Need Second Opinions for a University Programming Laptop


Nov 29, 2013
I'm a student going into University fall 2017 for Computer Science/ Game Development. I need a laptop to work alongside my beefier tower computer. I've got a list of possible laptops and I just want feedback about what laptop you would choose and why.

Here's what I'm looking to use it for:

  • Light Gaming
    Game Development
    Computer programming
    Some 3D modelling (probably using blender which currently mainly only supports Nvidia GPUS)
    Web Browsing and Note Taking
Here's some things I was looking for:

  • 1080p 15.6 Inch Screen (to fit in my backpack)
    ~$1000 CAD (although I've been trying to go cheaper)
    SSD (I plan to replace the HDD in some of these computers with an SSD)
    8 GB or more of RAM
    Probably Refurbished/Used, I don't really care much about scratches as long as they are minor
    Fairly future-proof
And finally here's the links to all the laptops
Also I'm not in any rush so if you think I should wait for back to school deals, let me know.
And of course if you have any other laptops you want to recommend, leave a link. Just make sure it is on a Canadian retailer in CAD. Thanks! :)


Hello, Sean:

First off, if you're 'not in any rush', then I'd definitely recommend waiting for seasonal/holiday specials. But let's try to answer your question...

For the latest 2.78 version, Blender recommends a quad-core CPU. Dual-cores may be used for 'basic usage'. You may have to contact your school to find out just how heavy the expected programming and rendering workload is likely to get.

My instinct reaction to your background info is to go with a quad-core CPU at any rate. A dual-core, especially a Kaby Lake, will offer impressive computing power and great battery life, but if you need to do complex computations and large-scale video rendering a quad-core will be far better suited, ideally combined with a Quadro GPU.

As you may have guessed, I'm leaning heavily towards the HP zBook. I know it's the most expensive one and it's refurbished, which only makes it even more expensive, in a sense, but it's a proper 17.3" workstation with great specs out of the box. I can't find any info on the display (IPS or TN) but it was originally available with an IPS panel (UWVA version). If this zBook has an IPS panel, then get it now. Even if it doesn't, it remains a hot candidate.

The only serious alternative, in my opinion, is the Open Box Acer, but it's an AMD-based PC which rules out Blender from your info. (I couldn't find any such restrictions on Blender's web page, but I assume you know more about this than I do).

Finally, if it turns out from your inquiry that a dual-core will in fact see you through school work, then go for either the ThinkPad T540p (and save yourself a lot of cash) or the Kaby Lake Lenovo 510 (and enjoy a brand-new machine with an IPS panel).

Best wishes for your new life,
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