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Need recommendation for college laptop

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  • Laptops
Last response: in Laptop Tech Support
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May 22, 2012 2:49:41 PM

1. What is your budget?

Preferably under $1200

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

14"-15", but 13.3" if nothing else

3. What screen resolution do you want?

Not a deciding factor.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

Portable.

5. How much battery life do you need?

7+ 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)?

No games.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)

Programming, development work. Youtube, netflix, the usual.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

SSD (preferred) - no more than 200 GB
HDD - space shouldn't be an issue

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

No sites.

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

3+ years.

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

DVD+-RW

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 don't like Apple. They're too expensive.

13. What country do you live in?

USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.

I'm a CS major, so it would be nice to find one with more than 4 GB RAM. In addition to web browsing, I'll be using IDEs like Eclipse and Netbeans. I'd like to stay away from i3 CPUs and any by AMD.

Also, I might wipe it and install Linux or launch Linux from VirtualBox.

I have a desktop that, depending on how powerful the laptop is, I may or may not take to my dorm room.

I want to again emphasize that it must be able to run IDE's quickly. The Android plugin for Eclipse seems to be a memory hog.

More about : recommendation college laptop

May 22, 2012 3:50:23 PM

BJs.com has an Asus 15.6" with 750GB HDD, 6GB RAM, i5, optical dvd-rw for $529
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May 22, 2012 4:02:07 PM

The battery life isn't quite what I'm looking for
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May 22, 2012 4:50:33 PM

ASUS or Dell have lots of great options at varying price points - The XPS 14z will be portable with the amount of battery life you're looking for. You can spec it with up to 8 GB and it will support a SSD for your OS. The XPS 15 has 2nd gen i7 quad cores, but it's a little heavier.
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May 22, 2012 4:51:37 PM

Tibbs, the T420 looks great!

I was looking at the Portege Z835-ST6N02, but the T420 upgraded to 8 GB RAM and with the 9 cell seems a lot better.

Game junky, just saw your answer. I'll look into those.
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May 22, 2012 5:12:12 PM

Check your school to see if they have a discount program with any manufacturers. I know some bigger schools have these programs, but they maybe a little challenging to find.
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a b D Laptop
May 22, 2012 5:21:50 PM

Two things to keep in mind if you get the T420:
- Upgrade the display to 1600x900. Unless you require larger text for eyesight-related reasons, you should not buy a T420 in any configuration that includes the stock 1366x768 display. The 1366x768 display makes things onscreen large. This upgrade should be prioritized over other upgrades such as the processor upgrade.
- Don't pay Lenovo's bloated prices for memory upgrades. If you need more memory, then you can upgrade it yourself after-market for very cheap.
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May 22, 2012 5:23:31 PM

As a CS major you may get great discounts through your department.
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a b D Laptop
May 22, 2012 5:26:38 PM

edit1754 said:
Two things to keep in mind if you get the T420:
- Upgrade the display to 1600x900. Unless you require larger text for eyesight-related reasons, you should not buy a T420 in any configuration that includes the stock 1366x768 display. The 1366x768 display makes things onscreen large. This upgrade should be prioritized over other upgrades such as the processor upgrade.
- Don't pay Lenovo's bloated prices for memory upgrades. If you need more memory, then you can upgrade it yourself after-market for very cheap.


^+1
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May 22, 2012 6:25:37 PM

I also found the Toshiba Portege R835-P89 at Microcenter for $800.

The Thinkpad build I'm looking at is for the T420 without the enhanced graphics (will I miss them? I won't be doing anything more than watching DVDs or streaming videos...and occasionally messing around in GIMP, but I'm not worried about that too much):
8GB RAM
i5-2450M ($50 for 0.1GHz doesn't seem worth it)
HD+ 1600x900 Display
128GB SSD (optional, I'm considering downgrading to the 320GB HDD and save $180)
9 Cell Battery
Total: $1,115

Basically, what will the performace difference between these two be? Is it worth the $315?

Edit: If I go with the minimum memory the total is $985 + $22 for another 4GB RAM, making the price difference $207.
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a b D Laptop
May 22, 2012 7:10:35 PM

I have a T420. I got it from www.newegg.com as a refurbished unit for $410. I5, 500 Gb hdd, 4 Gb ram. The 9 cell battery will extend the life. The power cable is small enough that I fold it up and put it in my bag when I go to/from work. Has a very solid feel.

My only complaint is that I cannot turn off the touchpad when I am typing... it took me about a month to get used to keeping my hands away from the touchpad.
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a b D Laptop
May 22, 2012 9:52:47 PM

mjmacka said:
I have a T420. I got it from www.newegg.com as a refurbished unit for $410. I5, 500 Gb hdd, 4 Gb ram. The 9 cell battery will extend the life. The power cable is small enough that I fold it up and put it in my bag when I go to/from work. Has a very solid feel.

My only complaint is that I cannot turn off the touchpad when I am typing... it took me about a month to get used to keeping my hands away from the touchpad.


Actually you can! Go to control panel>hardware and sound>mouse. Select the ultranav tab from the top tabs and at the bottom check the box that says show UltraNav in system tray. Once you do this the ultra nav icon will appear in your windows system tray (where your battery icon and sound icons etc. are), then you can enable/disable the trackpad from there by left clicking on the UltraNav icon :)  If you don't have the UltraNav utility you can download it from the lenovo site.
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!