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Best computer to get?


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If you can afford a mac, I'd recommend to just dish out the cash and get one (preferably a pro). Lots of programming languages/computational tools used in stats are made with unix systems in mind, so it eases a lot of getting things to work. If you don't want to pay for a mac, getting some linux laptop would be the next best route if you're comfortable with using linux (it's not for everyone). Of course getting a cheaper windows laptop is also fine, you're probably just going to go through more hassle to get stuff to work.

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I went through two Windows laptops as a grad student and found that it was sufficient. If you want to do developing on your own free time that is unrelated to your research, then *maybe* it helps to have a Linux machine. But if you need to do any sort of high-performance computing for your research (e.g. running simulations that might take awhile to finish), you will most likely not do it on your personal machine anyway, but instead, on your school's HPC cluster that has tens of thousands of CPU cores. And to access that from your personal computer, you just need an SSH client (any machine will do). 

Edited by Applied Math to Stat
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Personally I like desktops but, I have found my laptop to be a necessity because of its portability so I would say that you should consider a laptop. There are many and I am not an expert on all of them so I instead I will recommend features that your laptop should meet. 

  1. Intel i5<= or its equivalent in AMD (I forget right now what it was)
  2. 500GB HDD <= This can also be an SSD but try and get something with 500GB total
  3. 8GB RAM <= Anything less than that and you might as well just get yourself a decent calculator and some graph paper
  4. 2 USB ports <=
  5. Ethernet port
  6. Audio port
  7. A separate video card (If you want to be able to play some video games)

If you are going to get a desktop as well with at least this features then you can just ignore this post.

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If you are going to go the windows route I think Lenovo is one of the best brands.  If you get their warranty with accidental damage they will cover literally ANYTHING like chargers, cracked screens, batteries.  They also have a wide variety of options and lots of sales.  I might switch to a Mac though when my current computer dies because windows can get annoying.

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If you're tech savvy, I would recommend getting a desktop computer with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB or 256GB SSD for the operating system and an additional 1TB HDD for files, and an i7 CPU with 4 cores (and 8 threads). Then, simply get a basic functional laptop and use to remote in to the desktop. If you're only getting a laptop, you want something with 8GB RAM minimum, and I'd still recommend an i7 dual-core CPU (with 4 threads). 

I really learned the value of a powerful CPU if you're running intensive simulations. Setting up simulations to run in parallel across the threads of your processor saves a ton of time. You may have access to a cluster, but for my work I didn't find it worth the hassle. I would personally rather just have a powerful desktop of my own. I'm starting a new job in July and will be building a desktop with the AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPU with 16 cores (and 32 threads)... I'm salivating over how fast my simulations will run on it!

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I and most of my colleagues use Microsoft Surfaces. I have the Surface Book (predates the new Surface Laptop) and they all have Surface Pros. We're all very happy with them.

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On 2018-04-18 at 11:55 AM, Biostat_student_22 said:

If you're tech savvy, I would recommend getting a desktop computer with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB or 256GB SSD for the operating system and an additional 1TB HDD for files, and an i7 CPU with 4 cores (and 8 threads). Then, simply get a basic functional laptop and use to remote in to the desktop. If you're only getting a laptop, you want something with 8GB RAM minimum, and I'd still recommend an i7 dual-core CPU (with 4 threads). 

I mean my MacBook Pro meets all these tech specs and I don't have to worry about remote in, plus I get to use MacOS and enjoy the great build quality. So I still think the above suggestions for a Mac are better.  

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2 hours ago, statscan9 said:

I mean my MacBook Pro meets all these tech specs and I don't have to worry about remote in, plus I get to use MacOS and enjoy the great build quality. So I still think the above suggestions for a Mac are better.  

Yeah, getting a desktop to remote into is nuts unless you're already someone who would be doing this anyways, in which case you wouldn't be asking a forum for advice on what type of computer to get. 

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