Portable and Powerful Laptop for Engineering Student

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by rmazur12, May 19, 2015.

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  1. rmazur12

    rmazur12 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hello guys. I am new here on this forum. I am going to be a mechanical or chemical engineer next fall and I am looking for a laptop. I have attached the general questions below. My primary requirement is that the laptop has to be less than 1.2 inches thick and less than 5.5 lbs. I understand that cooling might be an issue with the form factor. I know that Nvidia Quadro GPU has drivers for CAD but I am concerned about the budget. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
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    General Questions


    1) What is your budget?

    Less than $2200

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen

    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen

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

    USA

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?

    a. Like: No preference

    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?

    Primarily used for web surfing, Microsoft office, photo editing with Adobe software, and some engineering software (AutoDesk (mainly AutoCAD and some Inventor), MATLAB, Wolfram Mathematica). I do not know the specifics of other software that I will be using.

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

    Yes

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

    Games are not my primary focus with this machine

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

    Hoping for between 4-6 hours but not a necessity

    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?

    Not vital but I would rather see it before purchase

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

    Windows 8

    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. Click here for Screen resolution information.

    I do not need 4K or 3K, standard 1080p FHD will be fine. It would be great if it has a touch screen.


    13) Do you want a Glossy/reflective screen or a Matte/non-glossy screen?

    Matte


    Build Quality and Design


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

    No. However, I want the laptop to be very thin and lightweight, preferably less than 1.2 inches thick and less than 5.5 lbs.


    15) When are you buying this laptop?

    Within the next month

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

    3-4 years


    Notebook Components


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

    Best case: 1 Tb 7200 RPM and 128 or 256 gb SSD

    Least case: 128 or 256 gb SSD


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

    No


    ==========

    END COPY


    Please state any additional features you need. It's also helpful if you can indicate how experienced you are with computers. If you're a novice and don't know much, that's alright. Everyone's a novice at some point.

    Discrete graphics with 1-2 gb VRAM
    Processor that reaches 3.0Ghz+ with TurboBoost and has hyperthreading
    8-16 gb RAM
     
  2. Galm

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

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    If you don't want gaming you have a huge budget. What do you prioritize cpu or gpu? You can get a gigabyte p35w with a 970m and an i7 4710mq which should meet your needs for 1400, or you can step it up to a p35x with a 980m for 1900-2000. Depends what you want. You can even get an SSD in them with a 1TB ssd for that price.
     
  3. Galm

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

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    This would crush ur recommended specs http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834233088 It has the highest end gpu from last year (880m) so around a 970m, and then a higher end i7 4810mq processor instead of a 4710mq. And its on sale and comes with 256gb ssd. tbh its a steal. But if you want more gaming power than that get a gigabyte with a 980m. They are the thinnest for the money. Otherwise for bulkier go Clevo or MSI GT60. Also ram wise 8 is fine but you can up it if you want, isn't too much more for the gigabytes. It is thin enough too, they are crazy thin.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  4. rmazur12

    rmazur12 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Galm17, thank you for your input. The gigabyte would most certainly meet all of my specs. I definitely believe that I should prioritize the GPU. The 880M looks like it will work as well as the 970M and 980M for sure. My only concern about gigabyte is that I have heard that the build quality is not consistent and that customer service is terrible and/or non-existent. Also, is there a two or three year warranty with gigabyte? Should I buy through a custom configuration website, ie XoticPc?
     
  5. Delta_V

    Delta_V Notebook Consultant

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    The Clevo P650SE (Sager NP8651) comes with an i7-4720HQ and 970M, and is about 5.5 lbs, so just a little bit heavier than the Gigabyte P35, but it has a better cooling solution. You can also upgrade to the P650SG (NP8652) which comes with the 980M. It starts at $1219 through XoticPC for the NP8651, and $1569 for the NP8652. Note that these prices do not include an operating system, but as a student, you may be able to get a free copy of Windows through the Microsoft DreamSpark program. Compare this to the Gigabyte P35, which starts at about $1450 for the P35Wv3, the 970M model.

    At this point, I would avoid the 880M. It is an overheating monstrosity, and is handily beaten by the 970M, to say nothing of the 980M. So there really is no reason to get it over a system with the 970M. Comparing the NP8651 to the Gigabyte P25X that was linked, the P25X has a slight advantage in processor, but the NP8651 has a much better GPU and is lighter. In the description in the link, it says the P25X is 5.73 lbs, but in the specs it is listed at 6.39 lbs, which agrees with XoticPC.
    .
    Also, one final note - the Gigabyte P35W/X comes with the i7-4720HQ, *not* the i7-4710MQ. The difference is the MQ is a socketed chip, meaning it can be replaced, while the HQ is soldered to the motherboard. Also, in practice, the MQ chips can hold their clocks better under load. So if the P35 had an MQ processor, that would be a point in its favor. However, it has the same HQ processor as the Clevo/Sager, so that part is a wash.
     
  6. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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  7. Delta_V

    Delta_V Notebook Consultant

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    It seems like a nice workstation, except the lack of a numpad on the keyboard is baffling. As a grad student in engineering, I hated the fact that my old notebook did not have a numpad; it made entering data exceedingly annoying. When I went to purchase a new notebook, a numpad was one of my non-negotiable requirements. I know they make USB ones, but then you have to carry the thing around.
     
  8. TomJGX

    TomJGX I HATE BGA!

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    I would get the Clevo P650SE/SG (Sager NP8651/8652)... The 970M/980M will be more then enough for CAD etc.. It will be good enough for any games... AutoCAD doesn't need that much GPU power..
     
  9. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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    Another option is the Lenovo W541 if a number pad is needed on the keyboard. It is still quite thin and light for having a full voltage processor. These models are more traditionally business machines, so they focus on warranty and build quality more than performance. They typically aren't offered with graphics cards that can run high end games. If you do need that ability, the Sager is a P651SE is indeed a great option. Alienware also offers models with an onsite warranty if you need something with a better warranty but gaming GPU.
     
  10. rmazur12

    rmazur12 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thank you all for your input.
    Delta_V, I am unfamiliar with Sager/Clevo and Gigabyte. I understand that Sager is a re-seller of the Clevo chasis. How is their customer service and build quality? I am hoping for the machine to last 3-4 years. Thanks.


    win32asmguy, thanks for your suggestion. I feel that Quadro may be overkill but the laptop is nice looking and fits my weight and thin requirement. Definitely keep it in consideration. The lenovo W541 is also nice. I am defintiely concerned with warranty and build quality which makes me nervous about Sager and Gigabyte. I will take a look at the Lenovo further. Thanks.

    TomJGX, what card do you recommend for AutoCAD other than quadro. Would the GTX 965M or GTX 960M work? Also, do you know if the Sager 8651 has a touch screen? Thanks.
     
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