Help choosing a machine for college!

Hello all, this is my first post so I apologize if it's in the wrong category or I go off on a tangent.

So here is my situation . My birthday is in a few months and I'm looking into building a pc, I still have a year of high school left and will be attending college the following year. I like to do some gaming, I just don't much currently because I have an awful pc and can't run any new games. I had 2 scenarios worked out in my mind and would like some input.

  1. Build a small, quiet desktop rig for between $800 - $1200 (the lower the better as I am a student) doesn't have to be anything amazing, but will need to be able to game and run the programs required of an engineering student, such as auto cad. With this I would also have to buy a laptop for Web surfing, typing, carrying around campus etc.

  2. My second option would be to buy a top of the line laptop for everything, both gaming, and 3d modeling.

I guess my question is targeted to any current engineering students in the community, what do you use currently and how does it work out? Preferably I would go with the first option as it would be more powerful and I would get the most for my money. But if having everything on one computer is more practical, then that may be the better option. Thanks for any input

Save the money and wait that extra year.

If you have an utter junk rig and want to upgrade it, build something new.

A lot of stuff is going to happen between today and next year, and when you go to college you can get a much better computer for the same price. Only god knows what can happen now.

Eh... Maybe yes maybe no. Certainly we'll see some interesting things happen but I'm not sure if it's worth the wait. Zen should be amazing, sure, but we don't know what price it will be released at or how it will affect other prices. Intel chips will still be expensive and old AMD and Intel chips may not drop in price any more than they already have. I mean, I picked up a 6300 for like $80 over a year ago. I don't see deals better than that happening if you wait a year. You could, say, save up to then and buy all new parts when they come out. Which will be expensive as hell, but it would future proof you in college for several years. But I haven't jumped on the DDR4 bandwagon yet because it's still too pricey for my tastes, for example. And in the GPU world, that moves so fast there's no point in trying to maintain the best if you don't have sports car amounts of money laying around. Get a middle-high end GPU every few years and don't worry about it, Imo. DX12 is the only thing we can count on being a game changer right now, and it won't matter for a while yet.

Worst case scenario, the OP makes a sort of budget build now so they have a case, HDD and hopefully SSD storage, PSU, etc and they just upgrade the CPU/mobo half way through college when Zen has done whatever to the market that it will. GPU? The more I look into the R9 390 the more appealing it gets. I was fangirling for the 970 for the longest time but... Damn, that 390 is way more future proof simply because of VRAM. You can always Crossfire the things, after all.

So maayybee it's worth the wait. But Imo there's no reason you can't get a half decent computer now where you focus on things like storage, case, etc, making sure it will last you through several upgrades and worry about CPU power next year.


You could just go ahead and do this

Super powerful and portable.

My reply was actually gear more towards a laptop, I forgot to add that bit.

With a desktop, I would do some research and build a new rig, if his current rig is truly junk. There are plenty of builds that he can do now that would last through next year, and still have parts available for upgrade, namely stuff on LGA1150 and basically anything AMD.

I recently (like yesterday, haven't even done pictures!), built this rig: and I plan on using it for a while. Adding a few more parts like GPU and what not (which I already have) will make it a serviceable and up-gradable rig in the future. It's not the most powerful thing in the world, but so far with gaming, it's pretty darn good. Of course, mini-ITX would be dumb for a rig that you plan on upgrading really soon, and don't have any other plans for it, a larger build would be better.

I think you raise a good point, I was thinking of saving up for the next year and a half or so and then building a couple months before I leave.(lots of money to spend at once) Building a rig sooner rather than later, while focusing on the case, drives etc would potentially save some money. Now that you mention it, a budget build that I save for this year and build in the winter would be great. Then buy a decent workstation laptop closer to the beginning of the school year, then upgrade my build when time and money allow.

I like the idea of mini ITX but like vxace said below you, I would be concerned with the "upgradeability" of something like that, especially when it comes to something like sli

I can't argue with you there. In that case you could dish ~$900 on a decent ATX machine and the rest on a decent tablet

Now I know this isn't really a budget build, but bit how about something like this?
Not really sure about the case, but im looking for something in that price range. This would last for at least a couple years... Right? Feel free to tell me if I'm a complete moron or whatever. Thanks