Dismiss Notice

Interview Feedback: Visit Interview Feedback to view and submit interview information.

Interviewing Masterclass: Free masterclass on interviewing from SDN and Medical College of Georgia

Dismiss Notice
Hey Texans—join us for a DFW meetup! Click here to learn more.

What specs for a new laptop?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by SJBX, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. SJBX

    SJBX Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm planning on getting a laptop for med school this fall. I have no clue about computers, so hopefully some of you computer gurus can help me out. What are the minimum speccifications I should have? I throw some things out there, but add in any you think are important.

    Processor
    Memory
    Hard Drive
    CD ROM/DVD
     
  2. Note: SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. Cuteasaurus

    Cuteasaurus Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    While you wouldn't have to buy one at the same time as your laptop, you probably want to pick up a USB memory stick. They're WAY better than floppies (more reliable, store more info, etc.).

    As far as other components...what do you want the laptop for? Just med school? Gaming too? A little more info about its usage would be helpful. :)
     
  4. SJBX

    SJBX Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't need it for games....Nothing special, just the standard stuff, typing papers, checking the internet, e-mail, research, etc. I might get a digital cam as well.
     
  5. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
    Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2000
    Messages:
    4,304
    Likes Received:
    3
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    You might want to check with your school to see if they have a spec list that they recommend. My school set one up for us because a laptop is mandatory in class. Call the school or ask some upper classmen at your school what they use.
     
  6. IndyZX

    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,535
    Likes Received:
    3
    how much are you willing to spend?
     
  7. CanIMakeIt

    CanIMakeIt Fellow
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    If money is no issue, then go with Intel Centrino 1.7 or 1.8GHz (with wireless built-in), Minimum 512 MB (more (1GB) if you will be doing video editing frequently too), 60GB is fine but if you will be doing video then go for 80GB and an external hard drive as well, DVD+/-RW (must for burning DVDs)

    If money is an isue: Intel Centrino 1.5GHz (w/ wireless), 512MB, 80GB, CDRW/DVD combo (DVDRW if you would want to burn DVDs . if not CDRW/DVD is fine for viewing movies and burning CDs)

    Another things to look for are weight and screen size ...... if you would be spending long hours in front of computer, the bigger the better but as the screen goes bigger, the weight goes up ..... so depends on what you want todo with it . ... if you are going to be carrying it around a lot, then you want the lightest possible with the largetst screen for that weight ... so you have three options here for screen size 12". 14.1", 15 or 15.4". The price will also increase with screen size ..... if you will be carrying it around a lot, then 12 or 14.1 is fine and you can always buy an external monitor and it will be easier on the pocket .....

    As someone else said..don't opt for the floppy drive models as that will incease the weight of the laptop , so buy a USB Key (64MB should be more than enough)

    Later
     
  8. CarerraGT

    CarerraGT Junior Member
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2004
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    if you have bluetooth devices, getting bluetooth with the computer might not be a bad idea either...

    but i agree with having at least 512MB of ram

    have you checked out the dell site for laptops? they have really good laptops for a really good price (sometimes if you wait, you can get a GREAT deal with coupons and rebates).
     
  9. LaurieB

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2003
    Messages:
    651
    Likes Received:
    2
    MDApps:
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
  10. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Messages:
    4,129
    Likes Received:
    5
    Is this a desktop replacement (ie your only computer), or just something you want portable in addition to your existing desktop?
     
  11. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    10,373
    Likes Received:
    6
    Ditto, and if you get a PC (I would), I wouldn't get anything less than a 3 GHz processor, 60 GB HD, at least 512 MB memory with option to increase it to 1 or 2 GB, CD/DVD burner, built-in ethernet AND 802.11g wireless, and 15.4 inch screen - I wouldn't get one of the 17 inch screen models if you're going to carry it around.

    Any of the name brands (Sony/Toshiba/HP/Dell/Gateway etc) are equally good or bad. Find one that you like or can get a really good deal on, but I wouldn't minimize any of these minimum requirements unless you want to buy another in a year or two. I typically keep my laptops 3 years.
     
  12. BubbleBobble

    BubbleBobble Where's the "any" key?
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2003
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    1
    <shameless Apple plug>

    I just purchased a laptop yesterday evening. For about $1230 (after rebate), I got a 12" Apple 1GHz G4 iBook. It has:

    - 768 MB RAM
    - 30 GB HD
    - DVD/CD-RW
    - Internal wireless (802.11g)

    It's also only 4.9 lbs and gets ~5 hours on a single battery charge. Very happy. :thumbup:

    </plug>
     
  13. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
    Physician 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    975
    Likes Received:
    15
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    A 3 Ghz processor is on the very high-end of current notebooks. The specs flying around right now are really beyond what most people are going to want for a computer. Unless you are playing games on it or doing video editing, you don't need half of what has been listed. I would say get a 1-2ghz processor, at least 256mb ram, and a 20gb harddrive. You will probably want a cd-rom drive, and a burner is necessary to transfer files between the two unless you are a technophile and have your own wireless network, or have a thumbdrive (usb). The burner should be at least a 4x, but unless you are going to be burning full cds of music, or movies, games, etc. you don't need anything faster. The integrated wireless card is nice since a lot of schools have been putting up access points in their major study areas and large classrooms. If you are getting a wireless card, make sure it is 802.11b or 802.11g. The latter is the newer technology and is backwards compatible with the first. One thing you need to look out for is a laptop being sold as a desknote. That basically means that it doesn't have a battery standard and relies on you plugging it into a wall to power it.

    Extra things you might want to consider:
    Ability to plug in a mouse: either USB or PS/2 ports on the correct side of the laptop
    Weight: How often are you going to carry it around?
    Screen Size: How often are you going to use this computer. If it is supplemental, then get a small monitor. If it is your primary computer, get a larger monitor.
    Durability: If the case looks and feels flimsy, it probably is.
    Price: For a mid-range computer like the one listed, you should probably be spending between 700-900 dollars.

    Hope this helps.

    ~AS1~
     
  14. Gleevec

    Gleevec Peter, those are Cheerios
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2002
    Messages:
    4,129
    Likes Received:
    5
    Dude, the OP isnt trying to run Doom3 on the laptop, just basic stuff. The stats you're suggesting would prolly cost around 2000-2500 and would be huge and heavy. with little battery life.

    You can get a 15" (desktop replacement) or 12" (highly portable) laptop for around $1000.

     
  15. Odaroloc

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2004
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just got the Powerbook 12" with a superdrive and I absolutely love it...never used a Mac before but everything went so smoothly, nothing to configure for internet, no compatibility issues thus far (It even syncs with my Pocket PC), recognizes peripherals without software (with the Pocket PC being the exception), works with wireless networks beautifully, and is light and powerful...I honestly will never buy a PC again.
     
  16. shanequin

    shanequin Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2003
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    It's good to see that there are other mac users out there. I was beginning to think I was the only one.
     
  17. fullefect1

    fullefect1 Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2003
    Messages:
    790
    Likes Received:
    0
    No matter what you buy it is going to be almost out dated by next year. (maybe not to that extreme) For the price you pay now for a really high end model, you will be able to get the same thing next year for half the price. I would say go with the low end model, and upgrade next year. You do not really have any need for a top of the line laptop for your purposes, just get the basics.
     
  18. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    10,373
    Likes Received:
    6
    True, the 3GHz processor is high end. Unless you want to buy new computers, I'd say that it's better to get as high-end as you can. Notebooks can't be upgraded, after all.

    BTW, you can buy a high-end laptop such as I described (and with the extras you mentioned, that are so ubiquitous that all notebooks have them) at Costco today for around $1300. Not bad considering that it should remain a viable machine for 3-4 years.

    And, a 20 GB HD is extremely minimal, IMHO unless you're going to be using a desktop to store files on. The machine I'm on right now has a fairly minimal installation of software, and it's taking more than 11GB just for the OS, Office, Visio, and a few other things that I use. I haven't installed especially large apps (Autocad, GIS apps with maps) that I have had on laptops in the past. Hard drives are fairly easy to upgrade on notebooks, the last notebook I had went (fairly quickly) from 6GB to 10 GB to 20GB drives, and I purchased this machine (2.8 GHz processor, otherwise as I described) in January, because the 20 GB drive was absolutely full (getting drive errors full).
     
  19. IndyZX

    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,535
    Likes Received:
    3
    i just spent a little over $2K on a top of the line IBM T41... i wanted something lightweight (4-5lbs), thin (1"), and still fast and versatile enough for everyday use (CDRW/DVD, 60GB 7200rpm HD, 512mb ram, wireless, and an extra modular battery)

    obviously, by my gushing, you can tell that im pretty excited about getting it -- too bad its going to take a month to get here.
     
  20. Trekkie963

    Trekkie963 Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2004
    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm definitely gonna check out Costco before buying my PC, now. I never would have thought of them.
     
  21. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    10,373
    Likes Received:
    6
    You can also buy online with them, and they sell Dells online too.
     
  22. BubbleBobble

    BubbleBobble Where's the "any" key?
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2003
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    1
    If you want to buy online, you should regularly check techbargains.com for deals.
     
  23. CanIMakeIt

    CanIMakeIt Fellow
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]

    Well we do want to consider two major concerns for buying a laptop: weight and battery life and the config suggested would weigh around 7 lbs with a battery life of around 90 min .. believe me I have one of those "break your back" top of the line laptops from toshiba..... If I had to do it again I would have gone with either powerbook G4 15" or with IBM T41 (centrino)..... both have everything the OP would need for quite some time (with mac having a little bigger screen)..... well I am biased towards macs as I am waiting to buy one as soon as they upgrade either to dual processor or G5 :D
     
  24. Xega

    Xega Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    The thing is the P4-M processors the ones at 2.6-3.0 GHz are not the same architecture as the processors used in the Intel Centrino based notebooks so you can't simply compare clock speeds.

    The processor in centrino notebooks is a pentium3 pentium4 hybrid with design changes tailored for a mobile processor. The processor in the centrino notebooks has a higher IPC (instructions per clock cycle) compared to the P4 due to a shorter pipeline. Basically at the same speeds the processor in centrino notebooks can do more than a P4. So simply saying the the P4-M 3.0Ghz based machines are top of the line whereas the 1.7 centrino notebooks aren't is false. They are both top of the line, but in different ways. If you want more info just search any of the ahrdware review sites and you will find many different articles on the centrino versus P4-M.

    So it depends on what you want from your laptop.

    1) Just wants to take up less space in their cramped room (and maybe lug it home for vacation) - Get a desktop replacement, no need for centrino here since you probably just want a big screen, enough power, and not to get nailed on price. [This might be the bigger number.]

    2) Actually uses mobility - Get Centrino. If you're taking it to the library, outside, class even maybe.. you're going to feel the difference (in battery life and in your shoulders). School has wireless network everywhere, you'll be good to go.

    In terms of being able to play games on laptops it all depends on the video card these days since the majority of games are hardware accelerated and limited by the graphics card and not the CPU at higher resolutions.
     
  25. BubbleBobble

    BubbleBobble Where's the "any" key?
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2003
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    1
    Definitely true. Processing speed isn't a great concern for laptops, as you probably won't be playing games or rendering movies (if you will be, build a good desktop and buy a cheap laptop).
     
  26. UseUrHeadFred

    UseUrHeadFred Oh no! It's a Wumpus!
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    Messages:
    935
    Likes Received:
    2
    One word: Alienware.
     
  27. Xega

    Xega Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Two Words: Rip Off
     
  28. Alexander99

    Alexander99 Ghetto Fabulous
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2003
    Messages:
    2,361
    Likes Received:
    0
    I bought a desktop replacement (Inspiron 9100, close to 10 pounds) but I still intend to bring it to my med school classes everyday. My solution: I've been hitting the weights and it doesn't seem heavy anymore. I wouldn't suggest it for the smaller people out there though.

    Also, people always bring up "rendering videos" but who the hell actually renders videos? Are there a lot of part-time graphic designers that are premeds or something? Playing 3D video games--now that's something premeds do/can make use of.
     
  29. Xega

    Xega Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    A lot of the time they mean ripping DVDs to Divx, XviD, etc formats.
     
  30. Fumoffu

    Fumoffu Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2004
    Messages:
    194
    Likes Received:
    0
    tag for later
     
  31. AlternateSome1

    AlternateSome1 Burnt Out
    Physician 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    975
    Likes Received:
    15
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I guess I just don't want people to think that they are going to NEED a top of the line computer just because it is out there. If someone is going to class and using their laptop for taking notes and for studying in the library, it just isn't essential to have a top of the line computer. Even if you use up 11 GB of the HD, that is 9 GB of space for txt,pdf, and doc files, which is enough for at least a full year or two. If you want the nice extras and the ability to do whatever you please, then definitely pay for that, but if you just want a laptop for schoolwork and no play, don't feel pigeonholed into purchasing a top of the line one.

    ~AS1~
     
  32. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    10,373
    Likes Received:
    6
    No but my point is that you should go higher end (I usually buy 1 tier down from the top in laptops) or replace more often. Laptop prices are down to about the same as desktops now so it's not as important, but in the past the difference was 2-3x higher for a laptop.

    My laptop is a 2.8/60, the highest end when I bought it was 3.0/80GB, the difference in cost was close to 25%.

    And I don't plan on replacing it (unless there is a major increase in technology, like a really good, really fast tablet computer) for 2.5 more years
     
  33. bosco

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thank God people are talking about Macs!!! I bought the 15" Powerbook in January and have it here with me in Central America. I've run all kinds of things on it (games, Final Cut Pro, Mathematica, etc.) and it's locked up a total of ZERO times. Great GUI, rock-solid UNIX base, and much more stable and better looking than any Dell or other PC out there.

    If money is an issue, go with an iBook instead of the Powerbook... They were just upgraded and are very reasonably priced. Apple has great student discounts if you click on education on their main page.

    One more thing to remember... Processor speeds (MHz, GHz, etc.) aren't necessarily equal. A 1GHz G4 isn't necessarily slower than a 2GHz Pentium4, and the former might even be faster. So comparing processor speeds in terms of GHz of the macs and PCs is comparing apples and oranges.
     
  34. BubbleBobble

    BubbleBobble Where's the "any" key?
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2003
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    1
    The discounts are good, but if you live in a state with high sales tax (like I do in WA), you might want to consider buying it from another online store. (Note: Definitely get AppleCare on the student discount, though!)

    I bought my iBook from MacConnection.com, an official distributor for Apple. They're having a great deal on memory upgrades right now, and don't charge sales tax for most states.
     
  35. Lochmoor

    Lochmoor Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2003
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you want a PC laptop, IBM is the best but you pay a premium for it. Dell is a very good, cheaper alternative. If you want to take it around a lot, take a look at the IBM X series and the Dell 300M and X300 (one is inspiron other is a latitude). All are 3 lbs or less and run around $1500--absolutely sweet laptops.
     
  36. Centrum

    Centrum SMILEY KING
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    0
  37. BubbleBobble

    BubbleBobble Where's the "any" key?
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2003
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well-priced. Definitely powerful enough for your needs. A little bit on the big/heavy side, but not so much that you'll leave it at home. Expect 3.5 hours of battery life on a charge.
     
  38. taehong81

    taehong81 Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    318
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I think it is good idea to get much of a laptop that you can buy since you are going to have the laptop for the next four years. I just bought a 15inch power book and I love it! 1.5 Ghz, 80 giga, 512 MB ram, Combo Drive DVD/CD-RW. I paid 2100 dollar including tax. I called apple store and negotatiated the price and brought it down to 2100. If you are interested in buying a MAC, I would suggest calling them instead of buying online and try to bring down the price.
     
  39. CanIMakeIt

    CanIMakeIt Fellow
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    1,471
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]

    I didn't know u could do that ... i mean call them to get the price reduced ..... was that after the student discount or before it ....
     
  40. Lochmoor

    Lochmoor Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2003
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    0
    Apple has educational discounts for students on most everything including ipods. They have a 30 off ipods from apple.com w/ educational discount. Too lazy to put link now, pm if you want more info.
     
  41. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,639
    Likes Received:
    11
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I have a Dell 8100 that I got 2 years ago. It is about 1 GHz with a 30 MB hard drive, and that is more than enough. Went with a slightly higher-end laptop because I was doing a lot of desktop publishing with graphics and large documents. It's more than enough for e-mail, word processing, web browsing, etc.. I would upgrade only to get wireless and DVD. Otherwise it is great for me. (Warning: some people hate the trackpad and small screen on laptops.)

    I definitely recommend getting an extended warranty (3 years) on any laptop; they start breaking after the first year, and they are expensive to fix. After 3 years, you will probably be looking for a new machine anyway.
    - my old Mac laptop needed major repairs in year 2; new keyboard and new sound card. I was glad for the 3-year warranty.
    - my sister's Toshiba laptop had to have the motherboard and the hard drive replaced, to the tune of $800 (the whole laptop cost only $1000); fortunately it was only 364 days old.
    You can either buy the manufacturer's extended, or you can see if your credit card automatically doubles the warranty period.
     

Share This Page