Laptops forum

General discussion

Starting college in the fall and need to choose a notebook.

by lilrichy44 / April 24, 2008 10:12 AM PDT

So I am starting college in the fall and I need some help. So if anyone can help me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Things I will use it for:
Creating, Editing, and Printing documents
Lite Photo Editing
Some "The Sims 2" here and there
I listen to music A LOT
I also use Bit Torrent somtimes

The notebooks I am looking at currently are:
MacBook Pro
Dell M1330
Dell M1530
HP dv6700t

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Windows or MacOSX?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 24, 2008 10:21 AM PDT

That Mac Pro would be the nice solution to all the above but that bit torrent has me ask you put the laptop on a laptop cooling pad or just kick the BT habit.

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by msgale / April 25, 2008 10:17 AM PDT

Wait until you get to school, to understand what their requirement might be, and they may have special pricing.

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Good advice - Wait
by Zouch / April 25, 2008 10:54 AM PDT

I echo that - wait until you get to college and find out what the standard machines are for staff and others provided with laptops. If you get the same brand (maybe the college has a deal so you can buy them at their discount price) their IT support department will know the machines inside out and if you get problems, they will be able to help you out.

A couple of other suggestions - how about a second user IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad T4x series? Quality and longevity is excellent. Or a Panasonic Tuffbook - it's a hard life in a college bag!

Good luck!

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Check out Tablet PCs as Well
by surfaceunits / April 25, 2008 1:03 PM PDT

You will be surprised how useful and convenient the pen/touchscreen interface are for students. Jotting down notes, calendar entries, etc.

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Yes, check it out. Worst tech ever!!!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 25, 2008 1:06 PM PDT
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by surfaceunits / April 25, 2008 2:11 PM PDT

One should make all their decisions based on one person's twisted hairs.

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Cnet gave it the tech flop too.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 25, 2008 2:16 PM PDT
In reply to: Great!
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Hard Drive space is key
by gavinsaturday / April 25, 2008 2:38 PM PDT

If you want to have a lot of music and downloads look for the biggest hard drive you can find. A 5400rpm hard drive uses less power, but a 7200rpm is a little faster. The above comments said to stay away from a tablet PC. A cool alternative to that, is to get a Laptop with Vista Home Premium or Ultimate and purchase a separate writing tablet. I use the Wacom Bamboo tablet ($60 on Amazon) with Microsoft OneNote, which you can get with the Student edition of Office 2007. Vista and Office have a lot of nice built-in features for using a tablet that hooks in through your USB port.

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Look for specs rathar than make/brand
by hamoodyjamal / April 26, 2008 7:55 AM PDT


Seeing as i just recently bought a laptop, i can tell you that the make of the laptop is not as important as the specs. Laptops have come along way as compared to a few years ago and i can confidently say that any brand you buy will be good. By 'any brand' i mean the popular ones. These include, but not limited to, HP, Toshiba, Dell, Acer, LG, Sony, Fujitsu Siemens... All the above brands, in my opinion, make some pretty decent laptops. If you are more concerned with looks rather than performance, then i think laptops from HP, Sony and LG will suite your likings.

I personally would stay clear from Macs because of their incompatibility with most software and because they're relatively very expensive.

Here are some things you need to look for when choosing a laptop and are ordered in importance

CPU: I believe a Core 2 Duo processor is now the standard in most laptops and is you're best choice. Go for speeds of 1.8GHz or more and if available, get one with 4MB cache (you can ask the sales man about this).

RAM: Seeing as most laptops today come with Windows Vista, 2GB or more RAM is the 'sweet spot' for vista which should be enough to run everyday applications without degrade in performance. You will, however, find that alot of laptops come with only 1GB of RAM, which in my opinion, is not enough for Vista as just running a few applications will cause a hit on computer performance. However, you can always buy another 1GB of RAM and install it if you fancy a specific laptop but has 1GB RAM.

Graphics Card: Alot of people don't foresee the importance of a graphics card, especially in a laptop because it is un-upgradable. It basically will handle any image processing that needs to be done and choosing a decent graphics card can be tricky. There are mainly two types of graphics cards: integrated and dedicated. Integrated relies on the CPU for processing images and as you can imagine, that will degrade performance. While it is suitable for simple tasks, like web browsing, listening to music, word processing etc... your computer will take a big hit if you try and run games. Also, integrated graphics cards often take from the system memory (RAM) and hence lower your available RAM to run applications. Dedicated graphics cards, on the other hand, have their own CPU for handling image processing and hence take the load of the main CPU. One other thing to mention is shared vs dedicated video memory (often shorted VRAM). Shared memory will take from the system RAM while dedicated memory is memory that is separate from the system RAM. Last but not least, is the type of graphics card. There are two main players in the market for graphics cards, which are nVidia and ATi. You can't really say one is better than the other, but you can be sure that more games are compatible with nVidia, but not too much to make you choose one over the other. To sum up, an nVidia 8600M GT with 256MB dedicated VRAM or an ATi HD 2600 with 265MB dedicated VRAM is a very good graphics card for a laptop. These, on average, are twice as fast as nVidia 8400GS and ATi 2400.

Hard disk: Choosing a big hard disk will ultimately depend on your needs. Keep in mind that choosing one with lower capacity will not be slower than one with higher capacity (give the same model). Another point to consider is the hard disk's spidle speed, aka RPM (rounds per minute). This is how fast the hard disk spins and the majority of laptops hard disks have speeds 4200/5400/7200 RPM. Lower RPM means slower access speed but longer battery life and vice versa.

Most other features in a laptop are for personal preference, like a web-cam, remote control etc...

In case you're wondering, i bought a Toshiba A200-204 with these specs: Intel C2D 2.2 with 4MB cache, 1GB RAM (upgraded to 3GB, which is pretty sweet!), 200GB HDD, ATi HD 2600 graphics card. This laptop was very reasonable priced and so far so good Happy

Another laptop which has very similar specs is the Dell Inspiron 1520-20 which is also similarly priced.

Hope that was informative

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Thanks everyone
by lilrichy44 / April 27, 2008 1:40 AM PDT

Thanks so much to everyone for your help and advice. As I said I don't start college until early fall. So I can sit, wait, and look around and see what my options are. But I do have one more question. What do you think I should be looking for in a notebook as a college student?

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See above.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 27, 2008 1:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks everyone

I'd see what the majority have as to Mac or PC in your major. What's interesting today is that you can find killer deals on Windows laptops under 1K. The gamers will have to forgo battery use and pop for about 2X that or suffer.

If you get the Mac Pro, that's as sweet as the Mac gets.

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Starting College and need a notebook
by JCipo / April 28, 2008 11:36 AM PDT

First window shop. Then go to your school and see what special discounts the school offers their students on laptops. Your school may also be using a particular brand.
Remember, most laptops offer everything you need for as low as $599.
Anybody who spends much more is a sap and I have 30 years of experience in designing hardware and software to back this statement up.
Oh yes... in the real world of business a computer needs to run programs like MS Office or Photoshop.

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Update on the Notebook search
by lilrichy44 / May 11, 2008 3:25 PM PDT

So I took the advice and called my university and they explained to me that most students at the school have Macs and Dells. And they said they have no preference as long as I can run Word on it. As for discounts they have none for Dell. But they do have the usual discount for the Apple store. So here are my narrowed down choices:

Dell M1350 Tuxedo Black ($1499):

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Don't forget Office
by gavinsaturday / May 11, 2008 5:33 PM PDT

I noticed on your list that you did not include Office in your quotes. On the Dell, I would not go with Works 2008. There is an Office 2007 student edition that only includes the standard programs that runs for about $150. Maybe check with your college bookstore, I got a deal through their student offices. I got a deal through them that is like a student license of Office 2007 Standard which includes Outlook, but not OneNote for around $80.
On a positive note, I have had my Dell laptop with Windows Vista Ultimate for over a year now, and haven't had any real problems and the minor ones that I have had Dell was wonderful to work with.

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