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Best Laptop for Computer Science Major?

WizuhdWizuhd Posts: 1Registered User New Member
edited June 2011 in College Computers
I'm going into the Computer Science: Computer Game Design major and I was wondering what the best laptop to get would be. I don't know what kind of resources are provided so I'm not sure how much I should spend. Any advice?
Post edited by Wizuhd on

Replies to: Best Laptop for Computer Science Major?

  • DoinksDoinks Posts: 126Registered User Junior Member
    I'm not quite sure what that major entails, so I'm really just guessing.
    You'll probably want an Intel i7 processor, with discrete graphics. I'd go for at least 8gigs of RAM, and a large, fast hard drive. If you can afford it, get a Blu-Ray drive, they're pretty useful. That's really all I have for you. If you can give me specifics on what you're doing, I might be able to help some more.
  • turbo93turbo93 Posts: 2,372Registered User Senior Member
    AlienWare M17 :-)

    When they make a laptop with a dual Quad Xeon and the mother of all Quadra cards like my desktop workstation, I'll be sure to ask the boss for one....

    If budget is not a big issue and you can drop $2-3K HP makes some awesome scientific / engineering workstations that are nicely equipped. Lenovo W series (W520?) comes to mind. You will probably use 3D rendering software down the road... If you can afford an SSD, not a bad choice.

    If you anticipate using VMware for Linux or other OS development, that's a massive resource hog for fast builds and such (that's what we use, hence the dual quad Xeon...)
  • rymdrymd Posts: 1,055- Member
    *** man, you're a computer science major.

    here's my recommendation. I highly recommend it for computer science: apple macbook pro
  • pascal12pascal12 Posts: 165Registered User Junior Member
    You'll also need to budget for a separate monitor (or two??)
  • rachelfranrachelfran Posts: 250Registered User Junior Member
    my daughter is going to RIT w/ a game design major and they have computer labs for kids to work on their school projects .. they are very strong alienware desktops -- which I don't think are necessary to replicate on a laptop. I'm guessing my daughter will do the core of her game design work on those computers and her laptop will be for other classwork - mostly writing, research, facebook, youtube .. minor stuff like that that most laptops can handle.

    If someone knows better let me know because we have to make this decision too...

    This is what the head of the department had to say on this question :

    Getting a computer for college is a tricky thing, because a lot depends on the kind of person you are and how you like to work. No two people are exactly alike in this respect.

    The first decision is to go with a desktop or a laptop: do you imagine you will be working locally in your dorm room often, or are you the kind of person always on the go? Do you want to take your computer to class? The entire campus is wireless, and all of the on-campus housing has wired connections available as well, so connectivity isn't an issue either way. We have some students with overclocked, liquid-cooled monstrosity desktops that help heat their dorm rooms in the winter, and others that prefer small netbooks that are easy to use in a coffee shop or cafe. Many of our students don't have a computer at all.

    One thing is for certain: you will still want to use the machines available in our laboratory environments. This is for 3 reasons: 1) We upgrade the systems every year with the latest hardware and software, 2) there are software packages available in those labs that are simply not available (or insanely expensive) for individual purchase, and 3) because of the team-based nature of portions of the curriculum, you will want to be in the lab with your project team for substantial portions of the design/development experience.

    In terms of the computer spec itself, there really isn't a set requirement. We do most (but not all) of our development work on Windows, so if you prefer a Mac, just plan on using BootCamp to run Windows on it part of the time. Basically you want to get one with as much RAM as you can afford, a multi-core processor, and something that will support the latest version of DirectX. Beyond that, you can spend a lot of money on a 'gaming laptop' but they tend to get super heavy and loud, or a 'light travel laptop' but they tend to get skimpy on performance. Most students just try to split the difference.

    Remember too that you don't have to get one right away - you could show up the first quarter and work in the labs, talk to people in the program and decide what you want, and then get one a few weeks in.
  • gojackgojack Posts: 423Registered User Member
    Asus and Toshiba are reliable: Laptop reliability survey: ASUS and Toshiba win, HP fails -- Engadget

    Get a middle of the road computer with good, switchable graphics and decent battery life
    If you want to spend more money add a SSD and max out the RAM
    ASUS U36JC-B1
  • turbo93turbo93 Posts: 2,372Registered User Senior Member
    Just keep in mind that few laptops can match a purpose-built desktop... At any price. My work desktop is a nice dual quad Xeon... Doing VMware Linux builds it gets slow :-). Does the OP need a laptop?

    I'd say ask the school - they have minimum expectations so that one does not walk in the first day of class with a netbook and expect it to run Visual Studio 2010...

    RachelFran's answer is dead on - I never thought about the part of team work...
  • lanceluo0927lanceluo0927 Posts: 65Registered User Junior Member
    Im think about buying Thinkpad W520, but Toshiba Qosmio 18.4" X505-Q8104X come in mind with about $400 off discount online. which one should i get?! i want it last for all 4 years, and little game as well.Can run some serious engineering software,BTW computer science major
  • gojackgojack Posts: 423Registered User Member
    lanceluo0927,
    I'm guessing the 10+lb Qosmio is not something you want to lug around, but the W520 could be carried to class, is this for use as a desktop or a laptop?
  • turbo93turbo93 Posts: 2,372Registered User Senior Member
    Anything over 15 inches is a burden to carry unless you're on a weightlifting scholarship. As for lasting 4 years, having seen first hand the effects of, ehem, aging on various Dells, Toshibas, HP's, and the like at work and at my wife's work, anything over 3 years and you're pushing it. Businesses with bottomless IT budgets (such as my wife's place) keep their laptops on a 3 year replacement schedule and by mid of 3rd year it's "Dear God, please kill it so I can get a new one" (HP). Her 3 year old HP N600 is beyond door stop material (60 gb drive, 1 gb memory, dual core T7200) is not even comparable to my daughter's brand new Lenovo T420 with i5.

    Instead of spending megadollars right now for a '4 year' laptop spend less on a cheapie $700-800 and spend the rest in year 3. First couple of years no major that I can think of has serious computing needs, so wait till year 3 or so to see what it will take and act accordingly.

    My daughter is starting Architecture in the fall and the 1st year is no computer in studio (old fashioned way) and they start 2nd year with the usual suspects. The 420 should last her a couple years and then a W520 or similar.

    Even for upgrade-it-yourself desktops (I DIY my own) 4 years is eternity given how quickly things get cheap. Graphics power we could not even begin to comprehend 5 years ago now costs $200, DDR3 will be history soon, SSD's will take over, and so on.
  • asphyxiacasphyxiac Posts: 610Registered User Member
    All of my friends who are currently working gameplay programmers rely heavily on Visual Studio, so you'd have to have access to a Windows machine. I'd go with an MBP, because you can buy them refurbished with excellent specs for ~1300-1450 on the Apple site, install Win7 via bootcamp, and have two great operating systems at your fingertips.
  • marcdvlmarcdvl Posts: 1,315Registered User Senior Member
    I'm a CS major, and highly recommend the Aliennware m17x. I leave it in my room, and take notes with pen/paper as I seem to learn better and stay focused that way. I do have a cheaper laptop thats a lot lighter if I ever need to bring something to class, which is rare.
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