I am looking for a reliable laptop for my PhD program to be used for stochastic modeling and data analysis, along with typical web browsing, office tasks, etc. I have a moderately powerful desktop machine to handle the more computationally intensive tasks, so I am not looking for a desktop replacement here..just something I can use on on go and is easy to carry around on campus and on trips for smaller scale computation. I intend to use primarily Mathematica, R (or S-PLUS), Python, Audacity (I have done audio data processing) and possibly C. I do some CUDA stuff on my desktop, but it is not a requirement for my laptop. (Integrated graphics are fine, and I really just play around with it anyways). I'd also like 8GB or greater of RAM, and need a gigabit ethernet port in addition to wireless capability, which does eliminate much of the 'ultrabook' segment I've found, but I am very happy for any suggestions of course!
I have my eye on the Lenovo t430s model, although the screen quality seems dubious from reviews, but am still considering it. I am looking for any other suggestions / ideas as well! Thanks!
Here is the form:
1) What is your budget?
Must be less than $1600 including shipping and taxes / fees. Less is better of course!
2) What size notebook would you prefer?
c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
Minimum 1600 x 900 resolution requested
3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.
USA - probably online
4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
Probably not, but I am happy to hear reasons otherwise
6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
See my description above...statistical modeling, data analysis
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?
9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
4+ I don't mind carrying around a power adapter if I have to as well.
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?
Online without seeing it is fine, as long as their are reviews and such available.
11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista or Windows 7), Mac OS, Linux, etc.
Windows 7 professional (and no 'bloatware' if possible please!)
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.
1600 x 900 or greater please!
13) Do you want a Glossy/reflective screen or a Matte/non-glossy screen?
Build Quality and Design
14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
15) When are you buying this laptop?
within the next 2 weeks or so
16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
5 - 6 years
17) How much hard drive space do you need; 80GB to 640GB? Do you want a SSD drive?
250 GB or more
18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner?
I would take a look at the dell e6420 or e6430. I use R on mine with Ubuntu 12.04 and everything works great. check out the Dell Business outlet as well. You will save a ton of money and still get a 3 year warranty. You can upgrade to NBD onsite for $99.
5 or 6 year requirement puts you square in the business class only section. For data analysis and such, I think you need an i7 (quad) processor. I'd recommend the Lenovo Thinkpad T series. Possibly some of dell's business class.
I've heard other stats people say dual cores are fine, though if you need a quad, only the Dell offers it. The T series is limited to dual core. There are a few ultrabooks with ethernet, but they're only HD resolution. The T430s might be worth a look. It's light at four pounds and durable.
Check out the Sony Vaio S series 13", they offer great quality and light laptops with 1600x900 screens, good processing power and also a 640m gpu. Sony charges huge amounts for the ssds, but if you upgrade yourself you'll be able to save a lot of money.