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Here’s a List of Best Laptops With REAL Reasons

Fall 2011 students are getting ready to travel to US. Classes should start by  End or August or early September. I wanted to give a quick overview about laptops,  reviews, how much to spend.  Some of you might already have a laptop decided to bring it with you.

Please, don’t order a laptop while you are in India (I know who did that). You can find super-duper deals, when you come to US.

If you don’t have a laptop and planing to buy one in USA, then this guide will give an overview of what you can get for your money.

Students have a budget and try to buy a laptop with maximum possible configuration for that budget.  I have seen students who spend $1500 on high end configuration and those who spend $500 on laptops.

Laptops Configurations

Macbook Pro

Lets look at some of the commonly purchased laptop configurations.

  • CPU – Intel Core i5
  • RAM – 2 to 4GB
  • Hard Drive Space – 320GB to 500GB
  • Screen Size – 15″
  • Graphics Card – Integrated
  • Weight – 3 lbs to 8 lbs
  • Optical Drives – DVD Super Multi
  • OS – Mac or Windows 7 Home Premium

Most units come with 4GB because running the 64-bit edition of Windows 7.  This is good because Win7 64-bit runs notably slow without at least 4GB.

Laptops Brands

I recommend (and prefer) in the order listed below

  • Apple Macbook Pro 13″ or 15″
  • Lenovo Think Pad
  • Dell Latitude
  • Fujitsu Lifebook (Expensive good)
  • HP

I have used following laptops (owned all the bu Dell)

Compaq, HP, Fujitsu, Dell, Thinkpad, Ideapad, Acer and Apple

Which Laptops to Buy?

There are several options available for you to buy. Which one should you prefer?

Apple -Macbooks

After I started using Apple products, I’m leaning more towards buying Apple products.

Product quality is much better hands down compared to others brands and service support is just outstanding.

Lenovo – Think Pad

Think Pad machines are sold and well built. If you are not planning to buy Macbooks, then prefer Thinkpads over any other systems. I purchased 2 Thinkpads to HSB fans last year and they have nothing but praises about the laptop.

You should get good configurations Thinkpads around $700 to $900.

I’m talking about Thinkpads (not Ideapads). Ideapad’s are just browsing and home entertainment. It’s looks and feels flimsy.

Dell – Latitide

If you plan to buy Dell, then buy Dell Latitudes. They are strong and tough.

I don’t prefer Inspirion’s or XPS system (not as tough as Latitudes).

HP Laptops

I had to deal with HP customer support when I had Compaq and HP laptops. Trust me, I had nightmares and made atleast 35 phone calls to get the issues fixed.

Eventually they fixed the problems, but only after sending the laptops to California for few times for repair (and new one they send came dead on arrival). But, that was long time back and since then I have purchased HP Desktop, Monitors and printers.

I have listed HP as the last option just for the bad experience I had with their support.

How Much to Spend on Laptops?

With desktops, you can do the upgrade the system later, but with notebooks RAM and  hard drives are the possible upgrades. I never seen anyone upgrading processor or graphics card for laptops.

If you play games, then its worth getting a system with dedicated graphics card.

I strong recommend you to consider Mac book Pro (13″ or 15″).

With Apple Student Discount, you can get Macbook Pro for 1099

For Limited Time (+$100 Mac Store Gift Card + Free Printer)

Laptops Life?

Well, it depends on your usage and how well you take care of the laptop. I have seen system that gets trashed in 1 year and someone takes care like a baby use it for 4 to 5 years.

Product Support?

That’s the number one reason I’m buying apple products. It started with iPhone 3GS followed by iPhone 4, Macbook Pro, iPad2, Airport Extreme.

I purchased Macbook Pro 13″ last year. Anything goes wrong with the product, you can to to nearby Apple Store and get it fixed. They really take care of the customers.

If you don’t plan on installing some software that runs only on Windows then buy Apple Macbook Pro.

Other than the cost factor, if your reason is “I’m used to Windows and don’t know how to use Mac” which I call as just plain simple and stupid.

If you still prefer Windows Based PC, then plan to spend atleast $700+. Please don’t get get that cheap $500 systems.

For students use system must be rugged and tough.

Entertainment only systems will not last longer. I have seen how students use the laptops and what kind of respect it would get.


Do you have additional question about laptops, configurations, finding best deal or anything laptops related, fire away.

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  1. Hi HSB,

    Kindly suggest me laptop especially suited for designing softwares life Catis V5, Hpermash, ADAMS, etc.

    The processor is able to support atleast 2 designing software installed.

  2. Thank you very much. I am going to us in Jan. Are there any particular months in a year in which there are more discounts for MacBook. And can you please make a blog about buying car as an international student. Thanks again

  3. HSB,
    I just reached Omaha two days ago and planning to buy a laptop. Can you recommend any good student deals? I plan to go for either Macbook or Thinkpad.

    1. Awesome man. Good to see well known students realizing the dreams of coming to US. Its a long journey to get here. I will say go MacBook. I’m going to write about finding awesome macbook deals in a day or

      1. Hi HSB,

        Kindly suggest me laptop especially suited for designing softwares life Catis V5, Hpermash, ADAMS, etc.

        The processor is able to support atleast 2 designing software installed.

    1. I won’t recommend Macbook Air is students (just for Max 256GB solid state drive). It gets expensive for that config.

  4. MacBook pro’s the best! Go for it 🙂 And as long as gaming is concerned, they do perform well at times 😀 I just play only one game 😛 i.e counter strike -_-

  5. I usually keep a tab on Electronics, specially Laptop deals by HP and DEll in the states.
    HP offers free upgrade to 6 GB Ram and 640 GB HDD for most of its Lappys.
    Also, There is a huge cost difference(~ 5-10K) and even higher if u go for High end( Core i7 and above) Systems.
    Also, with the help of online coupons from various web-sites( just google” HP coupons USA”), you end up getting it at a bargain!
    Moreover, these days, HP is giving a free X-Box 360 with every Lappy above 690$ for students in college and grad schools, those going into them and the ones teaching too.

    1. 4 GB Xbox 360 is available for any Windows based PC purchase. Not just HP. Higher RAM and HDD doesn’t matter, its the quality construction of the product counts.

  6. Once if you have seen the power of Apple products, there’s nothing that can change your perception 🙂 I totally agree with you. Thanks for your help, now that I own a Macbook Pro 13″+$100 Gift Card + Free Printer 🙂

  7. Best choice for a laptop is Thinkapad or Latitude.

    1. Super build quality. Can extend your configuration easily. Forget about external harddrives you can have two hard drives in them. Has additional security features like smart card and finger print scanner.
    2. You want a laptop which should survive for 2 years or more. Other laptops except macs barely survive. Keyboard keys wont work, scratches and hard to clean. For thinkpad or latitude thats not an issue.
    3. Macs for just for show off. For sure you will be working with advance softwares. You need extra RAM(memory). So you go to apple store and buy it. Guess what they are way too expensive. As per the operating system you can install anything. But hardware! so expensive..

    Thinkpad vs Latitude?
    Dell is $100 more than thinpad.

    1. Sunny – I’m not sure if you own macbooks or imac. I had the same feeling before buying Macbook (Macs are just for showoff) but after using mac for year now, I hate to use PC’s. Waiting for my HP desktop to die, so I can buy iMac. Yes, they are expensive, but you get what you pay for. You can configure Dell to be equally expensive to Macs, but customer service is simply superb.

      1. well everyone have their own preferences. I have dell latitude and mac mini. Yes, the apple experience is superb.

    1. You can have discounts every weekends on selected laptops. You can go through these sites for an idea.

  8. Hi,
    Great work. I wanted to buy apple laptop MacBook pro. However I am going to us in Jan 2012 and I have heard rumors that apple is launching new models for MacBook pro version in feb. So should I buy the new models or the old one’s. Also will there cost increase. And can I get additional discounts if I buy during any festivals like boker’s day.

    1. There are so many rumors with respect to Apple. If Apple announces they are going to update Macbook Pro lineup, then you can wait. Usually in Feb new iPads are announced.

    1. Most of them here use the gaming versions. They have immense power. But frankly I have seen very few places selling Asus.

  9. Hi HSB!

    Hats off to ur works! I got admitted to PhD program in US for this Fall and needless to say, just like any independent guy whos trying for graduation in US, u were of great help to me. Regarding laptop, I have SONY VAIO and I am planning to take it with me. As the warranty period is over (and as Sony is not giving International warranty extension service) I would like to know the service of the same there. I am a little confused now as I couldnt find VAIO in ur list.

    Ajith C

    1. You have Vaio, so use it til it dies. Laptop service and repair will cost you few hundred dollars. It migh tbr worth buying a new one if current laptop dies. I consider Sony under Entertainment category. My roommate had Vaio and I’m not a fan of it.

    2. hii congratulations that you got admitted
      i am also trying for phd program for 2012
      i would be highly obliged if you can help me a bit

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