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Buying a computer system/Help me purchase a laptop - followup question

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QUESTION: Hi Bobbert,
 I wanna buy a laptop and I need your advice & suggestions on the specifications & brands.
 Just joined university to pursue "Masters in Mechanical Engineering" and need a laptop.
 What are the key points need to be concentrated upon for purchasing a laptop for it to be fast & efficient.
 My budget is around "800 dollars". Kindly suggest the suitable laptop configuration, brand & model that suits my requirements.

ANSWER: My primary advice to students is to contact their institution and inquire about what kind of hardware is suggested (they may have a specific model they'd like for students to own). If they do not have such a spec-out, they should at least be able to provide you with a list of software programs you will need to run for your studies, and from there we can determine an appropriate machine for your needs and budget.

-bob


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Bobbert,
 Thank you for the reply.
 Need a laptop configuration, that supports to run the software applications such as, ANSYS, CFX, FLUENT, AUTODYN, ICEM.
 Can you suggest me the laptop brand & model to my above mentioned software requirements.

 The below links could provide some info,
http://www.simutechgroup.com/Technical-Support-Services/ansys-hardware-support.h
http://www.drd.com/techsupport/pc_hardware.htm

Could you throw some light on Intel i5, i7 processors, the differences. And what are these 1st generation, 2nd generation, 3rd generation of Intel i5 and i7 processors mean.
Are the i7 processors are superior to i5 processors?

Sumazu

Answer
The links you've provided speak to relatively demanding software, in a similar vein as AutoCAD or Maya. This will be a challenging workload for any computer, especially a laptop. My advice would be the Dell Precision Mobility workstation series, or HP's equivalent offerings. For example something like this:
http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=swct47sf2&model_id=precisi

However that machine roughly triples your budget, which is problematic. The unfortunate reality then becomes that you will either have to spend considerably more money than your original $800, or purchase a machine that fits within that budget, and live with (likely) poor performance in these applications. Something like this machine:
http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=si1557p21&model_id=inspiro (the biggest deficiency will be in the graphics processing abilities, and unfortunately this is not generally an upgradeable component on a laptop once it has left the factory).

Regarding the Intel branding - Core i7 and i5 are different "tiers" of a similar processor architecture, that are targeted at different price points. Core i5 is generally the less expensive of the two, and offers very respectable performance for the money, while Core i7 is targeted as a more premium product, and carries a price premium to match. Regarding "1st, 2nd, 3rd gen" - this is Intel's latest marketing spin, and is an attempt to delineate variations of the Core product over the years. The original "1st gen" Core i7 products were released a few years ago, and have model numbers like "i7 920" while the latest series have four digit model numbers and offer improved performance. In general I would go with the "3rd gen" parts when possible (as they are much newer).

Here's the Wikipedia entry for the product family:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Core

-bob

Buying a computer system

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Bobbert

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.

Experience

I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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15+ years of experience

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