How much is enough GB and RAM?

I need to buy my granddaughter a laptop for college. It is her graduation gift. There are so many choices. I want to make sure that she has a good computer but I not want to get her much more than she really needs for school, etc.
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  1. It depends a lot on how the laptop is used and the programs running on it.
    And how many programs get used at the same time.

    Did you have a budget in mind?
    Help us out and answer a few questions in the form shown in the sticky topic:
    Laptop Buyers FAQ
  2. More importantly where did you want to buy it from?

    Recently as a gift for my mother I bought her a Asus Laptop from Best Buy.

    It has an i5, 6GB of RAM, 750GB HD, WiFi, and of course a DVD Burner. This was in all a $600 laptop. With a 2 year warranty and a slew of extras it ended up being shy of $1,000.

    This is a very good laptop. While it doesn't compare to my main computer that I am on now it is more than enough for any college student.

    I use this laptop for a lot of my IT classes. Not going to say I'm a straight A student and follow and read all my books to the T, but I get by very well with it.

    I use common productivity software like Office 2010 -- my school offers it for $5. Also programs like Visual Basic, Oracle database management, and Photoshop.

    All these programs run very well and never had slow-downs or any problems.

    In essence what I'm saying here anything around $500 mark will be more than enough. I highly doubt -- correct me if I am wrong, your granddaughter will being doing much more than that or will need such a huge power house.

    The reason I suggest this as well as that it has the power to be in good use for the next 2-3 years.

    This is only my suggestion as I don't see why you should waste more.

    But as the previous poster said if you have a budget we can accommodate you better.
  3. I would say as a baseline, if she's mainly going to be doing things like checking email and doing papers, web browsing and music, etc but not a lot of high power stuff, anything with a dual core and 4gb of ram or better is going to be fine. I personally am an acer fan.

    We bought my wife an acer aspire 5536 for Christmas of 2009. Laptop is a workhorse. It was 399.99 at the time of purchase. Has an AMD Athlon Dual core 2.2 ghz(I think) processor, 4gb ram, 320 gb hard drive. That computer is almost NEVER turned off. She usually lets it sleep, I've never had to open the machine. It is fairly quick, she is constantly online, on facebook, watching youtube videos, listening to music, doing bookwork, she is always using it. Nearly zero problems. I think I may need to clean the dvd drive out, as it had a problem reading a cd last time I tried, but other than that, and needing a new battery, laptop has been great. For a machine that is 3 years old and has Windows 7, it runs like a top.

    Best buy may have a good deal, but I prefer Microcenter if you have one nearby. Many times they have decent Acer and ASUS laptops in the 300-400 range, though they do have higher end units. I would also strongly consider their warranty. Many of their parts, I can buy a 2 year walk in warranty, and if I have any problems, the receipts are on file in their system, I take the parts back in, no questions asked. Tell them what's going on, get it replaced or credit toward another item. Now I would say a laptop may be more scrutiny, but this is the experience I've had when exchanging just parts.

    They have this laptop in stock now

    They seem to always have these in stock. But the full number pads also make them great. In 2 years I've only had one acer come in for repairs(hard drive failure), other than that, mostly hp's, dells, etc.
  4. depending on purpose, 4 gb-8gb ram and like ~300 gb hdd gets you around for casual use. if your grand daughter likes taking digital pictures or movies, increase the hdd size.
  5. All good suggestions.

    But in reality go to a Best Buy, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or whatever store you plan on going to a lot of laptops and PC's usually carry a 500GB+ HDD.

    With technology becoming cheaper it is usually the standard.

    Of course I wouldn't recommend a huge HDD size but again it is usually the standard. I have a 256GB SSD and only filled it up to about 160GB's and thats with Office 2010, Adobe CS5.5 Master Collection, Visual Studio 2010, the maybe 5-10GB's of windows updates, random programs, and about 5 PC games.

    In reality don't see many people going above 200-300GB's unless they do heavy back ups and store a lot of media.

    So in reality go to any of these common stores that sell laptops, go with a budget in mind and add about $200 to get her an extended warranty with the store or manufacturer, and a carrying case, and possibly even a wireless mouse for laptops.

    I only bought my mother an Asus laptop because for the specs it was a bit more cheaper than Dell and HP counterparts.
  6. As a technician, I almost always recommend people against big box stores for desktops. They tend to use cheap parts, and I've seen a lot of desktops with problems after only a couple of years. I had one who had a machine fail at 4 months old. If you want to go to walmart or best buy, it's up to you. I can tell you if you go to microcenter, just looking up on their website, you can do a 2 year accidental warranty for 120 bucks extra on a 300 dollar laptop. To give you an idea. Also, whenever I've dealt with microcenter on parts, no middle man, I take stuff directly back to them, and they just take care of it.

    You are more than welcome to go to best buy or walmart if you want, keep in mind though, you have any problems, you are likely going to have to send the machine back in. Or at best buy, you get the geek squad looking at it most likely. No offense to anyone, but I'm not trusting my pc to geek squad. I went to a best buy store once looking for work once when I was going to lose a job due to the economy. I have a bachelor's of science degree of communications(networking), had 2.5 years experience at the time, and was Apple certified. The guys at best buy didn't want to even call me back. But I think it had something to do with the fact the supervisor was younger than I am, and we were talking about how do you do this or that, and I said why don't you just do it this way, it would be easier. I think that possibly I initimidated him and maybe he was afraid that later I would get his job. But that tells me they want to hire high school kids that they can teach a few basic skills, teach to use a rescue cd, and pay them just above minimum wage. Not that there aren't good technicians there, but personally, I used to rebuild mac laptops a lot, I do custom builds, changed a screen in my own machine, modded it to have better cooling, put a new hard drive in it. I used to work for a school system doing their hardware repairs, corporate environment with servers. I just really would not want to trust my machine to geek squad. If they serviced my machine, I'd probably want to look to be sure it was right. More than likely though, I'd just do my own work.

    I digress, most people don't know about brands like acer and asus sometimes. But what they don't know, asus has been one of the most reputable pc parts manufacturers for years. Acer is a great value brand, very little trouble with their laptops. Either one of those is a fine laptop. Don't get me wrong, Dell is decent, their business class stuff is top notch usually. Consumer grade stuff though, like I said, acer is what I recommend. I've only had to service ONE acer for hardware in the last two years. HP's, I have a hard time recommending them. I know they probably make great machines now, but a few years ago, there were a lot of nvidia gpu's being put into laptops, it seems like hp and compaq were what I saw most of and heard most of, having dead boards due to the graphics chips overheating. I know my acer has the same type of chip, and I had to mess with it's cooling system to get things cooler until I was happy with it.
  7. While I have to agree with your statement. It is true almost any employee that works at a corporate chain store is for lack of a better word dumb.

    Microcenter is an amazing place to go to, but that is if it is around you. I just recently had a Microcenter open around my general area -- about 20 minutes away. Do I go there no, would I once in a blue.

    I rather do my shopping online as I can get the most of it.

    The ONLY reason I recommend a chain store like BB or Wal-Mart is for the ease of a person who doesn't know what they are doing. And if you get a warranty especially from them you will more than likely get a replacement no questions asked.

    I bought a pair of head phones and wisely purchased a 2 year warranty for $15. The headphones have gotten messed up 4 different occasions. Now all i have to do is go to BB tell them they are broken again, all they do is look up my info, and tell me to go get a fresh pair. That simple.

    Again, yes, most employees from GameStop, BB, Wal-Mart are idiots who are just done what they are told. But when you buy something from them and get a warranty they will treat you like a King. Why, because first of all as you mentioned they don't want to get fired or replaced by someone superior to them.

    I would like a job right now but the main reason I don't go to a BB or a Microcenter with my thorough knowledge of computers is because of the employees. Especially in Microcenter.

    They have a complex to where they assume the customer doesn't know anything. That really gets on my nerves. I love the fact that if you see me you will be intimidated by my build, stature, and intellect. I most often school people on a lot of computer oriented knowledge. I've learned nearly everything I know from trial and error, researching, and a slew of problems that always occurred with my PC.

    But enough about me back to the topic.

    Again you don't want to spend a lot of money on this. And you don't want a big hassle with this either.

    My main example go to almost any store that offers laptops and warranties and go within your budget. You will not lose. All of these chain stores thrive off of that extra $200 they make off of you with the warranty. But in the end with whatever problem you have they will fix it.

    Also I don't see how you can say that desktops bought in "big box stores" use cheap parts. Whether its Best Buy, Microcenter, or Wal-Mart; a Dell will be the same no matter where you go. Same thing with an HP/Compaq, Asus, Acer, Gateway, w/e you name it. These manufacturers are using cheap parts whether retail or online. It doesn't change and that is their business model.

    Like I've said before whatever your budget maybe go for something near that price and add a warranty. Because yes these manufacturers are using cheap parts and you don't know what will happen.

    Again with my mother's laptop i5, 6GB RAM, 750GB HDD, WiFi, additional 2 year warranty on top of the manufacturer warranty. Norton Anti-Virus 1 year, Low-Jack, extreme coverage as to whatever the problem maybe whether it is my fault or not it will be checked, fixed, or replaced. And they also threw in free Geek squad support on any electronic item I may have a problem with. And this is from Best Buy. The employee really did work with me on this one.

    Again I won't ever need to go in to get something fixed as I try to do it myself and gain experience from it.
  8. Great job for asking here and great replies so far! I'll keep it short and sweet.

    If she's carrying it to class and/or likes to have nicer things: ~$700
    (13" screen)

    If it'll primarily be used in her dorm room (function over fashion): ~$400
    (15" screen, heavier)

    If you want to buy at a store, make sure you get a dual core CPU (non atom) and at least 2GB of RAM. 4GB is certainly enough. If possible, google the model number of the device and 'reviews' and be sure the ratings are mostly 4/5 starts. Otherwise, move on.

    320GB HDD should be adequate...but she may use more if she downloads movies or music or takes pictures or video.
  9. what is her major in school?
    if it is anything other than engineering / computers

    a basic laptop should work

    i would suggest asus, they seem to have less bloatware than others

    samsung is good brand, but tons of bloatware like HP and Dell have...

    and if a MSFT store is near you, i would recommend them over all others
    and maybe even consider an Apple
  10. I would recommend getting something with at least 4 GB of RAM which is pretty standard even for economy packages through most major vendors. Bang for your buck, I would go with an ASUS or a Dell depending on your price range and whether you want a warranty. I have had good experiences with both and they have something in every price range.

    Since it's your granddaughter, looks and size are probably going to be a paramount. I really like Dell's Z series because they have a very clean case design, they're very thin/light and they're fairly good at battery performance. I think a 13"-14" screen would probably be good because it won't be too bulky and is easy to carry. They have an Inspiron version as well to take a gander at. Here are the two I would recommend from Dell for the customization options and size:

    The ASUS zenbook is going to be similar to Dell's Z-series - good aethestics and very thin/light. The U40D is a little more utilitarian but much less expensive:

    Let us know your budget and what she'll probably be doing and we'll get you squared away with something great
  11. Hi :)

    I own computer shops in the Uk...

    With laptops its an easy option...the MORE you pay the better you get....

    I bought my daughter a lappy for University and spent a LOT of money on it...

    Females usually like coloured tops by the etc etc...

    All the best Brett :)
  12. Agreed about quality of desktops in general. Business class systems seem to be built better, but on consumer level, I've worked on those with bad parts, a lot of prebuilt systems seem to use underpowered power supplies and cheap motherboards. CPU ram hard drives might be great quality, but something a lot guys here will tell you is do not skimp on the motherboard and power supply. I even have worked on customs from shops that did the same things. But suffice it to say, some of the parts I see in prebuilt systems I would NOT put in my own pc. I once saw a desktop that was only 4 months old with a failed motherboard. Do your research, like you did coming here, and make an educated purchase, typically you will have good luck.
  13. If space isn't a factor, I would probably get her a tablet for notetaking/web browsing/email. There are so many good tablets on the market and they're finally functional enough to replace a traditional OS for day to day use. I personally like the iPad or the Transformer Prime - both have keyboard case or docking station options that help make it functional for day to day note-taking and you can transfer notes either through the native mail client or through a service like drop-box.

    Just another option you might consider - she'll love it regardless of which one you pick. Only thing that it really lacks is a full word processing suite which she will need for college. If she currently has a computer or if she's comfortable sharing a comp with her dorm mate, that won't matter.
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