College Laptop Program vs. Bring Your Own?

What are your opinions and do you get to keep the laptop after you leave the school?

Also, tech support offered is not super important as I can handle that stuff 99% of the time by myself.

If you do a search on this topic you’ll find the majority feel it’s worth it to just buy the laptop from rpi

You certainly get to keep it, you bought it. I’ve heard during senior year many laptops have unfortunate “accidents” and need to be replaced with a brand new one. (Not that I’m condoning. Just repeating what I’ve heard)

Also does anyone know where the selections for fall of 2017 are coming in? I heard there was a conference or something early this month to discuss that.

I bought the school one for my son. We are 350 or so miles away, and I didn’t want any crisis phone calls.
For son at school within an hour, I let him pick, as I could drive a “loaner laptop” there pretty quickly.

I brought mine and it’s been fine. Just make sure your laptop has insurance just in case. Also, DO NOT GET A MAC!!! Especially, for a CS major - you want a powerful computer that is portable and can run a wide variety of platforms (Macs are limited in that regard). They all lie when they say Macs are “used in the majority of CS courses.” Linux or Windows, preferably windows, should be your OS.

Oh yes, I totally agree. I hate macs anyway. I am typing on one now (I have a desktop that I use primarily) and I hate the laptop so much. If I get my own computer to bring I’ll probably get an XPS but most likely the Yoga 910.

My son is taking CS classes and uses a mac.
Under the hood, mac is a flavor of unix, as is linux.
But some form of unix is needed, true. It is encouraged by CS to dual boot Linux,
but if you have a Mac that is fine too.

@blevine You can use a mac, and I have friends that do but it’s much harder to get help debugging and getting some specific softwares for macs since there are specific tools needed. I’d recommend a windows or dual booting linux for incoming students (as you mentioned) since there are many ports offered for Windows where you can just use a Linux (unix) console and Linux tools. The Apple OS though is not typically recommended in particular though.

I could fix any computer problems that arise and we aren’t prohibitively far away but the experience we’ve had is the laptop program is well worth the peace of mind when something happens & they need to work on something & you have a deadline & don’t have 3 hours to spare to troubleshoot. Just our experience.

@joedoe I agree, debugger was my son’s biggest problem. He used gdb but not any graphical debugger since he had an old version of XCODE and nobody there could help him get it working. You are a bit on your own sometimes, but he has already taken 2 CS classes and used the Mac despite the fact he also has a high end Windows laptop. I do agree Linux would be slightly better, but Mac
is usable and my son likes his Mac for most other tasks.

But then does RPI IT department support the dual boot ?
I think they install windows and you need to setup the dual boot yourself if you use the RPI laptop.
Will they still give same support for the RPI laptop if you make that change ?

What other software other than debugging has been a problem ?

@blevine You’re completely on your own if you bring your own laptop, but if you do dual-boot then RPI IT will take care of it if you’re on their plan.

Is a desktop allowed, or does it have to be a laptop?
I can see how it has to be a laptop if you need to bring it to class, but I haven’t read anywhere that it has to, that’s why I ask.

@GoRedhead – from the RPI.edu mobile computing page, you need a laptop but may also bring a desktop if you wish. They say nearly every class has a computer-based element. http://dotcio.rpi.edu/services/laptops/mobile-computing-program-faq

@GoRedhead You need a laptop since basically every class requires you to have one

Buy the laptop package and be worry free when problems occur; both student and parent.
Just drop it off at the on-campus repair center and they fix it, giving you a loaner until ready.
DS graduates in a few weeks and his laptop has numerous war stories to tell.

My mom has a laptop that she’s not using at all anymore. I’d really like to use it instead of paying $1,500 since I’m really trying hard to save money. The thing is my mom’s laptop at home is about 2 years old and I’m not sure if getting it compatible with the rest of RPI will be easy. I read on the reddit that there is one particular software that must be installed during junior-year that doesn’t install 100% on just any windows based computer. Some kids have had problems with that program. The other thing is getting wifi connected on a [non-rpi] laptop, I don’t think it’s as easy as getting access to their passkey. I think there’s some sort of admin access that has to be done on their side too? Not sure though. It sounded all pretty confusing. The point is, I don’t have money to burn so I’d like to use this other laptop if I can, and also bring my desktop for gaming and report writing because I have a pretty insane gaming desktop. So I’d only need the laptop for whatever reasons they require.

@GoRedhead a few quick thoughts. I would be surprised if there is much of an admin function over the PC’s at a school. I would actually be concerned if you couldn’t use your own machine in favor of a required machine with mandatory software. Sounds more like a corporate infrastructure.

As for the desktop / laptop issue, I would suggest you not overthink it before you get there. If you need something you don’t have, you might have to spend some time in a computer lab using more powerful school machines, but you’ll be able to get your stuff done.

I would assume a 2 year old laptop is probably able to handle most issues, but you might want to look into upgrading the memory or installing a SSD. Those would get you noticeable improvements in many cases. I just “inherited” a 2010 MBPro from my daughter that had a slow HD and 4GB of RAM. For $300, it runs amazingly fast now with an SSD and 16GB of RAM. I’ve stopped using a desktop from the same era…it’s just so slow compared to this machine. If you’re worried about making those kinds of upgrades…don’t be. There are videos for everything, and many computers are built so that repairs/ upgrades are easily accessible.

Last comment…I looked at the 2017 laptops on the link, and they are good, solid machines, but they aren’t super-charged. It would be nice if the lighter machines had more RAM (8GB)…but it should do. Good luck

Apart from college laptop programs, I onced used laptop rental services which are amazing and you guys must try from http://anytimetablethire.co.uk

@EyeVeee Hey thanks. I’m hoping you are right about your post but just wanted to make sure to validate what you said. Is your daughter at RPI? The reason I ask, I wanted to make sure you understand that laptops are needed for classes and not just for after-class report writing. You said,

so if you mean I won’t need the laptop right away then I’d feel better about showing up and feeling it out to see how it goes. I hope you can understand my skepticism and won’t be offended that I just wanted to know if you are sure about what you said.

The comments are not RPI specific…no RPI connection in comments.

You say you’d like to use the laptop from your mother to save money. I’m saying you should start with that, and adjust if necessary. If you need more power…see if you can upgrade. If you need a program…see if the school can load it on that machine. If you need a more powerful machine, see what’s available while there and do what you need. Laptops are relatively quick to replace.

In an attempt to save money, the worst thing would be to invest in a new machine that you don’t need or might want to change. It sounds like you’re worried you’ll get left behind quickly without the right tool. I would try to use what you already have, and upgrade if necessary.