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Want a laptop for computer science degree



Next year I will be going to college for computer science and I need a laptop that will hopefully last me 4 or more years. I’m not too knowledgeable about different laptops, but I was hoping someone on here can point me in the right direction. I’m looking to spend around $1000. I don’t need it to be able to run games well. I’m not exactly sure what sort of workload it would have, but mainly I would use it for taking notes and running whatever code I have to. The xps 13 looks like a good option, but I’m not sure about which specific configuration I’d want.


I’d just get an ultrabook for class and build and overkill micro-ITX for the dorm room. No point getting a super beefy laptop for class when all its going to do is thermally throttle and do everything at a mediocre pace.

Setup Rsync and remote CI so you can remotely build on your ITX server in your dorm room and then rsync completed files back if you college has a half decent infrastructure you’ll be shitting on every rich kids shit laptop.


What OS are you planning to run?

XPS 13 is great for both Windows and Linux. I’ve got both the 13 and 15. I like the 15 for the better CPU, but if you’re looking for something tiny but workable, the XPS 13 will work just fine. Frankly, if you’re looking for my recommendation: the XPS 15 is the better bang for your buck.


All of my laptops have died at the screen hinge or the mounts its attached too. most at least gave me a year.

my current is a lenovo yoga 2, ive replaced the shell its self when the hinge mounts cracked after ~2 years. im at 5 years now as long as im nice to the hinges.

with this in mind im looking at a solution that has a detachable “keyboard” as i can buy a second and ride the fucker into the ground.

surface pro 3 has repeatability that was decreased in the 4 and lost in the 5th.

a startup made a laptop per user requests, it seems like a first gen but still something im watching here


While I like the sound if @weenieHutCEO’s idead, it wouldn’t have been possible in my case since my “dorm” and my insitute were net in the same network.
Also, most of the code I had to compile was nit that big and therefore doable on mediocre notebooks too. This one time though, we had to compile the Linux kernel and I was glad I had my PC back then.
Also, while you should get comfortable with the idea of running Linux on it, or at least using it, you will probably be fine with Windows and MacOS most of the time.


You can probably get away with just the xps13 hooked up to an extra 4k monitor (up to 500)+keyboard+mouse(up to 200 both) wherever you end up living. Budget a decent router (up to $200), external usb3/network storage for local backups (extra up to $200), cloud backups/storage (extra up to $200 for 4years).

Machine you end up using should have 16G of ram, i5 or i7 matters less than ram, 512G nvme is probably more than you’ll need, 256G is probably enough.

Stick to Windows (least amount of hassle for various, run Linux in a VM as needed, or ask your school for a VM.

Having a backup machine might be handy, assuming you have backups of data you can probably build one within a day or two if you end up needing it. Grab a raspberry pi - might be handy as a second computer on that same monitor.

In general, it’s important you have easy access to all books/papers/other you need all the time so you can spend the most of the time digging into whatever content they give you anywhere you feel comfortable focusing on it.


The Pi for emergency backup sounds odd until you suddenly need it.


My wife is still using her 2013 Macbook Pro quadcore for R and SAAS and any other coding she does (C maybe? Not sure exactly) as it simply gets more attention from a Unix perspective.

What OS is that?


I think he meant ReactOS, but died as he was typing.


anything but Winblows


I wouldn’t go THAT far, only because that implies buying a Mac would be better. But I did restart the 1-year Linux challenge again recently and I don’t regret it, especially after hearing about all the BS with the Win10 updates (past and present). I have to admit, I do miss the general feel and function because I’ve been using it for so long, but with Proton in Steam now I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

Back on topic

I would go with the Oryx Pro from System76. It’s no supercomputer and it’s no ultrabook, but it is relatively small (if you get the 15"), more than powerful enough to do anything you need for your degree, doesn’t come with Windows, gives you much more bang for your buck than buying a Mac, and it’s from a much smaller company than any of the major players.

If there’s some software that you absolutely need for the class that’s only available on Windows, that sucks. I’d probably just go with an MSI GS65 Stealth or Asus GM501.


Portability matters. You can get quadcore CPUs in the XPS13 now, so there’s no particular call to go for the XPS15 unless you need a discrete GPU.

I suggest the XPS13, quadcore CPU, with the 1080p screen. It is thin and light and gets insane battery life. Add on a 27" 1440p monitor and separate keyboard and mouse for getting serious work done on your desk if you think you’ll use them.

That said, I just checked out the usual deal sites and this is a pretty amazing deal on a XPS15. Sold on eBay by Dell and brand new. 6 core, 12 thread CPU, 16GB RAM, discrete GTX1050ti GPU, and 256GB SSD.

There’s also a great thinkpad deal here on their X1 carbon high-end ultrabook. Customize with the 8550u CPU and 16GB RAM and use code THINKBLCKFRI to get it down to $1154.


So we’re all giving OP different suggestions in different directions. Let’s take a moment to wait for OP to respond to what’s already been suggested. This sort of help is borderline not helpful.


No need for anything flash. A modern i5 will do the job. I use an overclocked r7 at home, but work a quad core hyperthreaded i5. The only reason you would need more than a quad core is if you get into graphics and hand development. And maybe some scientific research projects in final year or post grad. But for the most part, you can use the provided computers and if that’s not enough, use AWS for the most power hungry issues


Thanks for all the suggestions. I already have a desktop, 1440p monitor, and raspberry pi for any of those needs. It doesn’t matter to me if it is running windows or Linux. The xps 15 on ebay looks like a great deal @ruffalo. The only issue is I’m not sure if 256gb will be enough. Can the storage in the xps 15 be upgraded if I end up needing more space?


Yeah, you’ll need a torx screwdriver but other than that it’s easy. Just pop in a new m.2 NVME SSD. You could also just stick in a permanent SDcard for media storage not speed-sensitive.


Just about any laptop will do fine depending on what your programming, if your doing programming with GPU acceleration and computation is required you will want a laptop with a discrete GPU. Otherwise I would find a laptop with these qualities:

  • Good quality keyboard (my laptop has a meh keyboard and isn’t the most ideal for programming or serious typing though it does work decently well).

  • A half-way decent CPU in terms of performance. I mean 8th Gen Intel CPU or AMD Ryzen Mobile APU would be ideal (though I would choose Intel for driver support) but if you can get a refurbished laptop cheap like a Dell Latitude or Lenovo Thinkpad, it will save a lot and you won’t even need $1000.

  • Oh, and get a laptop with an SSD or buy a laptop for like $800 and spend additional on an SSD. Solid State Drive prices are cheap enough that you can get a 1 TB SSD for well under $200, it’s really worth the buy, especially for a laptop.

  • Portability matters, it’s nice to have a good keyboard but you may or may not care for a laptop that weighs 7 lbs. Not a big deal to me personally but I was happy that my new laptop only weighs half as much though that’s about as far as I go.

  • If your programming involves using the GPU much for acceleration (graphics) and/or computation, you may want a discrete GPU of some sort to program on, even if it’s a meager MX150 or RX 540. I don’t think you want Intel HD/UHD graphics slowing you down there.

I don’t have time now to search for a good laptop that fits your list. On another note are you looking to use an operating system like Linux or is Windows fine? I find Linux to be great for software development but I think Windows 10 may have stepped up their game a bit.


Yeah, there are a fair few of us who have the XPS 15, and it’s wonderful.

I popped a 970 pro into the laptop before even turning it on. It’s super easy. Just a T5 and a PH0 bits and you’re all set. Definitely worth it, and I’ll say that Linux works wonders on the non-Nvidia models, can’t speak personally to the Nvidia variants.

Some of the people who have the higher models, with the 1050, complain about temps, so you’ll definitely want to repaste it with good paste. (this actually doesn’t void warranty, we’ve checked with dell support!)

This thread might be of interest to you as well:

Even with the thermal issues, I’d still say it’s the perfect laptop, and most of the thermal issues can be solved by undervolting by -150mv. I just don’t want you to get it and wonder why we didn’t mention the heat.


@DrewTechs I prefer windows, but I have no problem with running Linux and I may end up installing Linux on it anyway depending on what I use it for


Stick around and you’ll be mainly Linux by the end of the year :stuck_out_tongue: