I5 v. i7, SSD v. HDD, in the test of time?

Hello everyone,

I have basic knowledge of laptop components and as a second year Engineering student I have taken a single course in computer science. My laptop entering college was a Toshiba Satellite C655-S5206. I went for cheap and solid (not knowing I would become an engineer), which sadly met its demise from a very small but well placed amount of water, and desperately need a new laptop that will match the capabilities required from multiple large programs, that, most importantly, will stand the test of time. For examples, I have been looking at the Macbook Pros, the Dell XPS 17s, and various others. I am open to many brands, and understand (or think I do) the benefit of having a game card.

Also, I understand that the new i7 processors can use multiple and hyper thread capabilities to essentially double the processing performance of both the i3 and the i5. I understand the step between the i3 and the i5, and also the leap between the i5 and the i7. Some people have told me that the difference between the latter is not effective enough when making decisions based on affordability, but I disagree in the respect of quality over time. In the 5 years I think that having an i5 may be a joke and an i7 will be at least respectable.

Here are my parameters:

1. What is your budget?

1200-2000, but since I am MAINLY looking for durability to match average laptops made 3-5 years from now in the terms of processing speed and RAM, I will look beyond 2000 but not for flare (I understand that MacBook Pros go above this).

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

At least 15'', preferably 17".

3. What screen resolution do you want?

Like I said, I don't want flare, but modern.

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

Nope, I have a dell streak tablet (recommend) and cannot afford nor need two laptops.

5. How much battery life do you need?

I'm on campus all day, and will always have outlets available, BUT i understand that heavy duty programs require significant battery life and will possibly buy two batteries for portability and work.

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)?

I don't usually play video games (no time with work and classes) but I like them. I play Rome Total War and my sad little satellite could not handle even the graphics from large scale batteries from a game made 6 years ago. I believe I will need a game card for certain programs anyways so best affordability/effective options in this area would benefit from recommendations. Thank you!

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

Not much else, perhaps photo and video editing but thats not in the cards right now.

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

This is a big question. I have been looking at either 1 TB of HDD or between 250 and 350 GB of SSD. In the question of durability, I understand that the SSD has less space but brings more speed and lasting performance over time.

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

I have a discount through my school with Apple and Dell. Dell memberships give me 300 off the XPS laptops and maybe 50 off all MacBooks.

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

Like I said, durability is my main drive: I want to have a good laptop for 4-5 years and at least an effective one for a couple afterwards.

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

Modern and compatibly with most forms. Will lay down a little extra but I don't want state of the art.

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 would prefer non AMD processor brands, but am open to debate as long as it remains within the question. As I said, Dell gives me good discounts but open to debate within question.

13. What country do you live in?

United States

Thanks everyone!!!
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    So, essentially you want a long lasting laptop with good battery life and decent specs.
    Then you want a Thinkpad W530. You can get a discount going through a Barnes and Noble URL here. You just need to create an account (anything will do) and you should get about $500 off (that's what I got off mine).
    The W530 has top of the line specs (you can go overboard to your hearts content) and the Thinkpad line is notorious for its durability (it's a business laptop, so it's supposed to travel).
    Also, how much space did you use on your old laptop? If it wasn't much, get an SSD. If you maxed it out, get a 1TB hardrive.
  2. radiowars,

    Thanks for the contribution. I checked out the specs -- that is a good deal -- especially considering that it uses the new 3rd generation i7 processors. I have used an early thinkpad model for my company as well, they're solid pieces of equipment, and I think that if I was not particularly looking for at least 8 GB of RAM and at least 250 GB in solid state drive, this would be the path to go for quality, durability, mobility, and cost.

    However, I attempted to customize it and it ended up being more expensive than the same specs for the Dell XPS, simply because of the utility of the two laptops. I think I would definitely take the w530 for $500 off, if I didn't already get the same discount with the Dell through my school + a free Xbox.

    This was a good reply, and I admit I hadn't thought of Lenovo. They make incredibly cost effective powerful travel laptops, but that's just not what I'm looking for.

  3. Best answer selected by jxz23.
  4. jxz23 said:
    Best answer selected by jxz23.

    nI'm glad you found what you were looking for :)
  5. I would go with i5 + SSD.. PC mkt is shifting fast, you cant bring your superior I7 CPU to your future laptop, since its impossible to install/switch CPU yourself, but you sure can switch your SSD everywhere. Also if you can switch yr CPU (consider you as a computer engineer) when you purchase your future laptop you also have to purchase a default CPU(probably i5 if you want other specs above average), compare to ditch your default CPU, switch your HDD to SSD should always be your ideal choice!!! Ohh,, have I mentioned SSD should consider drop its price each year, at 5/14/14 you only need 378USD to get SAMSUNG 840 PRO 512 Gb ON AMAZON, IT'S SO FAR THE BEST SSD IN THE MKT, WITH 5 YEAR WARRANTY!! People always say ANY WINDOWS 8 WITH 840 pro+i5 is better than any macbook air (since it is too thin to install 840 PRO SSD)!!
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