So, I'll be going to grad school in condensed matter physics in a couple years, and since my current laptop is on it's last legs I'll need a new computer. However, I do still have a nice monitor which still works. As I see it, I have two options: 1. Get a new laptop, and hook it up to the monitor when I'm at home. 2. Build a desktop (already have a case), and buy a netbook to use in class/coffeeshops/etc. The main reason I like this option is that a desktop will last longer and be more upgradable (right?). Building one would also be kind of fun. My budget is about $1000 to $1200. I imagine I'll be using the computer mostly for web browsing, mathematica, python scripts and maybe a basic simulation here or there. However, I'm not 100% sure what my needs will be, so I was hoping that people who have gone to grad school in physics could give me advice on what I might need. Thanks in advance.