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PC Build for Computer Science watch

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    Hi TSR,
    I am looking to build my (first) PC, I will be using the PC mainly to use in my Computer Science degree meaning programming, essays/note making and maybe some gaming. I have two questions.

    1) Do people take their desktop PC's to university with them or would it be better to get a laptop?

    2) What specs would be required. I'm not a keen gamer, however it would be nice to play games like FIFA, CS-GO, Battlefield smoothly on the PC.

    Thanks in advance.

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    My plan for uni is to build a mini itx desktop pc. A mid tower would be too cumbersome to carry to and from uni. Not sure about fifa but I know csgo would run well on any pc built these days.
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    I would assume Battlefield would require at least some decent GPU at decent settings.

    If you think a tower is too big, do what the guy above does and build a mini one. A friend had one years back and already then it was pretty cool and easy to transport.
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    My suggestion here would be to build a small form factor PC but you stop yourself having a laptop to take to class. On the other hand a decent gaming laptop will not be overly portable.

    There's actually a nice option now that Razer are bringing their products to the UK. Get a Razer Blade Stealth and a Razer Core. It'll be expensive but you get desktop grade gaming power at home and a nice ultrabook to take to class. That would be my choice nowadays to get the best of both worlds. Of course this is dependent on your budget.

    I find having my laptop is super useful since I don't have to worry about transferring work around uni systems or messing with several cloud systems. For gaming I'd prefer a desktop though. What sort of budget do you have? Desktop is always going to work out cheaper than a comparable laptop.
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    Use a notepad and pen for taking notes, if you want to type them up then do it later. The act of writing them and then typing them while revising will make you remember them more.
    Don't bother with a laptop. Don't buy Razer products like a dumbass. If you can't put a desktop together yourself you shouldn't be doing a compsci degree, honestly.
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    I want to point this out now: you do NOT need a laptop for uni. As long as you have something where you write and research that's it.

    Do not tell me that you need a laptop for lectures/class. That is complete ********. In fact, you probably are hindering yourself if you constantly have your laptop in class.
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    I plan on taking my small form factor gaming pc to uni and buy a cheap chromebook to carry around to lectures. I'll pretty much be constantly connected to the Internet so a chromebook works well for me, plus they don't break the bank.
    Their perfectly fine for small productivity tasks.
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    (Original post by bobby2303)
    Hi TSR,
    I am looking to build my (first) PC, I will be using the PC mainly to use in my Computer Science degree meaning programming, essays/note making and maybe some gaming. I have two questions.

    1) Do people take their desktop PC's to university with them or would it be better to get a laptop?

    2) What specs would be required. I'm not a keen gamer, however it would be nice to play games like FIFA, CS-GO, Battlefield smoothly on the PC.

    Thanks in advance.

    As mentioned above, you can get mini ITX cases that are very easy to transport. Like, small enough to carry home in a gym bag levels of easy, without compromising on power or being a nightmare to build inside. Laptops are obviously even more convenient, but if you want a desktop then you'll still be able to pack it up and take home on the holidays without hauling a massive tower everywhere.

    If you can provide a budget I can put together an example parts list, and provide a similarly priced laptop recommendation so you can compare what sort of performance you'll be able to get from both, then decide from there which system type you'd prefer.
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    (Original post by Gofre)
    As mentioned above, you can get mini ITX cases that are very easy to transport. Like, small enough to carry home in a gym bag levels of easy, without compromising on power or being a nightmare to build inside. Laptops are obviously even more convenient, but if you want a desktop then you'll still be able to pack it up and take home on the holidays without hauling a massive tower everywhere.

    If you can provide a budget I can put together an example parts list, and provide a similarly priced laptop recommendation so you can compare what sort of performance you'll be able to get from both, then decide from there which system type you'd prefer.
    That would be helpful, maybe around £500?
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    (Original post by bobby2303)
    That would be helpful, maybe around £500?
    Is that including peripherals, display etc or just the computer itself?
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    I'm on a computer course as well and we have almost 24/7 access to their computer labs.

    The problem with laptops is they always come with compromise. Either it's 15inch+ and fairly heavy to lug around, small and underpowered or very very expensive. I wouldn't be comfortable taking a £1000 laptop around everyday.

    I built a desktop thinking that I wouldn't need a laptop and well I was correct I have found myself bored during the two hours breaks(not so much an issue if you're living on the site). A desk, chair etc all give me a place to work.

    I am currently looking at laptops to buy but there isn't a rush. I don't require one. Having the desktop gives me a work environment, a larger screen and a lot more power then those that spent there money on "gaming" laptops. I'll probably end up either picking up a second hand laptop off Ebay(old thinkpad for example @£150) or an Acer R11(@200). Both will be all the power I need on the go since it'll mostly be web browsing anyway.

    Don't forget the processors are normally underpowered next to their desktop counterparts. I7 in a laptop is weaker then the I6 desktop by some distance ( http://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare...0/m36828vs3514 ). Same trick is pulled on GPUs (although the 10** series only drops by around 5%).
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    You will not need more power than a NUC can provide for a CompSci course.
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    (Original post by iainvg)
    You will not need more power than a NUC can provide for a CompSci course.
    While this is completely true the OP mentions that they also want the option to play games which by itself I don't know of any NUC devices that would suffice. That means you'd need an external GPU dock like the Razer core and if you're willing to spend out on a core you might as well build a desktop.
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    (Original post by Luneth)
    Don't bother with a laptop. Don't buy Razer products like a dumbass. If you can't put a desktop together yourself you shouldn't be doing a compsci degree, honestly.
    Care to elaborate? Calling people dumbasses for buying Razer products without backing it up doesn't help your argument. Especially when you consider their latest laptop range and the core are only just now becoming available in the UK. Not to mention if someone wants a laptop and a desktop then buying a Blade Stealth and a Core is the cheapest way to get something inbetween without compromising on laptop or desktop performance.

    I also see no good reason to not bother with a laptop. If I had to choose between having a laptop and desktop for practicality at uni I'd pick laptop. My XPS 13 is an excellent device and ven before uni it was far more flexible. Being able to work on your own machine has a lot of benefits, not to mention you aren't restricted by uni machine availability, software, hardware, etc.

    And while I agree that if you want to do CS you should have some experience with computers there's really no need to be a **** about it. Everyone has to start somewhere, not to mention plenty of people will have all sorts of personal reasons why they can't build their own machines. If I wasn't able to finance my own desktop then I wouldn't have been able to build my own computer until Uni. Luckily I could afford it several years ago. Not everyone can. On top of that you missed the point of the question. The OP is asking what specs they'd need if they wanted to game and do CS. If they've never built a computer and have never done a CS degree before (which is likely) then how are they going to know? OP is doing the right thing by asking for advice.
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    (Original post by Acsel)
    Care to elaborate? Calling people dumbasses for buying Razer products without backing it up doesn't help your argument. Especially when you consider their latest laptop range and the core are only just now becoming available in the UK. Not to mention if someone wants a laptop and a desktop then buying a Blade Stealth and a Core is the cheapest way to get something inbetween without compromising on laptop or desktop performance.

    I also see no good reason to not bother with a laptop. If I had to choose between having a laptop and desktop for practicality at uni I'd pick laptop. My XPS 13 is an excellent device and ven before uni it was far more flexible. Being able to work on your own machine has a lot of benefits, not to mention you aren't restricted by uni machine availability, software, hardware, etc.

    And while I agree that if you want to do CS you should have some experience with computers there's really no need to be a **** about it. Everyone has to start somewhere, not to mention plenty of people will have all sorts of personal reasons why they can't build their own machines. If I wasn't able to finance my own desktop then I wouldn't have been able to build my own computer until Uni. Luckily I could afford it several years ago. Not everyone can. On top of that you missed the point of the question. The OP is asking what specs they'd need if they wanted to game and do CS. If they've never built a computer and have never done a CS degree before (which is likely) then how are they going to know? OP is doing the right thing by asking for advice.
    If you're going to spend that much money for a "gaming" system then you're better off splitting the budget between a cheap laptop and a desktop setup that'll do much better and be upgradable. I would never recommend a laptop for games. They trade offs are too much.



    (Original post by Luneth)
    Don't bother with a laptop. Don't buy Razer products like a dumbass. If you can't put a desktop together yourself you shouldn't be doing a compsci degree, honestly.
    If everyone that went to uni could do everything linked to their subject what would be the point in going? Not everyone can or wants to build or have a desktop.
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    For a basic office / gaming scenario get a pentium g4400 and a 1050 or 1050 ti or rx 460/ rx470.
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    (Original post by SomeGuyHere)
    If you're going to spend that much money for a "gaming" system then you're better off splitting the budget between a cheap laptop and a desktop setup that'll do much better and be upgradable. I would never recommend a laptop for games. They trade offs are too much.
    While I agree that a laptop by itself is not suitable for gaming that's not what I've suggested here. I personally find that having a high end, small form factor laptop for uni is incredibly useful. I'd also want a decent gaming machine but for many people spending out on a decent laptop and a decent desktop will be too much. When you've got multiple machines you also have to deal with transferring files between the two and installing applications multiple times if you intend to use both for work. I'm not saying a Stealth and Core combo is absolutely the best but it is the most convenient way of keeping everything in one place and saving space.

    The practicality aspect should not be underestimated at uni. I wish I'd been able to take a desktop with me. While there would have been space under the desk for a tower I'd be pushing it to get a display and keyboard on the desk. Not to mention I'd have to move everything whenever I need space on the desk for other work, eating, etc. Having something like a Stealth and Core on the other hand would have been perfect. The Core is small enough to hide away under the desk and the Stealth takes up far less space than a monitor and keyboard.

    As far as cost goes there isn't too much in it there either. The entry level Stealth is £999 although I'd recommend the £1200 model since it ups the RAM to 16GB. You can currenlty buy the 256GB/16GB Stealth and Core as a bundle for £1650. £350 will easily net you a GTX1060, maybe a 1070. So £2000 for a high end portable laptop and desktop grade performance in gaming. Not to mention the Stealth comes with a QHD touch screen. Add a mouse and you're done.

    Comparably you can get a similar value desktop/laptop combo for £2000 but you have to make sacrifices somewhere. The cheapest laptop you'll find nowadays start at £300 new. So £300-400 is reasonable for a basic, entry level laptop (ignoring Chromebooks). So £1600-1700 to spend on a desktop. A decent monitor will set you back £150-200 and you'll want peripherals as well. So let's say £200-300 for the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc. You've got maybe £1300 or so left to spend on a desktop, which should be plenty to get an i7, 16GB or RAM, a 1070 and so on, just like the Stealth. You can save a few hundred here or spend the full amount to get better specs. Or spend the extra on a better laptop.

    The tradeoff is you've got to get it all to uni, get it all back, hope you can use it (I can't even use my desktop at uni as it's too powerful for the plug sockets) and generally deal with having multiple machines. There's no compromise in this case if you go for a Stealth and Core. You get the same performance at a similar price in a much smaller form factor. You don't have to skimp on the laptop, or deal with a bulky desktop and setup. The GPU is still upgradeable and usable outside the Core. In general the differences aren't as huge as you'd think.

    Is this right for everyone? Of course not. Not everyone has £2000 to spend on their uni setup. But then plenty of people go with expensive Macbooks and that money could be better served buying a decent laptop or building a desktop. I'm simply pointing out options. For me this would have been an ideal scenario had the Stealth and Core been available several months ago.
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    I would advise.. 2+ monitors...
    if you're interested in coding performance heavy software, an intel cpu that has avx simd instructions and an nvidia graphic card for cuda programming.
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    That’s a long answer so I’m going to take it one point at a time.



    (Original post by Acsel)
    While I agree that a laptop by itself is not suitable for gaming that's not what I've suggested here. I personally find that having a high end, small form factor laptop for uni is incredibly useful. I'd also want a decent gaming machine but for many people spending out on a decent laptop and a decent desktop will be too much. When you've got multiple machines you also have to deal with transferring files between the two and installing applications multiple times if you intend to use both for work. I'm not saying a Stealth and Core combo is absolutely the best but it is the most convenient way of keeping everything in one place and saving space.
    I would ask a simple question – what course are you taking? Sometimes coding on a small screen is just making things awkward for yourself. Sometimes that’s not true but often you’ll be better served with a two-screen setup (something all university should offer in at least one lab). Same is true for gaming. A small screen, no matter how good, will not offer the best experience.

    You don’t need a high-end laptop. You buy a good desktop setup (this can be done for around £800) and a cheap laptop (for example either the Acer R11 4gb or even a second hand thinkpad X220 off Ebay) as you won’t be needing a massive amount of power on the go. Total budget around £1000. In terms of this budget (£500?) I’d suggest a mid-range laptop but it won’t be able to game. The razer blade is simply too much in my opinion.

    My university offers OneDrive storage for all work-related files. I also have a backup on a USB drive but OneDrive syncs to all my computers. No work needed. If you wanted to use Linux then it’ll be more annoying but not to the extent it should factor in on the machine you buy.



    (Original post by Acsel)

    The practicality aspect should not be underestimated at uni. I wish I'd been able to take a desktop with me. While there would have been space under the desk for a tower I'd be pushing it to get a display and keyboard on the desk. Not to mention I'd have to move everything whenever I need space on the desk for other work, eating, etc. Having something like a Stealth and Core on the other hand would have been perfect. The Core is small enough to hide away under the desk and the Stealth takes up far less space than a monitor and keyboard.
    This depends on your own situation. I can drive all my stuff to uni and drive to home myself. The room I currently have is plenty big enough for a small desk, as such, the only thing on the top are the screens. There is room to use a pen and paper if I choose without moving anything.



    Everyone’s situation is different but I’d suggest everyone gets a desk and chair for somewhere to study alone.





    (Original post by Acsel)
    As far as cost goes there isn't too much in it there either. The entry level Stealth is £999 although I'd recommend the £1200 model since it ups the RAM to 16GB. You can currenlty buy the 256GB/16GB Stealth and Core as a bundle for £1650. £350 will easily net you a GTX1060, maybe a 1070. So £2000 for a high end portable laptop and desktop grade performance in gaming. Not to mention the Stealth comes with a QHD touch screen. Add a mouse and you're done.
    That’s a lot more than my setup cost. If you have nothing (no desk, no monitor, no keyboard) I can see it adding up but the computer itself won’t be £999 let alone anywhere near £2000.

    Actually - http://www.tesco.com/direct/acer-116...&source=others



    For around the same price you could find a thinkpad X220 on Ebay (2nd gen I5) or an X240(4th gen I5) for just under 300. All upgradable to 1080p screens etc.

    You won’t need a powerful laptop on the go if you’re going back to your room to do all the heavy work. The real question you should always ask yourself is “do I need that much power on the go?” Most people will always answer no.



    (Original post by Acsel)
    Comparably you can get a similar value desktop/laptop combo for £2000 but you have to make sacrifices somewhere. The cheapest laptop you'll find nowadays start at £300 new. So £300-400 is reasonable for a basic, entry level laptop (ignoring Chromebooks). So £1600-1700 to spend on a desktop. A decent monitor will set you back £150-200 and you'll want peripherals as well. So let's say £200-300 for the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc. You've got maybe £1300 or so left to spend on a desktop, which should be plenty to get an i7, 16GB or RAM, a 1070 and so on, just like the Stealth. You can save a few hundred here or spend the full amount to get better specs. Or spend the extra on a better laptop.
    I have no idea why you’re spending £2000 on a desktop. Not if you’re only putting in a GTX 1060.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cyberpower-...erpowerpc+1060



    You could easily self-build this cheaper. No need for an OS as even windows comes free for students.

    With a budget of £2000 I’d say grab a good laptop and a good desktop setup. The OP doesn’t have more than £500 so that’s a moot point.

    (Original post by Acsel)
    The tradeoff is you've got to get it all to uni, get it all back, hope you can use it (I can't even use my desktop at uni as it's too powerful for the plug sockets) and generally deal with having multiple machines. There's no compromise in this case if you go for a Stealth and Core. You get the same performance at a similar price in a much smaller form factor. You don't have to skimp on the laptop, or deal with a bulky desktop and setup. The GPU is still upgradeable and usable outside the Core. In general the differences aren't as huge as you'd think.
    A plug isn’t strong enough? The hell? That must be a bad socket. Get the landlord to have someone check it. Your PSU could be going bad but if it is the plug that could start a fire. Get someone to look at it.

    The big noticeable difference is the screen. As good as it is… it’s still 13 inch. It makes a massive difference for games but more importantly when coding. Of course, this is a judgment call. Maybe you’re more comfortable with a smaller screen then me.

    (Original post by Acsel)
    Is this right for everyone? Of course not. Not everyone has £2000 to spend on their uni setup. But then plenty of people go with expensive Macbooks and that money could be better served buying a decent laptop or building a desktop. I'm simply pointing out options. For me this would have been an ideal scenario had the Stealth and Core been available several months ago.
    I would say your setup isn’t bad. I just wouldn’t want a 13inch device to be the only thing I program on. Neither would I want to take around £1000 worth of computer with me every day. Having said that if I could buy a Stealth or even the Dell XPS 13 I would do so. For what they are they seem amazing. They just aren’t my choice due to screen size limitations.

    (Original post by bobby2303)
    That would be helpful, maybe around £500?


    For £500 I’d recommend a good laptop. If you have to buy a screen and everything else, it’ll be better to put the money into one machine. What kind of stuff does your university/college offer on site to do all your work on?
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    Holy **** wtf, who would ever recommend a razor core and stealth?
    Thats way too overpriced. If you legitimately only want a gaming laptop you can get one with a gtx 1060 or 1070 and a 6700hq.
    It would last for quite a while.
 
 
 
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