University - laptop or desktop?

  [DELETED] 22:33 27 Jul 2003

I'm starting uni and I need a computer. So... here are my requirements.
My engineering course might require a CAD programme, and I will need the usual office and internet capabilities.
I would appreciate the portability of a laptop, although I don't know how necessary this is at uni, and whether I will benefit from bringing a laptop to lectures or labs.
I would probably be happy to get a lap top for the sake of compactness and portability, since for £999 I could get one which would be adequate for the needs listed above. However, the big complication is that I would also very much like to use a couple of games, including MS Flight Simulator 2004, which is obviously very resource hungry.
So is it actually much better to have a laptop for uni, or should I just get a desktop for the same price which could easily handle my games? Would it be pointless trying to run them on a £999 laptop with a 512KB RAM, 64MB graphics, 60GB disk setup?
Any help appreciated.

  [DELETED] 23:13 27 Jul 2003

I feel sure that a laptop will handle most games with ease, my son's certainly does! Best thing to do is, pop into PC World and ask them for their advice and to load one of your games on to one of there demo. PC's. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the result. j.

  [DELETED] 23:24 27 Jul 2003

Being the pessimist that I am, I'd be a wee bit concerned about security - which would be easiest to nick ? Student insurance isn't the greatest, especially when coming to make a claim! Find some students and ask them what they think about the subject , they'll probably have been in Hall for their 1st year and subsequently in digs/bed-sits. They'll give you the low-down, I'm sure.


  Stuartli 23:31 27 Jul 2003

It must surely be better to be able to carry a laptop around with you rather than leave it in a hall of residence or student accommodation?

I've had two at university and theft of students' possessions was quite common.

  [DELETED] 00:31 28 Jul 2003

for the laptop specs you are quoting. provided you dont take some sort of media studies that might mean you have to start editing video. your real issues are security and convenience. the very nature of a laptop is its portability, which meand you have to be vigilant ALL the time. remember , a sneak thief has only to be lucky once.

plus a laptop is a lot more vulnerable to accidental damage, just because you are carting it about. can you afford £500+ for a new screen because you dropped it/it fell out of your bag/your bag got kicked while you were having lunch/you closed the lid with a pencil on the keyboard. if you try claiming for this on your warranty then you will just get laughed at, and rightly so, but you might be in luck with parents household insurance.

I would be more inclined to talk to the tutors and get their opinions. they might just say that having one would serve no usefull purpose, in which case you can save some valuable beer vouchers by going for a desktop-with better spec


  Belatucadrus 00:52 28 Jul 2003

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  [DELETED] 02:04 28 Jul 2003


I would suggest you get a desktop becuase you will get a better spec computer for the money.Graphics/Imaging work you do will benefit from this. And also games!

Have you tried playing FPS on a laptop? It's uncomfortable! The samll screen and keyboard won't be much good if your into gaming.

Are you sure you will be using a laptop alot? I started uni last year and some of my friends have laptops. I only ever saw them using it to show what they had been doing at home. They always used the university computers for their work.

  [DELETED] 03:25 28 Jul 2003

A laptop is more convenient if you have to empty your room three times a year, and halls of residence do not usually have lifts.

You can buy a security cable fairly cheaply to guard against casual theft. However, physical damage - spilt drinks, falling off bikes, are harder(impossible?) to protect against and more expensive to repair.

A desktop replacement laptop which would be sufficiently specified in order to play games etc. will also not be very light. Judging from my son's and his friends' experiences, if it weighs much more than a mobile phone it stays at home. Therefore it will stay in your room for downloading notes, playing games and so on for 99% of the time. Internet access is therefore crucial.

Universities assume that the majority of their students do not have personal computer access and unless you are a very fast typist having a laptop at lectures may not help a lot - notes are available as handouts or online, as are problem sheets and the necessary programs on license.

On balance, if your budget is limited, go for a desktop - you'll get more computing power for your money - and then use the university on-site computing resources for everything else you need.

  carver 08:57 28 Jul 2003

Before you spend £1000 on a computer or laptop where will you be staying, not at home but either hall of residence or a rented house either of these are prime targets for thieves.In Sheffield the largest number of crimes are committed on students, not expensive but small items, stereos, personal CD players and LAPTOPS. All these items are easily carried, most students are wise to this, so buy a second hand crappy looking PC for about £250 and back every thing up to cd. Unless your one of these extremely rich students we all hear about from the government?

  [DELETED] 09:53 28 Jul 2003

Laptop - definately!

1, Big

2. Still "Nickable" (Who needs a monitor)?

3. Possibly Better Spec

4. Upgradeable

Laptop -

1. Small

2. Portable

3. Can use in libary (Cant see you humping your desktop to the libary and setting it up)

4. Possibility of Wireless network on Campus.

5. Very good spec these days

6 Can be secured with cable etc.

7 can do everything a desktop can do. (Almost).

8 Always good resale value as opposed to desktops which fall quicker.

  [DELETED] 11:18 28 Jul 2003

Either way check out Evesham from the 1st Aug as it has been said they are going to be doing some special deals for Students.

When I first went to Uni I opted for a desktop because of the price/spec ratio. As I'm about to go into my final year (4 year course) I'm going to be looking to buy a laptop but this is going to be used alongside the desktop.

I don't think a laptop is that suitable for prolonged periods of work, and in most student digs where space is limited having hi-fi/tv/dvd/pc all in one is great and you couldn't get the quality on a laptop.

The big downside to a desktop is not being able to take it with you so easily. In my first year I often poped home for the weekend (not to get my washing done!) and it would have been really helpful to have been able to pick up a laptop and be able to work on stuff at home.

I'd not worry too much about security just make the right precuations. If you have a laptop make sure you buy a kensington lock (or similar) and always use it. If you have a desktop make similar precautions.

Make sure you have Insurance for everything you take to Uni. Endsligh are specilists in this area so speak to them.

And one final thing...whatever you end up with, don't brag about it there will always be someone with something better, and always someone listening in thinking about borrowing it from you!

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