Best laptop for Computer Science student

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gcseswereok
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#1
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#1
I’d like to know what laptop to get for uni - i’m starting first year in september and i would like the laptop to last all through the 4 year course but i don’t know what laptop to get. I’ve watched a few videos but i don’t know what to pick. I’m between a HP Spectre, Microsoft Surface 3 and a Macbook. Other suggestions would be nice as well
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gcseswereok
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#2
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#2
not more than £1000 - that’s if you really think it will be worth it but that could be pushing it
i’m going to university of liverpool as well - if that helps
Last edited by gcseswereok; 1 year ago
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gcseswereok
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#3
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#3
Thanks 🙏🏾 do you have any suggestions that are from other brands as well?
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Gent2324
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#4
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#4
why would you use windows for cs?
you should get a macbook or linux.

programmers rarely use windows, mac and linux are far superior
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Gent2324
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or you could just get a macbook/linux and not have to bother with that.
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Gent2324
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#6
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yes they are expensive, but so is a surface 3, and a secondhand macbook is well within OPs budget. personally i think its best to start with either mac/linux now as theres a 95% chance youre going to be using them if you end up becoming a software engineer
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gcseswereok
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#7
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Gent2324
Thanks for both of your suggestions. I’ll take it into consideration
i also saw the HP Envy x360 as an option, do you think that’s a good choice as well?
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3121
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#8
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The HP Spectre x360 is amazing, I have the new 15" 4K OLED one. I do a bit of everything as I run a business (coding, designing, documenting, etc) I've found that it's great for everything and much catering to creative work than a MacBook (by miles), after using the Spectre I ended up selling my MacBook (the i9 16") and don't plan to go back. I do miss the Apple Ecosystem though, the only limiting factor from the Spectre would be whatever limits Windows has.

XCode is no longer mandatory for iOS apps, Linux subsystem is great on Windows, I prefer the layout of Windows, it doesn't try to do things for me like MacOS which oversimplified or over complicated everything, no in between.

The Spectre and it's pen isn't great for notes, I'll be honest. No tablet and pen is, even the iPad Pro, I can just about take notes now that I've got a paper-like screen protector which is nice. If you're looking for digital note taking I 100% recommend ReMarkable 2. Low latency, great paper like feel and look, e-reader and better than a kindle because you can annotate ebooks.

Long story short - Cross of the Surface 3, it's between MacBook and Spectre. Spectre wins in creativity and productivity by miles. Linux Subsystem on Windows makes it awesome for developing, unless you're loyal to Apple and the Ecosystem, MacBooks are really overrated. Also Spectre looks AMAZING, and the number pad is an essential for me. Only drawbacks are limits of Windows & battery is probably less than a MacBook.
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3121
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#9
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(Original post by Gent2324)
yes they are expensive, but so is a surface 3, and a secondhand macbook is well within OPs budget. personally i think its best to start with either mac/linux now as theres a 95% chance youre going to be using them if you end up becoming a software engineer
MacOS in a virtual machine on a £1500 Windows laptop will have more resources than a £1500 MacBook will have natively lol
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alex282
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#10
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(Original post by gcseswereok)
I’d like to know what laptop to get for uni - i’m starting first year in september and i would like the laptop to last all through the 4 year course but i don’t know what laptop to get. I’ve watched a few videos but i don’t know what to pick. I’m between a HP Spectre, Microsoft Surface 3 and a Macbook. Other suggestions would be nice as well
Definitely definitely definitely not the Macbook

There's lots of okay brands of laptops but I've always prefered a good solid Dell laptop with something like an 8th gen i7 processor
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username5383500
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#11
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#11
(Original post by gcseswereok)
I’d like to know what laptop to get for uni - i’m starting first year in september and i would like the laptop to last all through the 4 year course but i don’t know what laptop to get. I’ve watched a few videos but i don’t know what to pick. I’m between a HP Spectre, Microsoft Surface 3 and a Macbook. Other suggestions would be nice as well
Might as well throw my opinion into the mix. At the premium end of the market, my preference would be a Dell XPS 13.

However there's no real need to be looking at the ultrabook market. As nice as they are, and it is perfectly possible to justify the price, I'd be more inclined to recommend something around £600. The laptops suggested by bluewolf are solid, as another option I'd be considering 14 inch Dell Inspiron's. Especially since you can get student discount buying direct from Dell, or you can take advantage of their current 14% discount offer. This £649 Inspiron drops down to around £560 with that discount. I'd personally go for something like that, and spend some of the rest of your budget on a second monitor.

The whole Windows vs Linux vs Mac debate is silly. CompSci is about more than just writing code, and even during software development you can use whatever tools/OS you like. There are few inherent requirements to use one OS over another, and in reality you should use whatever you are most comfortable with. That will likely change over time, but odds are for now it means getting a Windows laptop and running a Linux VM if you need it. With that in mind, a Windows based laptop makes by far the most sense without having to compromise on anything.
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username5383500
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#12
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#12
Based on that alone, impossible to say. Would depend on the price and specs. Assuming identical specs and pricing (which makes the 7390 vs 9300 technically redundant) I'd opt for the XPS. My experience with XPS devices has been overall very good, while Lenovo have never really made me want to pick up an X1 Carbon. Plus it always seems like an equivalent X1 Carbon costs more than competing ultrabooks.

Of course if I were picking it for myself I'd have to look into the exact differences between the 7390 and 9300. IIRC both are 10th gen (Comet Lake vs Ice Lake I think) but I've not really kept up with laptop releases as much since I left TSR. Plus my use cases tend to be rather odd, so what I'd buy rarely ends up being what I'd recommend to someone else.

But 2 years on I'm still rocking a 9370 (8550U, 16GB) that feels like new and currently see no reason to move away from Dell. The Lenovo would be a hard pass, so it'd come down to whichever XPS suited my needs more. Even then, I'm a sucker for new and shiny so it'd probably be the 9300 but I'd need to do more research to know for sure.
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username5383500
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#13
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#13
Based on that, and the marginally better performance of the 1065G7 I'd probably opt for the 9300, but it'd be a hard sell over the 7390 based on how close they are performance wise. It looks like the 10510U has a higher Turbo, but cooling is always an issue on ultrabooks and I'd be unlikely to benefit much from that. Which makes me think the extra £150 is more worthwhile, in favour of slightly better performance with presumably lower heat output.

Side note, I wasn't aware that X1 Carbon came with Win 10 Pro, which for me at least would be very nice to have. But I wouldn't be able to justify only getting a 10210U at that price.


I'm basically in the opposite boat there, never got on with ThinkPad keyboards in general. Dell XPS keyboards are kind of my go-to gold standard nowadays. But the general feel is always important to consider, and it's why I like to recommend people go and try laptops in store before they buy.



Agred there, 4K on laptops as a whole is pointless. Even 1440p is pushing it, and only worth it on larger devices. Between battery life, pixel density and just weird scaling issues I wouldn't touch a 4K panel on a laptop unless I had to. So you can imagine my joy when work gave me a 4K laptop.

In a similar vein, XPS models seem to have cycles of coil whine. Sometimes you get lucky, others you don't. And I won't deny that I repasted and added thermal pads to mine to help with heat dissipation. It's not like they can't deal with the heat, I just hate fan noise.



Cheers for the link. I'd totally forgotten that the 9300 introduced the 16:10 aspect ratio, so that'd play a part in my choice as well. With that in mind, the extra £150 is looking more justified in the 9300.
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username5383500
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#14
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#14
XPS 15 7590 (9980HK, 32GB, 1TB, 4K touch). My choices were that or a MacBook with undisclosed specs.


I'd really love to see a 14 inch XPS, especially now they've got 16:10 screens. So much screen real estate. I've long considered 14" to be the sweet spot, especially as a primary device.
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username5383500
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#15
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#15
Well it's not at the level of my desktop, and I'm not a fan of the 4K. But I didn't have to pay for it, so I can't really complain
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