Laptop for Ph.D Student

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Morgan Everett, Jul 18, 2016.

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  1. Morgan Everett

    Morgan Everett Notebook Consultant

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    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?

    Around £1000.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?

    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen



    3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.

    The UK.

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: Any, apart from...
    b. Dislike: Apple

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?

    No.

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?

    I'll be writing my thesis and taking notes, in addition to general web browsing.

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?

    Both.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?

    None.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?

    I think six hours or so of Wifi surfing will be enough, but more is always better.

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?

    Buying online is fine.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (Windows 7 / 8), Mac OS, Linux, etc.

    Windows 10.

    Screen Specifics

    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer? Keep in mind screen size in conjunction with resolution will play a large role in overall viewing comfort level. Everyone is different. Some like really small text, while others like their text big and easy to read. (Scroll down to see screen resolution information.)

    1920x1080 is a minimum. Greater is preferred.

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (Scroll down to see explanations.)

    Matte preferred, but glossy isn't a dealbreaker.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?

    A little, but not much. Build quality is important, however.

    15) When are you buying this laptop?

    By the end of next month, at the latest.

    16) How long do you want this laptop to last?

    At minimum, three years.

    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need? Do you want a SSD drive?

    120GB will be fine. An SSD is a necessity.

    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner?

    No.
    ==========

    I should add that I have student discounts with Apple, Dell, Lenovo and HP, but I'd consider other manufacturers. Any help will be much appreciated.
     
  2. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    lol that one is fairly easy.

    Here's my 2 cents on the subject matter.
    1.. Never buy consumer products for work/ school, they are toys, school/work is serious business.
    2. Don't buy an Apple computer if you want to do any sort of real work, and yes that includes thesis writing. Plus they are merely fancy and pretty toys, badly designed ones at that. Their "student discount" is also kind of a joke.
    3. Dell E5470, E5570, E7470 are all good choices from Dell. If you're lucky, you can snipe a "Dell New" from the outlet (saves $$).
    4. Lenovo T460s or T460p are top picks from Lenovo, although you aren't doing anything computationally intensive, so I'd say T460s since its thinner and lighter.
    5. HPs are meh, more expensive for the same parts, and they are slower in releasing new notebooks, built like tanks though. If you want an HP, look at the EliteBook line.
    6. Buy a decent warranty, something with NBD onsite. Do NOT waste your time with Indian call centers and depot warranty.
    7. Coupons, coupons, coupons. Dell and Lenovo frequently have coupon codes floating around on the internet, and sometimes on the twittersphere.

    Good luck!

    EDIT: Also should mention that you should stick with 1080p, anything greater is unnecessary in laptops, and is a big battery drain.
     
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  3. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

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    Good advice but your exaggerating. I also highly recommend avoiding consumer laptops, but that doesn't mean you can't do it. They aren't "toys", an XPS 15 or Asus Zenbook Pro are powerful machines, but they don't have the support and build quality of business class machines. Most students at my school use consumer grade laptops, and Macs are what like 30% of people use and they get on just fine. I would never buy a Mac and neither would OP it seems like, but I'm just saying your absolutes are objectively wrong.

    I would definitely shoot for a Latitude or a Thinkpad series machine. The only consumers machines that are at least decently built are too expensive for your budget. Business class is the way to go.
     
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  4. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

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    Good advice but your exaggerating. I also highly recommend avoiding consumer laptops, but that doesn't mean you can't do it. They aren't "toys", an XPS 15 or Asus Zenbook Pro are powerful machines, but they don't have the support and build quality of business class machines. Most students at my school use consumer grade laptops, and Macs are what like 30% of people use and they get on just fine. I would never buy a Mac and neither would OP it seems like, but I'm just saying your absolutes are objectively wrong.

    I would definitely shoot for a Latitude or a Thinkpad series machine. The only consumers machines that are at least decently built are too expensive for your budget. Business class is the way to go.
     
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  5. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm not saying you can't do it, I'm saying you shouldn't do it. Consumer grade notebooks are designed for media consumption, which is the 21st equivalent of playing, thus it's not unreasonable to categorize devices as toys (regardless of how powerful they are). Many people use Macs because its either a program requirement (some art schools require the use of Macs) or they've bought into the Apple marketing machine (which is indeed, legendary).

    Consumer grade stuff is fine if you have the time or energy to deal with offshore customer support + the "7-14" business day repair timeline (never had a machine repaired in less than 3 weeks, most are about a month). Most college students will have the time to do so because, lets be honest here, how many of them are studying or going to classes 8-10 hours a day on every workday? When I was doing my PhD, I barely had time to eat and sleep (extremely competitive program, where 2 PhD students compete against eachother) or see my girlfriend (which cost me dearly). I most certainly didn't have the time or energy to deal with "Dave" from HP customer service.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
  6. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

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    I don't really consider and ultrabook or something a toy. It can easily be used for actual work, hell some computer science majors can get by with just a chromebook running Arch. I know what you mean, but I wouldn't call it that. Business class all the way.
     
  7. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    lol we had a temp IT guy that caved into the demands of some of our road warriors (marketing and sales force) and deployed some good looking ultrabooks. He of course did so without approval from either actual IT or backup IT (aka. me) so we fired him. Sure enough, the damn things were falling apart and none of them survived past 18 months. When the sales people came back with broken laptops, we told them that we can't do anything with it, and if they want a replacement sooner than the scheduled 3 years, they're gonna have to have their boss come back with a requisition order along with an explanation of why they thought it was a good idea to get the pretty ones instead of the normal road worthy ones.
     
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  8. Galm

    Galm "Stand By, We're Analyzing The Situation!"

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    Good god, a student can take care of it if they are careful, and I still would never recommend it. But sales guys? That's such an awful idea, how did that guy even get to send that order out without approval from higher up? Lol I'm picturing like a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro or something, they would last like 6 months under that kind of travel.

    Edit: OP do you have a preference in Lenovo vs Dell? I would say the Latitudes are built better. Once out IT depertment had one no one wanted anymore, so we threw it down the stairs and then ran it over in a van... And its still working haha.
     
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  9. Morgan Everett

    Morgan Everett Notebook Consultant

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    I'd probably prefer Dell, but they seem more expensive, and I can't use my 15% discount on their business range.

    I was considering the t560, but I can't find a review of its 3k display.
     
  10. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    Check to see if your department has a purchasing agreement with Dell, the post secondary/ university discounts are quite substantial.
    I was able to pick up one through my department when was in the middle of my PhD, and it was 35% off existing discounts.
     
  11. Morgan Everett

    Morgan Everett Notebook Consultant

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    Nah, there's nothing like that, as nice as it sounds.
     
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