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Unread 06-16-2017, 03:47 PM
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Laptop for Computer Science Major

I'm looking for a laptop for college for myself (the search has been very slow...) and, I figured I can rely on robotics people to give good advice. I'm going into computer science and, I'm looking for a laptop that I can program on and will be fast and efficient. I haven't been able to find a thread on something like this so I'm starting a new one.

EDIT: Budget: Preferably under $1250. I would be willing to go higher if needed. I'm not necessarily looking for cheap.

Here are my ideas for as far as specs go (feel free to give suggestions if you feel any of these are not needed):

16 GB Ram
Solid State Drive (Mostly because it'll be carried around a lot)
Quad Core Processor
14" or so screen
Windows 10 (required by school)
256 GB+ Hard Drive

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Links to laptops would also be great. Thank you!
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My FRC Recap so far...
2015 Regular Season (w/ 234) 1 District Chairman's (Indianapolis), 2 District Wins (Kokomo: 234, 135, 3865) (Purdue: 234, 1024, 2197),
1 DCMP Win (Indiana: 234, 1024, 292), and 1 Worlds (Archimedes: SF)
Offseason 2 Wins (CORI: 234, 2614, 3266) (CAGE: 234, 868, 2791?), IRI, and IndyRAGE

2016 Regular Season (w/ 234)
1 NC District (Guilford: QF), 2 IN Districts (Warren: QF) (Perry: QF), and 1 DCMP (Indiana: QF)
Offseason IRI, Boiler Bot Battle, CAGE, and IndyRAGE

2017 Regular Season (w/ 234) 2 District Wins (Tippecanoe: 234, 1018, 4926) (Perry: 1501, 234, 2197), 1 DCMP (Indiana: QF), and 1 Half-Worlds (Curie: QF)


Last edited by logank013 : 06-16-2017 at 04:08 PM.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 03:58 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Really depends on budget. For example this fits those specs but is very expensive.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:02 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

As a professional software engineer, I use a Dell Latitude E5570 at work. It's more than good enough to run my development environment, database, and a server. 16GB RAM with Windows 10, an i5-6300 CPU @ 2.40GHz. Solid State hard drives are awesome (seriously, machines feel a lot faster with them than with normal disks!), but are also a little pricey... they aren't really needed, either. Back when I was in school, I took a laptop with me to campus every day, and they didn't have SSD's back then. I didn't run into any issues with it, and you probably won't either. Manufacturers build in accelerometers to detect falls, and have the r/w heads dock for safety when not in active use, so it really is rare for you to have an issue with a laptop hard drive these days.

It's tough balancing portability so you can take it to class comfortably, with a large screen so you can use it easily. Look at weight, that's a big one if you're going to be hauling it around every day. And I would recommend getting a large monitor to go with it in your dorm room, along with external keyboard and mouse (wired or wireless, that's up to you). That will make use there a lot more comfortable!
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:03 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

If you're looking for cheap, used business-class laptops are pretty good.

My team has had good luck with the Dell Latitude E6510 (decommissioned and donated by one of our sponsors), which goes for around $150 on eBay, depending on which processor it has. With a RAM and hard drive upgrade, it would definitely work for your needs.

Last edited by FlamingSpork : 06-16-2017 at 04:05 PM. Reason: adding more information
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:03 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

I purchased this laptop back in January to not only handle SolidWorks, but basically anything else I could throw at it. It is refurbished but honestly other than the sticker on the bottom of it, you really cannot tell. Anything from the Dell Precision series will not disappoint. You can go new or refurbed on it but I wasn't willing to pay the $3000 or $4000 they were asking for on the Dell website.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:04 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

This only has 8 GB of ram but it's cheap. The flip side is it's refurbished. We just ordered 7 of them and had to return one of them.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:09 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Made an edit for price in the main post. Can't believe I forgot to include that. Thanks for the quick responses.

Budget: Preferably under $1250. I would be willing to go higher if needed. I'm not necessarily looking for cheap.
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My FRC Recap so far...
2015 Regular Season (w/ 234) 1 District Chairman's (Indianapolis), 2 District Wins (Kokomo: 234, 135, 3865) (Purdue: 234, 1024, 2197),
1 DCMP Win (Indiana: 234, 1024, 292), and 1 Worlds (Archimedes: SF)
Offseason 2 Wins (CORI: 234, 2614, 3266) (CAGE: 234, 868, 2791?), IRI, and IndyRAGE

2016 Regular Season (w/ 234)
1 NC District (Guilford: QF), 2 IN Districts (Warren: QF) (Perry: QF), and 1 DCMP (Indiana: QF)
Offseason IRI, Boiler Bot Battle, CAGE, and IndyRAGE

2017 Regular Season (w/ 234) 2 District Wins (Tippecanoe: 234, 1018, 4926) (Perry: 1501, 234, 2197), 1 DCMP (Indiana: QF), and 1 Half-Worlds (Curie: QF)

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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:19 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

My biggest recommendation is to try not to fall into the trap of buying the chunky, value oriented "land boat" laptops. Proccessors and SSDs are so fast these days that you don't really need the "best" specs for a seamless experience. Laptops are for portability, if you really need the utmost specs (and you don't for CS) buy a desktop and a thin and light laptop for carrying around.

My recommendation no matter the brand is to buy their "flagship" model. These laptops are usually only available in a couple of specs but this allows the manufacturer to focus on the overall package of the laptop and provide hardware that really works well together in a more integrated package. A higher level of integration usually allows the manufacturer to provide far better build quality and battery life compared to the "Best Buy generics". This is similar to the way most people buy smartphones today, not by detailed specs but the overall package.

Some examples include, Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1, LG gram, Lenovo Yoga, Macbook pro (with bootcamp), Surface Laptop, Dell XPS 13, HP X360, Razer Blade.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:28 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Thinkpads are always a good choice. The T470s and T470p as well as the X1 Carbon look great for what you need.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:30 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Quote:
Originally Posted by mman1506 View Post
My biggest recommendation is to try not to fall into the trap of buying the chunky, value oriented "land boat" laptops. Proccessors and SSDs are so fast these days that you don't really need the "best" specs for a seamless experience. Laptops are for portability, if you really need the utmost specs (and you don't for CS) buy a desktop and a thin and light laptop for carrying around.

My recommendation no matter the brand is to buy their "flagship" model. These laptops are usually only available in a couple of specs but this allows the manufacturer to focus on the overall package of the laptop and provide hardware that really works well together in a more integrated package. A higher level of integration usually allows the manufacturer to provide far better build quality and battery life compared to the "Best Buy generics". This is similar to the way most people buy smartphones today, not by detailed specs but the overall package.

Some examples include, Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1, LG gram, Lenovo Yoga, Macbook pro (with bootcamp), Surface Laptop, Dell XPS 13, HP X360, Razer Blade.
So, would you suggest lowering RAM expectations down to 12 GB? 8GB?
And for CS, would a fast dual core be ok (That's been my biggest struggle. I've found a lot of dual core laptops)? Or should I keep looking for quad cores? Thanks.
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My FRC Recap so far...
2015 Regular Season (w/ 234) 1 District Chairman's (Indianapolis), 2 District Wins (Kokomo: 234, 135, 3865) (Purdue: 234, 1024, 2197),
1 DCMP Win (Indiana: 234, 1024, 292), and 1 Worlds (Archimedes: SF)
Offseason 2 Wins (CORI: 234, 2614, 3266) (CAGE: 234, 868, 2791?), IRI, and IndyRAGE

2016 Regular Season (w/ 234)
1 NC District (Guilford: QF), 2 IN Districts (Warren: QF) (Perry: QF), and 1 DCMP (Indiana: QF)
Offseason IRI, Boiler Bot Battle, CAGE, and IndyRAGE

2017 Regular Season (w/ 234) 2 District Wins (Tippecanoe: 234, 1018, 4926) (Perry: 1501, 234, 2197), 1 DCMP (Indiana: QF), and 1 Half-Worlds (Curie: QF)

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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:42 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Quote:
Originally Posted by logank013 View Post
So, would you suggest lowering RAM expectations down to 12 GB? 8GB?
And for CS, would a fast dual core be ok (That's been my biggest struggle. I've found a lot of dual core laptops)? Or should I keep looking for quad cores? Thanks.
8GB and dual cores would be totally fine for programming. As we know from looking at AMD's processors more cores ≠ more better for the majority of uses, in fact for single threaded programs like Solidworks having fewer faster cores is beneficial.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:51 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

I would recommend go for 500GB hard drive instead of 256GB. If you are thinking of installing some big software (e.g. Inventor, SolidWorks, Eclipse, ... etc) and if you are going to keep this laptop for a few years, things got accumulated and HD space goes really fast.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 04:58 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Some other stuff to consider that I haven't seen in this thread that may make sense for your use case--

Spill resistant keyboards -- I lost about a $1k of value in college due to a badly-placed soda.

Style of mouse -- I'm partial to TrackPoints myself since I can type and move the mouse at the same time, but everyone's got their preference.

Do you like the keyboard? -- You're going to be typing on this thing a lot as a CS student, so you may want to window shop a bit to find one that feels right.

Will it survive a 4-5 ft drop?

I've enjoyed a variety of Lenovo machines for the last several years, and I have friends in the IT world who mostly use Macs and MS Surface/Surface Pro.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 05:00 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Computers like the Sager NP8174, the Sager NP6582, and other similar laptops might fit. As one suggested earlier, Lenovo Thinkpads are great for scenarios like yours. If you decide to go to the route of buying computers like Dell Latitudes or Thinkpads, or anything of the sort, try to buy them used from businesses. Businesses usually care well for the computer and you can get them for a fair, reasonable price.
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Unread 06-16-2017, 05:18 PM
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Re: Laptop for Computer Science Major

Dell Latitudes include a docking station connector on the bottom. You can dock and undock them very easily. Makes it easy to bring it with you, and have a full sized monitor & keyboard at your desk.

We have thousands of these Dell Latitudes work, very reliable.
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