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Old 07-30-2008, 07:53 AM   #11
Scott Borre
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I was getting ~ 300 less from your school compared to an equally specced on their site. Though it might depend on which model (an XPS might go down in price on their site faster due to changes in the video card/processor market).

Actually, if you wanted to play something like StarCraft 2 you probably would want to go for the XPS to get the more gaming oriented video card.
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:55 AM   #12
Paul McKirdy
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I plead the 5th...

Ok seriously, I actually know a bit about computers.

1st, any computer inside of three years old is enough computing power to run any nuclear power plant protection circuitry, the space shuttle, a SONAR targeting solution the space station and more. Bloatware is the problem, but that's another story.

2nd, due to number one and the law of diminishing returns buying a used computer is almost as pointless as building one anymore. For a thousand dollars from a company like Dell, who also assembles some of the best LCDs in the world, you will get a helluva machine. There's no need for an Alienware box just for browsing the web and watching videos, presentations and keep Excel spreadsheets etc.

I definitely agree with the one-or-two-year-old philosophy just find it brand new in the box, and you will still get a helluva deal.

Mind you my in-

3rd, Don't get any machine with less than 1GB of RAM, all else being equal get 2GB or 4GB. The ability to process information is only as big as the real estate that can be made available to the processor(s). Physical IO is still the biggest performance hit, electrons travel faster than read-write arms of harddrives amazingly enough, Physics is still batting 1000.

Sometimes it pays to talk to Dell directly and separately from a "group discount", everything is negotiable.

4th, the lower percentage storage capacity used the better therefore the larger the harddrive the better in most cases. Another amazing fact is that harddrives are in no way designed to operate over a sustained 75% storage capacity usage.

I could go on forever into the fine details, but processor, RAM and harddrive are the big three. Ultimately in todays machines RAM is still king on providing calculation throughput, and every operation in a computer is a calculation of one kind or another. And I have not even fingerprinted the surface of the series-parallel conversion factor packet management between buffer caches of RAM processor and disk controllers. This is the doorway however that increased RAM relieves and only RAM will relieve. Electrons move faster than read-write disk arms, but we still handle them in a limited series fashion. When we start using purely light-based computing engines or purely the parallel electron path properties(quantum-computing) then we'll see some real computing speed, and it's not far off but that is another discussion.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:04 AM   #13
Paul McKirdy
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+1 on the last one's price point. Can't tell from the description but especially if that graphics memory is separate physical memory...

As far as StarCraft II, it's not going to run it as fast as an SLI desktop, but it should run it decently enough to play I would think. The other way to more guarantee it is to go for one of the 4GB models. I am definitely partial to my 15.4 laptops, the bigger ones get too hot in my opinion...

In most cases you won't regret spending a few extra bucks on packages that increase RAM. Time is money. If was going to invest more now, I would get the XPS M1530 in that list. The latitude D830 would definitely be second to that in this case.

I don't know much about Vista yet, as I always resist upgrading. However, I would want to buy in at the Ultimate licensing point to try and hedge possibly having to increase licesning in the future.

EDIT: I still don't like the glossy screens on some laptops, but I know they are much better than they used to be.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:25 AM   #14
Kevin Perry
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I'll give my 2 cents but i'll try to not e biased.

Pick your priorities with what you plan to do with it. Since your going to college it is probably more beneficial to have a portable laptop rather than a desktop.

What do you plan on using it for? Email, Music, movies, word processing, photo editing, video editing, graphics, gaming, GPU intensive applications, processor intensive applications? make a list because this is a cost saver.

Simply Put, break down the technical specs as such:

Ram: Minimun I recommend to run applications smoothely 2gb

Processesor: this is redundant. Some people recommend 2.5ghz over 2.4, there is no big difference, a 1.9 something will run as good as a 2.5 IMO

Hard Drive: get something with enough space to store your files, media, etc

Graphics Card: Integrated vs. dedicated ; You won't be able to game well with integrated but the latest graphics are allowing better gaming. ( im not a gamer and it seem like you don't do much either so it wouldn't matter)

Can't really go wrong with dell, the XPS line models are expensive but the lower line inspiron models are good and more affordable and can do just about anything you would probably need.

I personally recommend macs but keep in mind they are not cheap. There is the Macbook and the Macbook Pro with the pro being top of the line but over priced IMO at $2000.

Currently Apple has the back to school special where you can buy a mac and get a free ipod and printer and with an education discount you can get about 200 dollars off the list price.

You can alsobuy refurbished (used) for several hundred dollars cheaper from the apple store. A benefit to macs:

operating system: ease of use

Multimedia programs like itunes generally run better on the MAC OSX operating system because of better management of bacground resources

You can run multiple applications at once without much if any hasle

Litte risk of viruses

You CAN run Windows side by side with OSX

those are just some.

Im not going to knock vista because I actually like Vista and I currently use a Dell XPS M1330 which is a fantastic laptop for the money but it going to a family member as a gift and i'll be moving back to a macbook.

So for the money you can't go wrong with a Dell, good product, excellent customer service, excellent rebates.

Macs are A little more expensive but excellent computers with good customer service, excellent software, and you just can't go wrong with a mac.

I also recomment visiting tigerdirect.com (w/f/s) and newegg.com (w/f/s) for some great deals on laptops that you can grab for well under $1000 and a much as $500

Another note, I wouldn't worry about getting the latest and greatest either. You probably won't use all the fany featues that makers are putting on these things and within 1 - 2 months, they become obsolete.
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:41 AM   #15
Paul McKirdy
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+1 on newegg.com. I have done business with them for at least 4 years now. Always great service!
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:03 AM   #16
Kevin Perry
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Originally Posted by Patrick Donnelly View Post
Re: Mike
Good call on getting an older model. I've already waited this long to buy since I didn't want to get anything that'd be outdated by the end of the summer. In all honesty, my current computer "works," despite being 8 years old. It also buzzes (loudly - a problem with the cooling fan), slows, freezes, crashes, and glitches often, but it works, and is a testament to the fact that technology doesn't have to be state-of-the-art.

Re: Allen
I'll be majoring in physics - so, the computer would be important, at least you'd think so. I just got off the phone with the head of the department, and he really couldn't give me any specifics. Simply put, he said that if I went with any of the Dell computers UMD sells, I'd be fine. Of course, one must wonder if that's his answer or UMD's answer...

Re: Scott
I'm not much of a computer gamer. StarCraft 2, maybe, but that's it.

The page for UMD's Dell computers requires a student log-on, but I'll get some printscreens for you guys.

Is a SD/Transflash card slot standard on laptops? My cellphone uses a MicroSD card for additional memory, which I use frequently. (I have a MicroSD to SD card adapter and my family's computer has a place for it.) I'd hate to loose the ability to use it.
Ah I missed this..

if you need an SD card reader than rule out the macbook it does not have one.

the Dell XPS 1330 and 1530 have this feature.

And if you want to game with Starcraft 2 in mind (those i don't know much abotu it but im assuming it's new which means it will require some pretty intense requirements) then maybe consider the M1550 which has a much better dedicated card and it's not that much more than the 1330, they are pretty much the same price actually and already come with 3 or 4 gb of ram and 320 gb hd I think. real good package and like Paul said, you can negotiate the price lower.
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:18 AM   #17
Mike ODonnell
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On a side note....do your school work....get out and join a fraternity....get a GF....you won't have time for Starcraft 2..3..4......
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:53 AM   #18
Steven Low
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Speaking as a former UMCP student...

1. Bring your own monitor & printer. Don't get any one of the packages basically. This will save you a bunch.

2. Get a desktop (laptops have the tendency to get stolen; well, higher probability at least since it's kinda hard to be non-conspicuous carrying out a bulky tower as opposed to a notebook).

3. Anything right now that's ~$400-500 should be MORE than enough honestly. Most of the computers on UMCP campus are P3 processor with like 256/512 RAM and small HDDs, so any of the new stuff will blow it out of the water regardless of if it's the cheapest thing around.

4. SC2 will not be coming out for a while. And it's not going to be a graphics intensive game regardless. They are (and will) make it as low specification as possible so lots of computers can run it. Anything now should be fine honestly.

5. IMO use Open Office (basically microsoft office except free open source) so you don't have to buy MS office. Well, or you can pirate MS office, but I didn't tell you that.

6. Take care of your comp. Defrag often. Delete stuff that you don't need. I have a 7 year old computer that is pretty much just slightly slower now with an Athlon 1.4 ghz than my families 2.x ghz just because I take care of it well. And it can handle games well still.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:51 AM   #19
Kevin Perry
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Torrents are the answer to everything...
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:02 AM   #20
Patrick Donnelly
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Re: Everyone
You seem to be drastically overestimating my desire to game. I'm not the kind of guy who would stay up to 2AM playing video games. Not anymore, anyways. I play about 3 hours a week... That's plenty for me.

Re: Macs
I simply don't like them. I've used them a few times, and every time, it made me want to vomit just looking at the thing. I know some people love them, but I'm not one of those people.

Yeah, I'm definitely looking to upgrade from my 256MB. If you were to total up the time I spent waiting for this computer to do things over the past three years I've had it (got it from my brother, used), it would probably be disgustingly high. Of course, one could argue that any time spent in front a computer is wasted, but that's another topic all together.

Re: Steven
Is theft a serious enough issue on campus to warrant a desktop just because it's harder to steal? I may sound a naive, but the rooms are pretty secure, right? They do have locks, after all. I'm assuming that people use them. If you do, it's not like someone can just waltz in and raid your stuff. Also, when outside, as long as you keep your laptop in your backpack (or on your lap), and your backpack with you, what's the chance of something bad happening?

Re: Torrents (to Steve in particular)
They mentioned that at orientation, trying to scare you off with the stories of students who had to pay $4000 each to settle lawsuits out of court. Now, where these kids just idiots who were downloading 10GB of illegal music per day, or are torrents something that UMD really clamps down on? There are legitimate uses for them... Not many, but there are, and I've used them before too...
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