Author Topic: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college  (Read 24992 times)

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Offline Sintpinty

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Hi! Im starting College for an IT co op program in a couple of weeks and am looking to have a laptop that suits my needs.

    Total budget (in local currency) and country of purchase. Please do not use USD unless purchasing in the US:
    2000 CAD .

    Are you open to refurbs/used?
    No, it should be brand new ideally

    How would you prioritize form factor (ultrabook, 2-in-1, etc.), build quality, performance, and battery life?
    Form factor is the least priority, so long as it doesn't have a burden on my back. My previous laptop though, a dell g5 5587 was very heavy on my back and it kinda hurt a bit. Performance is the highest thing i need as i need it to handle Virtualbox, SQL, Windows Server Administration tools, programming languages like Rust, Java and Scala, etc.

    How important is weight and thinness to you?
    Ideally i don't want something thats a bit too heavy on my back, but it's a bit important.

    Do you have a preferred screen size? If indifferent, put N/A.
    N/A I don't really care.

    Are you doing any CAD/video editing/photo editing/gaming? List which programs/games you desire to run.
    i need it to handle Virtualbox, SQL, Windows Server Administration tools, programming languages like Rust, Java and Scala, etc. Maybe some Roblox studio if i want to learn development over the course of college, and Blender too.

    If you're gaming, do you have certain games you want to play? At what settings and FPS do you want?
    Really just Roblox and light gaming, as this is mainly going to be laptop for professional and other educational work.

    Any specific requirements such as good keyboard, reliable build quality, touch-screen, finger-print reader, optical drive or good input devices (keyboard/touchpad)?
    N/A

    Leave any finishing thoughts here that you may feel are necessary and beneficial to the discussion.
    I just have one minor question. My father really wants me to go with an apple branded laptop as he says "macs don't fail", however i made a good argument at dinner tonight that the majority of stuff in IT requires windows or performs best on Windows as that is what the majority of the corporate world uses. Should i go with Windows or Mac for this one?

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 25 August 2022, 21:13:48 »
You're going to want more than 1 machine.

A light one <3lbs for your notes and classes,  then in between you can either use the computer lab with desktops, or go back to the dorm and do your heavy lifting there on a bigger machine. Nothing powerful is under 5-6 pounds, it's not worth the hassle to lug around. <when unplugged> these machines really arn't much faster than the ultra light <3lb laptops.

Honestly can't recommend buying new for thin and light, they're really not worth it (price to performance wise).  Used lenovos are the best, lots of cheap parts.

If you buy 1x LG gram, it's like $1200, you can get 6x used lenovo t460s, this is college, you're moving around,  things break.


If you have a need to blend in with the mean_girls at any point (for your social life), Apple is your only option.

_Seeing as how you're going into IT, if you're around a bunch of dudes, that prolly won't matter.

Finally, _IT_ certainly has better job prospects, it's perilous for women though, because of Neckbeard culture, poorly socialized man-childs, this includes the professors,  make sure you're prepared for this, have a chat with your mother about dealing with people of this type..

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 25 August 2022, 21:25:24 »
Personal computers did not exist when I graduated from college, but I am also inclined to recommend a desktop and a laptop, in spite of the duplication, redundancy, etc, conundrums because I see a desktop as something that is cheap, powerful, and reliable while I think of a laptop as fragile and temporary and subject to all manner of assaults.

Whatever you do, get at least 2 external hard drives and back up religiously.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 25 August 2022, 22:55:14 »
I'm with them.
Get a used lightweight Lenovo for carrying around and either a more gaming oriented laptop or if you have space a desktop. Your back will thank you and the first time you drop that Lenovo, so will your wallet.

Avoid Ideapads and anything touchscreen (bad hinges). I'd recommend T450 or T460 with an I5 (5300u/6300u or better, respectively), the 1080p or 1600x900 screen (no more, no less), SSD (512Gb should be enough), and 16gigs of ram.

The T440, T450, T460 and T470 all share a ton of parts, however you should avoid the T440 as it only has a single ram slot (8gigs max). The T470 is good, but only marginally better for a much higher price. Regardless, it means there's plenty of parts when you need replacements. Some people have managed to get 32gigs working in a T450/60/70 but depending on model you may need the right ram so research first. $200-$250 USD should get you a decent example, leaving you plenty for the gaming machine.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 25 August 2022, 23:42:46 »
32gb ddr3 laptop ram is prohibitively expensive. it's not worth it.

If you're going t460 get the 460 (S), the S is unlocked to 25watt.  with t460 vanilla you need to trick it. it's easier with the S.

The i5 6300 version is plenty,  there's no reason to get the i7.   but if the price difference is small enough,  you could if you want to.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 26 August 2022, 00:50:46 »
Not sure I agree on CPU power mods but I think we're splitting hairs at this point.
Suffice to say we both think these are all great bang for the buck laptops where you to get one (except the T440 and I3 models).

Oh, another benefit, they run Linux really well if you want that.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 26 August 2022, 07:10:52 »
Same caution with expensive selfones.   if you've got a $1500 fone,  it's like a prison ball and chain in your pocket.

if you've got a $100 fone,  it's freedom, because you don't really care, run, jump, kick flip, no problem.

Powerful laptops unplugged usually get relegated to something like 30 watts, so they won't run faster than say ultraportables at 30 watts, because it can not escape physics.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 26 August 2022, 08:33:26 »

great bang for the buck laptops where you to get one (except the T440 and I3 models).


I got my T440p a few years ago in superb condition for well under $200 shipped minus its hard drive. It is the modest I5/4300/8GB model which is fine for me. Even with a new 500GB SSD and RAM (8 up from the original 4) I doubt that I have much, if any, over $300 in it.

But it does weigh 4.6 lb / 2 kg if that is too much for you.
Citizens United violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president.
So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.”
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 26 August 2022, 11:23:10 »
I got my T440p a few years ago in superb condition for well under $200 shipped minus its hard drive. It is the modest I5/4300/8GB model which is fine for me. Even with a new 500GB SSD and RAM (8 up from the original 4) I doubt that I have much, if any, over $300 in it.

But it does weigh 4.6 lb / 2 kg if that is too much for you.
The P model is the heaviest of the bunch (std, S and P).

One neat thing though is you could find a newer version of these with a broken screen and stripped of parts for around $50, swap your parts over and get a nice upgrade and maybe drop some weight. Just be sure to check interchangeability, which isn't that complex. That's how I got my T450, I started with a free T440 (with I3) and bought a stripped and broken T450 (with core I5) and swapped over my parts.
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Offline user 18

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 26 August 2022, 13:34:18 »
I just went through a similar thought process and similar budget with a friend of mine. She did end up going for the Mac, but she didn't have the same needs for Windows-specific tools, and was already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.

I agree with you that Apple probably isn't the way to go for your needs. If you take care of your machine, it should last you until you want/need more power anyway, and if you don't take care of it, well, Apple screens break too! The Macbook Air (really the only option in your budget) does have pretty nice battery life, if that's a concern for you. If you do decide you want to go Apple, consider their refurbished options to save a bit of money. Refurbished is much closer to new than to used, and a lot of refurbished products have the same full warranty coverage these days that brand new machines do.

You've already received a lot of good recommendations near the cheaper end, so I don't have a ton to add there. There is merit to buying new and getting a machine with a warranty and known (lack of) history, to allow you to focus on your studies, rather than on maintaining your computer. If you're looking at new machines, you may be able to take advantage of education pricing offered by the manufacturer. Sometimes specific manufacturers offer larger discounts through agreements with specific schools, that students may or may not be included in, so if you already have your school's login details, it may be worth poking around.

If you're looking for a higher-end machine that will do everything you list, this is the Windows machine I recommended to my friend (now sold out at this link, but similar models are available): https://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product/asus-rog-zephyrus-g15-15-6-gaming-laptop-white-amd-ryzen-9-5900hs-1tb-ssd-16gb-ram-rtx-3050-ti/15799664. Lots of CPU/RAM to suit your needs, and enough GPU to play moderately-demanding games (when plugged in, and you probably won't be maxing things out). There is also a 14" model that is a bit lighter, at the expense of some performance.

If you want something even lighter weight, you could look at something like this: https://www.dell.com/en-ca/shop/laptops-ultrabooks/xps-13-laptop/spd/xps-13-9310-laptop/nxps139310_h61pe. Weaker CPU, but that hopefully won't affect much in your day-to-day work (e.g. note-taking, simple programming/SQL). You may notice the difference with more complex tasks, but hopefully you will have access to a computer lab at your school for more demanding work -- a lot of schools even have remote access for student use now. I used an older model XPS 13 for school and work from 2016-2019, and it handled my programming and (admittedly very basic) SQL needs well enough. I did spin up occasional VMs, but didn't do enough serious work in them to judge longer-term performance. I still have that machine, and it still runs well, I just haven't had need for a laptop in the same way from 2020 onward.

As has been said above, regardless of what you pick, make sure you have a robust backup scheme -- or at the very least, make use of your school's cloud offering, if they have one. You don't want to lose a term paper/project the night before it's due!
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 26 August 2022, 18:15:56 »
The problem with Apple is that butterfly keyboard, it's a death sentence for any older Mac.

Apple is going to charge you $700-$1300 to fix it and it may only last another year. Even if it does, there's a limited supply of replacements. Overpriced? You bet and that's on purpose, it makes convincing you to spend slightly more on a discounted newer model a whole lot easier.  Had they said only $150 you'd probably just fix it.
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Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #12 on: Sat, 27 August 2022, 08:11:28 »
If you do go lenovo, DO NOT update the bios. 
Ignoring the fact that most people have never updated a BIOS in their life making this strange advice I can't help but wonder what's so bad about Lenovo BIOS updates?
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 27 August 2022, 09:10:37 »
Well, with used intel laptops, most are pre-security patch, so they run faster.  POST patch, they're all slower because of the side channel attack mitigations put in place.

For general use, you don't care about that, it's for corporate. it makes more sense to keep the performance. in some cases the bios can't roll back.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 27 August 2022, 11:11:28 »
Well, with used intel laptops, most are pre-security patch, so they run faster.
That makes more sense than seemingly singling out Lenovo :thumb:
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Offline yui

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 21 September 2022, 13:23:22 »
Performance is the highest thing i need as i need it to handle Virtualbox, SQL, Windows Server Administration tools, programming languages like Rust, Java and Scala, etc.
although i have very litle to no experience with those programing languages, i ran a full web server (Apache PHP TSQL) + PHP, C, VB6 and web dev environment + VM off an old HP 4540S (upgraded with a 512Gb ssd and 16GB DDR3 1333) as of last year (at work with windows 10), so yeah performance is good, but everything new will outperform this old HP.
I just have one minor question. My father really wants me to go with an apple branded laptop as he says "macs don't fail", however i made a good argument at dinner tonight that the majority of stuff in IT requires windows or performs best on Windows as that is what the majority of the corporate world uses. Should i go with Windows or Mac for this one?
i would say macs do fail, and when they do they do very badly, i would get a normal pc as you will get better bang for your buck and dual boot it with linux and if you really want to have macOS you could put it in a VM, or no dual boot and put linux with both windows and macOS as VMs (last one was a joke, you should only do that if you feel really comfortable with linux) in IT especially server side linux is quite popular, having experience with it could be valuable, and it works on all pc, apple included.
and if we are going for brand wars, i'd stay away from Dell (seen a pc catch on fire on 1st start up?, seen 3 dell do so at work out of 19 me and my coworker installed), cheap Asus (seen them at work, on all of the one we had the fan exhaust get blocked by the screen when it is opened, leading to overheating and dead fans), Toshiba (had the displeasure of trying to fix 2 of them, they failed rather fast and were near/completely impossible to open without damage) and HP (the consumer part of HP, same issue as Toshiba for repairs) and would recommend HPE (the pro stuff, out of the 9 models i repaired all were pretty easy to take apart and fix and the phone support is rather helpful) and Lenovo after a reinstall of the OS (cause bloatware galore, only had one to repair, but it was easy to take apart). other than those i would also recommend taking a look at framework laptops, seems made to last and are the most upgradable laptops you will find, although i have no experience with them.
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Offline granola bar enthusiast

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 21 September 2022, 13:36:45 »
bro just wanted a laptop recommendation not a whole argument over lenovo and mac lifespan

Offline garage_logician

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 21 September 2022, 14:36:24 »
You want a Macbook Pro. The 14" is light, fast and more than capable. Keep in mind if doing any mobile that you can do Android on the Mac but you cannot do IOS apps on a Windows laptop.

I am a software contractor and have worked at a lot of Fortune 500 companies. I cannot remember the last time that the dev laptop provided by the ompany was not a Macbook.

Offline Pretendo

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 15 October 2022, 14:42:11 »
The new Macbook Pros look like a step back in the right direction, but they're a bit outside of budget if you want new. I would've ruled against the Pros from year 2012-2022 but they're bringing back ports and reparability on their higher up offerings, and that deserves consideration.

Thinkpads are also a great option, and can be a much better bargain, but won't get you the same clean ecosystem as an Apple. They'd suit you better if you're a tinkerer. I've been running a T430 for ten straight years now and it's been a fantastic experience.  With a Thinkpad you get better community support and eventual upgrades (for example, the T430's Achilles heel was its terrible 1600x900 tft panel, but after a few years the community came out with an adapter that allowed any 14" 1920x1080 panel to be swapped in, which really extended the lifespan of the computer.) 

***

Since you're specifically looking for a new laptop and form factor isn't a priority for you, I'd vote for building out a Thinkpad T14, and maxing out the processor, soldered RAM and screen resolution but keeping everything else base level for later expansion.  With their current sales, this will get you a computer for just around your budget with:

- 12th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1270P vPro® Processor
- Win11 Home
- 16GB Soldered RAM (has user accessible expansion slot for up to 48GB total RAM)
- 256GB SSD (user expandable down the line.)
- 14" 2.2K (2240 x 1400), IPS, Anti-Glare, 300 nits, International Color Consortium. (A lower resolution IPS touch screen is available for about $300 USD more; if you wanted a touch screen you'd probably have to downgrade the processor to the previous gen i7 and remove a couple other small options for budget reasons.)
- Fingerprint reader (can be removed to save $10 USD)
- Backlit Keyboard (can be downgraded to non-backlit to save $30 USD)
- Smart Card Reader (can be subtracted to save $20 USD)
- 52.5 Wh Battery (can be downgraded to save $10 USD)

Comes to a total of $2022CAD plus taxes and shipping, so just about your budget.  A few things could be subtracted depending on your needs to get it lower.

Budget aside, if it were me looking for a new laptop right now, this is almost exactly the configuration I'd go for. I might tack on Microsoft Office, would consider adding a mobile broadband card, and would probably buy a Samsung 500GB or 1TB SSD separately for a day-of-arrival upgrade (because it's way cheaper to do this yourself and the Samsung SSDs tend to be the market leaders atm.)  I'd probably leave the RAM at 16GB unless I saw a pressing need to upgrade it.

You need to max out CPU and RAM because it's all soldered to the board these days, but the SSD and 32GB of the ram can be upgraded later if you need it. Overall, you'd wind up with a pretty futureproof computer that would probably carry you all the way through college and then some.
« Last Edit: Sat, 15 October 2022, 14:50:10 by Pretendo »
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Offline TomahawkLabs

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Re: Looking for a laptop that suits my needs as i start it for college
« Reply #19 on: Tue, 07 November 2023, 12:24:21 »
Looking at your software requirements I would be inclined to ask your dept's Dean or some of the teachers. I went to college for IT in 2010 and I got a ballin' Sony Vaio. First gen i5, 8gb of RAM, 7200RPM drive. I used it very little for workhorse items. We were using VMware and needed the local horsepower to run servers and VMs. Fast forward to 2023 and most VMs are hosted in a datacenter or a cloud where other people's PCs are processing.

If you do not require a powerful laptop for in class lectures/work then 100% go with a chromebook or other low cost lightweight machine for your word docs, etc. Then have a full size desktop PC in your dorm for any actual processing. The desktop will outperform the laptop at any pricepoint. I have enjoyed my Lenovo laptops in the past as well and use one for work.
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