Go Back   Hardware Canucks > HARDWARE > Mobile Computing

    
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old August 5, 2010, 07:50 PM
Rookie
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 9
Default Another "I need a laptop for university" thread.

Well I need a laptop for university. I have been looking around and I guess I should go the relatively portable, but still quite powerful route. A gaming laptop would have been nice, but most of them have very low battery lives, so I gave up on that idea. I suppose the first and most important question that would be asked, is "what is your budget?". I asked my dad (the provider of budget) that question and he replied, "Get a laptop that has what you need, worry about price later". Clearly, my father does not understand the mind of an enthusiast. So, this is what I "need" (more like want) in a laptop:

CPU- I would love an i7, but at least an i5.

Memory-At least 4 Gigs.

Hardrive- This is tricky, An SSD would be lovely, but they are really expensive, so I don't mind a standard 7200 RPM hard drive,but if it comes with a standard hard drive, it would be nice if it could be upgraded with an SSD later on.

Video Card- A beast like a 5870 or a GTX 480 would take too much battery life, or fry my legs, but I would like a dedicated video card. I need a card that can decode HD movies, and play some games at relatively decent frames.

Build Quality- I don't like broken things, so nice build quality would be nice.

Keyboard- I don't want a bad mouse, but a bad one might be forgivable because I might just use an external mouse, but a bad keyboard is not forgivable. I don't want to lug around an external keyboard.

Battery Life- I don't really know what qualifies as good battery life (very little laptop experience), but I guess something like a minimum of 4 hours would be nice ( more is always better:P)

Weight- I would prefer something below 6 pounds, just a little over is probably okay, but something below 5 pounds would be very nice.

Screen- Smaller than 16 inches, but bigger than 13 should be good. As for resolution, something with 1080p (1920x1080) would be very nice, but I would want at least 1600x900.

These are the laptops I have thus far considered:

HP
I normally don't like HP, their laptops feel cheap, and they get very hot, but Engadget gave the Envy 14 a great review, and in general it seems to be a good laptop. For some reason, the HP canada website, doesn't let you customize it, could someone figure out why.

Lenovo
I was under the impression that Thinkpad's were really stable and sturdy, even though this is true, I don't know if the price premium is worth it. They do charge a lot extra for the same specs, and my biggest grip is the lack of good resolution displays. (I mostly looked at the X and T series thus far).

Sony
People seem to have mixed opinion's of Sony's laptop lineup. There are some people who claim that the "small" price premium is well worth it, and then there are others who hate Sony for their warranty or build quality. All I know is, on paper the Vaio Z series looks quite sexy, it is quite expensive, but damn, it's thin, light, could be powered by an i7 620 and it has great battery life. Oh, and that 13 inch screen supports 1080p, yikes. I probably won't go for it, because it seems a bit to expensive, but can anyone testify to whether this is a product worth the money, or is it just there for overly rich nubnuts.

Toshiba
Back in my younger days, I used to think that there would be a good chance, I would buy a Toshiba laptop.
After visiting their website, to me it looks like their high end laptops are way over priced for weak specs (many of them still use the Core 2 lineup), but I have seen people recommend Toshiba quite often on this site. Am, I missing something, is their website not updated or something?

Acer
I haven't really looked into Acer, I was told that their laptops break really easily, and don't last long at all. If anyone knows an Acer that isn't a cheap piece of plastic, please do tell.

Dell
I used to hate Dell for their desktop practices, but well I thought that their desktop practices of restricted customization shouldn't apply to laptops (cause laptops can't be customized much anyway). I went to their website and came away impressed with two of their lineups. How is the Dell Lattitude series? It looks pricy, but it's light, and it comes with some powerful specs, my only grip is the lack of a good dedicated video card and there seems to be no information on battery life. The other Dell I really liked was the Studio XPS 16. It's a tad bit heavy, and it has a slightly low battery life, but it's specs seem really good, Can anyone verify the quality and overall awesomness of the XPS 16. As for Alienware, the M11 has a screen that's a bit small for my liking, and I have don't know about the battery life/weight of the M15.

Asus
Ahh, Asus. Hardware Canucks seems to be a site with a good deal of Asus fanboys, so I am expecting a lot of recommendations. On the Asus side of things, I am probably interested in the N61 or perhaps N51 series. The U30/33 seemed appealing at first, but it seems a bit thick and heavy for being an ultraportable. The N71 looks pretty damn awesome, why couldn't the N61 have those looks. Similar to lenovo, I dislike the screens Asus uses, low rez and from what I have been reading they don't provide a very good viewing angle.

So, I think those vendors are the main contenders, please do give me advise, if there is a laptop that I missed that has good specs without being a total battery hog, then please do tell. I, thank you in advance for any advise that you give Oh, and I'm sorry for the long read.

edit-Whoopsie, mistake on the resolution bit.

Last edited by Zergy; August 5, 2010 at 10:29 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old August 5, 2010, 08:32 PM
Hall Of Fame
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 3,344
Default

Asus is good, but.. the lower end models that have an i3/i5 processor, only have stock 720p screens, personally I much rather have at least a 900p screen, resolutions are much better.

Since you asked, I'll give my opinions, I have a Latitude E6510, very solid notebook, sturdy and sleek, I am definitely impressed, at first sight for price/performance ratio it looks expensive, but.. if you look at the build quality, and keep in mind that it comes with a 3yr warranty, it's totally worth it.

If it wasn't for the screen resolution, I would even settle for their Vostro series, you can't customize as much, but hey.. pretty good business class notebook.

Lenovo, I've seen some reviews on the Ideapads, I think they are cheap.. plastic stuff.. the Thinkpads is what you want, period. Look on red flag deals for lenovo coupon codes, and their forums, they have a thread too, you can save up a chunk of money.

I actually used up one of those coupons on Lenovo's site, and then called up Dell, and emailed them the quote and matched it for just a few dollars, 2 digit numbers infact..

Most laptops come with 720p screen nowadays, like a standard really.. with that said, apart from Dell.. Asus and Sony get my vote, Sony's new E and F series laptops I've seen some very very good reviews, but Asus tops out because of their 2 yrs warranty out of the box, with one year being accidental coverage.. do look at Asus K42/52F and JR series, very good entry level laptops.
__________________
Intel E8400, Biostar TPower i45
G-Skill PC2-8500 4GB, Saphire HD4870 512mb
Cooler Master HAF 932, Enermax Galaxy DXX 1000W
Samsung 931BW 19" LCD, Logitech MX Revolution
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old August 5, 2010, 09:02 PM
JD's Avatar
JD JD is offline
Moderator
F@H
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 6,951

My System Specs

Default

I don't know about you, but I sacrificed gaming performance for long battery life and light-weight when I bought my laptop a 2 years ago. I ended up with the Dell XPS m1330 with a T8100, Intel graphics, 4GB of RAM, LED backlit and 9-cell battery. Comes in under 5lbs I'd say, and fits nicely in backpacks. Not too big, not too small, and light enough that you don't bust your back while carrying books and stuff as well. I can run it for close to 8 hours of light usage (Web/Word/Solitaire), though since the battery is getting old now, I think I'm down to more 6-7h. Still other than the days where I have classes from 8:30 to 6:20, I don't need a charger.

Plugging in your laptop wherever you go is a pain IMO. That's what you'll end up doing if you get a powerful graphics card. Depending on your school, power outlets may be hard to find or everyone else will be using them.

Admittedly I don't use my laptop for note taking in class, rather as a distraction. Same goes for 99% of others in my class with laptops. Odd person here and there might actually be taking some notes on it. So I can see why you'd want a decent graphics card to play games on.

I saw that Engadget review of the Envy 14 as well, and now I'm tempted to buy one. Looks like an amazing laptop, great specs, and you can get an extended battery for it too. Should get up around 6 hours of web browsing I'd say. Solid aluminum chassis too (that's why I bought my XPS because it's solid magnesium alloy or something).

And HDD wise, go with the cheapest option that's provided. Buy your own SSD (OCZ Vertex 2 is my suggestion) and put it in yourself. Grab a cheap 2.5" HDD enclosure as well to put the old laptop drive in. This way you now have an external drive to keep music, pictures, documents, etc on that don't need to be on the SSD and you can buy say a 60GB SSD rather than a 120GB SSD.
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old August 5, 2010, 10:28 PM
Rookie
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 9
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by miggs78 View Post
Asus is good, but.. the lower end models that have an i3/i5 processor, only have stock 720p screens, personally I much rather have at least a 900p screen, resolutions are much better.

Most laptops come with 720p screen nowadays, like a standard really.. with that said, apart from Dell.. Asus and Sony get my vote, Sony's new E and F series laptops I've seen some very very good reviews, but Asus tops out because of their 2 yrs warranty out of the box, with one year being accidental coverage.. do look at Asus K42/52F and JR series, very good entry level laptops.
Ahh, woops, I keep getting mixed up. For some reason I was mis associating 720p with the 1600x900 resolution. So, yeah I don't want that 1300x720 or whatever resolution, I wan't the 1600x900 one, my bad, thanks for pointing that out.
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old August 6, 2010, 07:39 AM
Herne's Avatar
Top Prospect
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 84
Default

Doesn't solve your laptop question, but rather like the Toshiba dynalink I bought my wife. First docking station I have not disliked. With solid monitors being so cheap now, I found it opened the range of screens I was willing to look at buying the laptop.
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old August 6, 2010, 12:36 PM
Rookie
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 9
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herne View Post
Doesn't solve your laptop question, but rather like the Toshiba dynalink I bought my wife. First docking station I have not disliked. With solid monitors being so cheap now, I found it opened the range of screens I was willing to look at buying the laptop.
hmm, are you referring to the Toshiba dynadoc accessory? I looked at it, it seems pretty good, if i buy an external keyboard, mouse and monitor, i might get that, it seems quite convenient.
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old August 6, 2010, 06:25 PM
Mena's Avatar
MVP
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Hanover, Ontario
Posts: 480
Default

HP is good depending on the model
Dell is junk
Acer is good.....just charger issues
Toshiba....decent but flimsy
Asus...not recommended.
__________________
I am watching you.

For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.

When a ladder was stolen from a store the manager said that further steps would be taken
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old August 7, 2010, 06:55 AM
Herne's Avatar
Top Prospect
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 84
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zergy View Post
hmm, are you referring to the Toshiba dynadoc accessory? I looked at it, it seems pretty good, if i buy an external keyboard, mouse and monitor, i might get that, it seems quite convenient.
Sorry, yeah. Memory slipped there. Reasonible price if you get it delivered from the States.
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old August 7, 2010, 07:37 AM
BigDogg's Avatar
Top Prospect
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Kitchener/Waterloo
Posts: 187

My System Specs

Default

I personally usually end up going for Dell when looking for a laptop. The ability to customize and the pricing usually beat out most of the competitors. I just ordered a XPS16 for my GF waiting for it to arrive (Aug 18th). I have bought 5 laptops from Dell, 4 Inspiron models and 1 Latittude (really nice laptop). The Inspirons are all nearing 4 years old and run great still (work laptops). That is why I choose the XPS16 and because you can customize the colour (GF's decision not mine). We order Lenovo Thinkpads at work since the build quality is pretty high and they are decently priced (compared to other business line laptops).

If I was buying for myself I would look at Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and possibly HP (the Envy). I would avoid Acer based on my personal experience. Find what met my specs and was the best price and then go with that. Check our RedFlagDeals.com for some good Lenovo coupons. I think there is a 35% off any $1,5000 or more thinkpad.

This is ripped from RedFlagDeals.com (Coupons Code: CAPREDFLAGDEALS35)

$997.10 Elite ThinkPad T410 with discrete graphics
  • Intel Core i7-620M Processor (2.66GHz 3MBL3 1066MHz) (manually selected)
  • 14.1" WXGA+ LED w/WW Ant
  • Windows 7 Pro
  • nVidia NVS3100M Graphics 256MB
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM (manually selected)
  • 320GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400 rpm
  • DVDRW
  • 9-cell Battery (manually selected)
  • ThinkPad b/g/n

$990.60 Enhanced ThinkPad X201 with integrated graphics
  • Intel Core i5-540M Processor
  • Windows 7 Pro
  • 12.1 WXGA LED 2x2 WWAN Camera
  • Intel 5700MHD
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM (manually selected)
  • 500GB 7200RPM HD (manually selected)
  • 6-cell Battery
  • Bluetooth
  • 5-1 Media Card Reader & Modem
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200

$1000.35 Elite ThinkPad T510 with discrete graphics
  • Intel Core i5-540M Processor (2.53GHz, 3MB L3, 1066MHz)
  • 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 aspect 95% colour gamut Anti-Glare display with LED backlight and WWAN antenna (manually selected)
  • Windows 7 Pro
  • NVIDIA NVS3100M graphics with 512MB DDR3 Memory
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 320GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400 rpm
  • DVDRW
  • 6-cell Battery
  • Intel WiFi Link 1000

$1009.35 Elite ThinkPad T510 with discrete graphics
  • Intel Core i7-620M Processor (2.66GHz, 4MB L3, 1066MHz) (manually selected)
  • 15.6" HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 aspect Anti-Glare display with LED backlight and WWAN antenna
  • Windows 7 Pro
  • NVIDIA NVS3100M graphics with 512MB DDR3 Memory
  • 4 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1067MHz SODIMM Memory (2 DIMM) (manually selected)
  • 500GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm (manually selected)
  • DVDRW
  • 9 cell 2.8Ah Li-Ion Battery - Dual Mode (manually selected)
  • Integrated Bluetooth PAN 2 (manually selected)
  • Intel WiFi Link 1000

Last edited by BigDogg; August 7, 2010 at 07:44 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old August 7, 2010, 10:45 AM
Hall Of Fame
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Calgary, AB
Posts: 3,344
Default

I didn't want to list the coupons from RFD, but that is what I was talking about.. Thx BigDogg..

Now usually I would take the T510 quote, u could configure, add it to cart and add the coupon code, and then email it yourself. Then call Dell business, and ask them if they can match this quote, as most of know that Thinkpad is a direct competitor to Latitude series. Also with Dell business ur speaking to someone in Ontario, and not India.. phew..
__________________
Intel E8400, Biostar TPower i45
G-Skill PC2-8500 4GB, Saphire HD4870 512mb
Cooler Master HAF 932, Enermax Galaxy DXX 1000W
Samsung 931BW 19" LCD, Logitech MX Revolution
Reply With Quote
Reply


Tags
laptop , performance , portable , university

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"budget" gaming laptop b1lk1 Mobile Computing 16 February 14, 2010 09:08 PM
donimo's "forget e2180's, e6750's are where it's at" thread donimo Overclocking, Tweaking and Benchmarking 33 January 21, 2008 10:55 PM
Comment thread for the "Asrock 4CoreDual-VSTA" review sswilson CPU's and Motherboards 16 December 18, 2007 09:04 PM
Super Fast SLI Laptop "Orca 9100" Babrbarossa Press Releases & Tech News 5 April 6, 2007 12:01 AM