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Notebooks Looking for a good laptop for University

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by jason27131, 16 Aug 2010.

  1. jason27131

    jason27131 Lolzers

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    I have a budget of around 1500$ CAD, and I'm looking for a laptop that is between 13' and 15'. Any bigger and it won't be portable enough for university.

    It needs to have a good battery life (5 hours or more) since i'm going to be on the move a lot, and I can't guarantee power plugs in classes. On the other hand, it must have a decent graphic card, because I will be doing some light gaming on it, mostly starcraft 2, and some newer games on low if possible . If not, then starcraft 2 on low or medium should be enough.

    Judging from these requirements, I thought about the Nvidia Optimus technology, that lets you switch between a dedicated gpu and a Intel HD gpu, that way the battery last longer when not gaming.

    So far, the only laptop I have seen that meets these requirements is the ASUS U30JC-X3C. It's basically a U30JC-B1, cept it has a i5-450m @ 2.4 ghz instead of a i3 370m at 2.4 ghz. The i5 has turbo-boost, which I feel is important when i'm gaming, since higher frequency will help (boosts to 2.66 ghz).

    The battery lasts 7.5 hours or so, which is excellent battery life imo, the cpu is pretty good, and the gpu is decent for a portable laptop with good battery life.

    Specs:

    - i5-450m

    - Geforce GT 310m 512mb DDR3 switches to Intel HD 4500m when not gaming

    - 4GB DDR3 1066 mhz Ram

    - 1366 x 768 res, 13.3' screen

    -500 gb 5400 rpm HDD


    If you guys have any laptops you can recommand, please by all means, post haha. I'm open to any suggestion. Sorry for being in Canada haha.
     
  2. stonedsurd

    stonedsurd Is a cackling Yuletide Belgian

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    At the risk of being drawn and quartered, have you considered the 13 or 15-inch Macbook Pros?

    MASSIVE battery life, decent processors on the 15-inch variant and fairly decent for gaming. MS Office on Mac is awesome for notes. :D Also, since you're going to Univ, you might get fairly hefty discounts too - we get about 100 USD off them here, you could find out whether your discounts are comparable.
     
  3. jason27131

    jason27131 Lolzers

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    Yea I have. Unfortunately, both the 13' and the 15' are out of my budget even after the 100$ discount. Seriously, I think they're rather overpriced. The laptop I posted costs 1099$ before tax, and basically is the same as the 15' MBP short of a gpu that is maybe 5% slower, and the battery lasts 2.5 hours shorter.

    For that, I save 650$, which is a huge amount of money for a university student. Hell, for that money, I can add an extra 300$ and build myself a gaming pc instead lol.

    So for the above reason, I rather stick with a windows laptop instead. Sorry to disappoint.
     
    Last edited: 16 Aug 2010
  4. stonedsurd

    stonedsurd Is a cackling Yuletide Belgian

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    In that case, I think the one you've picked should do just fine.
     
  5. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    Have a look at Business machines...
    As a University student myself, I need high reliability, solid system, and like you require power and long battery life. If I drop my system it must survive, and long warranty is critical. Dell has has a dream come true. Their Latitude E series feature MINIMUM 3 year warranty AND 3 year next buisness day on site service. You CANNOT have less than that as a service.

    Meaning if anything breaks, a contracted technician from a firm, will come the NEXT business day the broken part at the time you want. This allows you to assures that the laptop works perfectly before the tech leaving, and that the work is done properly.
    If you go without the service, like any other laptop manufacture, you will need to ship your laptop, and wait 1 to 2 weeks without it.

    The laptop feature Core i series, available in both 14 and 15inch, feature a backbit keyboard (very useful, in my opinion), metal hinges, matte screen so that you can focus on your stuff and not at adjusting the laptop, LED backlit screen. The laptop also feature a thin 90W PSU making transportation easier and better (you can easily tool the wire with the PSU as well... details, but it's nice to have).

    I have the Latitude E6400, feature a Core 2 Duo P8400, I can play SC2, and may more games, and I can OC the Nvidia GPU like no tomorrow (for a laptop), and the laptop handles the extra heat very well. With a new 9-cell battery, I have about 9 hours of battery life.

    With the revision (E6410/E6510), due to the more powerful GPU and CPU (Core i series), you should have (my estimation) 6-7 hours of battery life with the 9-cell battery. Want more battery life? The laptop feature support for a second 9-cell slide battery that you add at the bottom of the laptop.

    Additional interesting features, is that with Dell Control Point and Windows 7, you can with Windows 7 power management, cut power on several devices such as optical drive, firewire, media card reader, and reduce the refresh rate of the display to 40Hz to save power. That is how I am able to get almost 9-hours of battery life with my laptop, with minimum brightness (it's really bright the screen thanks to the LED back light), idle, Vista/Win7 64-bit, and wireless turned ON. Also you have, Display port, VGA, 3 USB port, and eSATA/USB port (so 4 USB ports).

    Please note that you don't need to be a business to order from Dell Small Business. CALL to order as you can negotiate a VERY nice price. My laptop was ~2k$ Canadian, I paid ~1.6k, just by asking for a better price.

    Please remember, that all battery life of the laptop degrade fast!
    It starts with 5 hours and bang after a month or two you have 4 hours... it stabilizes somewhat, slowly degrade form there. After a year your battery is at 1 hour, and a year and half 30min.
    My laptop is a year and half (perfect condition), my laptop started with, as mention, almost 9 hours (8hours and 45min about), and now it's about 2 hours... I need to buy a new battery.

    The latitude E series feature a metal magnesium allow screen lid and base, feature 1 screw open FULL access laptop (you can change the motherboard, wireless card, bluetooth, memory, heatsink, optical drive (no screws for that).

    Oh and tech support for Small Business is local during business hours, and they are very nice.

    It's definitely worth a look. I love mine, as you can see.

    Latitude E6410 (14inch): http://www.dell.com/ca/business/p/latitude-e6410/pd
    Latitude E6510 (15inch): http://www.dell.com/ca/business/p/latitude-e6510/pd
    Fancy promo video of the latitude E series (showing the E4300 (13inch), I believe as it doesn't have the 1 panel at the bottom): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhHL1K2q7G0

    Full assembly and disassembly manual of the E6410 laptop (if you are interested to see the laptop insides): http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/late6410/en/SM/parts.htm


    So what's the downside?
    - Expensive.
    But if you consider the 3 year warranty, 3 year on site service, clean system (no junk.. just Windows, Roxio (easy to remove and you might want a burning software, CD is provided), and PowerDVD (easy to uninstall, CD is provided), with pre-activated OS disk by Microsoft (no image).
    Just be sure to call to order to negotiate if you are interested in it. Please note,. that just by calling you'll get free shipping, and sometimes free upgrade like 2 to 4 GB of RAM.
     
    Last edited: 16 Aug 2010
  6. docodine

    docodine killed a guy once

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    I saw the thread name and was about to post UL30 regardless of what you needed, but I guess you have it about right. :thumb:
     
  7. jason27131

    jason27131 Lolzers

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    haha. I think i'll stick with the U30 then. I have to say, i'm not happy with the

    * NVIDIA® NVS 3100M 512MB gDDR3

    It's the same as the GT310m, but with worse performance, so im going to slide on that.
     
  8. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    The GPU is the same. The performance should be identical. Probably older drivers were used. The only difference is that Quadro is supposed to be using higher end components so that it can endure more prologue hot environment... ( I can confirm this with my NVS 160M (Geforce 9400M but with 256MB of memory instead of using the RAM) for the NVS mobile series that is.
     
  9. Siberdine

    Siberdine Safety Not Guaranteed.

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    +1 on the Asus UL30JC , I've heard many good things about the Asus UL30 series. The UL30JC is meant to be a Macbook Pro competitor, and it does deliver, with Nvidia Optimus technology, and costing a couple hundred dollars less.
     
  10. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    The problem with Optimus technology is that it eats the system Bus. Only 1 thing can use the system bus at a time, and having the GPU dumping everything it renders to the Intel graphic memory. This results in a potential starvation problem of the RAM and CPU. It's nothing MAJOR, but will degrade performance in term of preventing maximum CPU performance, and memory bottleneck.

    In result, games that require CPU more than the GPU (ie: TF2), will provide you with poor performance against a game that is more GPU demanding than CPU (ie: Modern Warefare). So in result you will have this strange affect, that some games, with lower visuals MIGHT be choppy as hell, while more demanding game might be smooth. SC2 is a balance of the 2.
     
  11. jason27131

    jason27131 Lolzers

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    well, im not going to be doing any heavy gaming during university. If I am, i'll just bring my desktop lol. I'll just be playing some sc2, and mainly doing work on it.

    Sounds like the u30 is my best bet.
     
  12. pimonserry

    pimonserry sounds like a party.

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    I was in a very, VERY similar situation to you, and bought an Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG (pt no. 524G50Mn and/or LX.PSE02.009 for this spec) - i5-520m, 4GB DDR3, ATi 5650, 500GB hard drive, 14inch LED screen with 1366x768 res, 12-hour battery life with the extended battery (that it comes with).

    I don't think it's available out of Europe yet though, but I also looked at the Asus you mentioned, and it was a contender :thumb:
     
  13. Nomad2k3

    Nomad2k3 New Member

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    Also got one of these TimelineX 4820TG over an alienware m11x as I wanted a nice all round performer with a little gaming potential.

    I wasn't dissapointted with this little machine, was slightly more expensive than an stock M11x but a lot cheaper than a similarly upgraded one.
    But as pimonserry says im not sure if its available outside of EU atm, or if they have the same spec if it is.
    If you can get hold of one, you wont regret splashing the cash on it.

    Cost me £800
     
  14. chrome86

    chrome86 New Member

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    I'm facing almost EXACTLY the same dilemma.

    My requirements are:

    1) 13.3" screen
    2) i5-450M (preferably more)
    3) 4GB ram

    I'm going to be using the laptop mostly for music production so i guess it will get very CPU intensive. The ones I have shortlisted so far:

    A) Dell Vostro 3300: Bang for buck (sorry pounds). £640 altogether including the Nvidia Geforce™ 310M, 512MB card. Only a 320GB hard drive though.

    B) HP Probook 4320s: Heard lots of rumours about unreliability in a recent poll, they came last! http://computers.toptenreviews.com/laptops/laptop-reliability-survey-reveals-asus-is-best-and-hp-worst.html.

    C) ASUS U30Jc: Pretty much perfect, although i'm struggling to find one with anything above an i5-430M. What is the price and where can I get one in the UK? And an extended warranty?

    D) ASUS U33Jc: Almost the same as the above. Again, nothing above an i5-430M and no optical drive according to most sources. USB 3.0 available but seriously......what's the point right now? What is the price and where can I get one in the UK? And an extended warranty?



    I'm veering towards Dell right now simply because of the price and 3 year warranty. It looks at least £200 cheaper than the other 3 at the moment too.

    Any advice, alternatives or suggestions?
     
  15. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    If you order with Dell, CALL to order, as you can negotiate free upgrade, shipping and price, very easily. Doesn't work? Try again (you need to fall with someone who is not new)
     
  16. profqwerty

    profqwerty New Member

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  17. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    If you are going to buy a Lenovo, at least buy it from the manufacture where you get a proper REAL extended warranty, negotiate a price, and really customize it the way you want.

    I'll so be warned that not only the screen is glossy (real: I'll have a hard seeing the screen at max brightness and that will consume more power because of it), but also the palm rest, making like working on a giant mirror. Also, consider that ANYTHING will show (finger prints, palm hand grease, dust, and minor scratches).
     
  18. profqwerty

    profqwerty New Member

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    Ah ok that's good advice thanks. I haven't bought it yet...

    Just re-reading this thread, I'm quite liking that ASUS U30JC-X3C. Coming from canadacomputers it's $1050. How would you compare that to the ASUS K52JR-X4, I'm not sure what screen size I want a the moment, either a smaller laptop + external screen, or larger (and heavier) laptop.
     
    Last edited: 20 Aug 2010
  19. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

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    My biggest advice to anyone that is looking for a laptop... AVOID GLOSSY.
    I don't care what you get.. just not glossy. You WILL regret it.
     

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