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Choosing between 4 laptops ($1300-$1700)

  1. Jun 15, 2009 #1
    I copy and pasted this post from a thread I made in another forum. You could probably skip the "my thoughts" part. A poster from the other forum (XKCD forum) recommended that I look into the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834146513", as a smaller laptop is better for college. I am not a hardcore gamer, but I want a laptop that can handle anything an undergraduate would likely encounter (besides something like Crysis 3), along with movies and such. I will NOT get a desktop along with a laptop, although many say it's the best option.
    (Other laptop recommendations are welcome, these are just the "best" ones I've found)

    I am going off to college this fall, and I definitely need a new laptop. I'm currently using a very old Asus laptop (40GB hard drive and 256 MB RAM), and am currently looking at these three laptops (well, 4 really):

    MSI GT627-218US

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220483"

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220513"

    (Kind of): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220510"

    As I'll be carrying it around with me, I don't want a very heavy desktop replacement laptop. Other than that, I don't really have a hard upper limit in terms of expense, but my computing needs would likely not warrant a laptop that's over $2000. These particular laptops were the "best" that I've found on Newegg that are not too heavy. I have not paid attention to computer specifications in a few years now, so my knowledge is out of date concerning whether a processor is good or not. However, while I don't want a very heavy laptop (6.5 lb is pushing it), I also want a laptop that has a screensize that's bigger than 12 inches.

    I think my computing needs would not be very different from a typical undergrad's. I'm going into the hard sciences and engineering, and I would like to keep the laptop for all 4-5 years of undergrad if possible. I'll also likely do a lot of research, so I want a computer that can handle all undergraduate and some graduate level research needs.

    My thoughts on the MSI and the Asus G50VT-X6: They seem very similar to me. The Asus seems to have a slightly faster processor, but is bigger, heavier, has 512 MB less video memory (how much of a difference does that make?) and has a 6-cell battery while the MSI has a 9-cell battery. How big of a difference does the Asus's faster CPU make? I'm wondering whether the extra speed makes up for the bigger bulk and the lower battery life. Also, would the faster CPU drain the battery faster, further exasperating the difference between the 6-cell and the 9-cell battery?

    My thoughts on the Asus G50Vt-B1: It seems to me to be an upgrade of the G50CT-X6. It has a faster processor, twice the harddrive size and weighs the same. I think those are the only significant changes, but I am really behind on computer specs. The same weight and actually slightly smaller size makes me lean towards this rather than the other Asus, but I'm wondering whether the upgrades are worth the extra $400. What upgrades is worth $400 would be different for each person, but any opinions and advice are welcome. The battery life, once again, troubles me. One of the three reviews on Newegg states that the reviewer could only get about 60 minutes out of the battery. That would probably be very troublesome at college.

    My thoughts on the Asus N81: It seems to be the "best" one I've found that's not over $2000. It's lighter and slightly smaller than the other laptops, but its CPU and other hardware seem to be as good as the other laptops'.

    Thank you for your time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2009 #2

    cristo

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    Why not get a mac? You can get the 13 inch macbook pro which weighs 4.5 pounds, 2.53 processor blah blah, and a built in battery which lasts 7 hours for around $1500. Plus, you have an operating system that actually works!
     
  4. Jun 15, 2009 #3
    Well, I had briefly considered it. However, I've never used a Mac before, I'm not very computer savvy (although I'm working on that), it seems that it may be more of a hassle to get some programs/games working. How much of a learning curve is there for a person who's used PCs for all his life? Also, I suppose programming/very minor computer science stuff for a science/engineering major would not be hindered on a Macbook?
     
  5. Jun 15, 2009 #4

    cristo

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    It depends what sort of programs you need. I think most common programs you'll need for your undergraduate studies will also have a mac version. As for the learning curve, I wouldn't say it was very steep at all. I've used windows machines most of my life and found it pretty easy to take to apple. I think OSX is pretty simple to learn how to use, and it doesn't have the really annoying features of vista like the "Are you sure you want to do that" bubbles that flash up whenever you want to do anything! That said, windows 7 looks like it'll be better (mainly because a lot of the features are straight from apple), so if you can wait till october that might be an option. As for programming, I don't see it being a problem. After all, don't most programmers use linux machines? Apple is a lot closer to linux than windows.

    Still, it's up to you (obviously). Why not pop into an apple store and have a play on the machines?
     
  6. Jun 15, 2009 #5

    robphy

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    You might want to look into if your school/major seems to have a preference for one platform over the other.
     
  7. Jun 15, 2009 #6
    Because they are ridiculously overpriced and can't even be overclocked. And BTW, you can run OS X on PCs now if it suites your fancy. There was a thread that addressed this already so I won't go into any of it.

    You seem to be on the right track as what to look for and what to stay away from (lenovo). All the PCs on your list will probably be overkill for most applications except for maybe running CAD or light work in FEA programs. I've ran huge Matlab programs on a 1.4Ghz Pentium M cpu without many issues. Since your looking to keep your PC until graduate its probably worth spending a little extra so you wont need to much upgrading in the future.

    Asus PCs are nice and very well built but they are also on the heavy side and very bulky. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since this also makes them very durable and rugged (think original IBM thinkpad). I think a lot of this is due to them manufacturing their systems boards and VGA cards in their own factories so they have tight quality control. I've never been that impressed with their screens or keyboards but they are reliable machines and either one on your list will last you through your undergrad.

    MSI makes a good notebook with solid components but I've found their casing and sturdiness lacking. The ones I have seen aren't as well built as Asus machines but they usually come with nice screens and have the best performance per dollar ratio of all the other notebook manufacturers I have seen.

    I would also highly recommend you look at CyberPowerPC and Samsung also. Samsung makes more of a business class machine and tend to be more on the expensive side but worth the extra dough in my opinion. CyberpowerPC basically just resells MSI machines but with the components you choose and often for a cheaper price. They have first class ratings from all PC magazines and organizations and for good reason. I have never used one of their machines myself but the people that I know who have were more than satisfied with their purchase.

    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/

    FYI, that Asus N81 is discontinued.
     
  8. Jun 15, 2009 #7
    @Topher925: Thank you for your post. The N81 was recently discontinued, but Newegg's FAQ says that it could just be out of stock. Why do you think the Lenovo X200 is bad idea?

    I'll explore the Cyberpowerpc website and Samsung's notebooks.
     
  9. Jun 16, 2009 #8

    cristo

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    Yes, because you got shot down in that thread! As I stated above, the new line of macbook pros are quite reasonable, and seem perfectly suited to the needs of the OP. You talk about "overclocking" when the OP admits he is not computer savvy, and is wanting to purchase a laptop for school work. Why on earth would, then, would a discussion of overclocking be at all relevant? When you talk about things being "overpriced" you need to factor in all the relevant information. For example, how many PC manufacturers give you three years' free technical support?

    Far too often people look at technical questions like this from their own perspective, instead of trying to think what is best for the actual person asking the question. Your post is a fine example of this.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2009
  10. Jun 16, 2009 #9
    Thank you all for your replies. I've narrowed down my choices to the MSI, a Macbook, or the Lenovo X200. I'll try to find an Apple store nearby to give a macbook a try, but of course any further posts are very welcome.
     
  11. Jun 16, 2009 #10
    I'm sorry but we must be talking about different threads. In the one I am referring to clearly shows that for every macbook model there is a comparable or superior PC model for a much lower price.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=314862&page=2&highlight=macbook+laptop

    And most PC manufacturers only give you 1 year of technical support without charging extra. But even if you take the extended support plans they are still cheaper than a comparable mac. :smile:

    This is why I suggest an OCable PC. Because if 4 years down the road (if/when he is comp savvy) and he wants a 20% performance increase then he can have it.

    The reason I don't suggest Lenovo is because they use shotty components. The ones I have used are very solid and rugged (not to mention loud) but used parts like cheap generic RAM and hard drives of unknown origin.
     
  12. Jun 16, 2009 #11

    cristo

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    Well, unfortunately, that thread is now dated, since Apple have updated their line for the year.

    Support plans where you can stroll into a store and have someone take a look at your machine? Doubtful.

    Anyway, that's enough.. this is getting too far off topic.
     
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