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View Full Version : What laptop for college? (Engineering/Computer Science)



Poiy
04-26-2014, 03:56 PM
Like the title says. I'm planning on taking an engineering/computer science centered course through college and apparently my 7 year old walmart asus laptop won't do (it's also broken which is why I'm looking into getting the laptop so early). But I really only have an elementary understanding of computer specs and things like that so any recommendations would be helpful.

Recommended hardware minimums as listed by their website:
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent
Primary Memory: 4GB RAM
Secondary Memory: 120GB disk, 5400RPM
Wired Networking: IEEE 802.3 100BASE-T Fast Ethernet
Wireless Networking: IEEE 802.11n compatible wireless (or 802.11g)
Website: http://engineering.vanderbilt.edu/transit/ComputerRecommendation.php

I understand the processor and memory requirements but I've really got no idea what the networking minimums mean. An explanation of those would be appreciated.

They recommend buying the HP Probook 4440s from http://vanderbilt.bncollege.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/HP_Probook_4440s/ProductDisplay?parentCatId=40367&imageId=736763&level=&graphicId=1&categoryId=40387&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&storeId=65163&productId=400000172689&topCatId=40351.
I've heard bad things about HP build quality though.

Budget: $1500
Edit: The $1500 budget really just means I'm not concerned with the price as long as it doesn't exceed $1500. Vanderbilt adds in $1500 to engineering student's tuition and with their financial aid package this becomes a non-issue.

everblue
04-26-2014, 04:08 PM
Lenovo Thinkpad

/thread

bartosh
04-26-2014, 04:11 PM
Senior cs major here

Basically only 4 brands id recommend are
Sony viao (but they sold it off so who knows how the support will be in the future)
Asus
Apple
Samsung

Ive had a toshiba/asus/sony/samsung/recently bought a macbook pro

Being a diehard windows user all my life, the build quality of my new mac puts all the others ive had to shame

All i have to say is dont get a toshiba. Mine caught fire

Edit: thinkpad is good specs wise but all my friends that had one had it crap out on them. Theyre supposedly known for their solid construction but from personal experience i cant agree

Poiy
04-26-2014, 04:15 PM
Lenovo Thinkpad

/thread

Does the model matter in relation to the networking specifications? Or are those already universally built into most new laptops?

Poiy
04-26-2014, 04:18 PM
Senior cs major here

Basically only 4 brands id recommend are
Sony viao (but they sold it off so who knows how the support will be in the future)
Asus
Apple
Samsung

Ive had a toshiba/asus/sony/samsung/recently bought a macbook pro

Being a diehard windows user all my life, the build quality of my new mac puts all the others ive had to shame

All i have to say is dont get a toshiba. Mine caught fire

Edit: thinkpad is good specs wise but all my friends that had one had it crap out on them. Theyre supposedly known for their solid construction but from personal experience i cant agree

Yea I was actually watching the macs v spurs game in my mom's toshiba and the display just froze right before Vince Carter's game winning shot :(
I'm leaning towards a thinkpad or a Mac right now

CapMo
04-26-2014, 04:45 PM
Does the model matter in relation to the networking specifications? Or are those already universally built into most new laptops?

Requirements breakdown

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Primary Memory: 4GB RAM

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Secondary Memory: 120GB disk, 5400RPM

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Wired Networking: IEEE 802.3 100BASE-T Fast Ethernet

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Wireless Networking: IEEE 802.11n compatible wireless (or 802.11g)

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.


$1500


It depends on how much of your budget you want to spend, I used an HP laptop and build quality is okay but they used to be the best bang for the buck if you could deal with how hot they got due to their performance.

I currently use a Dell XPS 12 (not in school anymore) and love the portability but it does not have the ethernet port you are looking for. Basically any cheap laptop that has an ethernet port should be good for what you need it for, if you need to do anything that is more performance oriented they'll have computers on campus you'll be able to use especially in the engineering labs.


Here is one that is a pretty good deal for what you get:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Asus-Q501LA-BBI5T03-15-6-1920x1080-IPS-Touch-Screen-Intel-Core-i5-4200U-Laptop/301164155510?customid=79b657c4051c458c8b6487ce9b71 19a5&pub=5574652453&afepn=5337259887&campid=5337259887&pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item461ec85276&afepn=5337259887


Specs:

Intel Core i5 4200U 2.6GHz
6GB DDR3 Memory
750GB Hard Drive
15.6" 1920x1080 IPS LED Slim Touch Display w/ Webcam
Intel HD 4400 Graphics
2x USB 3.0
WiFi + Bluetooth + WiDi
Up to 4 1/2 hrs Battery
Windows 8

MiscMathematician
04-26-2014, 04:52 PM
If you're on a budget and want something for productivity and portability

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Samsung-ATIV-Smart-Tablet-with-128GB-Memory-11-6-XE700T1C-A02US-/261461125447?pt=US_Tablets&hash=item3ce04c2947

it comes with a (real) keyboard dock and stylus.

I'm a huge fan of thinkpads, and you cannot go wrong there. But I purchased that samsung and I also love it; though I need wacom for work and this being thinner and lighter than my thinkpad x230 is starting to replace it. I imagine if I were programming more often I would prefer the thinkpad's keyboard.

But if you're determined to use your entire budget, If I were in your position and just needed a solid low-frills laptop, I'd go with the T440s

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/t-series/t440s/

If you want something a little bigger and more powerful,

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/t-series/t540p/

Customize with the i7-4700mq (+$200)
Full HD (+$170)
8GB (+$80)

Poiy
04-26-2014, 04:58 PM
Requirements breakdown

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Primary Memory: 4GB RAM

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Secondary Memory: 120GB disk, 5400RPM

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Wired Networking: IEEE 802.3 100BASE-T Fast Ethernet

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.

Wireless Networking: IEEE 802.11n compatible wireless (or 802.11g)

- Can probably easily find in a $300-$400 computer.


$1500


It depends on how much of your budget you want to spend, I used an HP laptop and build quality is okay but they used to be the best bang for the buck if you could deal with how hot they got due to their performance.

I currently use a Dell XPS 12 (not in school anymore) and love the portability but it does not have the ethernet port you are looking for. Basically any cheap laptop that has an ethernet port should be good for what you need it for, if you need to do anything that is more performance oriented they'll have computers on campus you'll be able to use especially in the engineering labs.


Here is one that is a pretty good deal for what you get:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Asus-Q501LA-BBI5T03-15-6-1920x1080-IPS-Touch-Screen-Intel-Core-i5-4200U-Laptop/301164155510?customid=79b657c4051c458c8b6487ce9b71 19a5&pub=5574652453&afepn=5337259887&campid=5337259887&pt=Laptops_Nov05&hash=item461ec85276&afepn=5337259887


Specs:

Intel Core i5 4200U 2.6GHz
6GB DDR3 Memory
750GB Hard Drive
15.6" 1920x1080 IPS LED Slim Touch Display w/ Webcam
Intel HD 4400 Graphics
2x USB 3.0
WiFi + Bluetooth + WiDi
Up to 4 1/2 hrs Battery
Windows 8
I'm not worried about saving any of the 1500. Vanderbilt adds in up to $1500 to their engineering student's tuition to pay for a laptop of their choosing and since I'm going on financial aid it really doesn't affect my wallet.

I'm just a little worried about the battery life. I'll look more into the model soon.

CapMo
04-26-2014, 05:03 PM
I'm not worried about saving any of the 1500. Vanderbilt adds in up to $1500 to their engineering student's tuition to pay for a laptop of their choosing and since I'm going on financial aid it really doesn't affect my wallet.

I'm just a little worried about the battery life. I'll look more into the model soon.

I always had my charger with me in the case that I needed it because all of the laptops I had battery life wasnt great (2-3 hours max).

Here is another more powerful one that you can use to game as well if you are a gamer.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?SID=443fdd54c5574f63a225fca4f355a077&AID=10440897&PID=1225267&Item=N82E16834152405&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-cables-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=

Or even this one:

http://www.amazon.com/MSI-GE70-Apache-Pro-012-17-3-Inch/dp/B00IMTQ5I2?t=slickdeals&tag=slickdeals&ascsubtag=2fbb4f12a2d441b0a439feba37e1831f


These are all overkills for what you'll most likely use it for though. Only thing about these two is that portability will be a pain for a 17" laptop but it's a great desktop replacement.

dgd2
04-26-2014, 05:05 PM
Does it have to be a Window laptop? I would just get a Macbook Air with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. Most people avoid Macs because of the price tag but since you're not footing the bill...It will come out to $1400. The best battery life you can get out of a laptop today, very portable, and ridiculously fast.

Poiy
04-26-2014, 05:05 PM
If you're on a budget and want something for productivity and portability

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Samsung-ATIV-Smart-Tablet-with-128GB-Memory-11-6-XE700T1C-A02US-/261461125447?pt=US_Tablets&hash=item3ce04c2947

it comes with a (real) keyboard dock and stylus.

I'm a huge fan of thinkpads, and you cannot go wrong there. But I purchased that samsung and I also love it; though I need wacom for work and this being thinner and lighter than my thinkpad x230 is starting to replace it. I imagine if I were programming more often I would prefer the thinkpad's keyboard.
Lol I probably should of stated it earlier, but the school is paying for the laptop so the budget is more of an allowance.
Their website has an Ethernet as a minimum requirement so I'm not sure how that'll come into play but it seems that as long as I stick to an established quality brand I can't really go wrong.

Poiy
04-26-2014, 05:13 PM
I always had my charger with me in the case that I needed it because all of the laptops I had battery life wasnt great (2-3 hours max).

Here is another more powerful one that you can use to game as well if you are a gamer.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?SID=443fdd54c5574f63a225fca4f355a077&AID=10440897&PID=1225267&Item=N82E16834152405&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-cables-_-na-_-na&cm_sp=

Or even this one:

http://www.amazon.com/MSI-GE70-Apache-Pro-012-17-3-Inch/dp/B00IMTQ5I2?t=slickdeals&tag=slickdeals&ascsubtag=2fbb4f12a2d441b0a439feba37e1831f


These are all overkills for what you'll most likely use it for though. Only thing about these two is that portability will be a pain for a 17" laptop but it's a great desktop replacement.
Man, gaming laptops look sick but I don't know how aim going to be able to fit a 17incher in the little backpack they gave me lol. I bought myself a ps4 a while back so I probably won't use my laptop to game.


Does it have to be a Window laptop? I would just get a Macbook Air with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. Most people avoid Macs because of the price tag but since you're not footing the bill...It will come out to $1400. The best battery life you can get out of a laptop today, very portable, and ridiculously fast. When I went to visit, our biomedical engineer tour guide said that you could configure a Mac to work with the programs since they're all windows based but it's just based on how much I value convenience. Which I'm still deciding on. If macs are that much faster and that much more durable then I'll get one, but if here differences are slim, I'll get a pc for the convenience.

niktak11
04-26-2014, 06:05 PM
Nothing I ever do for school is really very hardware intensive

niktak11
04-26-2014, 06:07 PM
Nothing I ever do for school is really very hardware intensive. I recommend getting a smallish one. Mine is 17" and it's a bitch to carry around campus all day

tdnick
04-26-2014, 06:12 PM
Fuk Vanderbilt

YouMadBro
04-26-2014, 06:52 PM
only programs that are hardware intensive are CAD programs
The later generation core cpu/integrated graphics are typically enough to run it okay but it's enough to get you by through college

I'd suggest just getting the latest generation macbook pro and dual boot it with windows to load CAD/programming languages as many of them are windows only

Rawp0wer1O1
04-26-2014, 06:56 PM
what is the main use for the laptop?

Like is it your only computer or do you have a desktop at home?

I use laptop just for notes, if i have to meet with a group, and ****ing around on the internet in class

I have a yoga 2 pro...extremely slim, extremely light, nice specs and great battery life

and it turns into a tablet

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/lenovo/yoga-laptop-series/yoga-laptop-2-pro/

MiscMathematician
04-26-2014, 09:20 PM
I was randomly flopping around youtube and saw this, thought it was a great unbiased review of the T440s (the larger t540 is basically just a larger version with a few more options)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6GvbQPwJuo

dgd2
04-26-2014, 09:53 PM
Man, gaming laptops look sick but I don't know how aim going to be able to fit a 17incher in the little backpack they gave me lol. I bought myself a ps4 a while back so I probably won't use my laptop to game.

When I went to visit, our biomedical engineer tour guide said that you could configure a Mac to work with the programs since they're all windows based but it's just based on how much I value convenience. Which I'm still deciding on. If macs are that much faster and that much more durable then I'll get one, but if here differences are slim, I'll get a pc for the convenience.

hm yeah you would most likely have to bootcamp Windows on your Mac in order to run the necessary Windows programs. Not a big deal but if you don't want to do that then forget the Mac. Also do you really need an ethernet port? I think you would need to buy some sort of thunderbolt adaptor in that case as the MBA will not have an ethernet port because most people don't use them anymore.

Whatever laptop you decide to get, make sure you get an SSD. If you're going to spend over 1k on a laptop there is no reason to not have one these days. It's the most important component to having a fast computer.

Burgerbuger
04-26-2014, 10:00 PM
Yeah, don't even think about buying a 17" inch gaming laptop for classroom work. Pain in the ass to carry, pain in the ass to pull out, it will always be plugged into the wall without switchable graphics. Get something light weight and powerful.

xmikeman
04-27-2014, 12:02 AM
I'm going to get hate from the Misc, but at that budget get a Macbook Pro Retina, OP. You won't regret it. Admittedly, it is on the weaker side for what you can get for the money. I was a lifetime Windows user and don't regret my MBPr purchase one bit. That build quality, OS X, the screen, and the battery are all ****ing great. You'll be looking at a nine hour battery life or higher. If power is your priority, however, you'd be better suited in purchasing a Thinkpad or Yoga.

http://images.anandtech.com/doci/5996/DSC_7408_575px.jpg

HarshTruth
04-27-2014, 05:20 AM
Man, gaming laptops look sick but I don't know how aim going to be able to fit a 17incher in the little backpack they gave me lol. I bought myself a ps4 a while back so I probably won't use my laptop to game.

When I went to visit, our biomedical engineer tour guide said that you could configure a Mac to work with the programs since they're all windows based but it's just based on how much I value convenience. Which I'm still deciding on. If macs are that much faster and that much more durable then I'll get one, but if here differences are slim, I'll get a pc for the convenience.

MACs are not faster ...

Could you also buy 2 PCs?
Do you want to play games?

To be honest the requirements are rather low and high-price laptops are not always a good idea.

If you want to do gaming etc. or stuff that requires real CPU-Power i would buy a cheap light laptop that fits the requirements and a PC for your home. You will get way more for your money buying a PC and you will regret buying a high-performance laptop since they tend to be heavy and their battery life is low.

As for Apple i would not recommend you to buy an apple especially if you are doing something in the IT field you will only have problems you will pay a lot just for the brand and would get way better hardware for less with a windows laptop. Not to mention that you would probably end up having problems with software or even end up using windows on your Macbook ...


Since i just read about you not wanting to game - the two most important things for a laptop you work and travel with every day are weight and battery life. (you may think you wont care about those but trust me you will ...)
Lenovo is a good brand in terms of quality - price.

Raven2392
04-27-2014, 05:31 AM
Get a Macbook Pro Retina and dual boot Windows on it using Parallels (VM software).

Best decision I ever made.

Poiy
04-28-2014, 11:11 AM
Ok so after half a day of extensive research and advice I'm leaning towards the Thinkpad 440s with the upgraded resolution, sad, and hard drive options. Seems to pretty much be even with the MacBook Pro retina in terms of most everything while not having to mess around with the os.