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Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

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  • Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

    I've narrowed down my search to the Asus N73SV-XE1 and the Asus U41JF-A1. I'd like to use it for gaming (maybe BF3 come November, Mass Effect, other games), engineering software, and typing out homework I guess. I could see myself carrying it around occasionally but not all the time.

    http://www.amazon.com/N53SV-XE1-15-6.../ref=de_a_smtd N73: It's big, but the Sandy Bridge is a big plus. Battery life isn't terrific at 4-5 hours max, but it could stay on the Intel HD3000 graphics for most applications. It's $80 more expensive than the U41, but that is also not a big deal. The 540m graphics are a good deal better than the 425m of the U41. I'm just not sure if I would enjoy carrying it around at 6.4 pounds.

    http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-U41JF-A1-...6593984&sr=8-1 U41: Seems great for being a portable laptop, but the i3 seems a little underpowered. It has incredible battery life at 8-9 hours maximum, but do I really need that much? The 425m graphics are almost as good as the 540m, but not quite. This laptop is a lot lighter at 4.4 pounds.

    What would you choose?

    |TG-Irr|Icarus893
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  • #2
    Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

    I would go for a desktop and a cheap laptop or netbook combination. I'm a grad student and this is what I in fact do. My suggestion is a cheap laptop, with a comfortable large keyboard and screen, over a netbook if you plan to do work on campus in the library or what not. A desktop that you build yourself will not only save you money but you'll have a superior gaming system to any affordable gaming laptop. Moreover, you can keep it updated with upgrades every few years. Since school work typically doesn't require any hardware geared toward gaming, there's no real need to bother keeping up with technology there. This saves money in the long run.

    As for the two in your links, it's unclear whether the second one has a powerful enough graphics card to run BF3. For instance the 425M card it has appears to run BFBC2 on medium settings with an average of 30fps, on a i7 based computer. Given that BF3 will undoubtedly be more demanding on your system than BFBC2, we can confidently say that performance won't be as good.

    As for the first one, you will hate carrying about 6.4lbs in addition to books, notebooks, and papers. While the 540M is better than the 425M it's really not that much better. You can run BFBC2 on medium with an average of about 40 fps, on an i7 based computer. Since upgrading laptop video cards is hard and usually not practically worth the effort and cost, it's not clear how long it will satisfy your hardware requirements for games. Perhaps in a year or a year and a half it won't be able to run any of the new games. Buying a new laptop every few years to keep up with gaming seems insane, unless you're loaded with cash.

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    • #3
      Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

      Thanks for the advice, but I'm not sure I'll have room in my dorm for a desktop. I also just saw a review for the acer timelineX 5830/4830 that has been updated with a sandy bridge i5 and that seems pretty nice though it's not out yet.

      |TG-Irr|Icarus893
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      • #4
        Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

        I haven't lived in a dorm in a while, but I'm absolutely sure you'll have room for a mid-tower under your desk and a flat screen on top. When I was dorming, flat panels weren't even common. I had a huge CRT monitor on my desk. The bigger worry would be whether transporting it from your home to school and back is feasible. If you plan getting to your school by car, then it won't be a problem. If you must take a plane or train or bus, then it's a lot tougher.

        That said, if you absolutely have to have a laptop, it's probably best to wait until just before you need it and look for the best one within your budget. Whatever the prices and models look like in August, it's quite likely to be better than how the laptop market looks now.

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        • #5
          Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

          Originally posted by Icarus View Post
          Thanks for the advice, but I'm not sure I'll have room in my dorm for a desktop.
          Most dorms are built/fixed nowadays assuming people have computers. If you're still unsure, scour your university's website--they should have pictures available and if nothing else, contact housing and ask for some pictures and measurements of the provided desks.

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          • #6
            Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

            So you don't really like either of the ones in my original post?

            |TG-Irr|Icarus893
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            • #7
              Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

              I personally think Sordavie's desktop+laptop combo is generally the best way to go. Additionally, if they claim 4-5 hours of battery life, expect it to be closer to 2-3 hours. Outlets can be at a premium in older lecture halls and my life was way easier having a 15 hour battery life for taking notes.

              I wouldn't really worry about high performance for engineering programs. You'll want a sufficient processor (but you don't need the CRUSHINATOR-OVERCLOCKMONSTER-DOUBLEXWHARGARBL model) and a decent amount of RAM. But honestly? If you can do some work on the laptop and transfer it to the desktop for the workhorse parts, you'll be fine.

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              • #8
                Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                They're fine enough. The more powerful CPU will be better for engineering software. But school related programs aren't what's pushing your budget up. The question is how much gaming, in particular in terms of future games, do you expect to get in to? If it's a lot, then a laptop is just not cost effective. If you don't care about that, then either one looks fine depending on what you care about. My guess is you might be able to find some better ones in that price range if you look around a bit more. The 5400 rpm hard drives will slow you down.

                For instance, if you're willing to spend $100 more: http://www.sagernotebook.com/index.p...el_name=NP5165

                The 555M might future proof you a little bit more. For instance it runs BFBC2 on medium settings at an average of 55 fps on a core i7 system on a 1080p screen (unlike the above systems benchmarked on 1366 x 768 resolutions. A large difference!) And the 1080p screen will be much nicer to do work and watch movies on. Plus USB 3.0 and eSATA ports are nice.

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                • #9
                  Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                  @Flarfignuggen The 4-5 hours was a claim by an outside source (notebookcheck) not by Asus themselves. I don't think I'll be hauling the laptop off to class much anyway, instead using good oldfashioned pencil and paper, though I probably would take it to the library to work on group projects and homework.

                  @sordavie My thinking is that this community tends to hold onto games for a while (seriously 2142 has been going 2007 and is just now going down) and if I could get a laptop to run BF3 even on low or Red Orchestra 2 I should be set in terms of gaming. Just an assumption.

                  |TG-Irr|Icarus893
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                  • #10
                    Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                    Originally posted by Icarus View Post
                    @Flarfignuggen The 4-5 hours was a claim by an outside source (notebookcheck) not by Asus themselves. I don't think I'll be hauling the laptop off to class much anyway, instead using good oldfashioned pencil and paper, though I probably would take it to the library to work on group projects and homework.

                    @sordavie My thinking is that this community tends to hold onto games for a while (seriously 2142 has been going 2007 and is just now going down) and if I could get a laptop to run BF3 even on low or Red Orchestra 2 I should be set in terms of gaming. Just an assumption.
                    My suggestion would be the Sager notebook I linked above over the two you posted. It will be a much nicer experience at a cost of only ~10% more. You're getting a much nicer screen, a more powerful graphics card, faster hard drive, and better port selection. It's also slightly lighter than the first ASUS you linked. Of course if you have a little more budget, you can choose some of their upgrades.

                    Sager notebook is an OEM. They make notebooks for other companies, and their gaming laptops are highly regarded.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                      In general, I find that any laptop bigger than 14" is something you end up rarely carrying around with you and therefore loses a lot of it's benefit of being a portable machine. Also, if you buy something with only decent laptop graphics, you may not enjoy the experience of playing games on it very much. For a college student constantly on the move, I would recommend looking for something slightly smaller with better battery life. CPU performance shouldn't be a concern because any Sandy Bridge laptop will be fast enough. Any reason why you can't birng your current desktop pc?
                      "Looking for brahs to come fight crime with me" - Unload



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                      • #12
                        Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                        Well my current desktop is an 6 year old absolute POS that has a hard time with 2142 and would be inadequate to run any top type of modern engineering software, let alone games with its single core Pentium 4 processor. So I guess there's that. I'll keep looking for my ideal solution.

                        |TG-Irr|Icarus893
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                        • #13
                          Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                          For the money you are considering for a new laptop, which you admittedly wont carry around much, you could upgrade your current desktop to a quad-core (or dual-core)that is essentially a year old technology at half price. AND it will be a hundred times better than any laptop you could find, well maybe not a hundred.

                          Dont worry about the lack of room in door rooms, you learn to stack valuables (including beds) and discard non essentials. There is usually two desks in a room, it is not a massive CEO desk, but it will hold a keyboard and monitor. Like Sordavie, I had CRT monitors in my youth, 2 16" on my desk, and I swear they took up more room than the 2 24" flat screens I have now do. AND you can get a BIG (er) monitor that will double as a TV.

                          I also would like to advise not to get a laptop if you dont plan on carrying it with you at all times (like some people carry them like a life boat), nor have plans of using it to take notes. Now if you think may want to take notes on a notebook and then transfer it when you get back to your workstation, that is another discussion.

                          I want to apologize to any laptop fans up front, as I dont want to come across as one of those who wont use laptops, or think they are useless. On the contrary of what I am about to say, since I own a ridiculous laptop, to impress clients, that lives in its water-tight case, and only gets used otherwise to play Minecraft when the workstation is busy...

                          I just dont think that laptops are efficient for real daily work load, even with the millions of people who do use them daily. They are great for novice users who dont want to learn anything about computers, they work well for internet browsing, email, finances and word processing, but not for any processing or real work. A tower can be better in every aspect, except that they do require care and love, and replacement parts and upgrades. I too started with a single core, 1.7 with 512 RAM that was cutting edge at one time.
                          theeANGELofDEATH(Steam/Origin)
                          E Pluribus Unum
                          Sarcasm is just another free service I offer
                          Si vis pacem, para bellum .. Molon Labe

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                          • #14
                            Re: Can you guys help me choose a college laptop?

                            Desktop might be an option...
                            Just came across this gem here
                            http://www.amazon.com/Acer-AS5552G-7...6191075&sr=8-1

                            |TG-Irr|Icarus893
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