Laptop for computer science - Virtual Machines and long coding sessions

May 13, 2018
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Hey guys.

I'm in University and my old laptop is simply not good enough for me.
I am going to need a laptop that can run a Linux server VM alongside windows, and still work at least somewhat decently.

It's very important for me that it runs smoothly, I don't want a laggy computer. So here are my questions:

1. Do I need 16 GB of ram, or can I get along with 8GB of ram? The price of 16GB is simply a lot higher
2. Is a 256 SSD going to be enough? This laptop is purely for University.
3. Are Intels 8th gen i5s good enough for multitasking with VMs, or should I look for i7's ?

I'm thinking 13-14inch, but definitely not bigger. I don't need a special graphics card, whatever is integrated into the machine is completely fine since I won't be gaming on it at all.


I was looking at an ASUS Zenbook or a Lenovo IdeaPad 720s. Any other ideas? Any suggestions?

My budget is roughly the same as these ultrabooks with i5/i7 8gb/16gb ram.
 
May 13, 2018
3
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10
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May 13, 2018
3
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10
0


Is there any significant difference between i7-8550U and 8650U?

Also, the rig has 1 stick of 16GB, not two sticks of 8, is that critical?
 

Karadjgne

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Dec 26, 2012
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VMs are all about ram. For decent available usage, figure on the first 8Gb as for the original Windows OS. Then add a minimum of 4Gb for every VM you'll run, with server VMs that'll see somewhat decent usage probably needing closer to 8Gb or better.
Any desktop VM machine I've ever seen, recommended ram is 32Gb minimum of planning on 2 or more possible VMs. Laptops are generally slow as is, mainly due to heat considerations requiring low thread cpus, no point in exasperating that with lack of ram using pagefile.

Laptops generally have 2 slots for ram. The better grade will have 2 identical slots, so will handle upto 2x16Gb sticks. The not so good grade will have partials, so can support 16Gb in 1 slot, but only upto 8Gb in the other for a total of 24Gb. You'll have to check the model stats to see the upgradability of the ram and total allowance. Many laptops come with both slots already populated 2x8Gb or 2x4Gb (2x smaller sizes are cheaper than 1x larger size mainly) so you'll have to check that too or upgrade to more ram requiring a full new kit, not a single stick.

https://www.notebookcheck.net/8550U-vs-8650U_9208_9212.247596.0.html

8550u and 8650u are exactly the same cpu, except the 8650u runs 200MHz faster. The benchmarks etc (look at the numbers, not the graphs) tell the story of the differences that minor clock bump has. Overall, yes, there's a decent amount of difference, but how that'll translate into real world performance is something only you can judge. I wouldn't consider it a make or break buying point or pay too much extra with 2 comparable models.
 
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