College Laptop Choices - Techist - Tech Forum

Go Back   Techist - Tech Forum > Computer Hardware > Laptops and Notebooks
Click Here to Login
Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-29-2008, 05:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
True Techie
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 156
Default College Laptop Choices

Hey, a friend of mine is getting a new laptop for college and turned to me for some help deciding. She wants to be able to use it for all 4 years of college. I advised her to stay away from Intel Accelerated Graphics cards and make sure to splurge a bit for a more powerful machine to keep up with stuff as the years pass. Most of the computers i showed her had about 3-4gb of memory and were between 1.83-2 ghz Duo procs. And all had video cards of 8600 or better. She said that all she was going to be using it for would be schoolwork, itunes, and probably video chatting with her friends/parents. Im not sure of what her budget is exactly, but i think she wants to keep it below about 1200. Oh she also wants it to be around 16" (not very many are made, so i suggested some 15.4s and 17s). Do any of you have any suggestions as to what laptop she should get, or any more guidlines to follow for future proofing?

Thanks!
__________________

masteroc is offline  
Old 05-29-2008, 10:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
Call me Mak or K
Mod Emeritus
 
KSoD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: C:\
Posts: 35,647
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

For what she is planning on using it for you have overshot. No need to have 4GB of memory when the most you will do is iTunes.

2GB will be just fine. Also integrated gfx will be just fine. But a dedi will not be a bad idea. With video chatting integrated will work jsut as good as a dedi card.

Teh CPU you are right on track though.
__________________

__________________
I do not accept support questions via EMail, PM, IM or my G+ page!

Phone: LG Optimus G Pro
Running: Stock JB from LG with Nova Launcher

KSoD is offline  
Old 05-29-2008, 10:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
Wizard Techie
 
Jorsoft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Oakdale, MN
Posts: 4,581
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

No need to go overboard on the vid card, I agree. A dedicated card won't do her any good if she's just video chatting and itunes. A decent integrated ati/nvidia solution will be fine. 4gb of ram is also overkill, 2gb would be sufficient to last that amount of time.

Oh and for the screen size I wouldn't recommend a 17" that's usually way too big for a "college notebook." She'll want to carry it to class, library, coffee shops, friends houses, etc. and a large laptop like that is going to be heavy and too much hassle. 15.4" would do just fine, maybe she'll find she actually likes something even smaller better. You can go to the store to check out screen sizes.

Brands that I like are HP, Toshiba, Gateway, and Sony if she wants to spring for it. Asus and MSI are also very good but usually more gamer oriented. $1200 is a high budget for her style of laptop, too. You can get a suitable one for well under that. Something like this even:

Newegg.com - TOSHIBA Satellite A205-S5853 NoteBook Intel Core 2 Duo T5550(1.83GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA 2GB Memory DDR2 667 200GB HDD 4200rpm DVD Super Multi Intel GMA X3100 - Laptops / Notebooks

You can probably find a bit of a better deal if you configure one at the manufacturer's website.

edit: Make sure you get her a few years worth of an AV/Antispyware subscription as well, plus restore discs (some come with, others you have to make yourself). Otherwise you yourself will be stuck dealing with all of her computer problems. Been there done that, not fun.
__________________
Jorsoft is offline  
Old 05-29-2008, 10:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 2,363
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

I don't recommend cutting the dedicated card just because she's not gaming. The nVidia GeForce 8600M GS (what I have in my $1800 laptop) is great for gaming, but also improves Media Center, Vista Aero Interface, video/photo applications, and anything that uses 3d (design programs, editors, etc).

I recommend a 17" screen. It's not crammed like a 15.4" is, and it isn't so incredibly huge that you can't carry it around. My PC of choice is the HP Pavilion dv9700t, though mine was $1800 because I highly customized it (near-top-of-the-line T9300 2.5GHz processor, Bluetooth, Vista Ultimate 64, TV Tuner card, high capacity battery, and more). The base price is around $900 or $1000, and HP's recommended configuration is about $1300. See what you can price out. My friends just got T5000 series processors in their Dell laptops (they got very similar laptops). The T5xxx are OK, but slow for my tastes (My dv9700t is my desktop replacement). I only have 3GB of RAM, and I hardly ever use more than 2. 2GB is plenty for simple tasks, 3GB is enough for even fairly serious gaming or video editing. 4GB is just plain ridiculous unless you plan to do serious gaming and serious video editing at the same time [and I don't know why on Earth you'd want to do that].

The dv9700t has an integrated webcam. If she's going to be video chatting with this PC, an integrated webcam is a must-have. It is much more convenient than having to carry along a separate one and clip it to your screen.


And yes, I got my dv9700t for COLLEGE...it is 17" and I don't care. It fits very well into the HP backpack that I got with it and isn't very heavy. I'd rather carry around a heavier computer and have a big screen than suffer low resolution and poor gaming power. If I'm going to be moving, the dv9700t gives me desktop power without being near my desktop, which I like.
I recommend as big of a resolution as possible. If upgrading the resolution costs a bit extra, go for it. I got the 1680x1050 model and I still think it could've been higher (but they didn't offer a 1920x1080 model ). A high resolution makes the monitor so much clearer and more stuff will fit on your screen. Since you normally look at a monitor from a close range, small text is perfectly readable on even high resolution monitors, especially 17" ones.

For future proofing, make sure it has WiFi a/g/n (make sure it has wireless-n, the latest in WiFi technology), Bluetooth, and Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000mbps Ethernet). Most laptops do now (my dv9700t has all of these) but make sure.
__________________

CalcProgrammer1 is offline  
Old 05-29-2008, 11:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 2,363
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

I priced out a fairly good dv9700t (Intel) for under $1200, with a bit of room left for upgrading (maybe get a bit faster CPU).

HP Pavilion dv9700t
-----------------------
-Windows Vista Home Premium 64 Bit
-Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 (1.83GHz)
-17.0" BrightView 1680x1050 Widescreen Display (a $50 upgrade from the 1440x900 one, definitely worth it)
-3GB DDR2 SDRAM (free upgrade from 2GB)
-nVidia GeForce 8600M GS 512MB (50% off upgrade from 8400M GS)
-HP Imprint Finish, Webcam, Microphone, and Fingerprint Reader (fingerprint reader = free with webcam)
-Intel Pro Wireless A/G/N with Bluetooth
-NO broadband wireless (default option)
-250GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive (leaves one bay empty for future addition)
-LightScribe DVD+/-/R/RW CD-RW drive
-NO TV Tuner/Remote control (default option)
-8 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (default option)
-NO security software (saves ~$60)
-NO backup software (default option)
-NO OS recovery media (default option, you can burn recovery DVD's for free)
-NO theft protection (default option)
-Microsoft Works 9.0 (saves ~$120)
-NO photography or financial software (default options)
-NO accessories, DVD/CD software, or extended warranty (default options)

Total price as configured: $1,099.99

That leaves about $100 under budget, you could add virus protection, a bigger battery, or a faster processor. You could even add a TV tuner card or you could get a backpack or carrying bag. Most colleges have a deal on Microsoft Office for students to purchase it cheaper than retail, so I recommend buying it through school rather than HP (that's what I'm going to do).

Laptop info (HP's online store): Buy HP Pavilion dv9700t series, HP Pavilion and Compaq Presario Notebook PCs and Laptop Computers direct from the HP Home & Home Office Store
__________________

CalcProgrammer1 is offline  
Old 05-30-2008, 12:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
j12
Monster Techie
 
j12's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,133
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

A macbook would also be a good option. It has a fast processor, and its relatively small and sleek.
__________________

Laptop:
MacBook 2.2GHz Santa Rosa | 120GB HDD | 4GB ram
Desktop:
Intel C2D E6300 @ 3.2GHz | 4GB ram | 880GB total HDD space | Gigabyte P965-DS3 | eVGA 8800GTS 640mb | Corsair HX 520 | Audigy 2 ZS platnium | Antec 900
j12 is offline  
Old 05-30-2008, 02:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 2,363
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

Macbooks look nice, but that comes at a high price. For the same price, a comparable HP or Dell is way cheaper than a Mac, and the HP/Dell/(other PC manufacturer) model comes with Windows XP or Windows Vista, a much more compatible operating system than Mac OS. If you want an expensive shiny fingerprint magnet (well, the HP's are those too...but cheaper) that can't run most of your software, get a Mac, if you want a good price on a compatible Windows system, get a PC. For the price, I've found that HPs are cheaper for 17" models than comparable Dell 17" models (Pavilion dv9000 vs. Inspiron 1720). I priced an Inspiron 1720 with almost the same specs as my dv9700t and it was $200 more (it had a 1920x1200 screen and 8600M GT instead of GS though, but the options I have weren't available).
__________________

CalcProgrammer1 is offline  
Old 05-30-2008, 02:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
The Water Cooling Guru
 
aspire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 5,308
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalcProgrammer1 View Post
Macbooks look nice, but that comes at a high price. For the same price, a comparable HP or Dell is way cheaper than a Mac, and the HP/Dell/(other PC manufacturer) model comes with Windows XP or Windows Vista, a much more compatible operating system than Mac OS. If you want an expensive shiny fingerprint magnet (well, the HP's are those too...but cheaper) that can't run most of your software, get a Mac, if you want a good price on a compatible Windows system, get a PC. For the price, I've found that HPs are cheaper for 17" models than comparable Dell 17" models (Pavilion dv9000 vs. Inspiron 1720). I priced an Inspiron 1720 with almost the same specs as my dv9700t and it was $200 more (it had a 1920x1200 screen and 8600M GT instead of GS though, but the options I have weren't available).
For what you get with a macbook the price isn't really all that bad.

Plus you get a good $100 bucks off for being a college student.

Take the $1300 model, $1200 after student discount. Comes with a 2.4ghz C2D cpu which is normally something like a $200 option on most laptops.

Comes with built in dvd burner, webcam, mic, standard 2gb of mem. and a fairly spacious 160gb hdd.

Consider the fact that it runs OSX and she will never have to worry about viruses or spyware and they make excellent computers for the less technically inclined.
__________________
If I help you with something, you think I'm the bomb, or you just like what I said, rep me by clicking the star under my post.

Thanks!

The Official Tech Forums Water Cooling Informational Guide
aspire is offline  
Old 05-30-2008, 02:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 2,363
Default Re: College Laptop Choices

$1200 for a 15" laptop? If it was $1200 for a 17" 2.4GHz, that'd be a pretty good deal, but for a 15" laptop, not so much. A Dell Inspiron 1420 or 1520 (14" and 15") start at like $600 to $800. Add the $200-250 for the CPU upgrade, and it comes to around $1000-1050 for a 2.4GHz Vista laptop. They also have 8400M GS graphics as an option. Almost every laptop these days has at least an option for DVD burner (almost a standard these days), webcam, mic (always have had these...), 2GB of mem is fairly common (if not 3 or 4), and 160GB is kinda low anymore (the HP base drive was a 250, that's what I have and I only have 80GB or so left on it after just a month or so of use).

Viruses and spyware are a problem with Windows, but I think that as long as you stay on trusted Internet sites, you shouldn't have a problem. I haven't touched a virus or spyware scanner for years, and I've never had a virus or spyware problem since then either. If I think a site may be questionable and I need to visit it, I boot into Linux (yes, a spyware/virus free OS that runs on PC hardware...oh, and it's absolutely free too, so it doesn't add to the PC's cost) and visit it. I can then transfer any files I get back to Windows without giving it viruses. This is what I do for torrent sites usually.

As for technically inclined, it's really the system you grow up with. If you've always used Windows PC's, then you'll feel comfortable with Vista. Mac may be a bit better for those who have never touched a computer in their life, but chances are, if the user is someone who is going to be a college student, they've probably already used Windows plenty of times (home, school, maybe a job, etc).
__________________

__________________

CalcProgrammer1 is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Here are the Laptop Choices swdude12 System Upgrades 5 01-09-2008 11:38 AM
College Laptop murdocsvan Laptops and Notebooks 4 08-22-2007 09:03 AM
Buying a High Preformance Laptop for college (Budget $4000) Kerpal Laptops and Notebooks 14 07-23-2007 06:36 PM
College Laptop Help Me. Littlekurt39 Laptops and Notebooks 6 07-13-2007 02:03 AM



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:25 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.