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Old 07-09-2009, 03:42 AM   #1
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Default College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

Well, I'm completely new to shopping for a laptop. I have no idea how any of the mobile cpus compare with desktop ones, so perusing newegg, I'm feeling pretty lost at the moment. Here's the low-down. I will be using this at college this fall. I'm bring my desktop (sig) with me, so I'm still debating on how powerful this lappy needs to be. But I do like to go big or go home so-to-speak. I'm the kind of person that says, "if I'm already going to spend $700 on just a decent laptop, then I might as well spend $1000 on a good one." This is my mentality right now, so my budget therefore, is $700-1000 (I have yet to check with my parents to see if they'll chip in or what their price point is). I will be using this for office/student type tasks while I'm out and about on campus and when I come back home to visit. I'll have my desktop for anything else.

Screen-size: I would prefer a 17", but I think I could get by with a 15.6". Resolution doesn't matter. I've always used 1024x768. Everything else is so small it makes my eyes hurt. I've maybe only used anything higher than that in a game, which I only do on my desktop and isn't a concert here. So resolution is basically not important at all.

Battery Life: I would rate this as very important, but not a deal breaker. It MUST get at least 2.5 hours, but I REALLY would like 3+ hours.

CPU: I would like 2.0GHz+. Preferably a C2D since I know that AMDs run quite hot. I would like peace of mind in the cooling dept. that all of my hard earned cash I'm spending on this isn't melting away into an endless pit of nothing. The only things that I think I have picked up are that the P series are 3MB cache models and the T series are 6MB. Either is fine; whatever gets better battery life, but I don't want to sacrifice performance.

RAM: Don't care. I can upgrade this myself. In fact, the less, the better. It'll probably make the lappy cheaper, and I can upgrade it myself for less. I would prefer DDR2 since DDR3 is still kind of pointless and that's probably out of my price point anyways. I assume they make DDR2-800 for lappies; but 667 would be acceptable.

HDD: Again, don't care. It'd be nice to have at least 100-200GB though. I would like to avoid upgrading this myself since I'd have to reinstall, but that wouldn't be a big deal, so assume that I can upgrade it. I would like a 7200rpm drive, since I've heard they can be faster than 5400s in booting and file management tasks. But, I can make do with a 5400.

GPU: I would REALLY REALLY REALLY like a dedicated card. Probably 512MB+. I have NO idea how any of the mobile GPUs stack up, but I know they aren't great compared to desktop GPUs. However, going dedicated would give me peace of mind. But, I am not willing to sacrifice battery life or heat for a GPU. I will be doing NO gaming on this lappy, but I do foresee some photo editing and that's my main reason. Also, I have noticed that a dedicated GPU keeps the resale value up just a bit, and that's always a plus.

OS: Vista 64bit of some kind to make use of the RAM. But, it doesn't need to have an OS (I know most all will though) cuz I can just get the vista/win7 combo then or whatnot.

Optical: Just needs to burn dvds. BluRay would be fine, but I'll probably never use it unless it's a burner...which they probably don't even make for laptops yet...plus the cost!

Wireless: I'd love it to have onboard wireless N built-in. But, if not, I have a USB wireless N adapter I can use...would be a pain, but do-able. I want to be able to take advantage of not only the quick campus connection, but my home's wireless N capabilities.

Ports: Number of USBs doesn't matter at all. I'll probably just be using my flash drive; maybe a mouse. DVI/HDMI out would be a plus, but not a must in any case. I can make do with VGA if necessary. Firewire is NOT needed at all. eSata is also not needed, but would be nice since my external HDD has eSata..not a big deal though as that is also USB.

Others: Keyboard does not have to have a num pad. I can buy one like that. (most don't have them anyways). Card reader would be fine, but not necessary.

Color: Dark. Black or charcoal. I do not want silver or while. This is a biggie for me. Glossy or flat doesn't matter, just dark. It tends to hide wear and marks better. I take great care of my stuff though.

Brands: I will NOT buy an Acer, MSI, Compaq (yes I know it's like a sister of HP) or, God forbid, a Dell. I, however, do trust Gateway, HP, and Sony. I'm iffy on Asus and Toshiba. I know you get what you pay for, so that's why I like these companies over the others. Please don't argue with that. Gateway would be my first choice followed by HP and Sony. I'm thinking Sony is probably out of the running, however, because they tend to run $200-250 higher in price for similar systems.


That's it I think.

I know how fast my parents' C2D E6400 machine I built runs, so as a marker, this lappy needs to equal or outperform that; which I think it will. Just start throwing in some suggestions. I'm open right now. Nothing is being purchased real soon. Maybe within the next month.

Thanks to all who read this book. No need to hurry. Oh, and personal experience suggestions are welcome. If you have a laptop, share what it is and let me know how you like it.
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

Hmm, really specific description you gave there. Here are my suggestions.

ThinkPad T500 w/ Discrete Graphics - ThinkPad notebooks are extremely durable and rugged. Like I mentioned before, everything is function over form for them. The design is extremely conservative, having dated back to the early 90's.

HP EliteBook 6930p Notebook PC - HP's business line of notebooks. Like the ThinkPad above, it's design is extremely rugged and durable.

I've selected business notebooks because of their excellent expandability. You'll have a bunch of battery options that can stretch battery life. If you didn't have that limit of around $1000, I would have also suggested the MacBook Pro. Mac OS is very efficient in terms of power management compared to Windows.
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:45 AM   #3
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

Thanks 01001010.

Windows is the requirement. I don't use Macs, and never plan to. I can do everything on a PC and more for cheaper. That's just how it is with me. I guess I should have added that to my long list haha.

I'm actually going into business (will be starting soon; not a true freshman since I have some college classes under my build and will be into my major soon), so that was a good thing. I'd say that I can probably surpass the $1000 mark if needed.

Those both look decent. I think the Lenovo came out with a better price/performance ration over the HP when I configured the ThinkPad setup. I had kind of forgot about Lenovo, but they are definitely fine with me so I'll keep them in mind when searching.

Right now, I'm just filtering through Newegg and doing builds on the different sites. I'll come back with anything new. I really would like a 17" screen, so I'm trying to keep that in mind when searching, though I know I'll sacrifice batt. life.
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:52 AM   #4
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

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Originally Posted by dude_56013 View Post
I really would like a 17" screen, so I'm trying to keep that in mind when searching, though I know I'll sacrifice batt. life.
Are you sure about this? I don't recommend a screen of that size for college, especially if you're going to be carrying the thing with you on a daily basis.
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

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Originally Posted by 01001010 View Post
Are you sure about this? I don't recommend a screen of that size for college, especially if you're going to be carrying the thing with you on a daily basis.
I just dislike squinting to see my work, that's all. However, I'm seeing now that most companies have 16"ers. I like that. I'm going to post screen shots of the builds that I've made that I'm personally satisfied with so others can let me know how they are. I'll get them up in a few min.

Okay. Yeah. The few minutes thing didn't work so well. Haha. I got into it and built so many of them that I had to reorganize myself haha. Anyways, this is what I came up with in the order that I think they should be. Best first. I will link you to the spec screenshot on each.

#1) Sony VGN-FW490
Best all around I feel. And with the bigger battery, it supposedly has a batt life that pretty darn long (I think the site said 6 hours possibly. I'm sure it won't be quite that long but even half that is good for me).

#2) Lenovo ThinkPad T500
Not very flashy. Which I don't like so much; I do like some style. However, I think it's a solid second. The DDR3 is pointless but...eh. And the graphics aren't so hot, but they are dedicated. I also get a 7200rpm drive, though it's only 160GB. It is the extended battery, and I think it said like 6 hours or so? Can't remember for sure. Slightly slower CPU.

#3) HP Dv7t
Okay. This is where some give and take came in. I think the screen probably is too large here. It still has a dedicated GPU. It also has more ram and a larger HDD. However, there was no larger battery option, but they did have a second battery for 30 bucks that I added. Battery life was not shown, but I've heard that HPs aren't so hot in this area.

#4) Lenovo ThinkPad R500
Slightly slower CPU. No dedicated GPU. It does have DDR3 whoopdeedoo. It does have the extended battery though.

#5) Sony VGN-CS390
Screen is probably too small for me. Haven't decided yet. No dedicated GPU. Pretty generic.

And these were NOT factored in this list, but I found these on NewEgg and they caught my eye. No particular order:
HP
HP
Asus (I'm not sure what to think about this and Asus in general...anyone?)

Comments? Thoughts?

Thanks guys!
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

I have used that think pad at school before, my college has about 20ish of them in a moble lab, an i can attest to there durability, as one kid stepped on it, he was probably 200 pounds lol
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dude_56013 View Post
I just dislike squinting to see my work, that's all. However, I'm seeing now that most companies have 16"ers. I like that. I'm going to post screen shots of the builds that I've made that I'm personally satisfied with so others can let me know how they are. I'll get them up in a few min.

Okay. Yeah. The few minutes thing didn't work so well. Haha. I got into it and built so many of them that I had to reorganize myself haha. Anyways, this is what I came up with in the order that I think they should be. Best first. I will link you to the spec screenshot on each.

#1) Sony VGN-FW490
Best all around I feel. And with the bigger battery, it supposedly has a batt life that pretty darn long (I think the site said 6 hours possibly. I'm sure it won't be quite that long but even half that is good for me).

#2) Lenovo ThinkPad T500
Not very flashy. Which I don't like so much; I do like some style. However, I think it's a solid second. The DDR3 is pointless but...eh. And the graphics aren't so hot, but they are dedicated. I also get a 7200rpm drive, though it's only 160GB. It is the extended battery, and I think it said like 6 hours or so? Can't remember for sure. Slightly slower CPU.
The first two you listed are fine choices. I would personally go with the ThinkPad simply because of durability, but I've had great luck with Sony Vaio notebooks in the past.

Quote:
#3) HP Dv7t
Okay. This is where some give and take came in. I think the screen probably is too large here. It still has a dedicated GPU. It also has more ram and a larger HDD. However, there was no larger battery option, but they did have a second battery for 30 bucks that I added. Battery life was not shown, but I've heard that HPs aren't so hot in this area.
This is a desktop replacement, and I don't suggest this for a college notebook.

Quote:
#4) Lenovo ThinkPad R500
Slightly slower CPU. No dedicated GPU. It does have DDR3 whoopdeedoo. It does have the extended battery though.
I don't suggest this notebook either, unless your budget is paramount. This is Lenovo's budget offering, so sacrifices are made in order to get that price point. It's still durable, but definitely not as robust as the other ThinkPads in the family.

I'm not going to comment on the rest of your lineup, but HP (consumer) and Asus don't exactly have the best reputation regarding battery life.
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

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The first two you listed are fine choices. I would personally go with the ThinkPad simply because of durability, but I've had great luck with Sony Vaio notebooks in the past.
Okay. I'm not sure yet what to choose. I really like the extra screen space of the Sony and it is a bit flashier. I have a friend who has a very nice Vaio (was probably 1500 bucks; she didn't buy it) but it's a 17" and she gets maybe an hour or an hour and a half of battery life. This is why any choice I had, I grabbed the bigger battery for my choices.

Quote:
This is a desktop replacement, and I don't suggest this for a college notebook.
Yeah. I want something good, but I have to keep reminding myself that I'll be taking my desktop and that this lappy is just for the times in between where I can't get to that. Thanks for being kind of stern and not giving in with me on the 17" stuff. I'd probably be stupid and buy one.

Quote:
I don't suggest this notebook either, unless your budget is paramount. This is Lenovo's budget offering, so sacrifices are made in order to get that price point. It's still durable, but definitely not as robust as the other ThinkPads in the family.
Yeah, I don't have a problem going over budget. It was just a number. I'll be buying this laptop to last at LEAST 2 years. I'd like it to last 3, but if not, no biggie. I'm sure at that time I can find someone local or even in my family who could use a good started movie.

Quote:
I'm not going to comment on the rest of your lineup, but HP (consumer) and Asus don't exactly have the best reputation regarding battery life.
This is also what I have heard. I think I'm going to stay away from Asus. They have such good performance (from what it looks like), but that does nothing if it can't keep a decent charge.

Thanks for all of your help 01001010. I really do appreciate it. I'll check back when I talk to my parents and make a decision!
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Old 07-09-2009, 06:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

If you are taking your desktop to college than why bother with a dedicated GPU. Play games on your desktop, and use your laptop for travel, unless you plan on gaming in class or something. :P

Once you get better GPUs on laptops the prices soar pretty high, and the ones with good GPUs that are reasonably okay for college are barebones from Asus, etc and look really ugly.

If you are looking for a large screen, and being reasonably good in games, and reasonably lightweight, you should look at the Dell Studio XPS 16. It looks quite nice, and for a somewhat slim laptop you get relatively good framerates in games. I can run Counterstrike Source with over 200 fps and Crysis at around 40fps on medium.

It seems to meet all your requirements, and its one of the nicer laptops I have come across, and Dell has some pretty good sales on them.

I haven`t really tested the battery life myself, but I see it going around 3 hours on my 6 cell battery.

I think its one of the better looking laptops out there, for windows at least.

Tell me what oyu think.
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Old 07-09-2009, 06:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: College-bound; Need to start looking for a laptop! Suggestions!

Quote:
If you are taking your desktop to college than why bother with a dedicated GPU. Play games on your desktop, and use your laptop for travel, unless you plan on gaming in class or something. :P
I know it was long, but did you read my first post? I'll be using it for photo editing. I'm not a person who's going to wait for Photoshop to respond while I'm using it. I want it to work and work well. I tend to work on large files often. I won't be gaming on it, as I mentioned.

Quote:
Once you get better GPUs on laptops the prices soar pretty high, and the ones with good GPUs that are reasonably okay for college are barebones from Asus, etc and look really ugly.
I realize this, and it's why I'm not shooting for any high end mobile GPU. The one in the Sony or Lenovo would work just fine.
Quote:
If you are looking for a large screen, and being reasonably good in games, and reasonably lightweight, you should look at the Dell Studio XPS 16. It looks quite nice, and for a somewhat slim laptop you get relatively good framerates in games. I can run Counterstrike Source with over 200 fps and Crysis at around 40fps on medium.

It seems to meet all your requirements, and its one of the nicer laptops I have come across, and Dell has some pretty good sales on them.

I haven`t really tested the battery life myself, but I see it going around 3 hours on my 6 cell battery.

I think its one of the better looking laptops out there, for windows at least
Maybe you missed that too, but I will NEVER buy a Dell. Ever. Period.

Quote:
Tell me what oyu think.
Thanks for the effort though. It was appreciated.
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