Solved! choosing midrange Windows laptop for running physics simulations, touch screen for notetaking, and in-system programming

Jul 29, 2018
Hi Everyone,

I'm looking to buy a decent affordable and portable PC laptop for running Matlab/python simulations, some multitasking, and programming simple embedded systems. My biggest concerns are battery life, processing speed, and the ability to take touchscreen notes on the fly in Onenote while I'm in lab.

For context, right now I'm running a mid 2012 Macbook Pro (Intel i7 2.9 GHz dual core), which sounds amazing, but I've run it hard. The battery life is down to an hour, it's really slow and has huge lagtime when opening programs. While I love my mac, I want to be able to use system heavy, windows products like LabView and Zemax without virtualization or running server side versions.

I'm not sure which Intel i7 would suit my needs, whether it's worth worrying about graphics cards (I mean, it'd be nice to play witcher 3, but this going to be a work laptop). I'm also not sure whether I should be getting more starting RAM, I have 2x4GB 1600MHz DDR3 right now, and from what I know, laptop RAM is more annoying to upgrade than a desktop.

I've done some research, and it looks like 2-in-1 laptops like maybe a Dell Inspiron might be a good fit, but there's a lot of mixed reviews. Please let me know what you think or if I can provide further information, I really appreciate the help!

Here's the form:
1. budget

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
less than 6lb, screen size doesn't matter

3. What screen resolution do you want?

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?
>3 hrs

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

Optional, it'd be cool to play witcher 3, but not vital.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
physics simulations and data analysis(Matlab,python, Zemax OpticsStudio, Mathematica, that sort of stuff), general programming, embedded system/in-system programming, notetaking(OneNote).

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
at least 256GB

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Not sure, maybe Dell or Amazon?

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
4+ years

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
Not needed, they always get crushed.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
I've been a mac user for 15 years, so I've no idea, I'm open to trying new brands.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I'd prefer something with a decent chassis so I can pop it in my backpack and not be terrified of it getting wrecked from light wear/tear. I'm in a rush a lot and it makes me clumsy.

Thanks for your help!