Laptop memory for university Watch

Ril3y
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I’m looking to study biological sciences at university and I need a laptop but wasn’t sure how much memory I will need and what laptops to get? I don’t really know anything about laptopsThanks
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999tigger
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(Original post by Ril3y)
I’m looking to study biological sciences at university and I need a laptop but wasn’t sure how much memory I will need and what laptops to get? I don’t really know anything about laptopsThanks
8 should be fine. You need to know your budget first. You cna get away with 4 if you have to.


Make sure it has a 256gb ssd or is upgradeable.

Smaller and lighter it is then the more expensive.
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AngryJellyfish
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Moved to Laptops, netbooks and tablets.
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Acsel
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Not really sure why you posted 2 thread asking for laptop advice in the same of 5 minutes.

For normal laptops:
4GB will work but it won't be fun. Try to avoid
8GB is the sweet spot, anything less is sub optimal and anything more is wasted
16GB is overkill unless you're using the laptop for intensive tasks (at which point just buy a desktop)

For other devices, such as a low end Chromebooks it's more common to see them with 2GB or 4GB. These work but don't really compare to a proper laptop, nor are they representative of the sort of specs you'd get away with on a proper laptop.
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Tootles
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(Original post by Ril3y)
I’m looking to study biological sciences at university and I need a laptop but wasn’t sure how much memory I will need and what laptops to get? I don’t really know anything about laptopsThanks
Unless you're crunching or doing protein folding or something, any laptop on the market would be fine for you.
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DerivativeName
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(Original post by Ril3y)
I’m looking to study biological sciences at university and I need a laptop but wasn’t sure how much memory I will need and what laptops to get? I don’t really know anything about laptopsThanks
Everyone’s responses have been sufficient, but as you have asked this question, and are studying biology: Do you definitely mean memory or did you mean Storage? Memory is RAM and will range from 4-32GB- more RAM increases performance. Storage, aka Secondary Storage, is permanent storage of data, such as a Hard Drive (HDD) or SSD. They typically range from 256GB-2TB in Laptops.

For storage I’d go 1TB HDD. Pretty cheap nowadays and unless you’re doing more than schoolwork a HDD should be fine.
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Ril3y
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(Original post by DerivativeName)
Everyone’s responses have been sufficient, but as you have asked this question, and are studying biology: Do you definitely mean memory or did you mean Storage? Memory is RAM and will range from 4-32GB- more RAM increases performance. Storage, aka Secondary Storage, is permanent storage of data, such as a Hard Drive (HDD) or SSD. They typically range from 256GB-2TB in Laptops.

For storage I’d go 1TB HDD. Pretty cheap nowadays and unless you’re doing more than schoolwork a HDD should be fine.
I didn’t even realise there was a difference😂 I meant storage but still want it to run quickly with a few different files and pages open
Thankyou
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NonIndigenous
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(Original post by Acsel)
Not really sure why you posted 2 thread asking for laptop advice in the same of 5 minutes.

For normal laptops:
4GB will work but it won't be fun. Try to avoid
8GB is the sweet spot, anything less is sub optimal and anything more is wasted
16GB is overkill unless you're using the laptop for intensive tasks (at which point just buy a desktop)

For other devices, such as a low end Chromebooks it's more common to see them with 2GB or 4GB. These work but don't really compare to a proper laptop, nor are they representative of the sort of specs you'd get away with on a proper laptop.
My laptop has 16Gb. I find that frequently, without even doing particularly intensive tasks, the memory I use comes close to the 8Gb mark:
- firefox
- word processor
- outlook
- some pdfs

And I'm already at the limit.

Like right now... I'm using 45% of 16Gb. That means 90% of 8Gb. And I do not even have any pdfs open (all the other applications listed though, yes). I think lots of applications are becoming increasingly heavier on memory usage, simply because the extra computing power is available these days.
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DerivativeName
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(Original post by Ril3y)
I didn’t even realise there was a difference😂 I meant storage but still want it to run quickly with a few different files and pages open
Thankyou
Yeah lots of people have no idea. It’s just that TSR is quite heavy with CS students (me included) and other tech geeks that we forget that others might have not been as specific as we would have.

So, yeah- 8GB of RAM will be enough for smooth running, 1TB HDD is probably your best bet for storage. It’s slower than an SSD but SSD’s are much more expensive per GB, and so for general purpose documents a HDD would be better.

I knew my CS GCSE 8 markers would be useful 😉
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Acsel
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(Original post by NonIndigenous)
My laptop has 16Gb. I find that frequently, without even doing particularly intensive tasks, the memory I use comes close to the 8Gb mark:
- firefox
- word processor
- outlook
- some pdfs

And I'm already at the limit.

Like right now... I'm using 45% of 16Gb. That means 90% of 8Gb. And I do not even have any pdfs open (all the other applications listed though, yes). I think lots of applications are becoming increasingly heavier on memory usage, simply because the extra computing power is available these days.
That's largely because you've got the RAM available. The thing is, empty RAM is wasted RAM so ideally you want to be seeing reasonably high usage. If you've got 16GB then there's no reason for your OS to clean it up when yo're using half, as opposed to if you've got 8GB and are closer to the limt. To put it another way, using 50% of 16GB does not actually mean you'd be using 100% on an 8GB machine.

As a test, I've opened 10 tabs in Firefox, with a variety of social media, YouTube videos and so on. I've got a few other documents open in Word, Excel and PDFs, alongside emails, an average sized image in photoshop, a file browser, task manager and of course the OS is running behind all that. This is more than I'd expect the average student to be using and I'm not quite at 85% RAM usage. In fact, the CPU hit 100% usage for a bit and ended up being a bottleneck. Of all that, the only thing taking up any reasonable amount of RAM is Firefox at 2-3GB.

That's not representative of what the average student is doing (most people don't have multiple vidoes playing on YouTube and don't need to mess with Photoshop regularly). I'd expect a few documents and multiple tabs for an average workload. To test that, I opened every tab I have bookmarked (something like 30 right now, full of research papers). Overall my system is using 67% RAM. I've even happily used virtual machines alongside thi setup before and once again, the processor was an issue long before the 8GB of RAM.

You are completely right that applications are becoming more power hungry since the resources are available but equally, operating systems are a lot smarter about managing those resources. If a system has 16GB of RAM, it'll act differently to having 8GB, or 4GB. Empty RAM is wasted RAM, and 50% usage on a 16GB system won't equate to 100% usage on an 8GB system. Furthermore, many devices are coming equipped with SSDs, quite often PCIe based rather than SATA. So when you do run out of RAM and start paging, it's a hell of a lot faster than it would be with a SATA HDD.

Of course, as always if you are seeing exceedingly high RAM usage then that may be cause for concern elsewhere. My 16GB desktop rarely hits 50% RAM usage, even under the sort of conditions you described so it's possible there is something else going on in the background.
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Acsel
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(Original post by DerivativeName)
1TB HDD is probably your best bet for storage. It’s slower than an SSD but SSD’s are much more expensive per GB, and so for general purpose documents a HDD would be better.
Personally I'd recommend seeing what your storage requirements actually are. If for example you stream all your music, watch Netflix and generally don't store things locally then an SSD is the better choice. The speed far outweighs the lack of capacity if you're never going to use it in the first place. On the other hand, if you're the sort of person that rips all their music/films, or were on a resource heavy course (media, photography, etc.) or had a hobby along those lines, or played a lot of games and so on then the HDD is more likely to be the better choice.

The other big things to consider: SSDs are far more robust and come in much smaller form factors. An SSD is unlikely to suffer any major damage if the laptop is dropped, or thrown about in a bag. They're less power hungry than HDD and the smaller form factor means more space for battery, or a just plain more compact device. Ultrabooks are only possible thanks to SSDs that are either soldered or in M.2 form factor. And of course they're quieter.

While more expensive per GB, the cost tends to balance out when you compare a 128/256GB SSD to a 1TB HDD. If all you're doing is storing uni work for example, odds are that's a bunch of word docs and might take a few hundred MB at most. If storage isn't an issue then hands down the SSD wins every time.
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DerivativeName
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(Original post by Acsel)
Personally I'd recommend seeing what your storage requirements actually are. If for example you stream all your music, watch Netflix and generally don't store things locally then an SSD is the better choice. The speed far outweighs the lack of capacity if you're never going to use it in the first place. On the other hand, if you're the sort of person that rips all their music/films, or were on a resource heavy course (media, photography, etc.) or had a hobby along those lines, or played a lot of games and so on then the HDD is more likely to be the better choice.

The other big things to consider: SSDs are far more robust and come in much smaller form factors. An SSD is unlikely to suffer any major damage if the laptop is dropped, or thrown about in a bag. They're less power hungry than HDD and the smaller form factor means more space for battery, or a just plain more compact device. Ultrabooks are only possible thanks to SSDs that are either soldered or in M.2 form factor. And of course they're quieter.

While more expensive per GB, the cost tends to balance out when you compare a 128/256GB SSD to a 1TB HDD. If all you're doing is storing uni work for example, odds are that's a bunch of word docs and might take a few hundred MB at most. If storage isn't an issue then hands down the SSD wins every time.
That’s true. I was probably projecting my habit of being a bit of a hoarder when it comes to digital storage 😬 I can fill up a 256 SSD in a few days....
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Acsel
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(Original post by DerivativeName)
That’s true. I was probably projecting my habit of being a bit of a hoarder when it comes to digital storage 😬 I can fill up a 256 SSD in a few days....
Oh I'm the same, I've got 15.5TB of storage in my desktop split across 6 storage devices and when I got my 128GB laptop I had to upgrade it to 256GB, then later 512GB. But in terms of uni work, there's only 66GB and a good portion of that is disk images, so I wouldn't expect most students to get anywhere near that. The bulk of my stuff (documents, phone backup, music, software, etc.) would fit on a 256GB SSD with room to spare
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999tigger
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(Original post by Ril3y)
I’m looking to study biological sciences at university and I need a laptop but wasn’t sure how much memory I will need and what laptops to get? I don’t really know anything about laptopsThanks
You need to have an idea of your budget. It could be anywhere for £300- £1,500.

I would say budget end is £300-600.
Medium would be £600-850£
Higher end would be £850+

Eight would be the sweetspot for memory but 4 is doable.

Budget tells you what might be possible, but for storage definitely get an ssd and 256gb is the min these days. You can get an external HDD to back up for £35-65 of 1000-2000gb

I would most likely leave buying till the last moment or unless you see a fantastic bargain. there are thousands of models and deals change all the time. At lower end they are all similar although you can check into quality of materials, ergonomics i.e how its laid out, screen quality and weight. Always best to check in person or at least read reviews. Take your time.

Personally i wouldnt rule out refurbished fro Dell outlet.

You can get an idea of size and weight from just a visit to pc world, currys or J Lewis.
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Acsel
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(Original post by 999tigger)
You can get an external HDD to back up for £35-65 of 1000-2000gb
Replace "can" with "should" but quoted for emphasis.
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DerivativeName
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(Original post by Acsel)
Oh I'm the same, I've got 15.5TB of storage in my desktop split across 6 storage devices and when I got my 128GB laptop I had to upgrade it to 256GB, then later 512GB. But in terms of uni work, there's only 66GB and a good portion of that is disk images, so I wouldn't expect most students to get anywhere near that. The bulk of my stuff (documents, phone backup, music, software, etc.) would fit on a 256GB SSD with room to spare
That’s true, I think visual studio takes up 99% of my HDD.
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Acsel
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(Original post by DerivativeName)
That’s true, I think visual studio takes up 99% of my HDD.
Hahaha sounds about right for Visual Studio. I built a networking environment for one of my units, I've got about 100GB of virtual hard disks still on my system for that. It's these sorts of niche requirements that mean generic recommendations will usually be fine but for real advice, you need to know about the end user. All too often I see questions like "What's the best laptop" to which I'll answer "What do you want it for?"
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omar200329
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get a macbook pro they are so useful
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From my experience as a student who also studies biological science related papers, I find myself abusing chrome tabs a lot through reading literature, and searching up key scientific words from the read, researching, watching youtube videos on related stuff and maybe a bit of social media here and there.

Contrary to popular belief, web browsing is not a basic computing tasks as it take a fair bit of processing power and lot of ram with modern sites being so content heavy. Sites with embedded video tends to take up a huge chunk of RAM, so much so I find myself hitting 10-11GB at times. I'd suggest 8GB as a minimum if you don't abuse your laptop with Chrome and 16GB if you do, and NEVER EVER opt for a laptop with 4GB of RAM unless if its up-gradable. Your laptop will chew through ~3.6GB at idle and it'd run out after 3-5 Chrome tabs.

As for processing power, a ULV 8th gen i5 should be more than enough. I'd personally avoid the earlier dual cores because they do have the tendency to things down a bit when you have a few tabs opened. If you're on a budget, go for a AMD Ryzen 3 laptop at the very least. Never ever go for a AMD E series or a Intel Atom OR a Celeron/Pentium with a processor number that starts with Nxxxx. Those are low powered processors that struggles with anything more intense than a word document or reading pdfs.

As for graphics, any integrated graphics would do unless you're into a bit of gaming.

As for storage, I suggest at least a 256? 250GB SSD, unless you fancy waiting 5 minutes for everything to load each time you start your computer.
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vikingraid
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(Original post by Acsel)
That's largely because you've got the RAM available. The thing is, empty RAM is wasted RAM so ideally you want to be seeing reasonably high usage. If you've got 16GB then there's no reason for your OS to clean it up when yo're using half, as opposed to if you've got 8GB and are closer to the limt. To put it another way, using 50% of 16GB does not actually mean you'd be using 100% on an 8GB machine.

As a test, I've opened 10 tabs in Firefox, with a variety of social media, YouTube videos and so on. I've got a few other documents open in Word, Excel and PDFs, alongside emails, an average sized image in photoshop, a file browser, task manager and of course the OS is running behind all that. This is more than I'd expect the average student to be using and I'm not quite at 85% RAM usage. In fact, the CPU hit 100% usage for a bit and ended up being a bottleneck. Of all that, the only thing taking up any reasonable amount of RAM is Firefox at 2-3GB.

That's not representative of what the average student is doing (most people don't have multiple vidoes playing on YouTube and don't need to mess with Photoshop regularly). I'd expect a few documents and multiple tabs for an average workload. To test that, I opened every tab I have bookmarked (something like 30 right now, full of research papers). Overall my system is using 67% RAM. I've even happily used virtual machines alongside thi setup before and once again, the processor was an issue long before the 8GB of RAM.

You are completely right that applications are becoming more power hungry since the resources are available but equally, operating systems are a lot smarter about managing those resources. If a system has 16GB of RAM, it'll act differently to having 8GB, or 4GB. Empty RAM is wasted RAM, and 50% usage on a 16GB system won't equate to 100% usage on an 8GB system. Furthermore, many devices are coming equipped with SSDs, quite often PCIe based rather than SATA. So when you do run out of RAM and start paging, it's a hell of a lot faster than it would be with a SATA HDD.

Of course, as always if you are seeing exceedingly high RAM usage then that may be cause for concern elsewhere. My 16GB desktop rarely hits 50% RAM usage, even under the sort of conditions you described so it's possible there is something else going on in the background.
Yeah, I noticed this paging effect as well with 8GB of ram, but you have to remember that a SSD has a limited number of write cycles, and that you're just wrecking it in the long run.
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