Student laptop needed.

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1,906
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Canada
*always* business class laptops for university students. Avoid that consumer stuff (sold at big box retailers) like the plague. Dell Latitude, or Lenovo Thinkpad T480/490 is what I'd be looking at. If I was buying right now, I'd personally get a Dell E7470, an E-Dock (with the *blue* USB ports), and an external 4K display like the Dell U2718Q. Should be able to pick up the combo for USD$1000 or less if you shop through eBay or the refurbers (buy the display brand new, of course!). The dock will save the ports on the laptop. Throw in a 4G LTE card like a Sierra Wireless EM7355, and the laptop can be on a cell data plan for working "on the go". Should cost $40-$50 on eBay. As the others indicated, make sure you get a 1080p IPS screen. Avoid the Nvidia or ATI accelerators (they're not needed) -- just use the Intel embedded.
 
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116
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New York City
Originally Posted by pitzel
*always* business class laptops for university students. Avoid that consumer stuff (sold at big box retailers) like the plague. Dell Latitude, or Lenovo Thinkpad T480/490 is what I'd be looking at. If I was buying right now, I'd personally get a Dell E7470, an E-Dock (with the *blue* USB ports), and an external 4K display like the Dell U2718Q. Should be able to pick up the combo for USD$1000 or less if you shop through eBay or the refurbers (buy the display brand new, of course!). The dock will save the ports on the laptop. Throw in a 4G LTE card like a Sierra Wireless EM7355, and the laptop can be on a cell data plan for working "on the go". Should cost $40-$50 on eBay. As the others indicated, make sure you get a 1080p IPS screen. Avoid the Nvidia or ATI accelerators (they're not needed) -- just use the Intel embedded.
I was going to suggest this. Look for refurbished laptops on Amazon or Dell Outlet. You'll get a lot more with $400 buying refurbished than a new laptop. I'm using a refurbished Dell Latitude E7440 right now which I bought for $400 in September 2018. Other than some cosmetic marks, It works perfectly. Battery Life is great, The laptop is light and it came with a SSD. The whole system is quick and responsive. I graduated with a Computer Engineering Degree a few years ago, an i5 Processor should be more than suitable to run any EE related program.
 
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1,467
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Maryland USA
Originally Posted by skyactiv
Plus, do you really know if he can actually use a Chromebook for his studies?
NO to Chromebook. He will need to run some specialized software that the school provides, so your best bet would be WIndows 10. If you need Linux as well, then you can run something like VmWare Workstation and then Linux in a guest. You need a decent processor, a decent CPU, and a decent sized SSD (solid state disk) as the primary hard drive. The best overall performance boost will be a result of using a SSD instead of a traditional hard drive. Stick to the more popular brands that have good support: stay away from odd-ball brands that might cause obscure problems and waste your time. HP, Dell, Lenovo are fine. Acer is fine- there are plenty of other 1st and 2nd tier brands that will be fine.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
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Originally Posted by ecotourist
He's an engineering student. He should know (or be able to find out) what he needs. An engineering student should be good at that. Suggest a ballpark price, ask him to check the specs and come back with 2 - 4 proposals that would meet his needs. Then pick one based on your budget. Or even better, give him some money and let him pick his own. Either way he'll be responsible for his purchase.
Originally Posted by WagonWheel
Have him check with the EE department. If he had to do circuit layout using a CAD tool, having a dedicated graphics card would be useful.
+1. It's likely that the standard MS office S&W, as well as Matlab-simulink, PSpice, pscad, etc will be necessary. These programs are generally intended to be run on windows machines. Personally, I'd buy a 15" MacBook Pro, install w10 in boot camp, and then run windows when needed. That said, there's often expensive licensing and some higher end SW may not be available to install on a personal computer, versus available in a computer lab.
 
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6,102
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New England
Expect to spend $1000+ for a quality machine that will last fours of student life And powerful enough now to stay relevant. MacBook Pro is excellent however there are windows equivalents. Typically universities offer a couple choices and get the maker discounts(Apple and typically Dell) if buying out of sale.
 

Pew

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952
Location
Illinois
I have all of our engineers here run generic HP business-class laptops with windows 10 that typically run ~$800-1300 depending if there's a "sale" (some have desktops.) Basically a minimum of 16GB of RAM, at least a 4-core Intel i5, and 1080p screen. SSD is an absolute requirement, especially when working with huge CAD files. Btw, I've had issues with AutoDesk and Microstation products with laptops that switch between integrated and dedicated GPUs as well as issues with GPUs that are released for specific manufactures (think HP) We do have a monster $7000 PC for REViT and point-cloud work though.....
 
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MI
I rarely ever need a laptop since being out of college. I can do 99% of things I need on my iPhone. But yes he will need one for college. What I mean by this is any decent laptop will work fine for 4-5 years so don't feel the need to spend an arm and a leg. Unless he needs major hardware for EE school any decent laptop will work. Just my opinion. I'd agree with others to throw him the cash and let him choose. I'm sure he'll have friends he can ask.
 

irv

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2,137
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Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Thread starter
Sorry for the late reply, guys. Did some research and went out today to Best buy and was shown/recommended this one from a kid just removed from College/University. ASUS X512 FA -BH71-CB. It comes with 12 GB RAM, SSD and 17 85bsu or 5u and is a I-7. It is currently on sale for $899 CDN ($100 off until Thursday) Because I need to know, I showed my son and he likes it and he said it sounds good. https://www.91mobiles.com/asus-x512...-windows-10-laptop-price-in-india-134644 https://www.laptopdirect.co.za/laptop-specification-sheet.php?laptop=215869 Thoughts?
 
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15,893
Location
Silicon Valley
As a EE major he will likely do some software development (VHDL / Verilog are like software development too). I'd recommend at least a 15" screen, something with at least 8GB of ram with a slot for upgrade to 16GB eventually. An SSD of at least 240GB instead of mechanical hard drive, and 1920x1080 resolution at least. After all that, look for the longest battery life and longest warranty. You likely won't need the most horse power and he will likely do most of his software / hardware development work on a school computer he remote into, so CPU power is only for gaming, so are GPU power. After all those above requirement, look for an external monitor for his dorm room and external mouse / keyboard when he sits down. Just one thing: don't waste your money on a Mac, the software he will run is likely either Windows or Linux based, and Mac can't upgrade their RAM or SSD easily.
 
Messages
15,893
Location
Silicon Valley
Originally Posted by pitzel
*always* business class laptops for university students. Avoid that consumer stuff (sold at big box retailers) like the plague. Dell Latitude, or Lenovo Thinkpad T480/490 is what I'd be looking at. If I was buying right now, I'd personally get a Dell E7470, an E-Dock (with the *blue* USB ports), and an external 4K display like the Dell U2718Q. Should be able to pick up the combo for USD$1000 or less if you shop through eBay or the refurbers (buy the display brand new, of course!). The dock will save the ports on the laptop. Throw in a 4G LTE card like a Sierra Wireless EM7355, and the laptop can be on a cell data plan for working "on the go". Should cost $40-$50 on eBay. As the others indicated, make sure you get a 1080p IPS screen. Avoid the Nvidia or ATI accelerators (they're not needed) -- just use the Intel embedded.
No, absolutely no. You don't need a 4G LTE card in a university, that's a waste and the data plan for laptop is going to eat you alive (they know if you use your unlimited phone card for laptop and will shut you off). Wifi is everywhere in college. You also don't need a 4K display for school. I'm working and my job doesn't even provide that nor our circuit designer running Cadence, that's nonsense. We get 2 27" or 1 34" monitor of whatever resolution, that's it. There is absolutely no reason a student need more than people who work on this 9 hrs a day. Depends on what he runs he may or may not need the GPU accelerated stuff, but most school have servers that you remote into for high power stuff, and won't expect every student to spend $2k on a gaming laptop to do circuit work. Stay away from ebay or refurber, the warranty is important for a reason, and stay away from the dock, they die a lot more often than the laptop (USB-C one these days), he won't stay at his desk enough to make use of it. Most importantly: check if the department already has server that he log into for the heavy duty work, and see if he even need a powerful computer for that.
 
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Messages
15,893
Location
Silicon Valley
Originally Posted by irv
Sorry for the late reply, guys. Did some research and went out today to Best buy and was shown/recommended this one from a kid just removed from College/University. ASUS X512 FA -BH71-CB. It comes with 12 GB RAM, SSD and 17 85bsu or 5u and is a I-7. It is currently on sale for $899 CDN ($100 off until Thursday) Because I need to know, I showed my son and he likes it and he said it sounds good. https://www.91mobiles.com/asus-x512...-windows-10-laptop-price-in-india-134644 https://www.laptopdirect.co.za/laptop-specification-sheet.php?laptop=215869 Thoughts?
No to both. The 1st one only has 4GB of DDR, if you want to pick that you need to buy another 8GB right away to add to it. Why bother (unless it is a super good deal) The 2nd one has a SATA HDD (5400rpm), you should avoid HDD and go with SSD these days, putting an i7 on it is a waste of money because HDD will slow it down too much.
 

irv

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2,137
Location
Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Thread starter
Originally Posted by PandaBear
As a EE major he will likely do some software development (VHDL / Verilog are like software development too). I'd recommend at least a 15" screen, something with at least 8GB of ram with a slot for upgrade to 16GB eventually. An SSD of at least 240GB instead of mechanical hard drive, and 1920x1080 resolution at least. After all that, look for the longest battery life and longest warranty. You likely won't need the most horse power and he will likely do most of his software / hardware development work on a school computer he remote into, so CPU power is only for gaming, so are GPU power. After all those above requirement, look for an external monitor for his dorm room and external mouse / keyboard when he sits down. Just one thing: don't waste your money on a Mac, the software he will run is likely either Windows or Linux based, and Mac can't upgrade their RAM or SSD easily.
Those links were to just show the type of computer, not the one he is getting. The one I am interested in is 12 GB Ram which has the capability to go to 16. I am unsure the SSD capability/size, however but will keep this in mind tomorrow. This battery is supposed to last 4-6 hours depending on what your doing and what your settings are at? No dorm room as his college is very close to home but I'll ask about those things you mentioned to see if he is interested? My guess is he might only be interested in having a mouse? Thanks cheers
 

irv

Messages
2,137
Location
Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Thread starter
Originally Posted by PandaBear
Originally Posted by irv
Sorry for the late reply, guys. Did some research and went out today to Best buy and was shown/recommended this one from a kid just removed from College/University. ASUS X512 FA -BH71-CB. It comes with 12 GB RAM, SSD and 17 85bsu or 5u and is a I-7. It is currently on sale for $899 CDN ($100 off until Thursday) Because I need to know, I showed my son and he likes it and he said it sounds good. https://www.91mobiles.com/asus-x512...-windows-10-laptop-price-in-india-134644 https://www.laptopdirect.co.za/laptop-specification-sheet.php?laptop=215869 Thoughts?
No to both. The 1st one only has 4GB of DDR, if you want to pick that you need to buy another 8GB right away to add to it. Why bother (unless it is a super good deal) The 2nd one has a SATA HDD (5400rpm), you should avoid HDD and go with SSD these days, putting an i7 on it is a waste of money because HDD will slow it down too much.
Those links were just to show it and get an opinion. The info that I know, I already wrote down in the bold..
 
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4,120
Location
South Carolina
I think you will be fine with whatever you buy, we went through this years ago with my daughter. We didnt buy what the university was pushing, though I did get a her a robust Thinkpad which I bought direct from Lenovo at the time, still hundreds less then they were suggesting, actually think we did better anyway. It made it about 2 years before she broke it, then just replaced with a cheap one. Heck, in 3 years, the one you are buying now, will be outdated too. I5 or I7 is fine but the I7 is a bit of overkill, yes an SSD would be a nice option to have but not needed to do his college work, 8 or 12 of ram is fine. All the shopping you are doing won't make a difference if it gets dropped on the college campus sidewalk or falls off a desk. Been there, done that, again, not saying dont get something good, just dont get something too good. :o) Look at it this way, save a little money now if you want, then get him a nice new computer in two years, 2 computers for the price of one expensive one and the second computer will be two years newer with newer hardware to finish out college. I would be tempted to stay on more popular shopping sites, those are some pretty funky links you posted. Why not just the manufacturers website and possibly buy direct? Many times some well configured machines on manufacturers sites are good prices, or purchase from a well known website or physical store, just my opinion, since your trying to do the right thing, when buying direct you are less likely to get a dumbed down version of a model bought in Best Buy. More or less dumbed down so Best Buy can get their markup.
 
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irv

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2,137
Location
Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Thread starter
Originally Posted by alarmguy
I think you will be fine with whatever you buy, we went through this years ago with my daughter. We didnt buy what the university was pushing, though I did get a her a robust Thinkpad which I bought direct from Lenovo at the time, still hundreds less then they were suggesting, actually think we did better anyway. It made it about 2 years before she broke it, then just replaced with a cheap one. Heck, in 3 years, the one you are buying now, will be outdated too. I5 or I7 is fine but the I7 is a bit of overkill, yes an SSD would be a nice option to have but not needed to do his college work, 8 or 12 of ram is fine. All the shopping you are doing won't make a difference if it gets dropped on the college campus sidewalk or falls off a desk. Been there, done that, again, not saying dont get something good, just dont get something too good. :o) Look at it this way, save a little money now if you want, then get him a nice new computer in two years, 2 computers for the price of one expensive one and the second computer will be two years newer with newer hardware to finish out college. I would be tempted to stay on more popular shopping sites, those are some pretty funky links you posted. Why not just the manufacturers website and possibly buy direct? Many times some well configured machines on manufacturers sites are good prices, or purchase from a well known website or physical store, just my opinion, since your trying to do the right thing, when buying direct you are less likely to get a dumbed down version of a model bought in Best Buy. More or less dumbed down so Best Buy can get their markup.
I agree, Alarmguy, I think I am overthinking things here? I will more than likely go purchase this one shortly. I know salesmen work on commission/sales, but the kid I was dealing with seemed very knowledgeable and trustworthy and like I previously mentioned, steered me/helped me in the right direction. I showed my son and although he is not a !00% sure what he will need going forward, he believe this computer will be more than enough. I appreciate your feedback. cheers
 
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9,356
Location
Canuck living in California
IMO, but chaces are the laptop will break, or will get broken by your son. There is also a good chance it will get stolen. It is a school environment after all and all sorts of things may happen. So I would not get something expensive that's for sure. School work doesn't need fast hardware, just one that will run whatever they need. It's easy to get carried away and overspend. And thos suggesting a gaming laptop, well what do you think a young person will do with a gaming laptop? Play video games of course.
 
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Messages
4,120
Location
South Carolina
Originally Posted by irv
Originally Posted by alarmguy
I think you will be fine with ..
I agree, Alarmguy, I think I am overthinking things here? I will more than likely go purchase this one shortly. I know salesmen work on commission/sales, but the kid I was dealing with seemed very knowledgeable and trustworthy and like I previously mentioned, steered me/helped me in the right direction. I showed my son and although he is not a !00% sure what he will need going forward, he believe this computer will be more than enough. I appreciate your feedback. cheers
Yes, easy to overthink but better then under thinking. Please post your decision once you buy!
 

irv

Messages
2,137
Location
Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Thread starter
Originally Posted by KrisZ
IMO, but chaces are the laptop will break, or will get broken by your son. There is also a good chance it will get stolen. It is a school environment after all and all sorts of things may happen. So I would not get something expensive that's for sure. School work doesn't need fast hardware, just one that will run whatever they need. It's easy to get carried away and overspend. And thos suggesting a gaming laptop, well what do you think a young person will do with a gaming laptop? Play video games of course.
Originally Posted by alarmguy
Originally Posted by irv
Originally Posted by alarmguy
I think you will be fine with ..
I agree, Alarmguy, I think I am overthinking things here? I will more than likely go purchase this one shortly. I know salesmen work on commission/sales, but the kid I was dealing with seemed very knowledgeable and trustworthy and like I previously mentioned, steered me/helped me in the right direction. I showed my son and although he is not a !00% sure what he will need going forward, he believe this computer will be more than enough. I appreciate your feedback. cheers
Yes, easy to overthink but better then under thinking. Please post your decision once you buy!
I had already purchased the ASUS Vivobook I talked about earlier but last night, after seeing this one, I went and ordered it as well. When it comes in I will be exchanged the ASUS for this Acer. The Acer has another 4 MG of RAM, (16 total now) has a back lit keyboard, a supposed better screen and significantly longer battery life. Because the guy gave me $50 off the Asus because I signed up for the protection plan, I got the Acer for the exact same money. Thoughts on this one? I am hoping to have it by Christmas as they sold out the same day they went on sale but being Christmas and all, that might be wishful thinking? https://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/produc...u-512gb-ssd-16gb-ram-windows-10/13978137
 
Messages
9,356
Location
Canuck living in California
That Acer looks pretty good. USB-C, USB3.1, HDMI, Ethernet, so connectivity should not be a problem. Also, from the looks of it, it's quite easily serviceable. So battery change or SSD upgrade should not be a problem in the future.
 
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