Buying new laptop - Important Questions

Okay, so I’m going to college next year… I need a new laptop. The college I am going to only officially supports windows, so I think it’s important that whatever laptop I get be able to run windows. Anyway, there are some important questions I must ask, so let’s get started.

Switch to Mac? I have been using windows all my life, never touched a Mac - should I switch? Remember, it’s important that I be able to boot into windows sometimes. Also, this dual boot of windows on a Mac would work just like the real thing?

Avoid Vista? You know how most new laptops these days come with Vista installed. So I was thinking that my “primarily windows” campus would of course only support the latest version of windows, which is Vista. And if I were to not get a Mac, what I would do is install and dual boot Linux so that I could at times escape from Vista. Would this work?

Manufacturers to avoid/recommend? Okay, so there’s the question of who to buy from. My budget is 1k - 1.5k dollars (but I’m trying to get my parents to push it higher :yes:) and I’m trying to get the best laptop possible as a 4-year investment. Graphics card is very important to me as well.

Oh, also I am not going to buy it for a few months, but I think it’s important that I get plenty of information early on.

Thanks for your help, rants are welcome!

Good on ya for doing research. Laptops are expensive and can get downright annoying at the best of times.

For me, I got a second laptop which is still going strong after 3 years of manufacture. I’m happy with it.

If you get a macbook, and install windows via bootcamp, fusion or parallels, it will work like the real thing. Well, I can’t speak for parallels, but bootcamp and fusion do. HOWEVER you need lot’s of RAM as with anything less than two gigabytes, your computer be constantly using all it’s RAM and will lag terribly. I upgraded my computer to four gig for a ridiculously low price, seeing as I was expecting to pay more to just get up to two.

Of course, if you have never used Mac before, go into a shop and have a play with the interface and see if you like it. I used it at school and liked it, so I made my first personal computer a mac, and love it. If you don’t like it, don’t get a mac.

About avoiding vista; my next door neighbor has vista and it runs fine for him. I have vista on my laptop as well, though Aero doesn’t work (although this probably speeds up vista a lot). Im not sure if its possible to dual boot with linux, I’ve never used it, so I’ll leave that to an expert or google to explain that to you.

Hope that helps.

Choose a netbook.
Sorta similar like a notebook, only cheaper.
And no, not more worse.
Don’t expect to play games on it (3d video games) or running very much apps at the same time (most have a 1.6 GHz).

Asus EeePC 901
Acer Aspire One 150
HP 2133
Medion Akoya mini.
All are just under 400 $ (about 300 €) and you will generally get an 8.9 inch screen and about 80 GB or more hard disk space combined with about 1 GB memory, but its depending on make and model.

If you intend to do any blending on it, avoid sub notebooks and get a laptop with a decent dedicated graphics chip.

as for manufacturers, ive never had any issues with HP

Yeah, A HP Laptops are good with the touchscreen and all. But the latest MacBooks have Nvidia 9400M which does not even exist for the Windows world, great graphics(I don’t have the new, but I got a 17" Macbook Pro which is great, but the new Macbok is only $999! With the new features, they’re starting to grab the computer sales market. Look into it. I just saw the Keynote. (

If you want to be able use Linux, make sure you get a wireless card supported by it (Atheros!), and a good graphics card (a good ATI is okay, but NVidia is better). A good graphics card also allows you to use Blender, games, and Vista (if you have to use it).

I don’t see what you mean by “the college officially supports windows”.

Eww, no I don’t want a netbook. I need superior performance. I was looking at HP and they seemed to be a good choice with lots of options.

But I have one more question, especially since Blender just came out with a 64 bit windows version. My question is what exactly 64 bit means, that is, what sort of things can run in 64 bit? Can a 64 bit OS run in 32 bits or run 32 bit software? Why exactly would someone want a 64 bit system? It is just performance?

@blenderman345: Yeah I saw that on the news, certainly made me take a second look at Mac for gaming.

Nitronic, you said that if you run Windows on a Mac it would use all the RAM - can’t you just boot into windows without running OSX also?

x86-64 means that the integers and memory addresses used by the processor are 64 bits long. The longer the number, the bigger the number you can get (duh!). With 32 bit processors, the maximum amount of RAM (memory) that you can make use of is theoretically 4 GB (however by default windows only lets you use 1 GB for any one program, but this can be changed fairly easily). This is due to the highest number that can be expressed with 32 bits; your processor can only have that many memory addresses. With 64 bit processors, however, the theoretical limit of accessible RAM is 16.8 million terabytes! This is useful for Blender if because you can use a lot of RAM (a more feasible amount of RAM is 8 GB, which is really nice for rendering and simulation).

You can run 32 bit applications in a 64 bit operating system, but there you can’t, nor is there any reason to, do it the other way around. If you want a 64 bit operating system, you’ll need to get a 64 bit processor. From what I’ve heard, though, Windows 64 is really just a kludge, and you’d be better off running 64 bit Linux. But I guess that’s not an option.

If your that picky, get a server. :stuck_out_tongue:

How can you change that?

I’m currently running Windows Vista Home Edition and I don’t mind it at all (after I’ve turned off Aero and other RAM intensive “features”). Of course, I haven’t played with Macintosh or Linux computers much so I don’t know what I prefer.

I’m currently running a Dell Studio1735 with 3 GB of RAM, 2.16GHz Intel Core2 Duo processor, and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 graphics card. So far, I’m quite impressed with what this thing can do!


I’m looking at getting a dell xps m1330. It might be just a little bit above your given price range (because of how I’m gonna configure it), but I believe that the larger model (xps m1530) is pretty much the same except bigger, and cheaper.

I would be very, very interested in a MBP (old, I don’t have enough information on the new touchpad yet) if only you could get it with a windows-layout keyboard (I would not use OSX at all because it messes with my fast workflow).

On my current laptop, I dual-boot XP and Ubuntu. It works great. I have Vista on my desktop which I built this summer, but no issues with performance in Vista (though it is faster in Ubuntu).

Maybe this link can help:

If you’re gonna make 3d models, it’s good to have powerful processors, and a relatively good openGL card for the 3d modeling view so it doesn’t lag.
If you’re gonna use it for math, processor.
It all depends on what you want it for.

You should at least try to avoid Vista, it’s pretty annoying sometimes, not just with lag. It has annoying problems with “permission” even if you’re the admin, plus many others even after you disable UAC. It also has lack of compatibility just for making you buy with old stuff.

Avoid HP.

The strict security system in Linux is the primary reason why viruses cannot affect the system, under normal circumstances they don’t have permission to! this is what vista is trying to emulate. the reason I avoid vista is its obsession with DRM, the almost complete lack of customizability and the ancient device-oriented file system. some of the virus problems in windows can be avoided by NOT using an admin account, try always usng the root user in linux and see how long your instalation lasts :yes:

also, a 32 bit Linux kernal can be compiled to assess up to 64 gig of ram.

I have only one question have you even tried to use vista. Becsae it is the only way to know if you like it or not.

What manufacturer do you recommend, then? I do love gaming (with real nice graphics) and plan on doing a lot of CG and programming on my laptop (although the campus has like 200 computers and 24/7 computer labs). I haven’t heard anything bad about hp yet.

@bryguy23: Well, I have used it on someone else’s computer, but that really is irrelevant. What I do not like about Vista transcends anything I might learn from using it. However I am willing to cope with it’s weight and “features” and spyware as long as I can escape from them when I please and boot up in linux.


foam at mouth :spin:

seriously, apple is great

HP hardware’s normally sort of mediocre, but what’s really bad’s the software it comes with. I do have Windows Vista.
Dell is said to be a good brand, I don’t have experience with brand computers, if you wanted a desktop I’d tell you to just build your own. Just look at the hardware, ask people… If the software sucks format the thing and then install what you want, or clean it up.