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Buying a new laptop, need suggestions!


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#1
mpascal

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Hey all, I'm new to the whole laptop buying scene so bear with me.

Anyways I need a new laptop for university in September and I'm looking for suggestions. What I'm looking for is a pretty powerful machine, my budget is around $2000-$2500. I won't really be playing many games, so a powerful video card really isn't needed. I'm in computer science so I'll be using the computer quite alot to do school work, as well as random computer stuff on my own time. I also wouldn't mind having a Windows/Linux dual boot setup. Any suggestions? Apparently Macbook Pro is the new university laptop, but I want to know all my options. In a nutshell:
  • Fast CPU
  • Lots of RAM
  • Big HDD (500GB +)
  • Decent video card
Thanks Guys!

-mp

Edited by mpascal, 10 June 2009 - 03:40 PM.

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#2
sulobaid

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well hey i got an HP DV5Z 4GB RAM 220GB hardrive (though im sure you could get a bigger one) and a 512MB vid card and a 2.3GHZ AMD processor. this laptop runs great for me, nice and smooth. personally i wouldnt go with dell because they overcharge or CyberpowerPC (if you ever heard of them) their laptops are truly brittle construction. only really good advise i could give you is get at least a 2yr warrenty that covers all accidents (ive got a three year), other then that and saying i like HP there are others who can give better tech advise

sulo
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#3
PedroDaGR8

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Here's my opinion. Being as I am in grad school (albeit in chemistry) I can give some advice.

1) Get the best CPU you can afford (with in reason obviously). Meaning don't spend $300 for an additional 100mhz
2) Maximize your ram amount by installing it yourself. Check the prices of ram and see what ends up getting you the best deal. Buying 4GB yourself and getting the bare minimum or buying 2GB single stick and 2GB yourself. Sometimes one is cheaper sometimes the other is cheaper (often times it is the first option suprisingly enough)
3) Same thing with a hard drive. For example, I have seen a 500GB SATA 2.5" HD go for around $100, while as an upgrade it would cost you 200+. There is an EXTRA benefit in this scenario. If you get the $500gb HD yourself, the HD that is in there you can use as a backup drive, just by purchasing a USB enclosure.
4)A graphics card isn't a bad thing to have, especially since you are going into computer programming. THe reason I say this, there are languages designed to allow the cards to act as SMP machines. Just throwing that out there. I just wouldn't make it your top priority.
5) Warranty, warranty types and reliability - These are all parts of the same coin. Honestly, I would look more at buisness lines (i.e. Dell's Buisness line or Lenovo). In college you CAN'T afford for your computer to be down for mutliple days or sent off for warranty repairs. The buisness lines tend to be much more reliable and in the case of Dell, they come with Next Day ON SITE service. This means at most your laptop is down for 48hrs (inclduing diagnosis and the shipping of the part). There is NO sending it out, no waiting for repairs, etc. On top of that GET THE WARRANTY that covers ACCIDENTAL damage. This is a MUST in college. No if ands or buts about it.

As for apples. They are nice machines, but they are mainly status symbols. Also, their reliability is not as great as some would have you believe. Since your are in GeekU, I don't think you will need to worry as much about malware anyways. The upside to a mac, is you will have that platform to program on as well and well they are GORGEOUS machines (some of them).
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#4
mpascal

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Thanks for the input guys! Any suggestions for brands I should be looking at? I'm now thinking that I'm gonna want a decent graphics card in case I want to take any graphic design courses later on. What brands do you guys suggest? Dell/Alienware? Sony? Toshiba? I took a look at some of the Lenovo laptops and they all seem pretty expensive for what you get. Thanks guys!

-mp
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#5
PedroDaGR8

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Yeah Lenovos can be pricey (you can sometimes find great deals on them at places like fatwallet).

Dell's Inspiron line is a great one. The others are about equal with HP and Toshiba. I have had good luck with Toshibas, but we have a GREAT warranty repair center in town. Call them up, if they diagnose it over the phone and the parts get sent over night. You bring it in the next day, you have it the following day. If it takes extended diagnosis it can take up to a week to get your laptop back. I have heard on other brands (Sony, HP, Dell's non-onsite warranty) of people shipping it off and being without their laptop for 3 weeks or more. Also, a graphics card seldom helps graphic design. That tends to be more CPU. GPUs tend to be more of rendering 3D images on the fly (though now they are gaining added benefits since they are programable).
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#6
mpascal

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I'm curious about the Dell Inspiron series. I just customized one with a Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD, a 2 year warranty, and some other random features for about $1500.

I'm also looking at the HP Elitebook series and the Toshiba satellite pro series. So far the Dell laptop seems like the best deal.
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#7
Trippster

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Warranty (at least for parts) is extremely important for laptops. Due to the nature of laptops, the part life is drastically less compared to desktop hardware. Actually, the lifespan of a laptop in general can be anywheres from 1-3 years less than its equivelance in a desktop.

I had a Dell inspirion 9300. By end of the second year I had already replaced a dying hard drive and a non-responsive CD Drive. The hard drive was rather inconveinant because I was at college and was without a laptop with 3-4 days. I'm not trying to deter you from getting an Inspiron, as they are great laptops. I am just trying to stress warranties/support and to make sure you get at least 2 years (3 would be prime).
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#8
mpascal

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Hmm I'm still not sure about the Inspiron. The price seems almost too good to be true. Has anyone had luck with the HP Elitebook series? I'm pretty interested with this one:

HP EliteBook 8530p

These laptops also seem pretty cool, the Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q715 is the lightest of the Qosmio notebooks and doesn't come with graphics that are too overkill, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, and a P8700. Warranty is pretty pricey though ($261.75):

Toshiba Qosmio

Thanks for everyone's input!

-mp

Edited by mpascal, 11 June 2009 - 10:47 AM.

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#9
Trippster

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The warranty may seem pricy, but ones you add the $261 the final price will be fairly close to the starting price of the HP. I think both laptops are pretty equivelant in terms of power. I have a slight preference for the Toshiba in this case though.
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#10
mpascal

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Yeah after the warranty is put in the difference is only about $50. I think Dell is out of the picture right now.. my decision seems to be down to these two models. The Toshiba's case might be a bit too much though, surround sound speakers and stuff is really not something I would be using. However it is very cool looking :). Thanks for all your help guys, if anyone else has something to say feel free!

-mp
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#11
Trippster

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Good luck! I think you will be pleased with either laptop if you decide to purchase one of them.
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#12
edge2022

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Just came upon this one: http://www.dell.com/...great_deals_4~~
It has dual SLI NVIDIA cards, and costs 2,400$

The other 2 laptops are very good choices too.
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#13
mpascal

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Yeah as much as that is a pretty good deal, nobody I know has ever really had much success with a Dell laptop. My friend has an XPS he bought last year that he's already had to get it repaired twice due to hardware failure. My dad also used to use a Dell but it had overheating problems so he bought a new laptop. I'm sure they're great computers, but with my experience they aren't very reliable. Thanks for all the input guys, but I think I'm gonna have to go with the Elitebook series. The Toshiba Qosmio is a bit too flashy for me :)
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#14
edge2022

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Good choice!
Hope you like your new laptop! :)
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