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Looking for a $1500 laptop for college.

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Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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April 6, 2012 10:56:43 PM

1. What is your budget? Around $1500, it would be great if money can be saved.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 13-14 inches

3. What screen resolution do you want? No preference.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? Portable laptop, I will be bringing a desktop with me.

5. How much battery life do you need? 5 hours+

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)? The laptop will not be used for gaming.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.) I will be majoring in Economics, so I assume I'll be using office programs. It will mainly be used to surf the web, facebook, etc...

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? I will be using online backup storage. Inside the laptop will only be documents and music.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. Preferably reputable sites.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? 2 years.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? A DVD burner should do.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. I prefer the laptop be bought from Apple, Asus, HP or Lenovo. Reason for this is their design which is extremely important for me. I prefer a clean, thin and sleek look.

13. What country do you live in? United States

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I would like a SSD if possible.

More about : 1500 laptop college

April 7, 2012 12:18:45 AM

I have done Tech Support for students at a major University for the past 4 years:

Does your budget include software?

I generally tell students that their laptops are built to last 2 years. In two years you'll do plenty of wear and tear damage (touchpad issues, keyboard is missing keys, HDD error, cracked screen, damaged USB/Ethernet/power port, etc.) to it and the battery will need to be replaced... esp if you want 3-5 hours of usage...might be once a year.

So if you are buying because you expect a $1k-1.5k laptop to last 4 years, then you may need to rethink your price point because you will buy two laptops during an active 4, if not 6, year college career. Think of it this way... around the end of Junior year your laptop will have just run out of its 3 year warranty. Senior year you have a beat up laptop with your final projects on it... do you trust your HDD? Do you trust that something won't go terribly wrong with the hardware?

I would recommend a lower end computer for your first two to three years that is priced $500-$800, toss in an Academic Version of Office 10' for $80.

I prefer the business class laptops and a 2 or 3 year warranty service ($150-250). Lenovo/IBM is a hot mess if you ever need to do a fresh reinstall without the factory image. Toshiba is just as bad on that front. HP is decent. I work with Dell computers, so I am biased towards them. Stay away from Apple laptops, it takes a Genius with suction cups to fix one of those laptops.

Purchase the OS media/recovery disk, these days an image is built loaded on a recovery partition, but a physical copy is always nice to have (of course that is if you don't lose it).
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April 7, 2012 2:12:46 AM

$1500 is complete overkill for a non-gaming laptop. you can get a really great laptop for $600 and spending more is generally pointless.

As a student, I recommend you get the coolest, quietest solution and that would be one of the higher-end APU configurations. I recommended one to a student and he loves how quiet it is in his dorm room versus other laptops.

Two examples of excellent quality:
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=68805&vpn=X53Z-RS61&ma...

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+ProBook+LJ502UT+15.6%2...

Make sure to get:
- HDMI output
- quality brand (ASUS, HP, Toshiba, Lenova but NOT an ACER)
- Windows 7 64-bit Premium

Other:
- USB3 (not sure if it's even available)
- SSD (Much faster. I recommend you WAIT until you see how much SPACE you need then buy one when prices drop. CLONING is easy. Add the SSD as USB and use free cloning software like Acronis True Image free, or EASEUS partition manager free).
- get a USB drive (or upgrade to SSD and use current drive) to use for BACKUPS, then make periodic IMAGES of Windows using Acronis True Image or similar (free version of Acronis TI for Seagate and WD drives, even if USB).

Desktop monitor setup?
You may wish to buy a larger monitor, mouse and keyboard such as:
- Samsung, 22", 1920x1080.
- desktop speakers (or buy a monitor with speakers via HDMI input)
- Logitech mouse/keyboard combo (micro-USB so you don't have to remove it to fit a case)

Good luck!!
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April 7, 2012 2:30:03 AM

There is no reason for you to spend over $700 for a nongaming laptop and as for a laptop lasting 2 years that is completely untrue as my brother a college student who does light gaming kwpt his first laptop for four years and it passed with shining colors the whole time. He also did some light gaming on it as well.
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April 7, 2012 3:09:10 AM

I definitely agree with proskillr and photonboy. The only reason your budget could even get close to the 1k$ + range would be to buy an ultrabook.

I'm normally pretty anti-vaio, but that laptop looks pretty reasonably priced.

Might be worth it to pay attention to newegg's daily deals and look for a 15" with a 2nd gen sandy bridge processor or one of AMDs APUs.

My one last recommendation would be to get a 120GB SSD. It doesn't seem like a lot of space but it is more than enough for anything you might be doing (I'm a programmer and I play a few games and 120GB has seemed like a pretty good capacity for me). A lot of SSDs come with adapters to turn your old 2.5" HDD into an external hard drive.

Last but not least, use dropbox (and soon google drive) as the folder for all your schoolwork, that way it will always be accessible even if your drive fails or you forget your laptop. And it feels like a normal directory. Plus the public folder is an incredibly useful feature, especially when I was in school. No more USB sticks.
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April 7, 2012 4:21:10 AM

proskillr said:
There is no reason for you to spend over $700 for a nongaming laptop and as for a laptop lasting 2 years that is completely untrue as my brother a college student who does light gaming kwpt his first laptop for four years and it passed with shining colors the whole time. He also did some light gaming on it as well.


In the case you have presented, your brother is a representative sample of all active college students. Therefore, in the hands of active college students, it is reasonable to expect all laptops to last 4 years and they will pass with shining colors.

Thank you for clearing this up.

--

One thing that you will need to consider is a 15"-17" that has a number pad. This will help you with your course work in Economics, especially when you are in class.

Dropbox is a fine idea for storage... I always liked email. Just send it to a second email account. One copy is stored in one account's sent items, one in another account's inbox.

Like I said before, $500-$800 should be your target price range. Be sure to include at least a 2 year warranty in that. This will protect you from possible manufacture's production defects and possibly accidental damage. Try looking up recalls for a laptop manufacture and you'll see what I mean.
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April 7, 2012 8:40:54 AM

Thanks for all the great advice guys! I agree a laptop every 2-3 years makes more sense as I will most likely be going on to graduate school anyways therefore going up to a potential 6 years of school. So far, I really like the U400.
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April 7, 2012 5:18:25 PM

Any thoughts about shelling out an extra few hundred for a 15 inch mac book pro?
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April 7, 2012 5:29:51 PM

That is completely unnessecary for your needs, while they look nice unless you are really used to a Mac os there isnt much reason as you arent doing movie editing. If you spend more than $700 you will be spending too much as you are not buying a gaming computer. Please dont get sucked into buying a mbp unless you have a good reason which you have not told us yet. My 2 cents.
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April 7, 2012 5:50:19 PM

proskillr said:
That is completely unnessecary for your needs, while they look nice unless you are really used to a Mac os there isnt much reason as you arent doing movie editing. If you spend more than $700 you will be spending too much as you are not buying a gaming computer. Please dont get sucked into buying a mbp unless you have a good reason which you have not told us yet. My 2 cents.


Yeah, that makes sense. I think I'm going to look strictly into windows laptops now. I've looked at Asus laptops, the zenbook in particular, and I've read bad reviews about their keyboard & wireless issues. I am also a fan of Sony Vaio, but the one recommended earlier seemed a bit bulky and I'm not really digging the ripple effect on the cover. Another brand that I am impressed with is Lenovo. They seem to make really durable computers, but they all seem a bit heavy. Are there anything laptops that matches my criteria that I missed among these brands?
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April 7, 2012 5:52:59 PM

anndreww said:
Any thoughts about shelling out an extra few hundred for a 15 inch mac book pro?


If anything, I'd be looking at the macbook air. They are sleek and boot/resume from sleep very fast. I do not own one personally but I have many friends and colleagues that swear by macs. Just be aware that you are paying a premium for the apple brand. There is something to say about the GUI of OSX though.

The 13" 128GB model would seem to fit your needs the best. The Macbook pro is overkill and bulkier. I wouldn't ignore the Air because of it's 13" screen unless you actually use one and feel like its too small.

Personally though, I would be looking at ultrabooks by some other manufacturers. You can pretty much get equal performance for half the price (though it might not look as cool). Also, there is a decent amount of software that only runs on Windows.
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April 7, 2012 5:59:53 PM

It looks like you want an ultrabook. The acer aspire and HP folios both have pretty good ratings.
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April 7, 2012 6:01:45 PM

I'd definitely recommend AMDs APUs or a Sandy Bride CPU. Since your not gaming, the intel IGP will be fine.

My biggest recommendation. If you can, avoid a 5400rpm HDD! Dear god they are slow. Get a SSD or 7200rpm HDD for sure (if you can).

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April 7, 2012 6:09:25 PM

Please stay away from Apple computers.

For the past few years college courses have been using Windows specific software. Things are getting better with OSX compatibility (and cloud based computing)... but you will likely have to load Windows via BootCamp. Another $100 for Windows OEM, another $80 for Office 10'. The software adds up.

It is not only the software but the repair costs and accessories. They have a huge mark up.

If for some reason you are convinced to get an Apple laptop, then stay away from the Airbook... It does not come with a ROM drive of any kind... you have to buy it seperately.

You seem to have some cash (judging by your replies that seem to push the price back up over 1k)... so I would recommend purchasing or building a desktop to compliment your laptop.

$800 laptop
$700 desktop computer (which goes a long way if you build one yourself)
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April 7, 2012 6:21:52 PM

th3parasit3 said:
Please stay away from Apple computers.

For the past few years college courses have been using Windows specific software. Things are getting better with OSX compatibility (and cloud based computing)... but you will likely have to load Windows via BootCamp. Another $100 for Windows OEM, another $80 for Office 10'. The software adds up.

It is not only the software but the repair costs and accessories. They have a huge mark up.

If for some reason you are convinced to get an Apple laptop, then stay away from the Airbook... It does not come with a ROM drive of any kind... you have to buy it seperately.

You seem to have some cash (judging by your replies that seem to push the price back up over 1k)... so I would recommend purchasing or building a desktop to compliment your laptop.

$800 laptop
$700 desktop computer (which goes a long way if you build one yourself)


This just isn't true. If you were majoring in mathematics or engineering ( I did both), you might be on to something with software, but most stuff is web based now. Mainstream programs (matlab, etc) work on all platforms and if you don't like macs version of office you can download libreoffice.

While the quality has gone down a very small amount in the last year or so, apple does a better job putting together their laptops than most other manufacturers. While apple laptops are hard to repair, laptops in general are pretty hard to repair. Also, apple has some of the highest rated customer service if you ever did run in to technical problems.

As for no optical drive, they are becoming less and less useful (and relevant) every day. I replaced the optical drive on my ASUS laptop to make room for an SSD (handy for a work laptop to have storage and fast boot/application load times).

I'm not saying go buy an apple, but you sound pretty prejudiced. This is coming from a guy who owns no apple products except a mac mini which I won in an office contest and gave to my parents to serve as a media center. A lot of people I know own macs / pcs and a LOT of them love their macs.
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April 7, 2012 6:32:20 PM

Thanks for all the input! I won't be needing a desktop, I am going to use my current one. To be honest, I was only considering apple for its brand name, not the laptop itself. So, I think I'm going to stay away from apple. I plan on using online data storage, so I would prefer the laptop to have a SSD.

@Volks, Thanks for the advice, I will stay away from 5400 rpm drives.
@Kamab, The HP folio does look pretty nice. I'm going to have to look more into the laptop.
Any thoughts on the Sony S series?
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April 7, 2012 6:39:40 PM

S series seems a little over priced and they have retty bad touch pads from the reviews. Also I dont know how impprtant this is to you but they have bad viewing angles but a nice resolution of 1600x900
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April 7, 2012 6:41:32 PM

proskillr said:
You appear to want a thin and light laptop and unfortunately many of these dont have a disc drive but you can buy an external one cheap for when you need one. Take a look at these.
http://www.adorama.com/MSIX370206WT.html?utm_term=Other...
And this one is more expensive since its an ultrabook but you really want sleek http://www.amazon.com/Dell-X14z-2308ELS-14-Inch-Laptop-...

An external drive http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-SE-208AB-TSBS-External-DV...


Yeah, that is exactly what I'm looking for. A sleek, thin & fast laptop for basic use. I know MSI is pretty reputable in their GPUs, but I think I'm going to have to pass on them making laptops. The Dell looks good in terms of looks, but I need to look into it more in terms of specs.
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April 7, 2012 6:52:03 PM

Go with a Sony Vaio.

I have one with a 6630m and it can play most modern games at max settings.
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April 7, 2012 7:28:34 PM

Kamab said:
This just isn't true. If you were majoring in mathematics or engineering ( I did both), you might be on to something with software, but most stuff is web based now. Mainstream programs (matlab, etc) work on all platforms and if you don't like macs version of office you can download libreoffice.

While the quality has gone down a very small amount in the last year or so, apple does a better job putting together their laptops than most other manufacturers. While apple laptops are hard to repair, laptops in general are pretty hard to repair. Also, apple has some of the highest rated customer service if you ever did run in to technical problems.

As for no optical drive, they are becoming less and less useful (and relevant) every day. I replaced the optical drive on my ASUS laptop to make room for an SSD (handy for a work laptop to have storage and fast boot/application load times).

I'm not saying go buy an apple, but you sound pretty prejudiced. This is coming from a guy who owns no apple products except a mac mini which I won in an office contest and gave to my parents to serve as a media center. A lot of people I know own macs / pcs and a LOT of them love their macs.


You don't own an Apple computer. If you buy an Apple computer you better love it, you just paid 50% more for a laptop. The few people that benefit from Apple computers are some programmers, music and video editing, and 3D rendering artists (who generally buy the desktop or all-in-one platforms, which is a whole different ball game of reliability and error correction).

For your basic computing needs, you are paying 50% more so that you can warm your coffee on your laptop. Just remember that the burning sensation is Apple's way of branding you with their superior build quality.

Funny how you don't need a ROM drive until you need a ROM drive. Your statement concludes that physical media will be obsolete in the next 2-4 years (the expected life of this laptop in question). Do you actually believe that?
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April 7, 2012 8:00:21 PM

I've decided to purchase an ultrabook. I am torn between these choices.

-Apple Macbook Air
-Asus Zenbook
-HP Folio 13
-HP Envy 14[similar to MPA in price, would it be better to get an air instead?]
-Lenovo 300
-Sony Vaio S Series
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April 7, 2012 11:50:45 PM

th3parasit3 said:
You don't own an Apple computer. If you buy an Apple computer you better love it, you just paid 50% more for a laptop. The few people that benefit from Apple computers are some programmers, music and video editing, and 3D rendering artists (who generally buy the desktop or all-in-one platforms, which is a whole different ball game of reliability and error correction).

For your basic computing needs, you are paying 50% more so that you can warm your coffee on your laptop. Just remember that the burning sensation is Apple's way of branding you with their superior build quality.

Funny how you don't need a ROM drive until you need a ROM drive. Your statement concludes that physical media will be obsolete in the next 2-4 years (the expected life of this laptop in question). Do you actually believe that?


Why are you angry at apple? Also, I really DONT need a ROM drive. Not many things distribute exclusively over a ROM media anymore, and if there is a need I can just use another desktop or laptop to make an ISO image out of it. FYI, this has happened 0 times in the last 2 years. I'd also be willing to bet I watch more movies and install more software than the average user.

Digital distribution is definitely on the rise. You can pretend otherwise but you'd have to be kidding yourself.

As for your first couple points, there are a LOT of people, many of whom are tech savvy, that would disagree with you. Macs also don't come with a ton of bloatware, and not everyone like to reformat their hard drives.
;
Just to name a few features:

The aluminum casing feels/looks a lot sleeker and more durable than most laptops.

Apple's touchpad is indisputably the best one on the market.

Out of all the operating systems available, OSX put the most thought in to user experience.

Apple products also tend to retain value MUCH better than other laptops. They are frequently resold on craigslist with way less depreciation than other brands. Same for iPhones and such.

Again, I have sager and asus laptops, and a homebuilt desktop. And apple laptop hasn't been appropriate for me, but I can see their value.
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April 8, 2012 11:51:11 AM

anndreww said:
I've decided to purchase an ultrabook. I am torn between these choices.

-Apple Macbook Air
-Asus Zenbook
-HP Folio 13
-HP Envy 14[similar to MPA in price, would it be better to get an air instead?]
-Lenovo 300
-Sony Vaio S Series

Well that would be a complete waste of money and a really BAD decision. Ultrabooks are as fragile as glass and probably won't stand up well to the "rigours" of campus life. You have a desktop and that's a good thing because it means that you can keep your laptop in the role of a mobile satellite for it. When I was at uni, these are the specs of the laptop I had:

Make and Model: eMachines E620-5885 (Acer Aspire 5515)
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 2650e (Single-core) 1.6GHz
GPU: ATi Radeon X1200 (Ancient and primitive)
RAM: 2GB
Hard Drive: 160GB
Video Output: VGA Only
USB 2.0 ports: 2
Webcam: Yes
Integrated Mic: Yes

Whoa, what a scorcher eh? Ran perfectly and did everything I wanted it to do and more. For software? Hell, I just used Oracle's OpenOffice for word-processing and presentations. Never had a problem at all. The only thing I would have changed about it would have been battery life. Before Llano came out, AMD laptops had rather short battery life. Now I have a Llano (A8-3500M) and it is an amazing device with more battery power than I could have imagined. There is no reason to spend more than $500 on a laptop for school. If you're like most students, your budget is stretched thin as it is without blowing all that money on something you don't need. My laptop is currently the Acer Aspire 5560-Sb401. It has a 15.6" screen, a number pad, weighs under 6lbs and is about 3cm thick. All programs I've ever used on it are a breeze and I can even play Skyrim on medium settings. This laptop cost me $499+tax and I couldn't imagine a better deal. The battery seems to live forever (I've been using it for over an hour and it still has 3hrs and 24 minutes left) so you'll never have to worry about sitting near a plug in class. The battery also charges extremely fast (30 minutes and it's full) so as a mobile computer, this is the proverbial "cat's meow". My laptop is a Canadian model but here's an American model that should give you the same experience I'm having for the same price:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Samsung-Series-3-15.6-Laptop-...
And for reference, here's the tomshardware review of the A8 platform:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a8-3500m-llano-apu,...
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