View Full Version : College Student Looking At Laptops
I'm a college student, still living at home (for now) with six other people. I'd like to have access to a computer anytime I want or need it, without having to wait on anyone to get off. And I'd love to have a nice, speedy machine that hasn't been bogged down with other people's crap on it.
I hope some of you tech-savvy people could give me a few tips on what to look for. Anything would be helpful: brands you'd avoid, how much memory, what size hard drive, etc.
-There won't be much gaming, if any at all. I have one disc-based game in mind that I may install, but no more. It's Age of Empires III, if that helps. I do all the rest of my gaming on my PS3.
-I don't want something super tiny, as it would spend most of the time on my desk. But I don't want a 20"-screen monster or anything. Big enough for everyday desk use, but small enough that I could carry it in a backpack if I wanted to.
-Again, it would spend a lot of time on a desk and plugged in, so I don't think battery life is much of an issue. But more than an hour would be nice. :supergrin:
-I think I do want a CD drive, for the one possible game I mentioned. And it seems that I'd rather have it and not use it, than want it and not have it. I may want to watch some DVD's on it.
-The only things I would really use it for are: Microsoft Word, internet browsing, YouTube/Hulu/etc. videos, the one disc-based game, iTunes, and downloading new music. That's pretty much it. I'd love to have multiple programs/windows/tabs open a lot of the time.
-And I'd love to spend under $600 (before taxes), if possible. I'll probably wait for some back-to-school sales. How much memory/etc. am I looking for?
First off, what are you going to college for? Your needs may vary.
I bought my current Thinkpad from the Lenovo Outlet. You can get very good deals on systems that carry a new warranty for lots less.
Again, what do you need it for?
Mostly I like a 14" screen. Big enough to be easy on the eyes yet small enough to carry around. My son who is working on his PhD in Engineering just replaced the 5 year old 14" Thinkpad I gave him with a new 14" Thinkpad. They are that good.
Good advice so far - I *love* Thinkpads - Managed a fleet of 20 or so, and they were pretty good. The Absolute Best notebook ever made was Micron PC - You could insert the driver disk, and not have to touch it again till it was done.... and it was all USA support techs! But I digress... :whistling:
This is a pretty good weekend to shop! In addition to Lenovo, NewEgg, TigerDirect, and Buy.com are all having sales, and the pricing looks *very* agressive.
If you miss it this weekend, back to school sales start soon!
I would encourage you to jump on it this weekend so that you KNOW the system is solid before school starts.
I will be you can nail down a nice i5 processor with good speed - 3Ghz - and some ram, but as it has been pointed out in one of the other 'I need a notebook' threads - You can always add ram later... and it's easy, much easier than thinking about upgrading a processor!
Go Fast, Go Big Ram, and fit it all in your budget. It's a buyer's market out there...
The Lenovo Thinkpads are nice but be aware that Lenovo does also make cheaper lines of laptops other than the Thinkpads and those other lines don't seem to be made as well as Thinkpads. Not all Lenovo laptops are Thinkpads. The most reliable of the lower priced ( or higher priced) laptops are Toshiba and Asus.
First off, what are you going to college for? Your needs may vary.
So far I'm still undecided on my major, but I'm going for my Bachelor's.
Like I said above, I don't really have a whole lot of needs. Just going to do the usual stuff. Internet browsing, watching videos, maybe DVD's, maybe one game at most, and using Microsoft Office.
And being a tech-retard, what do y'all mean by go with big RAM? Is that the hard drive, or memory?
Browsing some laptops the other day, the only specs I remember reading were hard drive, memory, processor, battery life, and screen size. Like you said though, I did prefer those with screens around 14". They seemed to translate to about the size machine that I'd want.
CPU, Central Processing Unit - The brain of the system.
RAM, Random Access Memory - Memory that the cpu uses to load and unload 'work'. Usually 2 gigabytes or 3 or 4 gigabytes.
Hard Drive - Storage for the system. This is the device that you load your OS and programs on to. It's where you store your data and pictures and such. Usually 350 gigabytes (gigs) up to the 1 Tbyte range. A Terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. (1024 actually who who's counting).
CPU, look at i3 or i5 in the 256 ~ 266 gHz range. That's 266 Thousands (giga is thousands) of on - off cycles a second. A cpu processes data in hunks. Each cycle it reads in a new hunk. Faster is better but real fast costs real money.
Graphics can be part of the cpu 'cluster' and is usually written and 'Intel Graphics'. If you are not a gamer that's fine. Don't let this be a show stopper.
Discrete graphics, a separate subsystem, will be NVidia or AMD/ATI. Faster graphics but more money.
Look for a 14" display with an i3 or i5 in the 266 gHz range (a little or or a little less) with 3 or 4 gigs of RAM. What ever the size of the hard drive it will be more than sufficient. Go for Intel graphics. All 14" laptops have a dvd drive and usb and yada, yada.
Well, as to 14" or 15".... I would go to a Staples or Best Buy and lift and look at them and see what works for you. Then buy on line. lol
I'm a big fan of the older (four years old or so...) ThinkPad line. Specifically, the T60 with the higher resolution screen, not the awful 1024X768 resolution which results in jagged text and eye strain, regardless of the brand. Their screen size and light weight is a good mix of desktop use and portability. The keyboards are flat-out the best there is. The non-glare square screen is easy on the eyes, unlike the uber-reflective screens on today's laptops.
here's a link to a company that sells refurb ThinkPad units:
I do not work for this company, but am a satisfied customer. I own, and experiment with, three T60s, and one W500. Most come with Windows XP, but the T series ThinkPads are very Windows 7 friendly.
Can't comment on the requirements of the game you mentioned, but as far as the rest of your needs, a basic, no frills, cheap laptop will do the job easily.
I have always had great luck with Toshiba - you should be able to pick one up new from BestBuy, Walmart, etc. for 300-450 range (depending on current sale).
Don't buy what you don't need - they all get obsolete every 3 years or so anyway. Buy cheap, replace it when you have too. :cool:
When buying any kind of computer, if you have to make a choice between between faster processor or more RAM due to your budgetary restraints, always go for the faster processor.
RAM is easy to upgrade at a later date if you decide you want more... The processor can be a PITA to upgrade and with laptops, you typically have to take the entire laptop down to pieces just to do it (assuming that the processor is not permanently mounted to the Motherboard.
From what it sounds like, you could easily get what you want and stay well within your $600 budget.
Something that I would recommend, however, is evaluating if there are going to be specific programs that you will be running in your classes. This may not pertain to your major, but you never know.
When it comes to buying your laptop, I would recommend not buying Microsoft Office right now, your student bookstore will likely have a Microsoft Office Student license that will be much cheaper than buying the Office Suite at retail. Try to buy as much of your software through the bookstore, this can potentially save you a few hundred dollars over time.
One last thing, whatever laptop you buy, immediately remove all of the "Bloatware" from it including the Anti-virus that comes with it. All of that crap is typically a 30 day trial, blah, blah, blah and will only slow down your laptop.
Assuming that you are getting a Windows machine, I would suggest using Avast for your antivirus. It is free to download and register for home use; plus it works very well.
If you live anywhere close to Durham, go to Tiger Direct.
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