Laptop Thread 2012

MRoss

Well-Known Member
I have recently come under attack from hoards of students looking to purchase laptops. Rather then answer everyone individually I will provide a comprehensive post here outlining the pros and cons as well as providing suggestions for specific needs/wants.

Qualifications: Before you debate who to trust me or some of the flamers that this thread will provoke, know that I have provided laptop/tablet advice to over 250 people in the past few years alone and have yet to receive bad feedback. While I usually get paid for this service I provide it to Quantnet users for free out of thanks to Andy and the wonderful aid Quantnet has been helping me prepare for my MFE program.

People will say: "MRoss buys a laptop every month!" This is true. I get bored of electronics quite quickly. However, I almost never spend a dime. I recycle equipment on eBay. Just 2 months ago I somehow made $200 profit selling a used laptop which I had bought new 4 weeks prior. Go figure.

The Mac Section
So the big question is: When should someone buy a Mac? If you fill all (or most) of these requirements then buying a Mac should be a no brainer for you.
  1. You have little respect for money or you are willing to spend over $2k on your purchase
  2. You like Mac OS over Windows or intend to use Linux
  3. You want to be in style
  4. You want a laptop that will have little or no flaws
  5. You do not plan on upgrading your machine for at least 2 years
  6. You do not mind heavy laptops
So in response to a recently posted thread I would say: "Buy the Macbook Pro 2012". It has impressive battery life and an amazing screen. You have no problem shelling out $2.5k, so if the weight doesn't bother you just buy it!

For Everyone Else
Rather then go through 50 laptops I am just going to highlight the best in each category. If you think you are interested in one but have some questions feel free to PM me.​
Sony Vaio Z - 13.1", Super-Light, Super-Powerful, Expensive:
Perhaps even more so than Mac machines, I don't recall EVER encountering a Vaio Z user who was disappointed. In fact, I interned at a financial software company this year and every executive was given one of these babies to work with.​
Pros:​
  • 2.5lbs!!
  • 1080p
  • SSD
  • Full-blown i7 processor!!! (Most light laptops have UV processors)
  • Reliable and well built
Con:
  • Price
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/st...h:p&k_id=262edcb1-ad8f-a5a8-5aed-000052c1eb92


Sony Vaio S - 15.5", Very-Light, Powerful, Expensive:

Pros:
  • 4.4lbs in a 15" frame!
  • 1080p
  • SSD
  • Fast, fast, fast
  • Reliable
Cons:
  • Price
  • Flexible keyboard feels a bit cheap (I got use to it after a few days but there is no denying it)
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/st...52921666456543&categoryId=8198552921644863998


Hey! I'm Not Rich Section
Asus U56E-RBL8: 15", i5, 8GB RAM, Great Performer all around!

Pros:
  • Cheap!
  • 8GB RAM
  • Battery Life
  • Build Quality
Cons:
  • For this price: NONE
I will not post a link here. Why? Because I just saw 4 of these refurbished go on eBay for $400 which is insane. I know some stores (Staples, etc.) are having clearance sales on this model but still I am a big fan of eBay.


Ultrabooks:

If you are a Quantnet member you should not be looking here. Sure these babies are "head-turners" and stand out but:
  • UV processors = less power
  • Tiny screens (awful for programming)
  • Not particularly cheap for the power they provide
If you were in high-school trying to impress some girls I would have recommended the Asus netbook. Those in Master programs should make more logical decisions.


Tablets:
COMING SOON!​
 

nightkid

Member
Hi Mike, could you elaborate a bit more on your experience with the Sony S15? How's the trackpad? Typing on the keyboard? The specs look amazing, especially with regards to the IPS screen, but I want to know your experiences with the actual usage of it. Thanks.
 

MRoss

Well-Known Member
Hi Mike, could you elaborate a bit more on your experience with the Sony S15? How's the trackpad? Typing on the keyboard? The specs look amazing, especially with regards to the IPS screen, but I want to know your experiences with the actual usage of it. Thanks.
"M" is not Mike ;)

The trackpad was very solid. Not MB solid, but very enjoyable. I loved using the keyboard though as I mentioned the flex, particularly in the mid/left area of the keys is a bit disturbing at first. I actually plan on committing a personal first: repurchasing a laptop I had already owned. I enjoyed it that much :)

I used it for VBA, C++ in Eclipse using VB, and a game called Battleforge which requires average graphics. It soared through all three with no lag whatsoever. I upgraded mine to an SSD by hand since 128gb Cruical SSDs are quite cheap on eBay.
 

MRoss

Well-Known Member
SSD should come in standard in all new laptop. If it's not the case, buy the one with lowest capacity HD and swap it out with a SSD.
And if you need a lot of disc space for music/movies I encourage you to buy a flexible laptop whereby you can swap out the CD drive for an HD. I've done this and it's pretty sweet.
 

Barny

Well-Known Member
All of these laptops come with windows. The other alternative is to install linux yourself. I don't recommend it.

I assume most people on here want a laptop so they can write code on it. How can you program without a shell, or terminal? You can use Cygwin etc. but they are horrible.

So basically you need something like linux but with much better compatibility with third-party software and hardware. What's the answer? A mac.

It is not a debate about hardware. Of course, macs are not the most powerful for the money. But you're confusing value of components with the value of the product. We've been through this before. You can argue all you want, but it's fact, not opinion.
 

MRoss

Well-Known Member
I am convinced Barny has long calls on Apple. VB with xubuntu works surprisingly well on PCs.

We've been through this before. You can argue all you want, but it's fact, not opinion.

A "fact" that somehow 90% of finance professionals seem to be unaware of :ROFLMAO:
 

Barny

Well-Known Member
Have you ever tried to install something like, say, Dreamweaver, or Photoshop, or Rosetta Stone on xubuntu? How about something that is designed for windows and has to be installed using e.g. Wine? If you enjoy spending your weekends trying to install and run software which would take <5 minutes on windows or mac OS then I recommend using a free linux distro. I couldn't even install my Nvidia graphics drivers without it causing my system to crash. Turns out they're completely incompatible with Ubuntu.
 

MRoss

Well-Known Member
Have you ever tried to install something like, say, Dreamweaver, or Photoshop, or Rosetta Stone on xubuntu?
So install them on Windows. Use Ubuntu for programming only. That's what I have been doing and I have been quite happy. Either way, I will no longer respond to your posts not for lack of answer but because I must go study. I apologize, and I am happy that your Mac has treated you so well. If you actually read my post instead of just assuming it is all anti-Mac you will see that quite a few people will fall into the "Buy-A-Mac" category.

Please feel free to start your own "pro-Mac/anti everything else" thread on QN. I put a lot of time into the original post and to have it completely derailed by a Mac-loving troll is disappointing to say the least. Please be respectful.
 

MRoss

Well-Known Member
Update: There are two excellent 15" laptops available for sale.

1) From me :)
It's a Samsung Series 7 with Office 2010 Pro installed as well as fresh Virtual Box + Xubuntu (I can remove). In pristine condition. Selling for $700 even but only in person so we both avoid PayPal fees. I'm in NY every day.

2) I just found this on eBay. Only 1 left!
http://www.ebay.com/itm/120943708045?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649
You can upgrade to 8gb ram for $26 making this by far the lightest/most powerful 15" laptop for the ~$1,000 range.
 

Jose T

Rutgers MSMF
I have a Z series. It's a delight. The screen resolution is my favorite feature. Also being able to toggle the nvidia graphics card is really nice.

A while ago I bought a Acer Timelinex for my sister. It was relatively cheap and she's loved it. It comes in different configurations of processers and RAM and I think we got her something pretty nice that was still a baragin.

Prior to that I bought the S series for a different sister and she's had it for a couple years and loved that one too.

I don't know if people still buy desktops, but the Alienware Aurora has been a gem for me for all sorts programming and recreational purposes. It's two years old but the graphics card can still handle new games which would make me happy if I had any time to play. The processor / extra ram can handle quite a lot of multi-tasking. I got a deal on two quite large monitors from Dell as well (I don't do eBay). The big screens make all the difference :) .

Of course the configuration is not cheap but when I was in the market for a desktop, I didn't have time to build it myself.
 

Jose T

Rutgers MSMF
WOW... you spend that kind of cash on a desktop and complained about the MBP being expensive?


True it is silly to complain about the expense of Macs if you tend to buy expensive PCs. It is equally silly to me at least, however, to act as though using a partitioned hard drive or virtual desktop set up to accommodate your programming needs is at all hard or even an inconvenience. I've used Cygwin too and didn't have any problem personally.

I think it's just a matter of taste. Windows issues are undeniably a chore however Mac OS is not without problems (it can't run SAS for example). Also when buying a Mac or an expensive PC, the expensive PC is usually still a bit cheaper. You can say the Mac has a higher 'value of product' because it has a better OS than Windows, but if the things you want to do with your computer clash with Mac OS, this is unlikely to be true.
 

AndrewChang

Baruch MFE Alum
So install them on Windows. Use Ubuntu for programming only. That's what I have been doing and I have been quite happy. Either way, I will no longer respond to your posts not for lack of answer but because I must go study. I apologize, and I am happy that your Mac has treated you so well. If you actually read my post instead of just assuming it is all anti-Mac you will see that quite a few people will fall into the "Buy-A-Mac" category.

Please feel free to start your own "pro-Mac/anti everything else" thread on QN. I put a lot of time into the original post and to have it completely derailed by a Mac-loving troll is disappointing to say the least. Please be respectful.

some people use GPU programming so that is a big problem if their GPU is incompatible with linux
 

alain

Older and Wiser
I've used Cygwin too and didn't have any problem personally.
Cygwin is a huge pain but sometimes there is no choice.

I think it's just a matter of taste. Windows issues are undeniably a chore however Mac OS is not without problems (it can't run SAS for example).
SAS cost too much money for my taste. R is my tool of choice, so SAS is not getting a dime from me.
 

Yike Lu

Finder of biased coins.
The Mac Section
So the big question is: When should someone buy a Mac? If you fill all (or most) of these requirements then buying a Mac should be a no brainer for you.
  1. You have little respect for money or you are willing to spend over $2k on your purchase
  2. You like Mac OS over Windows or intend to use Linux
  3. You want to be in style
  4. You want a laptop that will have little or no flaws
  5. You do not plan on upgrading your machine for at least 2 years
  6. You do not mind heavy laptops
See... MacBook Air

Ultrabooks:
  • Tiny screens (awful for programming)
Resolution > screen size.
 
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