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Old 05-25-2011, 11:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default A new laptop for college--Considering the ThinkPad L520

Hello everybody!

I'll keep this as brief as I can: I'm going to college in the fall, so I'm going to get a new laptop. I'll run Debian GNU/Linux on it, and honestly, the most graphics-intensive thing I do is trim video clips for YouTube, or dabble in Python.

I'm kind of settled on the Lenovo ThinkPad L520. I've heard great things about ThinkPads' build quality, which is important to me--I want something that will really last, no wobbly hinges or whatnot. Here're the specs, anywho:
Quote:
ThinkPad L520 - 1 Yr Depot TopSeller Warranty
Processor: Intel Core i5-2520M Processor (2.50GHz, 3MB L3) (quite enough for what I do)
Display type : 15.6" HD+ (1600 x 900) LED Backlit Anti-Glare Display (Hooray matte finish! Big selling point)
System graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000 (Plenty for me)
Total memory: 4 GB DDR3 - 1333MHz (1 DIMM)
Keyboard: Keyboard US English
Camera: 720p HD Camera
Hard drive: 500 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm (More space than I'll use in a decade)
Optical device: DVD Recordable
Battery: 9 cell Li-Ion Battery - 55++
Integrated WiFi wireless LAN adapters: Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000

I'm quite certain that it will meet my needs for years, but I have a few fine-point questions before I consider my search ended.
  • Getting the 9-cell battery over the 6-cell will give me noticeably longer run time, right? That is, the upgrade is worth the $50? (I don't mind extra weight anyway)
  • Does the location of the Control and FN keys bother anybody who owns a ThinkPad? They're the opposite of what I'm used to, but I imagine it's not really a big deal, no?
  • Finally, with 4GB total RAM, is it better to get 2 x 2GB DIMMs, or 1 x 4GB DIMMs? I know that if I go for the 1 x 4GB, I can upgrade by just adding another 4GB stick, but if I don't upgrade, is a 2 DIMM configuration vastly preferable for some reason?
I appreciate the time and input.

Cheers,
Hugo
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Old 05-25-2011, 11:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: A new laptop for college--Considering the ThinkPad L520

1) 9 cell is worth it 90% of the time.
2) Yes initially but you get used to it, I still occasionally tap the wrong key and it makes it a little more challenging to use someone else computer if you ever swap etc. The red dot is amazingly accurate I find touchpads annoying now that I have mastered the trackpoint but my laptop only has a red dot with no touchpad so it can also be a challenge to remember how to use a touchpad.
3) 2 dimms provide twice the data channels think of a one lane versus a 2 lane highway there is potential for more data to be sent through the connection at any one time. In real world the performance difference is negligible as the hardware is not fast enough to process the data through 2 data streams close but not quite. Your looking at maybe a 1-2% performance difference.
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Old 05-26-2011, 12:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: A new laptop for college--Considering the ThinkPad L520

1. I'd say it would be worth it if your college isn't riddled with power outlets.. Where I go they're everywhere
2. I don't own a ThinkPad, so I don't have anything to say
3. 1x4GB. the possibility of upgrading later is a much better trade off than having a very (very.. very.. very..) small speed increase.
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Old 05-26-2011, 10:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: A new laptop for college--Considering the ThinkPad L520

Thanks for the replies! I'll go for the 9 cell battery, for sure--this way, there will be outlets everywhere I go. If I got the 6 cell, I'd never find a place to recharge.
As for the Ctrl-FN keys, if it's enough of an issue, I'm sure I can remap them anyway. I'm also glad to hear that the TrackPoint is good! I wasn't sure if I'd want a little nubbly thing on my keyboard, but now I'm convinced.
And I'll definitely go for the 1 DIMM, then.
Thanks again guys!
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Old 05-27-2011, 02:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: A new laptop for college--Considering the ThinkPad L520

Sorry if I'm just blatantly missing the price up there, but what is the price? The specs look just fine on it though.

Just from my experience ( was a freshmen at college last year) I would consider downsizing the screen to a 14. I don't know what you plan on using it for mainly, but carrying around and using a 15.6 screen on small classroom desks was a little annoying.

Just my two cents
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: A new laptop for college--Considering the ThinkPad L520

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilluda_5 View Post
Sorry if I'm just blatantly missing the price up there, but what is the price? The specs look just fine on it though.

Just from my experience ( was a freshmen at college last year) I would consider downsizing the screen to a 14. I don't know what you plan on using it for mainly, but carrying around and using a 15.6 screen on small classroom desks was a little annoying.

Just my two cents
It comes out to be about $1070 and change--not a bad price, I think.
As for the screen size, I'm willing to put up with a physically bigger laptop for the bigger screen. I've seen the classrooms all around my school, and the desks are actually pretty big, so in my case, I'll be okay.
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