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Laptop Recommendations


beefgallo

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I see the discussion about Surface 3 vs. iPad here, and surface does look very appealing. However, it is rather pricey. 

 

I would like to purchase a laptop to take with me to grad school, I was thinking something along the lines of Lenovo Yoga 3, which has Windows, an actual processor, but is also light, small and can function in a tablet-like mode. Does anyone have it or anything similar they recommend?

 

 

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I don't but I'd love to hear what others thing of the Yoga 2 or Yoga 3. I've also been looking at the Acer Aspire R13 but, some of the reviews about the keyboard are leaving me reluctant to pull the trigger.

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I had been looking to buy a Yoga2 Pro or Yoga3, I should say actually Yoga2 Pro is better than Yoga3 according to reviews. It seems that although the benchmarks have shown the processing ability for both laptops should be the same, Yoga3 is not as fast as it should be. I don't know what you want to do on these laptops, but I should warn you, these laptops are not designed for heavy processing, even if they can do those heavy processing, it may damage its processor or battery. All in all, these are good laptops but not for gaming/heavy processing.

I think I might be able to help better if I knew what are the main things you will use your laptop for.

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I can't imagine paying $1200 for a Yoga 3 when you can get similar computers with the same or similar specs for like $700 (for example, a Dell 13 7000 Series). What a rip off. 

 

I mean I bought a laptop three years ago for $1000 that kicks the living shit out of the specs of Yoga 3s. 

Edited by victorydance
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I can't imagine paying $1200 for a Yoga 3 when you can get similar computers with the same or similar specs for like $700 (for example, a Dell 13 7000 Series). What a rip off. 

 

I mean I bought a laptop three years ago for $1000 that kicks the living shit out of the specs of Yoga 3s. 

It is pricey, and that's exactly the reason why i'm asking this here... I imagined there was something similar for less money, I just brought the Yoga as an example for the kind of computer I am interested in.

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When my very heavy 2011 15" MacBook Pro dies, I'm definitely going to go for a 13" Air. It's a lot cheaper (less than $1000 with student discounts), and will really save my back. As a humanities student, I don't need heavy processing capacity, so I don't need any specs beyond light and awesome. I don't believe it's necessary to have a Mac, but I've had them all my life (my parents had an Apple II back in the day) and can't imagine using anything else.

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It is pricey, and that's exactly the reason why i'm asking this here... I imagined there was something similar for less money, I just brought the Yoga as an example for the kind of computer I am interested in.

 

General advice for buying a laptop:

 

You need to first identify what you want and need. Do you want something more portable or something more powerful? Do you want something that is more all-purpose or excels in a particular category?

 

For me, portability is not a concern. I don't personally get it...if you have a backpack, the weight and size difference really doesn't make much of a difference at the end of the day. But that is me. Some people feel differently.

 

What are your needs? You're specific needs are not that great. Writing docs, surfing the web, and downloading things can be done on pretty much any modern lap top. No sense breaking the bank for something that you don't need.

 

There are three main categories of specs to look at:

 

- Processor (engine of your comp)

- RAM (ability/power for your computer to run applications concurrently)

- Hard drive (storage)

 

Your average mid ranged lap top these days are going to have an i5 processor, 4-8 GBs RAM, and a 500+ GB hard-drive. 2 in 1 comps and tablets have low ram, worse processors, and small storage. Higher end lap tops are going to have i7s, 12+ GBs RAM, and either SSD or high GB hard-disk.

 

Brand names have no relevance. People seem to have loyalty to certain brands for whatever reason but in the grand scheme of things, none are particularly more reliable than others or produce 'better' computers to the average consumer. The only difference is MAC vs. PC and only because they have different operating systems (although I would argue MACs are overpriced for their general specs).

 

My advice? Forget about brand names and go through each company and what lines of lap tops they have in accordance to what you are looking for in terms of design and functionality. Compare their specs and their prices. Try and buy the best computer based on specs in the price range. That's it. 

 

For example, like I said before, there is absolutely no point in buying a Yoga 3 for $1200 when you can get pretty much the exact same computer from Dell for almost half the price. These types of discrepancies exist throughout the market and unfortunately people fall into the trap of what is popular and don't realize they are paying a premium price for a similar or inferior product. 

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Actually, I'm not sure why the $1200 price tag for a Yoga keeps getting thrown around. They are routinely under $800 because of the frequent sales Lenovo has (both on their main page and on their education page). That makes them not dissimilar at all from the price of the Dell 13s that were mentioned above.

 

As someone that basically always needs a computer around, I will say that the weight definitely matters. I walk, uphill, to get to my office so I can tell the difference in adding a pound or two to my bag. If you walk or bike a lot, the weight of the computer is something you should consider if you'll be taking it with you regularly.

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Actually, I'm not sure why the $1200 price tag for a Yoga keeps getting thrown around. They are routinely under $800 because of the frequent sales Lenovo has (both on their main page and on their education page). That makes them not dissimilar at all from the price of the Dell 13s that were mentioned above.

 

As someone that basically always needs a computer around, I will say that the weight definitely matters. I walk, uphill, to get to my office so I can tell the difference in adding a pound or two to my bag. If you walk or bike a lot, the weight of the computer is something you should consider if you'll be taking it with you regularly.

 

Their website?

 

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/landingpage/promotions/yoga-family/

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I have only seen them for 1000$ and more.

 

victorydance - thanks, i've looked up Dell computers at your advice and they do seem to fit the same way the Yoga models do and cost less.  I actually have no brand loyalty to lenovo, it was just the first example of the kind of computer I am looking forward to and the purpose of this thread was to get recommendation on similar (hopefully cheaper) stuff. So thanks.
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General advice for buying a laptop:

 

You need to first identify what you want and need. Do you want something more portable or something more powerful? Do you want something that is more all-purpose or excels in a particular category?

 

For me, portability is not a concern. I don't personally get it...if you have a backpack, the weight and size difference really doesn't make much of a difference at the end of the day. But that is me. Some people feel differently.

 

What are your needs? You're specific needs are not that great. Writing docs, surfing the web, and downloading things can be done on pretty much any modern lap top. No sense breaking the bank for something that you don't need.

 

There are three main categories of specs to look at:

 

- Processor (engine of your comp)

- RAM (ability/power for your computer to run applications concurrently)

- Hard drive (storage)

 

Your average mid ranged lap top these days are going to have an i5 processor, 4-8 GBs RAM, and a 500+ GB hard-drive. 2 in 1 comps and tablets have low ram, worse processors, and small storage. Higher end lap tops are going to have i7s, 12+ GBs RAM, and either SSD or high GB hard-disk.

 

Brand names have no relevance. People seem to have loyalty to certain brands for whatever reason but in the grand scheme of things, none are particularly more reliable than others or produce 'better' computers to the average consumer. The only difference is MAC vs. PC and only because they have different operating systems (although I would argue MACs are overpriced for their general specs).

 

My advice? Forget about brand names and go through each company and what lines of lap tops they have in accordance to what you are looking for in terms of design and functionality. Compare their specs and their prices. Try and buy the best computer based on specs in the price range. That's it. 

 

For example, like I said before, there is absolutely no point in buying a Yoga 3 for $1200 when you can get pretty much the exact same computer from Dell for almost half the price. These types of discrepancies exist throughout the market and unfortunately people fall into the trap of what is popular and don't realize they are paying a premium price for a similar or inferior product. 

Completely on point.

 

The only thing I want to add which rising_star has mentioned is that, I think the weight does matter if you are going to carry around the laptop all day around in your backpack.

Also I suggest you to read some reviews about the laptop you chose at last, because durability is important which only the users who have used the laptop can comment on that, but from my experience, Lenovo laptops usually have good durability (especially thinkpad series)

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I have made some further research on this, and unfortunately it seems that Lenovo and Dell laptops with similar spec both cost around 1000$, at least where I live.

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Completely on point.

 

The only thing I want to add which rising_star has mentioned is that, I think the weight does matter if you are going to carry around the laptop all day around in your backpack.

Also I suggest you to read some reviews about the laptop you chose at last, because durability is important which only the users who have used the laptop can comment on that, but from my experience, Lenovo laptops usually have good durability (especially thinkpad series)

 

Yeah like I said, people have differing opinions about this. I carry around my laptop everywhere and my laptop weighs approximately 5 lbs, it doesn't bother me at all. 

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I have made some further research on this, and unfortunately it seems that Lenovo and Dell laptops with similar spec both cost around 1000$, at least where I live.

 

One option is to wait until you get to the US to buy your new computer. It'll often be cheaper than in other countries, and you might be able to get an education discount through your new school that you can't get before you're officially a student there.

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I've got the Yoga 2 13 and I'm pretty happy with it. I bought it in Canada almost a year ago, and everything with similar specs was either the same price or not available here when I was shopping, so I was okay with that.

 

I got one of the higher end configurations (~250gb SSD, 8gb RAM, etc.), and I'm happy with it. Portability and SSD were the main things I was looking for, as well as being good enough to be my primary computer. The only annoyance is that the wifi card is spotty - that is a known issue discussed on Lenovo forums, and if you can believe recent postings, the ones shipping out now are better.

 

I can't claim it's the best value or anything like that, but I like it a lot. I'd highly recommend shelling out for SSD if you can afford it, unless you really need tons of space.

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Ah, sorry about that, victorydance. There's no compelling reason to buy a Yoga 2 over a Yoga 3, at least according to the computer reviews I've read. I don't usually see anyone even talking about the Yoga 3, which is probably why I assumed it as the yoga 2 under discussion.

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I think victorydance makes a lot of good points about performance vs. price and that is great advice to follow if you want to maximize the performance to price ratio. 

 

Weight does matter to me because I think 3lbs vs. 5lbs is a big difference when you carry it around a lot. But as victorydance points out, this is up to each person. Personally, I would also consider how heavy the laptop is when you don't have a backpack. This is because I feel backpacks make me look a lot younger than I am and I would like to avoid this appearance when I am at a conference, for example. So, while I do carry things in my backpack when I go to my office, I usually use a more professional over-the-shoulder messenger bag type container when I travel or if I know I am meeting with visitors around campus. These bags have less back support and I definitely feel even a 1 lb difference.

 

And on a related note, I think brand name does matter. I agree with victorydance that in terms of performance, all brands are really the same and it's what's inside that counts. However, people will judge you based on your computer choices and it's up to you whether or not you choose to conform to the norms of your field or choose to be different. For example, Macs are very popular in my field (my entire cohort all have Macbooks) but I know in some other fields, other brands dominate (and you might even get labelled negatively if you have a Mac). In addition, if you feel happier by sticking to a certain brand and you feel it's worth the price difference then go do it. Personally, I would say "get what you like, forget the haters".

 

Operating system also matter a little based on the software you need. I use some astronomy software that is Mac-only. I am glad that I have a Macbook because it's a lot easier to share files made with Mac versions of e.g. powerpoint with my classmates who all have Macs. My supervisor works on a Mac and my office computer is a Mac, so it helps that everything is streamlined. But I know a lot of geology students use Windows because GIS software mainly runs on Windows machines.

 

My main point is that while performance to price ratio is an important criteria, I don't think it's the only criteria you should consider. Look at what your non-performance needs are (e.g. desire for a brand, how it fits with your other machines you use etc.) too!

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I'm a Mac user but I agree that weight matters a lot. I currently have a 5 lbs. MacBook Pro and I am looking to get the Air or even the new MacBook to get something lighter weight as a secondary computer. Another important thing is battery life - I was initially very, very satisfied with the 5-7 hour battery life of the MBP (and it's still great). But in my current situation it'd be even greater to have a computer with a 9-12 hour battery life, and in graduate school it would've been really awesome too.

 

I will say, though, that I find my 5-lb MacBook Pro pretty easy to carry. I do carry a backpack most days, but at conferences I have a cute professional computer bag that I slip it into with a notebook and some files and it's great. Again...the Air would be better!! But the MBP is fine.

 

I...am not sure I'd worry about people judging me on my computer choices. (If someone labels me negatively because I have a Mac, that's their problem. My advisor and one of my collaborators do lightly tease me because of my Mac, though - they hate Apple - but it's only when it comes up in converesation.) WRT brand, I'd be more concerned about quality. Lenovos are good quality machines; they last for pretty long times. I like Apple not just because of the name brand but because they're known for longevity - my MBP is over 3 years old and it still runs fast and has the same battery life it had when I bought it. I've never had a computer for 3 years that didn't have significant problems. On the other hand, I had a bad expereince with Sony machines - they're not built to last IMO.

 

I do use some Mac-only software that I'd hate to give up but everything has a Windows equivalent. You can run virtual machines but I've found that even when I have massive processing power and lots of RAM it's still kind of slow. I run Windows 7 on my work computer, with 16 GB of RAM (I dedicate 8 GB of RAM to the VM) and it still crawls like a snail...*sigh*. I ONLY use Windows for SAS, because my office is a SAS office and all of the macros and programs they write are for SAS. I use Stata, which is cross-platform (and so are R and SPSS. Most of the big modern analysis packages are; only SAS is still stuck in incomprehensible-programming-language, Windows-only land. Even R's programming language makes more sense to me! /grumble)

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