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HeavyLancer

Looking for a laptop for uni $1000-$1500

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It's coming towards the end of my first year at university studying engineering, and I have come to the conclusion that I need something portable, on a budget of $1000-$1500.

The main purposes would be note-taking, report writing and using programs like MATLAB and SPICE derivatives. Additionally, as this is a portable machine I would like to be able to get some light gaming in on the side, mostly from the RTS and TBS genres. So, the requirements would be:

  • Battery life upwards of 4 hours of non-gaming
  • Dedicated graphics of some sort
  • A screen size of 13.3" to 15.6"
  • A decent processor to handle some of the more resource-intensive programs mentioned above.

I've had a look around and the Asus U30Jc-A1 looks pretty good. The specs that matter to me from it are a Core i3, Nvidia GT310M with Optimus (The CPU has integrated graphics on the die), 4GB RAM, 13.3" screen. Is there anything out there similar too it that you guys would recommend?

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MacBook Pro 13" 2.66GHz

 

$1679.00

 

4GB RAM

320GB HDD

SD slot

10 hours purported battery life

Geforce 320M

 

apart from being a tad more expensive than windows based equivalent lappies, they are fucking beautiful machines to use, really slick. use bootcamp for windows if you need it.

 

On a side note, I bought a 27" iMac quadcore, and find myself eating my words from years of ragging on apple products. Expensive, but a fucking dream to use.

 

edit - wee hours of the morning typos

 

edit 2 - Alienware m11x maybe?

Edited by g0t.w00t?

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Well, above $1500 is really out of my price range, plus it has an Apple tax on top of a Windows tax that I would have to pay on top of that. I know a mate with a MacBook Pro and his is quite nice to work with, but the price is really too much. I'll have a look at refurbs of older models as well, but they're not a front-runner at the moment.

As for the Alienware, 11" is just a bit too small and the ULV CPU it packs is a bit too weedy compared to the U30Jc.

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You should be able to get a computer that does all that for well under a grand - hell nearly half that if you shoparound. Check out the catalogues and see what's on sale - if you can you should wait until the after Christmas sales. I recommend the Toshiba Satellites - really solid machines, that will put up with a fair bit of abuse (like being slung around in a Uni bag. Only problem is battery life - I'm not sure about the newer models but 3 hours or so is pushing it. Maybe go for a little less screen real-estate (something with 14 inches). Good-luck!

Edited by TazFromOz

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Thanks, I found this on the site:

http://www.logicalblueone.com.au/store/287-gx640-260us.html

Core i5-450, Radeon 5850M, 4GB ram, 15.6" and a 9 cell battery for $1499

 

Looks quite good for the price, but I don't know about MSI's build quality. Are they any good?

 

 

MSI laptops are great. I used to repair them under warranty back in the day. Easy to pull apart sturdy too.

 

http://www.logicalblueone.com.au/store/294-n61jq-jx001x.html Is also very good for the price aswell lower res screen and slightly lower speced GPU but you get a i7 -720. And everything comes with a 3 year warranty there.

 

 

If you decide to buy off logical blue PM me I can get you free shipping. :)

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I've had a look at the XPS 14, and the i7 that it comes with doesn't have integrated graphics, so no Optimus. I had a look at the XPS 16 with a Core i5-460M, Radeon HD5730M and a 9 Cell battery which looked more promising for $1355.

 

I have been recommended to look for something with a Core i5 and a Radeon 4650M, as I believe that the i5's have integrated graphics on the die, and that the Radeons can be switched off manually. The i7s look like serious battery drainers and a quad core isn't necessary, which is why I discounted them from the running.

 

EDIT: I looked up the GX640-260US and apparently the 5850M doesn't support GPU switching, but the 5700Ms and below do. With a claimed 2.5 hour battery life it's been disqualified from the list. Looks like the Dell XPS 16 and the U30Jc are the prime candidates.

Edited by HeavyLancer

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Would you consider a tablet pc.

I just picked up an acer Aspire 1820PT, Its a core 2 duo 1.3 i have had it do about 10 hours on a full charge

it is also a tablet pc great for hand writing notes

 

I picked this one up for around $700.

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I've had a look at the XPS 14, and the i7 that it comes with doesn't have integrated graphics, so no Optimus. I had a look at the XPS 16 with a Core i5-460M, Radeon HD5730M and a 9 Cell battery which looked more promising for $1355.

 

I have been recommended to look for something with a Core i5 and a Radeon 4650M, as I believe that the i5's have integrated graphics on the die, and that the Radeons can be switched off manually. The i7s look like serious battery drainers and a quad core isn't necessary, which is why I discounted them from the running.

 

EDIT: I looked up the GX640-260US and apparently the 5850M doesn't support GPU switching, but the 5700Ms and below do. With a claimed 2.5 hour battery life it's been disqualified from the list. Looks like the Dell XPS 16 and the U30Jc are the prime candidates.

Maybe email logical blue one and ask if their is anything that he might have coming into stock that would suit your needs?

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Would you consider a tablet pc.

I just picked up an acer Aspire 1820PT, Its a core 2 duo 1.3 i have had it do about 10 hours on a full charge

it is also a tablet pc great for hand writing notes

 

I picked this one up for around $700.

Well, I discounted tablets when I had a look at the iPad as an alternative. The additional burden of having a non touch-optimised OS like Windows on a tablet PC is why I discounted it. Having terrible handwriting doesn't help either :P

 

 

Maybe email logical blue one and ask if their is anything that he might have coming into stock that would suit your needs?

Sounds like a good idea. If he brings in something like the Asus U30Jc that would get him a very quick sale.

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Well, after browsing Whirlpool I found another candidate - the Asus K42JV-X1. 14" screen, Core i5, 4GB RAM, GT 335M with Optimus.

Apparently the new N82Jv that is also coming soon is the same lappy but with a bigger battery. Both aren't out in Australia yet by the looks of it but they are definite front-runners.

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Sorry for the thread necro, but I've waited long enough to pick up an Asus N53SV today. I got the top-spec model for $1540, feels good so far. Very good value for money.

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If only the webcam and microphone worked...

The webcam isn't recognised by the device manager in Win 7 and the microphone doesn't have any output (it's recognised as an audio device by Win 7 though).

I'm tossing up whether I should flash the BIOS on it or not now, see if that will help it.

 

Apart from that, it's quite nice.

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Nice choice!

 

Just for reference, the laptop I'm about to get for uni will be the Asus U36JC, I saw one yesterday, it's gorgeous in the flesh. Stupidly powerful, >6 hours battery life, weighs 1.5kg, 13" screen, just perfect. Thin too. $1200!

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I was going to go for a U36JC but Centrecom stuffed up my pre-order. I decided that I wouldn't want to wait around for last-gen hardware, so I went for the N53SV.

The Full HD screen is fantastic on a 15.6" display, really good for productivity. The GT540M graphics card works a treat, handles Company of Heroes on quite high settings at native screen resolution (yeah, it's an old game, but still fairly demanding. StarCraft 2 should be similar in performance).

Battery life is about 3 hours with WiFi on and the dedicated graphics off, which should be more than enough to survive a two-hour lecture.

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In my experience, uni students are better off with a light machine with large battery life. I have a great Lenovo T61, but I much prefer my HP 5102 for uni.

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I got my wife an Asus UL-30A in the start of 2010 which gives her over 9 hours on battery, fucking fantastic machine and it's cheap as chips here in Norway now. I got the newer model for my mother in law which has Nvidia optimus technology which couples up an Nvidia GPU with an Intel IGP.

 

I'd buy one for myself if it came with a TPM, but it doesn't :(.

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Jesus H Christ! You sure get a lot of laptop for your dollar these days!

 

It seems like only last year, maybe the year before, you'd be looking at $2000+ for anything with non-Intel-HD graphics...

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SquallStrife, I flipped out when I realised for $1200 I can get a kick-arse ultraportable with proper battery life and some serious power. Its nuts.

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Good news everyone!

After returning my laptop on Monday due to the defective mic and webcam, I now have a new one. Everything works fine :D

 

Jesus H Christ! You sure get a lot of laptop for your dollar these days!

 

It seems like only last year, maybe the year before, you'd be looking at $2000+ for anything with non-Intel-HD graphics...

I dunno about that, but laptop graphics have advanced by leaps and bounds in the past year or so, definitely. The GT540M is faster than my 8800GT on my desktop by a fair bit, making it the fastest AND most portable computer in the house :P

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i recently bought the Samsung SF510-A01 set me back a cool $1000 for uni, the size can make it annoying for chairs with smallish desks in lectures but for most its fine, it also plays games LIKE A BOSS ive played shogun total war and play wow alot on it and its a really good machine, i also recomend getting a cooling pad while gaming cus it seems to slow to a halt or blue screen

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What graphics does it have? If it has integrated graphics then that might be the cause of the slowdowns and bluescreens.

 

On topic, I've dusted off the old graphics tablet to try out "tablet" computing at uni, mainly for Maths lectures. Seems good so far, although honestly it seems to have little purpose aside from writing down formulae and examples faster. Still great for that though.

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