Your input please: Hardware configuration for laptop

By Route44 ยท 13 replies
Aug 3, 2011
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  1. Two months ago I posted on another thread that my son will be entering community college this fall (yeah, I'm old) and will be pursuing an A.A. degree in Digital Design and then move on to a 4 year institution. At the time I was researching and I am still researching but further along. The core courses he will be doing are Color & 2D Design, Graphic Design, Art with Computers, Web Graphics, Animation, and Web Page Design plus other art classes. In addition he will be doing the standard Word docs, surfing the net, term papers, etc.

    I also know he must be able to run Adobe Flash CS5 and there will be animation software involved but I have not been able to find out anything else -- I've tried.

    The central parameters I've tentively settled on for a laptop configuration are: 15.6" display no less than 1600x900 and if I can in Matte; either a Nvidia 540M or 520M video card (this will be an Optimus laptop) , 4 gigs of RAM, i7 2630QM processor (this is a quad core), a 320 GB harddrive @7200 rpm, and Windows 7 64.

    Anyway, what I would like to know from you guys is this: In light of his course work is this "overkill"? Would the 520M suffice? Onboard graphics will work in some case but a) Intel's latest 3000 is meh and b) Nobody is offering the AMD Fusion 3850 with it's substantially better onboard graphics except HP in their dv6z series and I refuse to ever purchase another HP laptop ever again.

    Input/suggestions please.

  2. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Posts: 231   +14

    What is your budget?
  3. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    I have the systems pretty well configured and a budget. What I want to know is this overkill so to speak in light of his school work demands and would a 520M be enough or should I stick with the 540M?

  4. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Posts: 231   +14

    Well personally I think that laptop is pretty nice. Can you tell me the price difference between the 520M and the 540M please?
  5. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,472   +126

    Today you should go with 17.3 with Quad Core this is up to you. ATI graphic is better match than Intel GMA, but with i7 core you stuck with those type of graphics. Most HDD now are 500GB or 640GB some 1TB for laptop. Depends what you need. You should look at custom laptop build. 6GB of RAM instead of 4GB of RAM as 64-bit 7 OS can use more and even go 8GB if you can budget it. I have 15.6 with LED/LCD B-RAY panel is very deep brightness plus HDMI 4GB of RAM dual core really quick the graphics are based on ATI.
  6. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    Hey guys, thanks for the replies. I will be going with an i7 quad and four gigs and then upgrading myself to another four. It is certainly cheaper going this route.

    tipster - since this needs to be portable I need to go with a 15.6" screen. I have been looking at custom laptop builds; any suggestions? Do you have one and if so whom did you purchase from?
  7. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,472   +126

    I have 15.6 laptop that I did mention above. 17.3 is huge though but that would give you a full 1920x1080p panel.


    There are few others but the price for custom build is usually higher than just picking up one with your features you want. Or close to it. Range $699 and up. Are you in NJ USA. You got lots of options to get the laptop..


    These two would allow you to try it out for 30 days! And if you don't like it send it back without any restocking fee and they pay for it to go back too. Don't have to pay for it all at once if you opt for that method and don't have to pay any interest if you do. The sell a lot of Tri-Core and Quad-Core ACER and i3, i5, i7 laptop from HP.
  8. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I'd say the 520M would be enough, but depends on the price difference whether I'd drop to that one over the 540M or not.
    The improved performance over the 520M might be of some additional benefit to the software being used for your son's course. I know the Cuda stuff is used by some software.
  9. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Given today's pricing on 8GB RAM kits, it would only be cheaper in the very short term.
  11. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    I would love to get 8 gigs but my configuration is already pushing the envelope of my budget. Now if my son wants 8 gigs then he can pay for it. :)
  12. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

  13. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Posts: 231   +14

    That's what I said a few posts above :/
  14. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 11,984   +72

    Honestly guys I don't know because the configuration between the two systems had a number of significant differences. For example the system with the 520M only offered the screen size in 1366x768 while the 540M system offered 1600x900 and 1920x1080. They didn't price it out piece by piece/

    Sorry! :eek:

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