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Expensive laptop, or a micro-atx desktop with a cheap laptop for college and occasional light gaming? - Page 2

post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redmist View Post

Personally, I prefer to just have a desktop. I was usually too lazy to take my laptop with me when I went to classes, and even when I did it was more of a distraction than an aid, so I ended up selling it, as I didn't particularly enjoy using it anyway. I prefer to use my desktop at home (I commute to my university) and if I really need to do some last minute work on a paper or print something out last minute while I'm on campus, there are plenty of computer labs (with Core2Quad machines) and computers in the library that I can use. I keep all my school work in my Dropbox account for that reason.
Also, desktop parts hold their value MUCH better than laptops. I paid $530 for my Laptop (Lenovo X120e) when it was released in summer 2011, and was only able to sell it for $230 a month or so ago. I'll never buy a laptop again, I consider it one of the worse purchases I've ever made. mad.gif

Agreed 100%. I think if I lived on campus, I'd need a laptop even less. I think you should get a desktop and a tablet.
post #12 of 33
As an engineering student, I can tell you that unless you absolutely need to be playing the latest games, you will be much better served by a high-powered laptop than by a desktop. Now, you haven't said where you're planning on going, but any major engineering school worth its salt is going to have pretty complete computing facilities.

I go to Case, which is considered by many to be one of nerdiest/geekiest/most tech-savvy campuses out there (there are numerous on-campus LAN parties every year, a fifth of the student body never leaves their rooms because they're gaming so much, and we also happen to have one of the fastest networks in the country), and well over a third of our student body is in an engineering discipline. We have a large computer lab for the whole engineering school, and each department has some sort of computing facility setup for their students, so if we need to get out the big guns to do work it's quite easy to get on a computer and start slogging away.

One of the few certainties of being an engineering student is that you will be doing group projects where none of you wants to work in someone's cramped dorm room, but you'll need to be using Mathematic/MatLab/AutoCAD/COMSOL/ANSYS/Labview, all of which can chew up an awful lot of computing power. In these cases, you'll be glad you bought a powerful laptop instead so you can bring it with you.

Also, most business-class laptops are plenty fine for light gaming. I just ordered a new Thinkpad T430, and the Quadro 5400M chip that's in there supposedly has more than enough power for the occasional game. The truth is, you're going to (hopefully) be busy enough between classes, making new friends, and getting involved on campus that you just won't have that much time to game.

I will give you this piece of advice though for buying a college laptop: get an extended warranty with accidental damage coverage. You don't know for sure that you will have an issue, but it's better to know that two years in if your laptop goes kaput while you're writing your term paper, somebody will be able to come out and replace it within a few days rather than you being on the hook for another laptop.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
Gah, so much conflicting advices. frown.gif


Regarding the business class laptops, I don't see any major problems with them. However, they tend to have a lot more features than I really need, such as fingerprint reader, encryption, and other security measures. And the more basic laptops with less features come with hardware too weak for light gaming.
post #14 of 33
Eh, you can order Thinkpads and Latitudes without those features.
post #15 of 33
I bought my ThinkPad E420 for $540+tax during a sale directly from Lenovo's site for employee discounts. It came with an i3-2310m, 4GB of ram and a 320GB hard drive and it handles all my engineering tasks quite well. I can run AutoCAD, MATLab, Mathematica and I don't have any issues with the processing power not being enough. I think people tend to overestimate the importance of having enough "power" for engineering undergraduate. I was never in a situation where my dual core ThinkPad couldn't handle my assignments and my quad core desktop operated much better. The ONLY time I loathed programming or doing designs on my laptop is when the screen wasn't big enough. And in situations like that, a 17" wouldn't have made much difference. A desktop with a 22-24" would've definitely made a difference.

Anyway, I agree with him that you'll be too busy with class, making friends and the like that you won't really have time to game. And that's a good thing man! You're in college now! Join clubs, do intramural sports, make friends. Especially intramural sports. In high school, if you try to play a sport and you don't take it seriously, people treat you like a joke. But in college, people love beginners and casual people who just want to learn and get better at something.

To conclude though, I don't think you need a super powerful laptop. If anything I think you should go cheap your first year and save money and see how the year plays out. Find out if having a computer everywhere you go was either helpful or lacking. Was a cheap laptop enough? Would a tablet have been better? Did you spend time at home playing games? Your first semester/quarter will answer a lot of these questions. I'm sure there's a way you can rent a laptop for cheaper than buying one. And with computer labs, you can really just 'see how it goes'. If you end up being more comfortable studying at the library or the people you meet who you want to study with prefer the library, you'll end up needing a laptop.

For my engineering projects, my team met up at the lab on campus because it was closer to the fabrication labs where we could laser cut new materials and even though we had laptops, we preferred the Xeon quad-core desktops with 24" monitors that already had our files and all the software loaded.
post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
My dad bought a small 11" laptop a few months ago, and he hardly used it. Perhaps I could bring that along for college and see what first quarter is like?
post #17 of 33
YES! Absolutely. College is very different from high school and every campus has its own climate to it. What school are you going to and are you excited? College is a great experience and your first quarter will tell you a lot. Once you get through your second round of mid-terms/finals, get out a notepad and write down the pro's and con's of what a laptop, gaming desktop, gaming laptop would do for you. That's ultimately what led me to buying a MacBook Pro.

If you make a decision now before you even go to the school, it could go in the complete opposite direction of what you expected. You might find yourself really wanting to game at school lounges and the library, in which case the gaming laptop makes sense. On the other hand, you might find that you only game at home and a big gaming laptop makes commuting to class a pain in the butt because of how heavy it is. You might even discover that you love being active in clubs and organizations and you barely even game at all.

With Thunderbolt PCI-Express adapters hitting the market, I am going to build a Thunderbolt based eGPU with a GTX 660 Ti and that will give me all the gaming power I need at home and will still allow me the mobility that a laptop offers. Plus since it's an eGPU, I could easily pack the GPU enclosure and power supply in my backpack, take it with me to any lab and connect a lab monitor to my laptop. It's a weird option but it works.

The one exception to what I say about gaming laptops is if you get a Clevo based laptop that has the upgradeable GPU slot. Those have a lot of longevity to them and you can upgrade the GPU after a year or so, maybe even the processor and in a sense, it has a more expensive rendition of a desktop PC's upgrade eligibility.
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by A Bad Day View Post

Macbook? That's... A tad expensive for the hardware inside, and the non-repairability (battery glued to monitor, RAM soldered to the motherboard, proprietary hard drive and screws, etc).
Last time I opened mine I saw 2 removable RAM, a standard 2.5" hard drive, removeable optical drive, cleanable fan and a real easy to follow DIY guide by apple online tongue.gif
Screws are standard stuff. Its just the Air/Retina models that are like that.
Macbooks are great if you want a good balanced laptop in terms of specs, battery life, screen, build quality and ergonomics. Just specs though look elsewhere.

My vote would be to a expensive laptop.
If your just light gaming its fine, you'll find the ability to actually do work such as Office, Web, CAD, Solidworks or even game anywhere you darn please a great thing compared to sitting in a lab or using a cheap laptop/tablet.
Edited by ivr56 - 12/2/12 at 12:50pm
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post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollingThunder View Post

YES! Absolutely. College is very different from high school and every campus has its own climate to it. What school are you going to and are you excited? College is a great experience and your first quarter will tell you a lot. Once you get through your second round of mid-terms/finals, get out a notepad and write down the pro's and con's of what a laptop, gaming desktop, gaming laptop would do for you. That's ultimately what led me to buying a MacBook Pro.
If you make a decision now before you even go to the school, it could go in the complete opposite direction of what you expected. You might find yourself really wanting to game at school lounges and the library, in which case the gaming laptop makes sense. On the other hand, you might find that you only game at home and a big gaming laptop makes commuting to class a pain in the butt because of how heavy it is. You might even discover that you love being active in clubs and organizations and you barely even game at all.
With Thunderbolt PCI-Express adapters hitting the market, I am going to build a Thunderbolt based eGPU with a GTX 660 Ti and that will give me all the gaming power I need at home and will still allow me the mobility that a laptop offers. Plus since it's an eGPU, I could easily pack the GPU enclosure and power supply in my backpack, take it with me to any lab and connect a lab monitor to my laptop. It's a weird option but it works.
The one exception to what I say about gaming laptops is if you get a Clevo based laptop that has the upgradeable GPU slot. Those have a lot of longevity to them and you can upgrade the GPU after a year or so, maybe even the processor and in a sense, it has a more expensive rendition of a desktop PC's upgrade eligibility.

The four universities I applied to are:

-University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
-Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
-Purdue University
-University of Iowa

I am very conscious of gaming in public places (such as libraries); it makes me nervous, especially when there are other people around. I can not imagine myself having the guts to play a game in the middle of a class that has dozens or hundreds of students in it.

Regarding upgrading a laptop, Intel seems to switch to a different CPU socket every one or two years lately. Tthey have a new LGA 1150 socket for Haswell and Broadwell, and the motherboards for Haswell may not be compatible for Broadwell because Broadwell will have the entire chipset under one package unlike Haswell's external chipset.

They also have plans of soldering the low-mid end desktop Broadwell CPUs to the motherboard. I'm fairly sure they would do the same to mobile CPUs.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by A Bad Day View Post

The four universities I applied to are:
-University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
-Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
-Purdue University
-University of Iowa
I am very conscious of gaming in public places (such as libraries); it makes me nervous, especially when there are other people around. I can not imagine myself having the guts to play a game in the middle of a class that has dozens or hundreds of students in it.
Regarding upgrading a laptop, Intel seems to switch to a different CPU socket every one or two years lately. Tthey have a new LGA 1150 socket for Haswell and Broadwell, and the motherboards for Haswell may not be compatible for Broadwell because Broadwell will have the entire chipset under one package unlike Haswell's external chipset.
They also have plans of soldering the low-mid end desktop Broadwell CPUs to the motherboard. I'm fairly sure they would do the same to mobile CPUs.

I know for a fact that Purdue and U of I will have a very well equipped lab in a lot of places and most definitely quad core work stations for their engineering school. This is especially true for Purdue. As far as gaming in public, if you're nervous about that, you've pretty much eliminated 75% of the reason you'd want a laptop that can game. You'll be in class and in public areas with students around probably 80% of the time that you're awake lol. With that being said, let's agree to keep the gaming at home yeah? Condition yourself to consider the desk to be your game playing area and the library to be your study hard area. I like to sit on the floor, be in a library or a study lounge when I crunch. I like my room to be my place of resting/relaxing and that's where gaming, movies, dance practice, dates and stuff like that goes down.

As far as laptop sockets, I wouldn't worry about that lol. I have a Dell XPS M1530 that I bought as my freshmen laptop. It had a Core 2 Duo E7500 or something, 3GB of DDR2 memory and a 250GB hard drive with an 8400M GS. Even now, I can find the T9500 on Ebay. There will always be a place where you can order the parts to upgrade your laptop and you could always research which models are upgradeable or not. If a laptop includes an MXM port, it can have an upgraded GPU and most likely processor. Nothing is hard soldered except maybe northbridge/southbridge and even Bluetooth and Wifi cards can be upgraded. My XPS M1530 doesn't have an MXM port, but its PCI-Express ports are all removable allowing me to upgrade WiFi, add bluetooth and the like.
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