but the only catch is that there's a nasty rumor about the software that switches between the two cards fails miserably, and is hard to use. Also, it is said that HP denies that this is a widespread problem, and they can't seem to find a fix (and they might not even be trying). The main thread:
    I have read that all of the dv6 and dv7s are plagued with the issue (and a few more build-quality-wise), so obviously it's not a good pick, right?

    When I (finally) do decide on what to buy, I'll hit this thread back up to see what you guys think of it.

  8. Alright, so after some looking I have found a laptop that meets (exceeds) most if not all things that I was looking for.

    It was down to the Toshiba X775 and the Dell XPS 17 (specs below).


    XPS 17 Qty 1
    XPS 17, Genuine Windows® Home Premium, 64-Bit, English

    Module Description Show Details
    XPS 17 XPS 17
    Operating System Genuine Windows® Home Premium, 64-Bit, English
    Processor 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7-2630QM processor 2.00 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 2.90 GHz
    Memory 6GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 Memory
    Keyboard Backlit Keyboard - English
    LCD 17.3" FHD (1080p) with 2.0MP HD Webcam
    Video Card NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 550M 1GB graphics with Optimus
    Hard Drive 500GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
    Color Elemental Silver Aluminum
    Integrated Network Adapter Integrated 10/100/1000 Network Card
    Adobe Reader Adobe® Acrobat® Reader
    CD ROM/DVD ROM Tray Load Blu-ray Disc BD-Combo (Reads BD and Writes to DVD/CD) with Roxio Creater 2011
    Sound JBL 2.1 Speakers with Waves Maxx Audio 3 + Creative SoundBlaster X-FI MB 1.2
    Wireless Plus Bluetooth Intel© Centrino© Advanced-N 6230 and Bluetooth 3.0
    Office Productivity Software (Pre-Installed) Microsoft® Office Starter: reduced-functionality Word & Excel w/ ads. No PowerPoint or Outlook
    Anti-Virus/Security Suite (Pre-installed) McAfee Security Center with VirusScan, Firewall, Spyware Removal, 15-Months
    Battery 90 WHr 9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
    Hardware Support Services 2 Year Premium Hardware Service
    Data Safe DataSafe 2.0 Online Backup 2GB for 1 year
    Mobile Broadband No Mobile Broad Band Selected
    TOTAL: $1,174.99

    I'm strongly leaning toward the Dell - namely because it has the quad-core, and costs roughly the same. I've heard nothing but good things about the Dell, for example it has an amazing screen (notably bigger than the Toshiba's) and a great sound system (although the speakers lie under the user's wrists).

    Any input?
  9. umm alright,
    Dell pros: i7, FHD screen vs i5, HD screen in Toshiba

    I don't know where you got the notion that Dell screen is bigger than toshiba, they are both exactly 17.3"

    Toshiba pros: 640Gb HDD, GTX 560 vs 500Gb hdd, GT 550 in xps.

    GTX 560 is notably better than GT550, but GTX is also a high end gaming card, while GT is a mid range. GT-550M, GTX-560M, Game performance chart

    as far as the sound is concerned, I believe that if you want sound quality you either get a stereo system or good headphones, you do not rely on a pair of flimsy speakers in a laptop (no matter how good the manufacturer claims them to be)

    So, end of the day, between those two laptops you get to ask yourself, do you want a better GPU or CPU, because that's what I see it coming down to.
  10. Sorry, I meant resolution-wise. (Dell has 1920x1080 vs Toshiba's 1600x900).

    Thanks for the links, I'll check them out.
  11. dont get the dell. A name doesnt make a laptop great. they are all basically the same parts put together.

    i would STRONGLY recommend a SSD and a 460m or 560m coupled with a 2630qm.
    also a 17 inch laptop just isnt a good choice for a student. they dont fit on desks or in book bags and they are just too big.

    that sager with the 2630qm + 560m + 80gb ssd plus a 320gb hd == 1400ish
    that would be the best bang for the buck
  12. Best answer selected by branflakes91093.
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