Computers & Electronics

What's the best laptop for student in college/university?

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[OP]
Newbie
Sep 14, 2011
78 posts
13 upvotes
EDMONTON

What's the best laptop for student in college/university?

Hi I am a student going into general engineering 1st year. My budget is ~1000-1300 CAD. Generally I would look for a ultrabook for mobility and longevity in battery life. But after doing some research, A dedicated graphics card might be needed in order modelling software (AutoCAD) for second year engineering.

Laptop models I am interested in found instores of bestbuy:
Dell inspiron 15 7559 ~$1300CAD
ASUS VivoBook Flip TP501 ~1150CAD
ASUS X456UJ ~950CAD
ASUS K501UX (1 TB HDD, 12gb ram) ~1250CAD

I was wondering in terms of Specs/mobility (weight) Which would you rank 1st and 2nd? And were there any laptops you would recommend given my situation?
32 replies
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Nov 4, 2008
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Can't say for the CAD aspect, but if I were to relive my university days, I would go for a MacBook or a Thinkpad for their durability. If you need horsepower, I'd recommend looking at the W-series or P-series.
When given enough time, all threads on RFD can and will go off on a tangent.
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Jan 21, 2008
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I had the MacBook 12-inch, I quite liked it. Much more enjoyable to use than my Windows based Samsung ultrabook (no, I"m not a Apple fanboy. I would take any 2016 Android flagship over the iPhone 6s). I had a Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (13.3” QHD+ Touch), a high end Samsung ultrabook on Windows for comparison
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Oct 16, 2008
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Maple
Thinkpad T450; it's thin, light and battery last long time.
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Feb 25, 2015
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teoconca wrote: Thinkpad T450; it's thin, light and battery last long time.
+1 for T450. Note that T450s and T460 have non-replaceable batteries. A Li-ion battery usually good for about 2 years, 3 if you are lucky or keep the laptop plugged in most of the time.
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Jul 22, 2006
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Thinkpad

For those with internal battery just buy a 3 yr depot + sealed battery warranty.... After 2.5 years get another internal and external battery :p.
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Jan 13, 2009
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goodboii wrote: Hi I am a student going into general engineering 1st year. My budget is ~1000-1300 CAD. Generally I would look for a ultrabook for mobility and longevity in battery life. But after doing some research, A dedicated graphics card might be needed in order modelling software (AutoCAD) for second year engineering.

Laptop models I am interested in found instores of bestbuy:
Dell inspiron 15 7559 ~$1300CAD
ASUS VivoBook Flip TP501 ~1150CAD
ASUS X456UJ ~950CAD
ASUS K501UX (1 TB HDD, 12gb ram) ~1250CAD

I was wondering in terms of Specs/mobility (weight) Which would you rank 1st and 2nd? And were there any laptops you would recommend given my situation?
To answer your question I would choose the following. Based on performance and sexiness :)

Both have the GeForce® GTX!
(1) ASUS K501UX
(2) Dell inspiron 15 7559
-------------------------------
(3) ASUS X456UJ
(4) ASUS VivoBook Flip TP501

...oh the operating system on a SSD we make booting up much faster.
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Oct 16, 2008
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I used T450 for both home and work. They have separate batteries. They last at least 9hrs before needed a charge.
carbide wrote: +1 for T450. Note that T450s and T460 have non-replaceable batteries. A Li-ion battery usually good for about 2 years, 3 if you are lucky or keep the laptop plugged in most of the time.
Member
Dec 7, 2015
479 posts
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Ottawa, ON
Doesn't the engineering school offer a guide on what they require? I would expect that they will tell you not to get something unless it runs specific programs (i.e. it has to support xyz that doesn't have a Mac version or abc that's Windows only). They also might say minimum i5 or something - some of those programs (FEA or CFD) can be CPU/GPU intensive.
Jr. Member
Dec 19, 2010
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When you say AutoCAD do you mean 2D or also something 3D like inventor/SolidWorks/NX? You could probably get away with a chromebook since all engineering schools should have computer labs capable of doing 3D CAD.

In general a Mac will be a waste of time unless you're going into a program without much calculation since most packages require Windows.
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Jul 22, 2006
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teoconca wrote: I used T450 for both home and work. They have separate batteries. They last at least 9hrs before needed a charge.
The t450 HAS a internal battery pack too
grant_ wrote: In general a Mac will be a waste of time unless you're going into a program without much calculation since most packages require Windows.
+1... Lot of CAD software won't work with OS X or the OS X version differs from the Windows version so you can't follow assignments.
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willilumplump wrote: Doesn't the engineering school offer a guide on what they require? I would expect that they will tell you not to get something unless it runs specific programs (i.e. it has to support xyz that doesn't have a Mac version or abc that's Windows only). They also might say minimum i5 or something - some of those programs (FEA or CFD) can be CPU/GPU intensive.
Don't a lot of these programs go a step further and actually require that you buy a very specific make and model laptop? Before OP goes out spending $1000+, they might want to find out.

Also engineering is extremely tough. Not saying OP is not cut out for it but the reality is there are far more "dropouts" in engineering than there are grads and at a lot of schools you have grad photos that have like 10-20 ppl per year who finish it in its entirety. The good news is a laptop is usable for a lot of other stuff, so it's not like it matters that much; but, might want to wait 'till first year is over before you dive into something specific for your course. Plus even if you are in it for the long haul, there might be stuff you'd realise after first year and may want to upgrade/change the laptop then anyway.

If you need a laptop I think that's fine, personally I would go for a used/off-lease/refurb Latitude or Thinkpad, and none of the consumer-level junk you get at Best Lie, etc. at crazy prices. But that's just me. If you really need something with more capability down the road, at least you only spent like $300 or so and can easily change to something else. Spending $1300 without really knowing what you need, is not a good idea.
Member
Dec 7, 2015
479 posts
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Ottawa, ON
At the new student introduction to engineering I attended so long ago, the dean said "Introduce yourself to the person on your left and the person on your right... only one of you will graduate in engineering." I was the one that did and, yes, the failure or quitting rate is that high.

I agree that you'll need a professional grade laptop if you're serious about studying engineering. Thinkpad would be high on my list. I would want the option to have a spare battery, though.
Jr. Member
Dec 19, 2010
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willilumplump wrote: At the new student introduction to engineering I attended so long ago, the dean said "Introduce yourself to the person on your left and the person on your right... only one of you will graduate in engineering." I was the one that did and, yes, the failure or quitting rate is that high.

I agree that you'll need a professional grade laptop if you're serious about studying engineering. Thinkpad would be high on my list. I would want the option to have a spare battery, though.
I disagree, while it may be easier you can get away with using lab computers. CAD and FEA can be done in computer labs and other software packages can be done through their remote desktop solutions e.g. MATLAB. Make sure you don't waste money on a professional graphics card when most others will work fine.
Member
Dec 7, 2015
479 posts
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Ottawa, ON
There's a saying: "Cheap tools are a luxury a mechanic can't afford."

The laptop is a tool you'll be using to advance yourself in engineering. You can't afford a cheap tool. After spending thousands a year on university, does it make sense to cheap out on a laptop. You need reliability; you need to study, not spend your time futzing with a broken laptop. Therefore, check the reliability stats on laptop brands and only buy a good one. Don't buy a cheap one or a refurb. That's why I suggest a professional grade laptop. It's not about processor speed - it's about reliability and quality.
Jr. Member
Nov 8, 2016
101 posts
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GTA
Bumping up this thread as I'm shopping for a laptop for the university student. Any suggestion from on going deals. My budget is 600 - 800
- Min 8GB
- HD 256 ideal but not required as I can upgrade it later
- light weight as student need to carry it
- Good battery > 7 hrs
- 13" or 14" screen with adequate resolution

Thanks in advance..
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Aug 21, 2009
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willilumplump wrote: At the new student introduction to engineering I attended so long ago, the dean said "Introduce yourself to the person on your left and the person on your right... only one of you will graduate in engineering." I was the one that did and, yes, the failure or quitting rate is that high.

I agree that you'll need a professional grade laptop if you're serious about studying engineering. Thinkpad would be high on my list. I would want the option to have a spare battery, though.
UBC engineering grad here. We got the same speech but it was one of you will not finish. To this, there was much murmuring and gnashing of teeth! I used to do a lot of AutoCAD work on a Dell E6430 (circa 2015/2016) with i7 processer and 8GB ram IIRC. It was plenty powerful for anything we did in AutoCAD. For more recent versions of AC, Autodesk is recommending minimum of 16GB. Good luck with your studies!
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Jul 6, 2010
787 posts
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Toronto
Saheest wrote: Bumping up this thread as I'm shopping for a laptop for the university student. Any suggestion from on going deals. My budget is 600 - 800
- Min 8GB
- HD 256 ideal but not required as I can upgrade it later
- light weight as student need to carry it
- Good battery > 7 hrs
- 13" or 14" screen with adequate resolution

Thanks in advance..
Thinkpad T480s.
https://www.lenovo.com/ca/en/laptops/th ... 2TP2TT480S

Use Rakuten for 9% cashback (current promo), and it ends up being about $830. A wee bit beyond your price range, but well worth it.

Edit: Using this link and the method described here, you may be able to get it for under $800 (before tax) after accounting for the cashback.
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Mar 25, 2012
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Saheest wrote: Bumping up this thread as I'm shopping for a laptop for the university student. Any suggestion from on going deals. My budget is 600 - 800
- Min 8GB
- HD 256 ideal but not required as I can upgrade it later
- light weight as student need to carry it
- Good battery > 7 hrs
- 13" or 14" screen with adequate resolution

Thanks in advance..
@Saheest Have you considered a refurbished, gently used, off-lease Dell Financial Services laptop? They are beasts, good components, refurbished, new batteries where needed, etc. They have a Dell Precision 15" laptop with 5 GB RAM, Intel Quad Core i7 processor, and 256 GB SSD for $739.00 + taxes and shipping. Enter a 20% coupon code before January 3, 2020, and you will take $150 off the pre-tax purchase price, at $591.20.

Display: 15.6" HD (1366 x 768)
Processor: Intel Core i7 Quad (i7-7600HQ) 2.60 GHz
Memory: 8 GB
Hard Drive: 256 GB
OS: 64-bit Windows 10 Professional

https://www.dellrefurbished.ca/laptops

Cheers,
Doug
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Nov 8, 2016
101 posts
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GTA
Thanks everyone who chimed in. Dell refurbished has 15" screen instead of 14" so unfortunately it won't be considered but I'll explore the others from Dell refurbished
I'm looking at the Lenovo one but it is bit expensive (inc taxes)..but spec wise this is pretty good and give upto 15 hr battery.

Anything recommended from Asus ?

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