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College Laptop Questions


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#1 Raydanator

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 08:05 PM

Hi, I have a question about buying a laptop...which I know you're probably all sick of hearing, but I would like some advice on specific parts, and their importance in general, if you wouldn't mind, or are bored and looking for somewhere to practice typing or something ;)

I am a junior in high school, and will be going to college not this fall, but next...meaning 2009. I am wondering if I should buy a laptop at the end of the summer, after saving up money, or if I should wait until the last possible time because of prices, and because once the laptop is bought, the technology may not last as long.

If I do get a laptop at the end of this summer, 2008, I am debating between a Dell, and a Gateway. Here are the Dell stats I picked out:
Jet Black

Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T7250 (2.0GHz/800Mhz FSB/2MB cache)

Genuine Windows Vista ® Home Premium Edition

High Resolution, glossy widescreen 15.4 inch display (1440x900)

Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100

4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz

Size: 250GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)

CD / DVD Writer (DVD+/-RW Drive)

Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Mini-Card

Dell Wireless 355 Bluetooth Internal (2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate)

Integrated 2.0M Pixel Webcam

56Whr Lithium Ion Battery (6 cell)

ExpressCard Sound Blaster X-Fi® Xtreme Audio Sound Card

It's a pretty smoking looking machine to me, and the total price after everything (meaning Office Suite, Tax, etc. ) is $1,344.07

That is a ton of money for me, but I'm pretty sure I can work hard and get that much saved up...convincing my parents I should spend 1400 dollars on a laptop, however might be a different issue...and I haven't quite convinced myself either.

The Gateway I am looking at is here:http://www.gateway.com/systems/product/529667913.php

The only reason I'm really considering this Gateway is because it comes with a dedicated 256 video card. And this brings me to my question-is it worth it to pay more for a video card, and if so should I save up and get an Nvidia? Dell also offers Nvidia graphics, but it would probably be one to two hundred dollars more, and it is a 17 inch screen instead of a 15.4 in.

I'm a semi-techie guy, and have tried out Linux a little bit, but for the most part, I would probably use this laptop for school kinds of things. (Word documents, maybe some computer classes, Possible photo editing, if I do some photography etc.), and am thinking that practically any machine would get me by. I don't want to be a preppy, look at me, I spent so much money on my laptop, spoiled kid, but I want to have a good machine, and all these parts add up quickly!

My other question is about processors. Is it worth is to spend $100 more to get a 2.0GHz/800Mhz or save my money and get a 1.83GHz/667Mhz or even less. I'm leaning towards getting the 1.83 because I don't think I need the absolute greatest or anything like that. I just want a good laptop that will last me for a long time as technology changes and everything. Also, is the Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Mini-Card good? I've heard somewhere that Linux users may need a different card or something. I'm not too worried about it, but if anyone knows offhand that would be great. Anyways, thank you for all your help, and for bearing with me on this long post...I know its not the most interesting, but I'm a little shady about how much I need to spend. I mean, I could probably take that same laptop and get it somewhere closer to $1000, which might be better. In the long run though, I'm thinking its better to get at least the core things, like processor and maybe RAM etc. in decent shape for the years to come. Anyways, thanks again for all the help!

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#2 Sterling14

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 09:46 PM

If your not playing any games or doing video editing, you shouldn't really need a good graphics card.

Also for the processor, I don't think you could even tell that big of a difference between those two processors. I don't think it is worth the 100$ for that small of an upgrade.

You probably wouldn't need 4gb of ram. 2gb should probably be plenty, but if you are doing many many things at once , more ram never hurts. I have 2gb of ram and I can play the latest games out while listening to music and talk to my friends on a microphone using xfire.

If your getting it just for college, you should wait another year because newer better technology will be out and things will be cheaper. Then again, you probably want a laptop now to mess around with, and of course high school papers.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

#3 garmanma

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:03 AM

Check with the college that you'll be attending. They might have a student discount program to purchase a computer and/or software that you'll need. Check the manufacturer's website for student discounts, also. An important thing to consider when buying a laptop is battery life between charging. I would even consider buying a spare battery and swapping them out regularly. Another thing you might want to carry around in the old backpack is an extra laptop hard drive in a portable USB enclosure for extra storage. Remember that laptops aren't bullet-proof. Take caution not to bump the power cord connection to the power jack at the rear of the computer. These have a tendency to become damaged. Dell also offers models with removable video cards. I'm pretty sure most do now.

Edited by garmanma, 03 May 2008 - 08:04 AM.

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#4 jgweed

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:36 AM

I would certainly wait until the summer before you matriculate to look for laptops. As with everything related to computers, the technology changes and lappies get better and better in many hardware-related aspects. Others have also suggested that your school may have recommendations and discounts on laptops that may help defray some expence.
Cheers,
John
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