Laptop for College

invertedbottles

Honorable
Jun 15, 2012
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10,510
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I'm going away for college. I come from the desktop side of hardware so I need some help here.

1. What is your budget?
$800 - $1200, of course the lower the better

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
13" to 14", MAYBE 15".

3. What screen resolution do you want?
This really doesn't matter to me, of course the lower the resolution the easier it'll be on a graphics card to display games but on the flip side, its lower quality.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
Definitely more portable then desktop replacement but it will be my main computer.

5. How much battery life do you need?
I'd say anything that's reasonable, I won't be camping out in the boonies with no power.

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)?
I do want to be able to play some lower-end games, such as CS:GO.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
I am a proposed Engineering student so there might be a possibility of doing some light CADing. This combined with my desire to game a bit makes me want some form of dedicated graphics (620m/630m minimum?), and also makes me wonder if going for the U series CPUs is smart.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
MUST be an SSD, will be pulling hairs after getting used to my desktop SSD. Ideally 256gb, can deal with 128gb. Would be willing to purchase something with a mechanical if installing an SSD myself is possible and within budget. Alternatively, with a decent caching/startup mSATA, I might be able to live with a mechanical for a bit until the SSD upgrade is within budget.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
None specifically.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
Ideally all 4 undergraduate years, but of course I know this is tech. It'll be outdated tomorrow.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
Not required or even desired, do not want the added weight.

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.
Do not have a preference, open to checkout all reasonable suggestions if the laptops are fairly reliable.

13. What country do you live in?
USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I also want to keep weight down as I want to be able to bring it around to class, coffee shops, friends' places, etc. Sub 4 pounds would be great, but I would be willing to deal with something under 5 pounds. USB 3.0 is mandatory, ideally 2 or 3 but at the minimum 1. Kensington Lock slot also would be nice. RAM should either be a reasonable 4gb+, or upgradeable, or both! Having Windows 7 is a plus, if not I will probably downgrade with an OEM disk and key I have lying around anyways.

I've seen a few that somewhat fit my bill, like the 13.3" Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD (light at 3.2 lbs, 500gb mech w/ 24gb mSATA, gt620m, i7-3517U) or the XPS 14 (heavier at 4.6 lbs, 512gb ssd, gt630m, also i7-3517U, refurb deals put it within my budget). The Zenbook doesn't have the SSD I want but its upgradeable, and the XPS is pretty heavy. I'm willing to checkout more brands since I am not familiar with the laptop market.

I realize I have some pretty specific demands, and realize there might possibly be no laptop on the market that satisfies them all. I'll try to be flexible.

Thanks in advance!

Edit: Browsing around I see a 14" Zenbook on the Asus global site, specs seem great but I can't find the price since it isn't sold in the USA. http://zenbook.asus.com/zenbook/?c=ux42vs
 
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