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Thread: Computer people! Best laptop for college?

  1. #1

    Default Computer people! Best laptop for college?

    Something small and with a battery that will hold, You really have to ELI5 here because I'm so bad with computers. I've never had a Macbook but I know everyone loves those, they're a little high in my price range? But if you guys think mac is the best way to go then I'll do it! Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default

    What exactly is your price range?

    What else do you plan to use the computer for (if anything)?

    Have you played with Mac OSX and would you be willing to use it?

    What about Windows 8/8.1 (Which is on 99% of new OEM computers).

  3. #3

  4. #4

    Default

    There are a bewildering number of options. You need to consider what your specific needs are, some of which will have a bearing on what you need to buy. Consider your course of study, and what software packages you're going to need. A standard productivity package with word processor, presentation and spreadsheet can be handled by virtually any hardware and OS platform. If you're in arts or graphics and need to run something more graphic intensive, you'll need a bigger screen and more than a base processor. You may need to consider the cost of software as well. Open Office is free, open source software that will do pretty much everything Microsoft Office will do, so you won't need to ante up for that. Its also available for Mac OS. For graphics.... that may be specified by your department head, and those can get pricey.

    I'm a touch typist, so I'm picky about ergonomics. For long bouts of typing (like a diaper story, for example), I insist on having my keyboard at exactly the right height and distance, and the screen at exactly the right distance and angle. That reduces fatigue, eyestrain and typing errors, but it just about rules out a traditional laptop. I don't like the spacing and feel of most laptop keyboards anyway. If I had to go that way, I'd pick something like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with a detachable bluetooth keyboard. A programmer friend of mine swears by hers, even though she used to be a dedicated Apple fangirl. They are a bit pricey, though. There are less expensive options... I do pretty well with a Google Nexus tablet (Android) and a bluetooth keyboard. That could be a problem with your limited skills, as professors can be a bit picky about file formats when you submit work. Changing to their desired format can be a little trickier on an android or apple tablet app.

    Whatever you get, do an in person test drive first to make sure the screen and keyboard are a good fit for you, your quirks and any physical limitations.

    To give you an idea of my comfort zone, serious work is done on a Windows desktop with a comfy office chair, standard full size keyboard, and computer desk with adjustable height keyboard tray. For less serious work, or out in the garage reading manuals or consulting on automotive forums, I use the tablet and bluetooth keyboard. The tablet only has 32 gig of storage, so I don't put very much on it. Most of my files are stored on the desktop that has a couple of bigger hard drives, and I can access them anywhere on the property via my wireless network. Most universities have some form of central network storage for students, so you could do the same thing. Depending on what sort of phone you have, the phone combined with a keyboard could be more useful than you think for a lot of mobile schoolwork. If you've already got a decent computer, whether laptop or desktop, you could use that in your room as home base, with a tablet for the library or elsewhere. You could get a more tech-savvy friend to set-up file sharing for you.

    That's just my thoughts... I'll leave it to the real geeks to give you brand names, processors, hard drive space etc. I'm good at cheap workarounds for just about anything, but I'm not really familiar with what students are using today (oldest grandson is going away to college in a couple weeks). We still used slide rules and typewriters when I went to college, and programming class involved getting up at 3am to use a punch card terminal connected by phone modem to a computer at another school 40 miles away.

  5. #5

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    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-15-6-...&skuId=3008105

    This is great if you want to save money & don't care about gaming. It can play some non-demanding games though.
    I'm.... umm... in the process... of trying to get a desktop for gaming.

  6. #6
    PaddedPuppy

    Default

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/toshiba-...&skuId=8749654

    This would be a good one to go for. Its got a good spec for low-mid range laptop. Its got plenty of power for most student tasks, and the Toshiba Satellite range has been going for ages and has always been good. The bonus of this laptop is the fact that you have a quad core APU. Thats lots of processing power, also with a built in R5 graphics card. Much better than the basic laptop graphics you would find on most other machines with basic Intel chips for example. It will do a fair job when it comes to games or if you needed design software or something for college its going to be much better on this.

    ShippoFox above me suggested a HP Laptop. I really can't recommend them to you. When it comes to desktops they are great, but I have had 3 laptops made by HP and they have all had overheating issues. They run way too hot, have a badly designed cooling system that pulls through tons of dust and gets blocked, and also have really noisy fans. Not only this but its more expensive than my recommendation and has far less power behind it.

    In regards to your earlier mentions of mac. Its a lot of money to spend on something that you probably don't want or need. From what I can establish you haven't even used one before. For plain functionality, value, performance and the most software support, definitely stick with Windows. If you aren't great with computers either then Windows is what the majority of people and businesses have so its easier to transfer your knowledge from one machine to another if its running the same OS.

    If you'd rather have something smaller then you are probably looking at one of the Asus ultraportables as your best option. They are 11.6" rather than the 15" standard size laptops like the one I linked above. The battery life will tend to be better on these too, but you have to remember that its going to be a trade off for processing and graphical power. They run basic Intel Celeron chips in most cases and will slow down if you open more than 2 programs at a time, or have too many browser tabs open. Even streaming a full HD YouTube clip can be too demanding for the chips they have where playback will occasionally be a little choppy at times.

    You never actually specified what its main purposes will be?

  7. #7

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by PaddedPuppy View Post
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/toshiba-...&skuId=8749654

    This would be a good one to go for. Its got a good spec for low-mid range laptop. Its got plenty of power for most student tasks, and the Toshiba Satellite range has been going for ages and has always been good. The bonus of this laptop is the fact that you have a quad core APU. Thats lots of processing power, also with a built in R5 graphics card. Much better than the basic laptop graphics you would find on most other machines with basic Intel chips for example. It will do a fair job when it comes to games or if you needed design software or something for college its going to be much better on this.

    ShippoFox above me suggested a HP Laptop. I really can't recommend them to you. When it comes to desktops they are great, but I have had 3 laptops made by HP and they have all had overheating issues. They run way too hot, have a badly designed cooling system that pulls through tons of dust and gets blocked, and also have really noisy fans. Not only this but its more expensive than my recommendation and has far less power behind it.

    In regards to your earlier mentions of mac. Its a lot of money to spend on something that you probably don't want or need. From what I can establish you haven't even used one before. For plain functionality, value, performance and the most software support, definitely stick with Windows. If you aren't great with computers either then Windows is what the majority of people and businesses have so its easier to transfer your knowledge from one machine to another if its running the same OS.

    If you'd rather have something smaller then you are probably looking at one of the Asus ultraportables as your best option. They are 11.6" rather than the 15" standard size laptops like the one I linked above. The battery life will tend to be better on these too, but you have to remember that its going to be a trade off for processing and graphical power. They run basic Intel Celeron chips in most cases and will slow down if you open more than 2 programs at a time, or have too many browser tabs open. Even streaming a full HD YouTube clip can be too demanding for the chips they have where playback will occasionally be a little choppy at times.

    You never actually specified what its main purposes will be?
    My first HP was used when I got it. It never died, but became outdated. My second HP was great, but it had a problematic video card. I heard even macbooks with the same card had the same problem. It did have some cooling issues when stressed though. This is my third HP laptop (fifth laptop overall), and it seems to have a different type of cooling system. I almost never hear it, but it seems to work okay unless I'm playing a game it can barely even handle.

    That Toshiba looks pretty good. It's cheaper & it even has a touch screen. Although the HP has a better processor, in my opinion.
    cpuboss disagrees with me
    http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Pentiu...vs-AMD-A8-6410

  8. #8

    Default

    Toshiba and IBM laptops are pretty reliable. Or at least they used to be. I haven't looked into laptops in years. I'm using a Satellite Pro 440CDX from '97 and it works fine.

  9. #9

    Default

    I don't know what you expect to do with your laptop. I can recommend the Lenovo x250 and x450s with a high res display (FullHD, more precise). You should also go for an SSD as your main drive these days.

    Why? You get battery lifetime, decent open drivers for the intel graphics should you want to run anything other than windows on it plus a decent keyboard with trackpoint.

    Student offers might make it affordable.

    What it's not: a gaming monster for current 3D titles. But that's something I wouldn't want to tackle with a laptop I also intend to carry around and use for work.

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