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What laptop should an online only college student majoring in computer science get for school?

I’m looking for a laptop for when I start school next year, but if I get a laptop, I want to make sure that it will still be fast enough to last me all through school so at least 5-6 years. On the schools website that have their minimum requirements but I was hoping to find a laptop that I could upgrade my cpu, gpu, etc later down the road if I need it. I know cpu/gpus in laptops normally aren’t replaceable, but I did find an Alienware 51m laptop that is fully replaceable, it’s just expensive. Or if I get like a 9th gen i9, will that still be fast enough in 5-6 years? The schools minimum requirements are below. Any help is appreciated!


Operating System: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel 8th Gen i5 or i7

Memory (RAM): 8GB RAM

Hard Drive: 250+ GB

Graphics Card: Built-in (Intel)

Wireless: 802.11 a/c dual band

Office Suite: Office 2013 Professional or newer

Antivirus Software: Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.

Optional Accessories: CD/DVD drive, external hard drive, extra power cord and headphones/earbuds

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a Dell XPS15 would be my choice but it's pricey for a laptop, holds its value well and screen and speakers are some of the best or the i7 Framework would also do well if you want to look at upgrades later to keep things running longer.

difference between i7 8th gen and 11th gen are pretty small in the long run so anything between in the ~$2k range would work.

Current Config:


R5 2600X @4.1ghz all core, 16GB Patriot 3200mhz, 1TB XPG SX8200 Pro nvme, RTX 2070 Duke, CM Elite 110 mitx, pair of KRK Rokit 6 monitors with 10in sub, BenQ TH671ST projector for 150" screen. 

MSI Prestige 14 with too many cooling mods to list out (it's quiet now)


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3 hours ago, Justin Yi-Riley said:

laptop that I could upgrade my cpu, gpu, etc later down the road if I need it

thats not how it works for laptops.


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Honestly, anything in the $1000+ range should be good. If you are just doing programming, writing papers, web research, email, etc. If you plan to also game or do any kind of higher end 3D rendering or whatever, who knows what you'll need 5-6 years from now, it's hard to predict with technology changing so fast all the time.


It's no guarantee, but the better the laptop you buy today, generally the longer it will take to become obsolete (meaning, unable to do what you need to do with it). Typically hardware is "obsolete" within months of buying it.


I realize you need the portabliity of a laptop. If you want upgradeability, desktop makes more sense. If you have the funds, I'd get a mid range laptop and a decent desktop. You're not going to be able to upgrade a whole lot of components in a laptop.


The CPU is typically matched to the motherboard and the motherboards are model specific to the laptop. Good luck fitting a new laptop motherboard into a 5yr old laptop case down the road. And a lot of laptop these days have RAM chips soldered onto the board with 1 or no expansion slots.


In other words, if it was me and I had say $2k to spend, I'd get an $800 laptop and a $1200 desktop, instead of a $2000 laptop. But that's just how I roll. I am more desktop centric however.

23+ yrs IT experience



Operating System

Windows 10 Pro x64 21H1


Antec Three Hundred Two Gaming


AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8GHz 12-Core 24-Thread


Asus ROG Strix X570-E Gaming


G.Skill Trident Z RGB Series 32GB

(2 x 16GB) DDR4 3200 (PC4-25600)

Graphics Card

Asus Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Overclocked (Factory) 6GB GDDR6

Dual-Fan EVO Edition


2 × Samsung 970 EVO Plus Nvme (M.2 2280) SSD 1TB

2 × Samsung 860 QVO SATA III 6.0Gb/s SSD 1TB (RAID1 Array 1)

2 × Hitachi UltraStar HDS721010CLA330 7200RPM SATA III 3.0Gb/s 1TB (RAID1 Array 2)


Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W 80+ Gold

Optical Drive

LG WH16NS40 Super Multi Blue Internal SATA 16x Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD Rewriter


HP w2408 widescreen 16:10 1920x1200 @60Hz

HP w2207 widescreen 16:10 1680x1050 @60Hz


Logitech MK200 Wired Keyboard/Mouse Combo Kit

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