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Laptop for mechanical engineer?

maxmillionmaxmillion 55 replies7 threads Junior Member
Which laptop is recommended for engineers at USC?
Does USC recommend any particular model or brand ? Does USC have any sort of discount for laptops?

I will be attending USC this fall.
edited June 2013
16 replies
Post edited by maxmillion on
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Replies to: Laptop for mechanical engineer?

  • HImomHImom 35142 replies396 threads Senior Member
    When our S was an EE at USC, he started out with a PC laptop he bought the summer before arriving on campus. When it broke, he happily replaced it with a net book and a desktop. He found the combo more useful.

    Our D also bought a laptop and when it broke did the same replacement pair as her brother.

    Our family tends to favor PCs and S had no trouble getting all the software for Viterbi to work on his computer. You need to know what you're most comfortable with. You can call Viterbi to double check about discounts and PC vs. Apple.

    We were happy to have purchased with Costco AmEx, since both laptops died before the AmEx extended warranty ended.
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  • CADREAMINCADREAMIN 5601 replies104 threads Senior Member
    @HImom, so your EE also brought his desktop? Ours is thinking of doing the same. For me I can work way faster on a desktop so I see advantages to having it. I think he was worried he would be the only one with that. He also has a newer powerful PC laptop he will bring, but there is just something about cruisin on a desktop. (also better for games but who has time for that :) )

    Maxmillion - the bookstore sells all the top selling PCs and Macs. At least for Macs, the same student discount offered at the Apple stores is offered at the bookstore. Apple is price fixed pretty much so if going Apple you can get it either place. Also for Macs, if you want all your SW moved from one to another, USC store sends it out for a week or so (not practical). The Apple Store can do it on the spot with an appt. S just upgraded his old 13" to the 15" Macbook pro and loves it. But as mentioned, other S will use PC for engineering. Not sure what the deal is on PCs at the bookstore, but I don't think it could be better than Costco or BestBuy sale prices. Costco has some sweet promos on line sometimes with really powerful PCs at great prices and they offer a two year concierge service for issues or the amex warranty HImom mentioned. Bookstore also sells printers and all the SW you need. I do know that the PC SW at the bookstore is a better deal than you can get in the stores (Office bundle). We have a mac/pc household and have shopped for all this in last few months incase you are wondering....from our two students and research we have done we found that a lot of students use Mac except in engineering where a lot use PC. But maybe some other alumni/students can chime in to confirm that.

    One more thing - when shopping for a laptop look for one with lighted keyboard, many don't have it. It is the feature that takes it to the next price point, but totally worth it. You may find yourself working at night with sleeping room-mate and the screen usually doesn't put off enough light to see the keyboard that well.
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  • MinnymomMinnymom 652 replies35 threads Member
    DS just finished his sophomore year ME at Viterbi. His laptop worked ok- but he just upgraded to a Lenovo y 500 and is very happy with it. He does not have a desktop and is just fine without it.
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  • HImomHImom 35142 replies396 threads Senior Member
    He brought up a top of the line heavier laptop with large screen as a freshman. When it broke and AmEx re-credited us, he used the money to buy a net book AND desktop with two monitors. He found that setup to work well for him. D ended up doing the same thing--she majored in cinema.
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  • maxmillionmaxmillion 55 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thank you all for your input! Much appreciated.

    Thanks for that very valuable info cadreamin . I would be fine with either Mac or PC but I like mac especially for its build quality and its ability to dual boot Mac and windows side by side :)
    I am also not sure if i should get a 13" or 15".
    Im not sure if having less weight to carry around is better or having a bigger screen for applications is.
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  • HImomHImom 35142 replies396 threads Senior Member
    Another compromise option could be to buy a smaller laptop and get a monitor for the desk, so the user could hook the laptop up to it and enjoy the portability of a lighter unit for portability with the higher visibility of a larger monitor. Monitors are relatively inexpensive and a good investment (at least my kids both think so).
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  • Momof2017Momof2017 22 replies0 threads New Member
    Any recommendations on MacBook vs Mac Book air? My daughter likes the idea of having the DVD drive for movies, disks, etc she already owns.
    We live out of state so that allows her to watch on a plane as well.
    Anyone familar with options? The price for the 13" is sufficiently less. Her friend's brother said the 13 inch is better for portabality and the idea of a second monitor is less costly than the $300 for difference for a 15". Apple has a 3 or 4 year warranty for under $200 with the warranty so that works.D is not an engineering major so the PC vs Apple issue is not at same as that faced by Engineer.
    Thanks for the Monitor idea, HiMom. I think the printer and monitor at Costco and Amex are great options, as I am a huge Costco fan-No probems with returns or exchanges every.
    My presumption is a scanner is needed. Any ideas for printers that are efficient with ink usage?
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  • ArtsandLettersArtsandLetters 501 replies4 threads Member
    Some suggestions - if you're buying online for Mac make sure you log on to the "educational store." It reduces the price of both Macs and Applecare. In August they have traditionally done a "deal" for students that combines an educational discount with an incentive such as iTunes cards, free printers, etc.

    Also, in the online Apple Store, look for "refurbished" which can sometimes reduce the cost. They sell out but refresh the stock every morning. I use two screens, one to check the refurb stock (often new, just the outgoing models) with the educational price in the regular store to see what is the best deal. If Refurb is cheaper it's still warrantied like a new one and you can put AppleCare on it.

    If you pay with Amex, Amex will cover loss, damage or theft for the first few months, and extend the warranty for one year if you don't do the Applecare. But that's tricky - laptops get a lot of wear and tear and you have to balance Amex's extended year versus paying for AppleCare which extends for two years.

    For PC's you can't beat Costco's included warranty - just make sure you check the specs on the machine to make sure you get the processing speed, etc. that you need for long term. They don't all have the same operating/hardware specs so we had to look at each one side by side.
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  • jacobo2880jacobo2880 214 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I am a student here at USC currently studying MechE. Definitely get a laptop - you can get a desktop but trust me, the portability will almost certainly come in handy.

    For the most part, you won't be carrying your laptop around but even if you do, I'd still recommend the 15" - but I grew up with strictly 14" and above (current screen is 14.1" but has the body of a 15.6"). USC doesn't really recommend any given brand but I know they have discounts on macs. I'd still get a pc - the hassle (or so I've heard) of getting some of the programs on a mac and the price tag put me off (mine was less than $600 and seems to perform at the same level or better than a lot of macs). My friends (and there is quite a lot of them) who have macs don't seem too fazed by the downsides tho. Get something with a solid body if possible, chances are you'll drop it or hit it at some point in time. As for specs, I'd recommend anything with an i5 (though i3 works too - sometimes slow tho) or AMD A6 and higher.

    I second the monitor idea. You'll be using Solidworks and while it is okay on a laptop screen, it looks so much better on a decently sized monitor (at least for me). I don't own one tho so you can live without it...just something to think about.

    A printer might be helpful. I don't have one because I am able to print on campus - 12 cents per page if you aren't part of a research lab or organization that lets you print for free. It is something of a hassle to walk across campus to print tho. I will most likely get one next semester since I will be off campus. If you do get one, I'd recommend an all in one (fax, print, scan or at least print and scan).

    Good luck with your decisions,
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  • maxmillionmaxmillion 55 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thank you guys so much for all your input! This has been immensely helpful!
    Also, Jac, how often if ever do you need to use a program specifically for mac?
    Would you say that there is balance between Macs and PCs or that their is a majority for engineers?
    What are some companies that hire mechanical engineers at USC?
    Do you enjoy your classes?
    How are the research opportunities?
    Why did you choose to be a mechanical engineer instead of any other type of engineer if I may ask?
    Also, any tips, advice, or any things you wish you had known as a freshman for us incoming engineers?
    Sorry for all the questions Haha.
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  • HImomHImom 35142 replies396 threads Senior Member
    We bought our S an all in one machine after arriving on campus rather than lugging one with us on the plane. It was printer, scanner and fax that S and room mates found handy to have in their room.
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  • SiddysidsidSiddysidsid 228 replies13 threads Junior Member
    If you're gonna do any kind of gaming whatsoever, look for a PC. The Lenovo Ideapad y510p/y410p are nice laptops and greatly outperform Mac's when it comes to graphics.
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  • jacobo2880jacobo2880 214 replies1 threads Junior Member
    So far, I haven't had to use a program specifically for mac (or one with a crossover that was originally meant for mac). So far, the programs we use are either designed for both mac and pc or were originally meant for pc but have crossovers (sometimes buggy) for mac.

    For engineers, I can't say for sure - seems to be mostly balanced leaning towards the pc side.

    A lot of companies hire here - Everything from The Aerospace Corp to the government to Disney. We have Boeing, Intel, Raytheon, SpaceX, JPL, Google, Microsoft, Chevron, Exxon, and Lockheed Martin to name a few.

    I love my classes so far. I mean the basic classes can be a pain sometimes because they are more of weed-out classes but even then, if you try hard enough and really have a passion for them, they are not too bad at all. I've mostly been taking the basic classes for now (rising soph.) so I can't say much about the full on engineering classes quite yet.

    Research opportunities are plentiful - just figure out what you want to do, find the professor and either ask one of your professors to help contact them or just email them yourself making sure to display your passion for the research subject. I emailed one professor about research (combustion) and my teacher contacted one other professor when I expressed interest in a particular field (BioMEMS). I got the thumbs up from both but went with the BioMEMS because I felt I may never get such a chance again post undergrad. I love it so far.

    The truth is I really want to go into aerospace but I have a passion for bio and comp sci too so I chose one of the majors that seems to have its hand in all those fields while leaning towards aero - mech E :)

    Advice...hmm, I would say take material science instead of chem if possible. To be honest, I took chem and didn't think it was too bad at all (I actually liked it a lot) but it's supposedly much harder than material science especially since you'll be competing with pre-meds for the A's. Also, don't put off studying till the last minute - try to review what you've learned so far in each subject as you go along. Trust me, a lot of people tend to leave the studying till the last minute and it almost never works out that well.

    Good luck,
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  • maxmillionmaxmillion 55 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much for that!
    I will look into the materials science class.
    And I will most likely be getting a PC now as well.
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  • HImomHImom 35142 replies396 threads Senior Member
    My S bought his PC laptop the summer just before he started at Viterbi so he could have the programs he wanted on it before leaving home. He was glad not to have to fool around with getting used to a new laptop in the fall.
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  • wegotinwegotin 139 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I've ordered a Lenovo for my son on May 28th and so far the delivery date has been changed twice. The latest is July 7th! I am still hopeful😳because I've heard wonderful things about the brand and after researching all others, Lenovo by far had the best features. My son wants a PC however I would not mind getting him a Mac. Macs can run Windows with ease however many engineers still love PCs.
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