Forum Thread

Computer science Major, Laptop or desktop?

lovethesummer 690 208 February 20, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Hi, my son is going away to college this fall. He is going to be a computer science major. Is it best to have a great desktop and fair laptop, or just a great laptop? Being a cs major I know he will need a great computer, just not sure if he should get a laptop or desktop?

Thanks.nod

23 Comments

1 2

Sign up for a Slickdeals account to remove this ad.

#2
Quote from lovethesummer View Post :
Hi, my son is going away to college this fall. He is going to be a computer science major. Is it best to have a great desktop and fair laptop, or just a great laptop? Being a cs major I know he will need a great computer, just not sure if he should get a laptop or desktop?

Thanks.nod
A laptop is fine, cheap, portable, efficient

but it also depends, if he's in Programming, a bigger screen helps a lots
if he's in Electronic, desktop can be his experiment
and the laptop can handle the rest
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2008
L99: Slicker than Ice
6,393 Posts
1,756 Reputation
#3
small netbook/laptop + a desktop, preferably with a nice large display or dual screens
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Jun 2007
L8: Grand Teacher
3,846 Posts
2,207 Reputation
#4
Both. But if you are writing a lot of code and such, you want a big-ass screen and a real keyboard
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Mar 2007
Password: ••••••••
21,218 Posts
1,587 Reputation
#5
I'd say go with both, but not a "cheap" laptop. Consider a refurbished Thinkpad or Latitude. It will be tough enough to withstand some abuse and they do offer the higher resolution screens that help with engineering tasks. Sometimes though, you just need a full-size monitor. If it costs too much money to have both a laptop and a desktop, go with the laptop and if you can, get a full-size monitor, keyboard and mouse to plug it into.

Oh and wait for the Sandy Bridge issue to be sorted out, then get one of those. A quad core isn't going to help as much with programming tasks (unless he's trying to transcode video at the same time...) so a powerful dual-core with lots of memory would be good.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Steve Gibson on password policies [grc.com]: I mean, I don't get this change it every eight weeks. ... It's not as if passwords are traveling by camel after they've been stolen, going to the bad guys, and so there's, like, some weird eight-week window, like, oh, we're going to change your password so that the stale password no longer works. ... And all this does is make IT people despised because users, who are not dumb, they think, why am I - why do I have to do this? What problem is this solving?
Joined Oct 2006
Mail-In Rebates SUK
6,274 Posts
2,198 Reputation
#6
a CS major (or any student, really) can probably get by with any ol' 500 desktop or laptop with at least dual core cpu and 4gb ram.. the real question is... what extra-curricular computer activities will he be doing while at school? will he need big huge hard drives for movies, music, etc? a killer graphics card for gaming? a big monitor so it can double as his "tv"? those will be more a factor in determining the system he'll have at school than his major.

and.. does the school provide laptops (the 4-year schools around here do) to incoming freshmen or does the CS department have a spec list to go by?
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Last edited by 2cheap4retail February 21, 2011 at 03:14 AM
When you buy more, you save more. And when you save more, you can buy more.
And when you buy more, you save more. It all starts when you BUY MORE.


Posting or uploading a picture? Meet your new best friend! [codeplex.com]
Joined Nov 2003
"Respect my AUTHORITAII!"
6,571 Posts
287 Reputation
#7
OP your son will be better able to answer what his needs will be than any of us. I had a PC when I was in college (forever ago), but spent most of my time in the computer lab with other students working on projects. I would bet a laptop would be a good catch all, but something could be said for a nice monitor and netflix sub too. Just ask him what he needs when you visit him at homecoming Big Grin
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Kyle: Dude! I almost thought those Afghani kids talked you into not liking America.
Stan: No, dude. America may have some problems, but it's our home. Our team. And if you don't wanna root for your team, then you should get the hell out of the stadium.
Kyle: Yeah.
Stan: <salutes the American flag> Go America.
Kyle: <salutes> Go America...
Stan: Go Broncos
Kyle: Yeah go Broncos.
Cartman: Yeah...
#8
Personally, I regret not making my own desktop for college... I went to an Engineering school where everyone was a computer nerd, and the knowledge you get from putting together a bare bones is just a fun trinket to have when you are nerd bashing.

I would go with a laptop w/ docking station...he will have access to hundreds of desktops in the computer labs, having something to take to class / library would be pivotal in most cases.

Plus, set aside some $$ for the desktop so if he decides he HAS to have one in his room he can shop for parts his 1st semester, put it together when home for Christmas and take it back up his 2nd semester.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Quote from Putts :
Law of Internet Gaming:

Anybody that's worse than you is a noob.
Anybody that's better than you has no life.

Sign up for a Slickdeals account to remove this ad.

Joined Jan 2009
Persuit of Knowledge
282 Posts
107 Reputation
#9
I am a CS major. I have a good desktop and a tablet. The tablet I take to classes with me because I can write, type or draw math notation (One Note is a wonderful program), then I can take it home and use the laptop, open my files from the desktop (via file sharing) or remote into my laptop from my desktop. Both of my machines are dual cores. My tablet is smaller-Gateway E155-small, sort of light, has a DVD drive and easy to carry. My desktop has 2 monitors- 21.5" & 17" so I can do programing on my larger monitor or write papers etc. If I want to work on the desk, couch or in the student center on campus I can.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#10
I would go with the laptop because he can take it with him when it's time to work with others on projects and HW. A big screen is great. You can always plug one into the laptop. Unless he plans on playing games the extra power of the desk top may not help much of the time.

Other things to consider: Smaller vs larger. Unless you get more expensive models, most 12"-15.6" computers have about the same resolution (1366x756 or sometimes 1280x800). So a larger computer doesn't gain much in usable screen so long as you don't mind smaller text (same resolution on a smaller screen=smaller print). 15.6" computers aren't as fun to cart around and typically have lower battery life (that larger screen takes more power). The 15.6" models typically are more powerful for the same cost but when we are talking about lower end stuff that doesn't mean much. A 15" CAD machine will almost always be more powerful than a 14" CAD machine.

The smaller 12"-14" computers are easier to cart around and typically have better battery life which is nice. Figure that after 2 years the battery, regardless of the computer, is only going to be good for 30 minutes or so.

I would also suggest looking at a refurbished Dell Latitude or Precision computer from Dell. They are Dell's higher end business line computers. Even refurbished they will normally come with a 3 year warranty and good service. That is a really nice safety blanket. Those computers will have the option to get higher resolution screens (1440x900, 1600x900 or even 1920x1080 or 1920x1200). Those extra pixels will really be nice when programming! The Latitudes and Precisions are often not as powerful as a similar priced home unit but their good build quality and long warranty are great. It's at least worth taking a long look. Lenovo probably has the same sort of thing and the Thinkpads are great machines as well.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Feb 2008
L5: Journeyman
690 Posts
208 Reputation
Original Poster
#11
Thanks al,l for the input.
Right now he has a desktop, which isn't good enough (he says) for his major, but he has a huge monitor. I was thinking he should build his own as he goes along, so if need be he could just upgrade parts to suit his needs.
I figured he will need a laptop for some stuff but not a great one, since he will have the desktop. He kinda wants both to be really good, to me doesn't make sense. Too much $$$$ anyway.
Last night he saw the Dell Alienware M11X, $636 and ordered it (http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?sduid=343426&t=2687397) . Not sure if it was a good move or not. I'm sure he will still need a better computer for programming. What do you think? It's not to late to cancel his order.
Thanks.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#12
The Alien will probably be a great computer for the job.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2005
L10: Grand Master
12,661 Posts
4,824 Reputation
Pro
#13
The alien is great for in class and general use. Its a bit small of a screen for programming but he might want to pick up a larger screen for $120 and a usb keyboard for serious coding work but the rest will be good. Also see what the department recommends and if he has any older friends who are the same major or friends of friends see what they say. It boils down to the individual and how they use a computer in class and or if its allowed.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Vague questions receive vague answers . . . . . .
#14
Quote from lovethesummer View Post :
I'm sure he will still need a better computer for programming.
So...what kind of computer do you think it takes to run programs? It isn't like the kid is going to be creating the next Watson here or anything...his 1st two years will be creating a ball and getting it to interact with 20 different objects in 100 different ways or running Mathematica...it is not computer power taxing in the least!

That is a good laptop, I would not give him / let him spend any more of his/your $$ for a desktop. He will just become more "upgrade addicted" and will just want both things replaced then in 3 years for his senor classes, haha. So, wait on doing anything with his desktop except minor upgrades (RAM and HDD).
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2005
L10: Grand Master
12,661 Posts
4,824 Reputation
Pro
#15
Quote from Curtieson View Post :
So...what kind of computer do you think it takes to run programs? It isn't like the kid is going to be creating the next Watson here or anything...his 1st two years will be creating a ball and getting it to interact with 20 different objects in 100 different ways or running Mathematica...it is not computer power taxing in the least!

That is a good laptop, I would not give him / let him spend any more of his/your $$ for a desktop. He will just become more "upgrade addicted" and will just want both things replaced then in 3 years for his senor classes, haha. So, wait on doing anything with his desktop except minor upgrades (RAM and HDD).
Mathmatica can get very intense in the processor if you write complicated enough stuff. It is a very capable engine. Your right in saying he wont be doing intensive stuff out of the gate.

Also being a CS major let the kid have some say. Set a budget and provide input but also let him have some say. I am sure he cares about the hardware its not like he is an art major and only cares what color it comes in. He will be happier, you will be happier too since he wont be bugging you for a new system. As far as if he wants to go upgrade crazy, this is college he is a Cs major, he should know how to work on the inside of the hardware too. But let him get a job and fun his own hobby, its a great incentive to work and keep grades up, vs the parent just forking over the cash.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Page 1 of 2
1 2
Join the Conversation
Add a Comment
 
Copyright 1999 - 2016. Slickdeals, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright / Infringement Policy  •  Privacy Policy  •  Terms of Service  •  Acceptable Use Policy (Rules)  •  Interest-Based Ads
Link Copied to Clipboard