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Looking for a new laptop

  1. Dec 20, 2012 #1

    I am searching for a new laptop to purchase for next semester. I am using a notebook right now, and it is painful to go on the internet to watch youtube videos because it loads so slowly, and going from webpage to webpage is just as awful.

    I am an engineering student, so I am looking for a laptop that will run whatever engineering programs I will be using soon (MATLAB and others) as well as browsing the internet while going fast.

    I do not need a high power gaming machine, I have no intentions of playing the latest and greatest computer games on the market, just something that meets the above criteria.

    Also, price is important, as long as it is affordable (maybe $500 range?). Is windows 8 worth having, I had no problems with windows 7, but I think all the new stuff you buy will have windows 8, anyone like/dislike windows 8?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2012 #2


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    What are you using MATLAB for? In many cases, you might need a powerful computer to run your programs since it is an interpreted language.

    A good graphics card can be used for parallel computing for some problems. As can multiple cores. Depending on the size of data you're playing with, lots of RAM can be necessary too.

    So a good gaming computer will also be a good computational computer... Depending on your tasks.
  4. Dec 20, 2012 #3


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    As a personal anecdote: I spent 1500 on my laptop computer and it handles most basic tasks, but I need my work computer (16 GB, 8 cores) for when I run large simulations (we're talking 200 dimensional PDEs) if I want them to finish in a reasonable time.

    So I basically just use my medium powered laptop for prototyping.
  5. Dec 21, 2012 #4
    I'm not sure what I'm going to exactly do with MATLAB, but I know that when I transfer it is used for engineering classes, so I figured I better have something that can handle it.
  6. Dec 21, 2012 #5
    Exactly, although for most jobs you wouldn't need the most powerful graphics card on the market and AMD's new GCN architecture has an edge over Nvidia Cuda for computation and bang-for-your-buck. For almost any job then an i5, at least 8gb ram, and a modest AMD 7000 or 8000 series video card should suffice.
  7. Dec 21, 2012 #6
    Are you sure you aren't overestimating? My desktop has 4 GB RAM (got it maybe 3 years ago) and it has worked perfectly for me for all my old gaming needs. Let alone a laptop with 8 GB ram
  8. Dec 21, 2012 #7


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    4GB is what my prototyping laptop has. And 2 cores at ~3 GHz each.
  9. Dec 21, 2012 #8
    This laptop isn't for gaming and for certain tasks having 8 or more gigs is indispensable for saving time. It's basically a bandwidth issue and adding memory is a lot cheaper than upgrading the cpu or gpu to something better. However, I would add that this is the most extreme laptop I can imagine an ordinary student needing short of adding an i7 which has hyperthreading and is excellent for scientific calculations. The more explicit you can be about your requirements the better people can estimate what specifications you need in a laptop. Likely you won't even need the kind of grunt my suggested build can provide. Personally, I'd rather have a cheap laptop and a good desktop that I can upgrade. Building your own desktop is 1/3-1/2 the cost and you can save a lot more over time.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  10. Dec 21, 2012 #9
    Well, I would say what is good for what an ordinary student would want. I just know I'll be programming for my engineering classes in the future, so I want something that won't take forever to load and run programs such as MATLAB.

    Also I want it so that it doesn't take forever to load webpages and buffering time for youtube videos, since I use my laptop to watch khanacademy or other similar sites and I hate waiting forever for the video to actually load with my horrible notebook.

    My desktop would be suitable, but I plan on moving to college and I don't want to take my desktop with me to school, it is too much a pain, so I resort to a laptop.
  11. Dec 21, 2012 #10


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    Asus has a fine series of i7 laptops. Just Google them and see what might suit you.

    Good luck with your choice.
  12. Dec 21, 2012 #11
    It's too much to ask without knowing your price range. Seriously, if you simply give people a reasonable price range they can make suggestions.
  13. Dec 21, 2012 #12
    I said somewhere in the $500 range in my original post. I'm sorry, I haven't done any computer shopping in around 3 years, so I am unaware of what is considered ''good RAM'' and all the other specifications, since I haven't researched at all, and I know that computing power changes so rapidly that 3 years of not paying attention to the market makes me basically clueless. That's why I came to this forum to ask people who have kept up on this sort of thing.

    Is $500 not reasonable for a laptop? I mean...I got my desktop for $900 and it has served me well for the past 3 years, so I figured laptops must cost less than a desktop, and with the improvements in technology since then, laptops would have near the same power as a desktop 3 years ago.
  14. Dec 21, 2012 #13


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    Laptops are generally 150-200% more expensive. It takes critical designing and product specialization to pack stuff that tightly.
  15. Dec 21, 2012 #14
    Laptops are great if you don't mind spending the extra money, but for five hundred bucks you are not going to get a great laptop. Somewhere around $750.oo+ is a good laptop these days. The same is true for desktops where around that price point it becomes worthwhile to build your own and save.
  16. Dec 22, 2012 #15
    to put things in perspective, i brought a new laptop this summer with an i5 (2.6 GHz) 6 Gb RAM and AMD 7600 graphics card for around 1400$. But this was in Denmark were the prices generally are around 15% higher than in America.
  17. Dec 22, 2012 #16
    Exactly, an i5 is not the best Intel has on the market and a 7600 graphics card is a low end gaming card, but the cost increases with portability. Next year's Haswell and other advances could bring the bang-for-your-buck down significantly in a short time. We'll have to wait and see what the competition is like.
  18. Dec 24, 2012 #17
    Acer Aspire V3-571G-6407
    Detail Specs,
    2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 3210M (With TurboCORE Technology up to 3.1GHz
    4GB DDR3 RAM
    500GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
    15.6-Inch Screen (1366×768)
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M with 1GB of dedicated DDR3 VRAM
    1 – USB 3.0 Ports, 2- USB 2.0 Ports, 1- HDMI™ Port
    Windows 8
    4.5 hours Battery Life
    How about this one?
  19. Dec 24, 2012 #18
    The price about $500
  20. Dec 24, 2012 #19
    For more details , look at here, hope it's useful info for your option
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