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Need tech (laptop) advice
Old 05-04-2019, 06:14 PM   #1
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Need tech (laptop) advice

DS has been accepted into the state magnet high school for Math and Science. (Yay!)

He's going to need a laptop. I want to buy one for school work and not gaming. If I ask him, he'll say that a gaming laptop is what he really needs, and frankly I can't tell what the difference is.

I'm willing to shell out some dough for a nice functional laptop, but keep in mind that a laptop is a luxury and not strictly necessary for attendance.

Please give me some ideas- I don't want an Apple. He wants Windows 10. No idea what kind of memory, processing speed, etc. I want to know what is nice to have and necessary to have.

Also, tell me what is necessary for gaming and unnecessary for school work. Please feel free to give parameters or just a laptop that you love and think is a great deal. Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:35 PM   #2
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depending what kind of gaming (there's a difference between say fortnite and wow and ffxiv), most of the difference required to work for gaming is going to be in the video card and processor. Also price lol. My gaming PC is about 2-3x in cost of whatever your base "build your own desktop" would look like.

I haven't priced laptops in a while, or looked at specs, but if you find some nice entry level windows book that should work - then when he starts asking for upgrades or "but THIS one" you'll see the difference.

But a lot depends on what games...many these days are designed for lower end clients, so it can be tricky. It will help the more techy responders here to know what games specifically he wants to build for, and you want to avoid enabling.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:02 PM   #3
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I had no idea there was any difference in specs based on which game he is playing. He plays entirely too much fortnight. But I'm sure he'd just play something else if fortnight went away.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:09 PM   #4
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My grandson plays games on an old Toshiba I updated for him. Point is, you won’t eliminate all games. Stay between $500 and $1000 depending on your budget and you’ll have a nice laptop but not a full blown gaming laptop. Those will hit $2K and up. As for nice, it would be nice to have a SSD drive and 16GB of memory.

This is nice:

https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell...ptop/dncwa264h

However, you really should try to coordinate with DS. He may want a bigger screen and he may like a different keyboard setup. If he’s okay with an external drive for holding data, you may not want the physical hard drive. There are a lot of things to balance with a laptop. What I like, he may not. Don’t worry about a gaming laptop, just set the budget and get the best for what you’re willing to spend given the things DS thinks is important. Basically, you’re balancing, processor speed, internal memory, storage memory and the interface (keyboard and screen). More is better, faster is better. Budget is the restrictive element.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:13 PM   #5
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I had no idea there was any difference in specs based on which game he is playing. He plays entirely too much fortnight. But I'm sure he'd just play something else if fortnight went away.
As Aerides said, the gaming systems have high end video cards. They also are likely to produce a lot of heat so they have fans to keep things cool. In my mind, that means noise. My grandsons computer only makes fan noise when heís playing games so maybe thatís not a day to day concern.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:15 PM   #6
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You can get a good functional (non-gaming) laptop for under $600. I would give him a budget in that range and let him pick one out.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:47 PM   #7
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I had no idea there was any difference in specs based on which game he is playing. He plays entirely too much fortnight. But I'm sure he'd just play something else if fortnight went away.
See that's the thing. 10 years ago the difference for a gaming rig vs. regular was obvious, but in the present day the game co's have changed things to bring in more players ($$), and put more of the heavy lifting on the back end vs. the client. Fortnite will play well enough on any newish setup, even a non-gaming one. It's not 2005 anymore. Sure there are some games that require more, but the lure of the casual player is strong, especially in the "free to play (more to get cool skins)" market - ala fortnite.

Just get him something basic, and let him know: if you play games and get A's we don't care. If you screw up and get C's we'll assume you are gaming and you'll be back home as a sophomore.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:04 AM   #8
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Along with the laptop, get him a thumb-drive and tell him to copy over all the documents, homework, etc he does on the machine at least once per week.

That way if it dies or is stolen, he doesn't lose months or the entire year of work.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:34 AM   #9
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Questions about "What laptop should I buy" abound on forums everywhere. The problem is that it's impossible for anyone to recommend a model, because they change every 6 months, which is less than the time you need to you know you have a good one.

In the spirit of LBYM I would say to get the cheapest that has 8GB of RAM (4GB is not really enough for Windows 10). Almost everything else you can add is high mark-up stuff that your DS won't use, unless he's into gaming, in which case he should buy his own gaming PC (probably in a deskside box).

If you want to splurge on a single luxury feature, get a laptop with a solid-state disk (SSD). This will actually have less storage than a laptop with a traditional hard disk (instead of 1000GB you will only get 256GB, and pay a bit more too), but the speed and smoothness of operation is --- to my mind --- well worth it. Even if your DS's PC has a modest processor, if it has an SSD it will boot up in one-fifth the time that his classmates' high-end monsters with 4000 GB HDs (typically full of pirated movies) take.

I recently traded down from my 3-year-old laptop with a standard HD for a 4-year-old refurb model with an SSD and it has transformed my relationship with the PC; I never have to stop and wait for 10 seconds while the disk spins, and it's almost totally silent. Also, unlike HDs, SSDs also almost never die suddenly, but of course that doesn't obviate the need for backups, especially since theft/loss/spilt Coke remain possible ways to lose everything.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ugeauxgirl View Post
Please give me some ideas- I don't want an Apple. He wants Windows 10. No idea what kind of memory, processing speed, etc. I want to know what is nice to have and necessary to have.

Also, tell me what is necessary for gaming and unnecessary for school work. Please feel free to give parameters or just a laptop that you love and think is a great deal. Thanks!
Check with the school, and in particular with his major department.

Virtually all schools have recommendations. Some have requirements in conjunction with specific classes.
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:50 AM   #11
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Check with the school, and in particular with his major department.

Virtually all schools have recommendations. Some have requirements in conjunction with specific classes.
+1

And congrats to DS!
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:01 AM   #12
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Check with the school, and in particular with his major department.

Virtually all schools have recommendations. Some have requirements in conjunction with specific classes.
...and, you might want to re-visit your Win10 specification if not specifically required for his school. What Iím talking about is considering a Chromebook for him, IF Google Docs are their standard. You can be all-in for less than $500:

https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-chromebook/

...and heís automatically backed-up, more secure, and games arenít going to be as accessible as they would be if he were on Win10. If the clock were rewound 20 yrs., itís what Iíd get for my son.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:13 AM   #13
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If it was me, I'd give him a maximum budget of $1,000 + tax and tell him to pick the laptop himself. I'd send him links to websites explaining what features are desirable in a laptop and why, and let him do the research. The advantage of this approach is,

(1) His knowledge about computers may increase dramatically,
(2) He will get whatever is "the cool computer" among his friends and will love it,
(3) If his computer turns out to be less than optimal, he won't blame you for it, and
(4) He may be more motivated than you are to find an especially good deal or sale.

No matter what you buy him, he can fritter away his time playing games on it; maybe not every single game, but believe me, there will be plenty to entice him even on the lower end computers. That's a different issue and how he spends his time is more in the realm of parenting than computing. You have brought him up well so far, and now that he is in college it is time for him to step out into the world and make wise choices. As a parent that's scary but it has to happen at some point.

Just because a laptop is marketed as a "gaming laptop" doesn't mean it is unsuitable for other purposes. The implication is that it is fast with great graphics and is pretty much high end in other respects as well, and looks cool.

P.S. - - Or, you could buy him one of Amazon's best sellers like this one for $699. But I think you'd be missing a great chance to demonstrate your confidence in him as a young man and that you don't think he's a little boy any more.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:47 AM   #14
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Thanks for the really useful suggestions. To clarify, he's 15 years old and going to a Math and Science boarding school.

T-Minus, I think your suggestion is very good and I will call and ask what the standard paper format is. He uses a Chromebook now at his local public high school.

I asked the school about recommendations for a laptop but the school has a computer lab and laptops are not required, so they don't have specifications.

DS knows lots more about computers than I do, I didn't want him to take advantage of my lack of knowledge. (But I really need an AMD sound card for my music appreciation class...)

Aerides, you are right that we don't care what he plays as long as he's doing his work. Will be sure to have that discussion.

Thanks all for the advice and help
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:50 AM   #15
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Thanks for the really useful suggestions. To clarify, he's 15 years old and going to a Math and Science boarding school.
Oops!!! I should read more carefully - - sorry. For some reason I thought he was a couple of years older and headed off to college. Still, much of the same applies, IMO, since he is going to be living away from home; it's a big step in his life.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:51 AM   #16
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Congrats to DS.

You might confirm the school doesn't have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) "required" laptop for students. My oldest went to a school that required a laptop for his major and they gave 5 options. He could bring anything he wanted, but those 5 would be supported by the university's tech support and were guaranteed to run the required software, provided by the school. All five were right around $2K.

EDIT: looks like I was typing while you mentioned you already talked to the school.... I'll leave post for anyone else headed off to school/college, but you're already on this.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:58 AM   #17
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I'm a cheapskate. So I tend to look at E bay and the refurb devices. Typically i don't want to go over $300. You can get <$200 if you compromise a bit
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:05 PM   #18
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I'm a cheapskate. So I tend to look at E bay and the refurb devices. Typically i don't want to go over $300. You can get <$200 if you compromise a bit
Good point.

My daughter started college back in the mid 1990's. My ex and I did not have good spending habits at that time and were chronically broke and deeply in debt, so we couldn't afford a new computer for her. We gave her our old computer when we replaced it and that seemed to be OK (although certainly not in the "dream-come-true" category for her).

So I guess that's another option if LBYM is a consideration.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:43 PM   #19
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I am a believer in not scrimping on something that is likely to be in use every day.
-17" LED touch-screen
-12gb RAM (or 16 OK too)
-1 TB with SSD accelerator
Should last for 8 years...
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:14 PM   #20
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I like (and have had good luck) with HP's stuff. I'm not into gaming but I always try to buy the higher end/rated INTEL processors and lot's of RAM. For speed and compatibility. You can never have to much RAM, IMO. A 1TB HD is plenty. Basic graphics and sound capabilities of most PC's is more than good enough for school and business work.

Agree with whoever said it above, buy a good thumb drive to used for regular (daily or weekly) backups of personal data. You can always buy another PC but your personal data can't be easily replaced.
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