View Full Version : [ubuntu] Which laptop should I get (for college)?

May 6th, 2009, 07:33 PM

I'm looking at getting a laptop for college and I've got two top choices right now. They are this Aspire (http://computers.pricegrabber.com/laptop/m/74223250/details/st=product_tab/) and this one from system76 (http://system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=86).
My price range is somewhere in the ballpark of $750 - $1500.
If I end up getting something with Vista pre-installed, I'll dual boot it with Ubuntu (no use wasting the license).

My primary concerns are these:
1) What about 64-bit? I've never used anything other than 32-bit. What's the difference and what does that mean for performance, compatibility, etc?
2) Wireless network compatibility? I can't imagine it'll be a problem, but I'm not sure.
3) Is the Blue-Ray drive that important?

Other info:
1) I'm not too fussed about Ubuntu coming pre-installed. I'm perfectly willing to do it myself.
2) Hard drive size is not that important, as I'll be running file sharing on my desktop.

Any suggestions on which one I should get? Or maybe something completely different?

May 6th, 2009, 07:55 PM
First of all if you can wait, wait for the new Windows 7 to be launched (Anything will be better than Vista), if you are planning to dual boot it. I know a few friends who have been using system76 laptop and they do not recommend it. I haven't used it personally. Aspire 6920-6422 Notebook is a good laptop to go with.

In a 32-bit computer, the width (or size) of the data buss is 32-bits wide. A 64-bit buss is twice as wide so the system can move twice as much data around. Being able to process more data means a faster system -- but only for specific things. Normal office productivity and web surfing will show no advantages at all, whereas graphics processing and scientific calculations will go much faster. But right now I would stick to the more common 32-bit, because there are a lot of problems with 64-bit that still remain to be fixed. It is a new technology so will take a little more time to catch up, i guess.

I don't think there are any problems with wireless networking. For Blue-Ray, it depends on if you are planning to actually use it. It is always good to have new technologies. Go for it if your budget allows.

May 6th, 2009, 08:03 PM
The main thing you would need to know about 64bit vs 32bit is that 32bit only supports up to 4GB RAM, but 64bit supports 16EB (a whole lot) of RAM.

I would avoid anything with broadcom wireless, and would shoot for wireless n. If you get something with blue ray you are going to need a processor, ram, and graphics card that can handle it. Then you are talking more money.

I personally like the system 76 better than the aspire.

KOld Iron
May 6th, 2009, 08:13 PM
If you buy a laptop specifically for college, then my first question would be: What courses do you intend to take?

- Will you do science courses (e.g. number crunching may be important because you will be running symbolic math software on it) -> 64 bit may be important
- Will you do languages (e.g. your focus is on wordprocessing, maybe also layout programs) -> graphics are not important, 32 bit is just fine
- Will you do multimedia courses? (e.g. video cutting and editing software may be used) -> definitely 64-bit
- Blue-ray? Are you planning to watch lots of videos in HD format, then yes, if not, the save the money and buy memory.

Memory is the most important investment, particularly with laptops, because you can never have enough memory and in 2 or 3 years it may be hard to get the type of memory your laptop needs. Of course if you are using 32-bit then 4 GByte of memory are max.

So, as always, important is what you want to do with it. Think about that and then make the decision. If you "just" want to do a little bit of writing and researching in the web, save your money for now, get something low-budget and spend the money in a few years on a decent machine.

May 6th, 2009, 08:41 PM
What courses do you intend to take?

Lots of math and science (computer science), but word processing is important too.

The more I read about it, the more I like the system76 Pangolin. An upgrade to 4GB RAM is quite reasonable, and even though I'm not willing to throw in an extra $715 for 8GB, it would be nice to have 64-bit so I can upgrade in the future.
At this point, I've pretty much decided on all the options except the display and the processor.

Thank you all for your input so far.

Edit: Well, I made up my mind to go with the Pangolin. Now I just have to decide on my options, but that's another subject.