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Old 2018-10-22, 01:07   #1
jvang
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Default Pluripotent Laptop for College Multithreading

I’m coming into the possession of a large amount of money soon, roughly $3000. What better thing to spend it on than a nice laptop that’ll easily last me through 4 years of college?

I plan on using whatever I buy for a while, so I’d like to buy quality stuff. I’m budgeting about $1500 on the laptop; for that price I can get an I-8750H processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a GTX 1070. That will run basically anything I ask of it, whether it’s the latest games or engineering CAD software. I’m not sure which brand to go with, since the specs across many of them are basically identical. The Microsoft store has an HP Omen laptop with these specs listed for ~$1550, and I get 10% off for being a student. This is a pretty good deal, but I don’t know anything about their build quality or customer support (I’m assuming okay?).

I hate touchpads, but I already have the best mouse in existence (the Logitech G502). No keyboard needed, but I do need headphones (my old Logitech G930 headset is literally falling apart, was not a good buy). I’ve done a ton of reasearch on headphones and determined that a “gaming” branded headset is not worth the money. Then I looked at studio-quality headphones, but there’s like 500 different ones to consider and I can’t try all of them. Then I went to the local Guitar Center and the $50 headphones weren’t much worse than the $200 ones (though less comfy). And if I were to get the expensive ones, I’d need an amplifier to overcome the high impedance. I have no idea what to get

From my research I think these are the things I’m looking for in a pair of headphones:

Wired
Comfortable and light (my head is abnormally large/wide, so a lot of headphones clamp on my head too tightly. And my ears are too big to fit into smaller ear cups )
Sturdy construction (no flimsy garbage plastic that most cheap gaming headsets are made of)
Slightly amplified on bass tones (not too enhanced, but my limited experience tells me that I prefer being able to hear more bass), but neutral on mid to high tones
Wide soundstage (means most closed back headphones are out of the question, but some are regarded as having pretty decent directional sound)
Preferably low impedance (and cheap by extension) so I won’t need an amp, though I have an amp in mind if I need one (the Creative Sound BlasterX E5, portable and Bluetooth enabled for on-the-go listening!)

Thanks for any advice you have!

Last fiddled with by jvang on 2018-10-22 at 01:11 Reason: typing is hard
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Old 2018-10-22, 05:44   #2
VBCurtis
 
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Laptops are wear items; if you take it to class a couple days a week and it's in your backpack for study use half the time it'll break, be damaged, or be stolen before 4 years is up. If I were in your spot, I'd spend ~$800 or so now, and be just fine with doing so again halfway through college. If you end up doing serious CAD or modeling work, you'll have the freedom to choose a desktop with that second $800!
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Old 2018-10-22, 09:30   #3
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I bought a gaming laptop a few years ago and do not recommend it. As VBCurtis says you're probably better off getting a midrange laptop and replacing it if necessary. Mine has a 970M which overheats when taxed, the battery is at 2/3 capacity and is not replaceable, it's built well and has a backlit keyboard but it's nothing special.

Think about when you're gaming, will it be 99% when you're at home? A desktop is just better for this use case. I made a parts list for a bang for buck gaming build as an example: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/MNB2TB
The highlights are a Ryzen 2600, RX 580, 2x8GB 3000 RAM, gold rated Corsair PSU, 256GB M.2 SSD and a freesync monitor for $830. It'll kick the crap out of what on paper is a better spec laptop because a laptop is screwed by thermals. Laptops with adequate cooling are unfortunately out of vogue.

For a daily driver laptop I think the most important thing is battery life and portability. I don't recommend a dGPU because they suck too much power and space, and while you could get away with using an intel iGPU it is a bit wimpy for anything other than light usage. An AMD 2500U quad core with Vega 8 iGPU is the right balance IMO. Thinkpad is always recommended online but I have no experience with them, regardless I configured a ThinkPad E585 on the Lenovo site with 2500u, 2x4GB RAM, 1080P screen and 128GB SSD for ~$680. If I were to get a new laptop tomorrow this would be it (if a dual battery Thinkpad was available in a Ryzen config I'd get that instead if the price was right).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvang View Post
...
I hate touchpads, but I already have the best mouse in existence (the Logitech G502).
...
I don't know, my G600 can give it a run for its money ;)


I don't understand expensive headphones, YMMV (judging by your post it obviously does) but I just buy whatever ~$30 over the ear headphones are recommended at the time.
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Old 2018-10-22, 11:04   #4
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You could also go for an Apple MacBook Air. Yes it is pricy for the specs, but it is light and should last a couple of years.
I'd always go for a desktop if you want to run demanding CAD / professional software, laptops are great for Office, but not much else.
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Old 2018-10-22, 12:53   #5
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A cheap $150 netbook would be great for college. They have a long battery life and they can run Linux. We have one running Debian and it works great!

https://www.pcmag.com/review/346334/...00-series-3162

Plus, it might be a good idea to focus on your studies rather than games. College is probably going to be a lot more challenging than high school.

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Old 2018-10-22, 13:46   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
A cheap $150 netbook would be great for college. They have a long battery life and they can run Linux. We have one running Debian and it works great!

https://www.pcmag.com/review/346334/...00-series-3162

Plus, it might be a good idea to focus on your studies rather than games. College is probably going to be a lot more challenging than high school.

And don't even think to try Prime95 on it...
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Old 2018-10-22, 14:54   #7
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For class I'd recommend a notebook. Like, an actual notebook -- it's easier to focus on class when you don't have the distraction of the Internet at your fingertips.

Then you can a very solid desktop for $800 and save $700 for a rainy day. You will need it, I promise you.
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Old 2018-10-22, 16:49   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRGreathouse View Post
For class I'd recommend a notebook. Like, an actual notebook -- it's easier to focus on class when you don't have the distraction of the Internet at your fingertips.

Then you can a very solid desktop for $800 and save $700 for a rainy day. You will need it, I promise you.
Seconded. That's very good advice, especially if you are going to be taking a lot of math/science classes. Ever tried typing equations or sketching graphs in real time at lecture pace?
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Old 2018-10-22, 17:34   #9
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While taking notes on a laptop is folly, nearly every lower division course at large universities has moved to online homework systems, and also electronic textbooks. A laptop or large-screen tablet is nearly a necessity to study with others or have textbooks available outside one's dorm.

Have a poke around webassign.net or mymathlab.com for examples (these are the two I use in my intro-level courses). Zyante.com is a nice web-native textbook firm, but many major publishers just include a PDF text linked within the homework system as an option to go paperless (and have zero used-book value after the term).
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Old 2018-10-22, 18:07   #10
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What ever you get, spend ~$100 for an external drive to backup the machine. Do so with regularity.
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Old 2018-10-22, 19:25   #11
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncwilly View Post
What ever you get, spend ~$100 for an external drive to backup the machine. Do so with regularity.
Agreed! Just to add, make sure there isn't "Seagate" anywhere on the retail box of the external drive!

And, if you really want to be paranoid (but resilient), buy two external drives and swap them monthly (keep the other at a physically distinct location; ideally in a safe). Also, "Cloud Backups" are a really good idea; even using GMail to send yourself important documents can be useful.

FWTW....
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