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Choosing a college laptop

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March 27, 2012 9:02:09 PM

Hi all,

I'm trying to pick out a laptop to take to college and all advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Mostly I will use it for normal school things, i.e. notetaking, word proccessing and I want to be able to run some software such as Matlab and AutoCad. The option of running some games would also be an advantage.

After doing some research I found this one for $1200:



which I feel is a pretty good combo of price, specs and reviews, but I would really like to get some feedback if I'm on the correct path, or does anyone know of a better computer for roughly the same price?

Thanks
March 27, 2012 9:10:40 PM

Since you're buying it for college you can wait a few more months before the purchase. I'd suggest you do so and wait for Ivy Bridge to come out as it should help add some battery life, lower heat and have improved integrated graphics. All helpful things for a laptop.
March 27, 2012 9:36:55 PM

Thanks for a quick reply, but the thing is that I'll be travelling to US over the easter break and electronics there are alot cheaper than is Europe.
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March 27, 2012 9:45:02 PM

ostefsson said:
Thanks for a quick reply, but the thing is that I'll be travelling to US over the easter break and electronics there are alot cheaper than is Europe.



Fair enough. For a laptop, the feel of the keyboard and the trackpad, as well as the materials in the body lend a lot to how much you'll end up liking using it. Everyones tastes are different so I'd suggest you try out the laptop, or a similar model, in person at a store before settling on a particular model.

Personally I like Lenovo's Thinkpad line of laptops and its what I've been using for years. I tend to steer friends and family to their outlet site as quite often very good deals can be had.

http://outlet.lenovo.com/laptops.html
a b D Laptop
March 27, 2012 10:08:13 PM

^Agreed.

I was going to recommend the X220 for portability, build quality, and battery life but it lacks a discrete graphics card which looks to be a problem if you are performing 3D modeling. I have an X220i and love it (as well as a T500 and T520 they are all fabulous machines).

With that said I think you might be best served with a T420 as it has a discrete card with moderate performance. Here is one to look at: http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/Len...

I also use a T520 at work and the NVS4200m is a capable discrete card. The T520 weighs in at almost 6 pounds though and even with a 9 cell battery I am lucky to get 5 hours out of it (I easily get 9+ out of the X220i).





March 27, 2012 11:33:29 PM

Thanks alot for your thoughts guys, I'll definetly look more closely into lenovo laptops, as of now I'm kind of leaning towards the T520 type from the lenovo outlet site.
March 28, 2012 12:21:27 AM

Yes, Definitely Lenovo (Thinkpads), Are VERY Reliable With Enterprise Class Construction, My X61 Is A Great Laptop And I Have Dropped It Several Times To Demonstrate Its Ruggedness, Not A Scratch (From Falling), If You Can Afford One And Value A Laptop You Should Check Out There Models.
March 28, 2012 5:04:05 PM

now thats funny
March 28, 2012 5:29:21 PM

Thinkpad line overall has pretty good quality, if not the best performance. Based on my experience several years ago before it became Lenovo, I know that Thinkpad development mandated a lot more rigorous tests than other competition, requiring longer time to market, which was the reason behind Thinkpad's seemingly lagging performance with higher price compared to other brands. I have two T41s that just died on me a couple months ago only after 7 years of solid performance, and I don't see such durability from many other brands.

Not sure how much Lenovo has maintained such quality standards from IBM era, but by extrapolation, I want to believe much of them are retained, as I see some of key members back in the days are sitting on top position there.

As a side note, cheap laptops use cheap components, so don't go there unless you are planning to change your laptops every year. Laptops are prone to malfunction because of customer abuse, which the manufacturer should keep into consideration for development. Through reverse engineering, one of those competitors' laptops was found to have a half-priced cable for LCD assembly compared to the similar level of Thinkpad.
March 28, 2012 6:45:23 PM

How do you plan to buy a laptop during spring break? I am having a hard time seeing mail order as being possible.
March 28, 2012 9:46:08 PM

My Lenovo Has A 2.1GHz Core2 Duo, 3GB Of RAM And A 250GB HDD, Plenty Of Performance For Typical Laptop Usefullness, I Own A Powerfull Desktop For "Heavy Lifting".

Your Average User (Or Even The Typical College Student) Just Wants The Basic Usefullness For Any Laptop But If Your Gonna Carry Something You Payed Good Money For, Accidents Can/Will And Do Happen So Why Not Be Prepaired? Thus I Do Belive Lenovo Had A Good Line Of Thinking There.

It Doesnt Take A 4GHz Quad-Core To, Watch Youtube, Hulu, Do Research, Write A Report, Take Notes And Mabey The Occasion Casual Game.
March 28, 2012 9:53:25 PM

ostefsson said:
Hi all,

I'm trying to pick out a laptop to take to college and all advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Mostly I will use it for normal school things, i.e. notetaking, word proccessing and I want to be able to run some software such as Matlab and AutoCad. The option of running some games would also be an advantage.

After doing some research I found this one for $1200:



which I feel is a pretty good combo of price, specs and reviews, but I would really like to get some feedback if I'm on the correct path, or does anyone know of a better computer for roughly the same price?

Thanks


dont buy a laptop that can run autocad and matlab well. your computer will never run it itself. it will be run from the schools server and then the image is just displayed on your screen through your wireless. that is unless you have 10 grand around for software...

that being said i highly recommend atleast a sandybridge laptop with switchable graphics. you should get 5+ hours of battery regardless of what cpu you get that way.

get a 14inch or less as well. much easier to carry around.
March 28, 2012 9:57:31 PM

ASUS K53SV-DH51, Great all arounder.

Ginghy
a b D Laptop
March 29, 2012 12:56:59 AM

Talk about overkill. I did university with a single-core Athlon 64 2650e in my old eMachines E620. Note-taking and Word processing? Those could be done on a Pentium 1! LOL MatLab and AutoCad? An old Pentium Dual-Core could run these programs without a hitch. In fact, none of these programs even comes close to giving your computer the kind of beating that a modern 3D game will. You should be focused on battery life and portability first with gaming in 3rd place. I don't know why a student would want to blow $1200 on a laptop when he only needs to spend half of that:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
A 500GB Hard Drive is far more than you'll ever use in a laptop for school (my school laptop had only 160 and I couldn't even fill half of it with school work) and if you're iffy about "only" 4GB of RAM (keeping in mind that my univ laptop only had 2GB and it was more than up to the task) then spend $40 and double it (assuming that it has 2x2GB instead of 1x4GB) with DDR3-1600 which will increase the graphics speed even more:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This laptop is more or less the same as the one I have now (this one's CPU is a tad faster than mine) and I play Skyrim on mine with no problems at all. A modern game like Skyrim is far more taxing than AutoCad and the Radeon HD 6620G is far more powerful than AutoCad needs. Perhaps you should take a look at AutoCad 2013's requirements:
http://usa.autodesk.com/autocad/system-requirements/
Yes, even compared to the A8-3500M, AutoCad's requirements are a joke, even the 64-bit version. Read this review:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a8-3500m-llano-apu,...
Read about the battery life, heat, etc. You'll soon come to realise that you can spend the other $600 in far better ways than blowing it on laptop power that you would probably never use. Read my thread for more info:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/60098-35-general-lapt...
Hope this helps you out! :sol: 
March 29, 2012 1:12:51 AM

best buy and wal mart both have brand new laptops for less than $380 that will do everything you want at school except the high end games, and for the more popular games on high settings, there are plenty of reviewers at newegg that are getting it done for around $500
a b D Laptop
March 29, 2012 1:47:13 AM

^^^ chudddds is correct. I'm one of the people playing Skyrim on a $500 laptop. That's the beauty of the Llano A8-35xx series.
March 29, 2012 1:54:43 AM

Avro Arrow said:
Talk about overkill. I did university with a single-core Athlon 64 2650e in my old eMachines E620. Note-taking and Word processing? Those could be done on a Pentium 1! LOL MatLab and AutoCad? An old Pentium Dual-Core could run these programs without a hitch. In fact, none of these programs even comes close to giving your computer the kind of beating that a modern 3D game will. You should be focused on battery life and portability first with gaming in 3rd place. I don't know why a student would want to blow $1200 on a laptop when he only needs to spend half of that:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
A 500GB Hard Drive is far more than you'll ever use in a laptop for school (my school laptop had only 160 and I couldn't even fill half of it with school work) and if you're iffy about "only" 4GB of RAM (keeping in mind that my univ laptop only had 2GB and it was more than up to the task) then spend $40 and double it (assuming that it has 2x2GB instead of 1x4GB) with DDR3-1600 which will increase the graphics speed even more:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This laptop is more or less the same as the one I have now (this one's CPU is a tad faster than mine) and I play Skyrim on mine with no problems at all. A modern game like Skyrim is far more taxing than AutoCad and the Radeon HD 6620G is far more powerful than AutoCad needs. Perhaps you should take a look at AutoCad 2013's requirements:
http://usa.autodesk.com/autocad/system-requirements/
Yes, even compared to the A8-3500M, AutoCad's requirements are a joke, even the 64-bit version. Read this review:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a8-3500m-llano-apu,...
Read about the battery life, heat, etc. You'll soon come to realise that you can spend the other $600 in far better ways than blowing it on laptop power that you would probably never use. Read my thread for more info:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/60098-35-general-lapt...
Hope this helps you out! :sol: 


first off i wanted to let the Original Poster know that Avro normally recommends the lower end of the performance spectrum to people just fyi.

Avro normally i dont disagree with you(except you recommend lower performance laptops) but i can agree with saying the 500gb HD and 2gb ram is enough or too much. You realize what most college students do with movies and songs? Download them like crazy on the universities server. that can rack up huge space.

also just sitting here writing this with 8 tabs open in chrome im using 3.2gb of ram...

also my laptop can get better battery life then the one you posted, if its posted battery life is true. i can get 5-6 hours battery life with my Sandy Bridge i7!!!

heres a nice laptop that should get you 8-10 hours of battery life and good game and overall experience. I believe that if you by more now you win in the long run because technology moves so fast even that laptop is outdated now.

chudddds said:
best buy and wal mart both have brand new laptops for less than $380 that will do everything you want at school except the high end games, and for the more popular games on high settings, there are plenty of reviewers at newegg that are getting it done for around $500


you get what you pay for and i have yet to see a quality laptop at walmart.

March 29, 2012 3:23:29 PM

cbrunnem said:
first off i wanted to let the Original Poster know that Avro normally recommends the lower end of the performance spectrum to people just fyi.

Avro normally i dont disagree with you(except you recommend lower performance laptops) but i can agree with saying the 500gb HD and 2gb ram is enough or too much. You realize what most college students do with movies and songs? Download them like crazy on the universities server. that can rack up huge space.

also just sitting here writing this with 8 tabs open in chrome im using 3.2gb of ram...

also my laptop can get better battery life then the one you posted, if its posted battery life is true. i can get 5-6 hours battery life with my Sandy Bridge i7!!!

heres a nice laptop that should get you 8-10 hours of battery life and good game and overall experience. I believe that if you by more now you win in the long run because technology moves so fast even that laptop is outdated now.



you get what you pay for and i have yet to see a quality laptop at walmart.



thats correct, however, many folks are just in unfortunate situations. but , i agree with you
March 29, 2012 4:00:57 PM

The Samsungs usually have good aesthetics and quality screens in their laptops, but I haven't had much experience with them for daily use. Sony has the same positive aspects but you usually end up paying more just because it says Sony on the product. I really love their Z line because you they have a docking station which has an integrated graphics card so you can conserve battery life on the go but have graphics processing power when you're docked.

Asus actually makes pretty good mid-range laptops - they're available at Best Buy so if you're planning on doing a test drive I would look at theirs as well. Good value based on the components they use.

Dell's XPS/Z series is always nice - thin design and they use Optimus GPUs so you can conserve battery life when your aren't doing anything graphically intensive. I think they have 3 of them now XPS 13, 14z & 15z.

Only thing that might change your specs will be AutoCAD - if you're doing 3D modeling, you'll need some processing power, plenty of RAM & a good GPU. That's more along the lines of one of their industrial laptops (Dell Precision M4600) and they're not cheap. Just something to bear in mind when pulling the trigger on a purchase.
March 29, 2012 7:26:49 PM

game junky said:
The Samsungs usually have good aesthetics and quality screens in their laptops, but I haven't had much experience with them for daily use. Sony has the same positive aspects but you usually end up paying more just because it says Sony on the product. I really love their Z line because you they have a docking station which has an integrated graphics card so you can conserve battery life on the go but have graphics processing power when you're docked.

Asus actually makes pretty good mid-range laptops - they're available at Best Buy so if you're planning on doing a test drive I would look at theirs as well. Good value based on the components they use.

Dell's XPS/Z series is always nice - thin design and they use Optimus GPUs so you can conserve battery life when your aren't doing anything graphically intensive. I think they have 3 of them now XPS 13, 14z & 15z.

Only thing that might change your specs will be AutoCAD - if you're doing 3D modeling, you'll need some processing power, plenty of RAM & a good GPU. That's more along the lines of one of their industrial laptops (Dell Precision M4600) and they're not cheap. Just something to bear in mind when pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Autocad only uses one core unless its been changed within the year.
!