# Going to school next year: need a laptop

I know this is such a vague question, but I really just want some ideas for a new laptop for school next year. I'm looking more at the average price range, but if theres a more advanced product that looks like it would be worth the dough, I might think about it. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Dr Transport
Gold Member
Dell has a decent selection. I bought a laptop from R-cubed ( www.shoprcubed.com ) which is dual booted for Linux & Windows which was not too expensive.

robphy
Homework Helper
Gold Member
What kinds of things do you need it to do?

What is it that you want it to do? Do you want Macintosh or Windows? Most people probably don't want Linux. If you're going to be doing graphic design or video work, or word processing, or programming there's different specifications in hardware and then software you'll want.

What is it that you want it to do? Do you want Macintosh or Windows? Most people probably don't want Linux. If you're going to be doing graphic design or video work, or word processing, or programming there's different specifications in hardware and then software you'll want.
I'm only a Chemical engineering major, so I will be taking the intro programming courses, but nothing too advanced. I've used windows all of my life, but I'm willing to try a mac. I guess I'm a pretty simple guy..I don't need anything too advanced.

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Your choices are astronomical so your best bet would be to follow the previously posted links. I will give one suggestion though, stay away from laptops with AMD processors. I've seen and worked on too many of them to be able to recommend one. The problem is that they always tend to run hotter than Intels.

Now, I will say this, if you never plan to have the laptop resting on top of your bed or any situation where the airflow will be restricted, AMD may be an option. AMDs are perfectly fine for standard home PC systems because the larger cases allow larger cooling methods... which keeps the high temps at bay. You could enable such things at CPU throttling, but why limit the CPUs available power when the alternative can perform at full speed without the need for throttling or any other handicaps.

Then again, that just MO.

Dell has a decent selection. I bought a laptop from R-cubed ( www.shoprcubed.com ) which is dual booted for Linux & Windows which was not too expensive.
I do not like Dell at all. They have cusom versions for device drivers that they do not update as much as the original vendor does. And they make sure only their custom drivers can be applied. Furthemore they preinstall your PC with crapware that is hard to uninstall, there are even people who wrote special programs to get rid of it.

MeJennifer's comment may be true.

However, I dont know of any warranty serivce that is as good as Dell's. Their after sales service is really good. I have an inspiron 9400 laptop which my brother accedently dropped on my tiles. It refused to even switch on!! The Dell rep. came to my house, took the laptop, replaced the mother board, power source n cooling systems and returned with the laptop 5days later without even asking me how it happend. He checked all the hardware, even replaced the lcd cover.

give me one company that does that without any fuss ...
Thats the reason why I buy dell ... by the way this is dell australia, I dont know about other countries.

robphy
Homework Helper
Gold Member
You might like to check out the TabletPC, as I described here in an old entry to the PF blog:
https://www.physicsforums.com/blog/2006/05/20/tabletpcs-for-science-and-science-teaching/ [Broken]

(I currently use both a Dell laptop [for writing papers and doing computations while I travel] and an old Fujitsu slate-TabletPC [for taking notes, doing derivations, and lecturing]. I anticipate my next portable will be a convertible-TabletPC [hopefully with XP-TabletPC rather than Vista].)

Check out this subset of notebookreview.com: http://www.tabletpcreview.com/,
as well as http://www.gottabemobile.com/ [which isn't listed in the PF blog entry].

Many companies have an "accident protection" plan, which I took advantage of when I got my first Gateway/Motion slate.

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If cost isn't a major problem, a new MacBook or MacBook Pro combines the best of all features. They use Intel processors, standard memory and hard drives- you can install Windows XP or Vista and split-partition the drive. The advantage to this is if you are on the internet, you don't have to worry about viruses and worms on the Mac partition. But, if you need Windows programs or have any compatibility issues, you can boot into the Windows partition.
I've been using this MacBook Pro for over a year with the dual-partition setup and have had NO problems at all. (hope I didn't just jinx myself)...

mgb_phys
Homework Helper
What you do need is
Light - you have to carry this around all day.
Cheap - it will be lost / damaged / stolen within 3years, looking cheap helps with this.
Decent battery life - you probably don't have power at each seat in a lecture.

I would seriously look at an EEEPC.
You don't need a lot of horsepower - if you have to do modelling lab classes there will be lab PCs, all you need is something to browse the web, send email and write essays.

Check the dell outlet - the machines tend to come with 3years next day on site warranties.

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
If you're planning to buy it for school (do you mean you're starting college and need a laptop for college?), I'd hold off and see if the school you're going to attend has an particular requirements. For example, all of our med students are required to buy the same laptops for classes (on one hand I see the need to standardize what they have since they use them for exams and other course material we provide online that we want to be sure will work for them, on the other hand, if I was in their shoes, I'd want to strangle the IT department for the model they're forced to buy...it might be small and portable, but it's so teeny tiny that they look very uncomfortable to type on). So, you might be required to get a specific model, or you might have courses that are going to require you use software that you'll want to be sure your laptop will run.

If you're planning to buy it for school (do you mean you're starting college and need a laptop for college?), I'd hold off and see if the school you're going to attend has an particular requirements. For example, all of our med students are required to buy the same laptops for classes (on one hand I see the need to standardize what they have since they use them for exams and other course material we provide online that we want to be sure will work for them, on the other hand, if I was in their shoes, I'd want to strangle the IT department for the model they're forced to buy...it might be small and portable, but it's so teeny tiny that they look very uncomfortable to type on). So, you might be required to get a specific model, or you might have courses that are going to require you use software that you'll want to be sure your laptop will run.

Thanks Moonbear, and yes, I'm starting undergrad next fall. I didn't realize that certain schools did that, and I will definetly check out my schools website for more info on that. I suppose I should hold off anyways, because I just recently found out that my school's bookstore gives discounts to students who buy laptops there(and they would probably carry the recommended or required product if there is one).

CRGreathouse
Homework Helper
I suppose I should hold off anyways, because I just recently found out that my school's bookstore gives discounts to students who buy laptops there(and they would probably carry the recommended or required product if there is one).

I would be cautious about that. I know at least one school that sells 'discounted' computers to students/faculty/staff that are actually more expensive than the comparable model on the market...

mgb_phys
Homework Helper
Yes - there is very little margin on hardware to offer discounts with.
The campus shop may be able to sell cheap educational licences for Windows but they aren't going to get the parts as cheaply as Dell.

CRGreathouse
Homework Helper
Good point on educational discounts. That can be substantial for Windows, Office, Mathmatica, and such.

here is a tip DO NOT get an Alien Ware computer. i got one and have had nothing but problems. there award wining tech support is crap. i spent hours on the phone with them not getting anywhere. i sent the computer back to get fixed it came back in worse condition than when i originally sent it. don't be fooled by cool looks and BS claims of good customer support.

here is a tip DO NOT get an Alien Ware computer. i got one and have had nothing but problems. there award wining tech support is crap. i spent hours on the phone with them not getting anywhere. i sent the computer back to get fixed it came back in worse condition than when i originally sent it. don't be fooled by cool looks and BS claims of good customer support.

Haha, damn as bad as you say these things are, they look sweet.

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I have a Compaq, I like it. I need it for pretty mcuh everything I do, and because the memory was good enough, I was able to get my CAD program on here too :) I would suggest to go to a computer store near you to find any good sales, that is, if your school doesn't have a specific one you need. I paid about $300, and it came with the everything I need, and then some, lol. You will want to make sure it will have enough memory to store alot of things too, plus have a few jump drives to be safe. here is a tip DO NOT get an Alien Ware computer. i got one and have had nothing but problems. there award wining tech support is crap. i spent hours on the phone with them not getting anywhere. i sent the computer back to get fixed it came back in worse condition than when i originally sent it. don't be fooled by cool looks and BS claims of good customer support. Actually, after doing a little searching(googling) I found that Dell actually now owns Alienware, so that many of the issues with customer support may be alleviated slightly. I have a Compaq, I like it. I need it for pretty mcuh everything I do, and because the memory was good enough, I was able to get my CAD program on here too :) I would suggest to go to a computer store near you to find any good sales, that is, if your school doesn't have a specific one you need. I paid about$300, and it came with the everything I need, and then some, lol. You will want to make sure it will have enough memory to store alot of things too, plus have a few jump drives to be safe.
It's good to see that you're not having issues with your Compaq. It seems Compaq might be one of the cheapest brand I could buy. I'll be sure to look into it.

I'd advise against getting an Alienware for a school app anyway. They tend to be more power-user oriented and the prices are usually in the upper register.

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I would be cautious about that. I know at least one school that sells 'discounted' computers to students/faculty/staff that are actually more expensive than the comparable model on the market...

Usually the best deals aren't through the bookstore, but through the educational stores on the various websites, at least for hardware. For software, sometimes you can get MUCH better deals through a bookstore, but keep in mind you may not be getting the full software, but whatever they've licensed for distribution to the students. It pays to shop around anyway...get the bookstore price and then see what you can get if you buy it somewhere else.

you may try acer..
cheap.. but not realiable

you may try acer..
cheap.. but not realiable

Acers are Poor Quality Computers. go to Best buy and test them out, there flimsy and made from cheep plastic. i had a friend that had one, the thing got so hot it melted the case.

Acers are Poor Quality Computers. go to Best buy and test them out, there flimsy and made from cheep plastic. i had a friend that had one, the thing got so hot it melted the case.

I have to agree with you on Acers quality... and i'll be willing to bet your friends laptop had an AMD cpu.