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Mid-range laptop suggestions for the average college student!

Hey yall! I'm looking to get a new laptop to prepare for this fall, as a mechanical engineering student. My budget would be around USD1300, give or take a hundred dollars if the value is good enough. 

Things I'm looking for : 
- At least a 14in screen, 120hz refresh rate is nice but not necessary. Average displays are not a deal breaker, just not absolutely terrible ones. 
- Enough firepower to handle Rocket League and Valorant at the lowest qualities. My knowledge of GPU and CPU parts is not good, so please suggest me good options! Are integrated graphics fine for my usage? 
- Light programming, CAD and simulation work. Not sure if this is necessary to add since my college will provide PCs for school work involving these things anyways.
- Expandable storage and memory. I'm looking for 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage(don't mind a HDD), but if options are not available within the price range I'm fine with lower specs as long as I can upgrade it in the future. 
- Good connectivity and port options like thunderbolt, Bluetooth, 2-3SUSB ports, Displayport/HDMI, an ethernet port, and a headphone jack.

- The laptop should be lighter than 2kg, I don't care about its design, just not a fragile build quality. Clean>gamer aesthetic though.
- Acceptable webcam and mic call quality. I wear earphones 99% of the time, so the speaker quality and mic quality are not really important at all. 

- Enough battery life to comfortably last 4-5 hours with medium usage. Not a requirement but if its battery life as high as possible, will be appreciated.

- Acceptable keyboard(are numpads standard for 14in laptops? If so, they will be appreciated) and trackpad. I need a backlit keyboard, RGB unnecessary. Don't care for fingerprint/face scanners.
- If you're going to suggest a Macbook please do elaborate, as I have never used any Apple products but would like to try, provided it can sync well with my Samsung phone and do everything a Windows OS laptop can do and more...
- Would prefer buying the latest generation brand new, instead of buying a previous generation or buying it from the 2nd hand market. Not confident in buying devices 2nd hand.

Thanks for reading my wall of text! Please do educate me on these things. I have no idea if I'm even making any sense with my words or if the specs I'm asking is complete overkill. 

 

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First of all, you SHOULD mind a HDD. Even as a secondary Drive, it's not acceptable in my Opinion. Too loud, consumes too much Power. Luckily, there are almost no Laptops anymore with a 2,5" Slot, only M.2 Slots.

 

Macbook: They are awesome, right now not mainly because of the OS, but how efficient they are. Allday battery life, mostly for 2 whole Days, stays cool, high performance, and mostly silent.
As for "Sync with your Android Phone" you might need to share more details what exactly you mean. HOW do you sync?

In my experience, even with windows the syncing is bad, as long it needs a cable connection. Even with USB 3 speed, i always had trouble moving files without the file explorer crashing all the time because it can't handle it. Idk why. 
But stuff like Cloud services (Dropbox, google drive, etc) are perfectly fine.

But with a Mac, you might have some issues with CAD (depending on the Application) and Gaming. Especially Valorant and stuff with anti cheat will give you problems.

So, as much as i like recommending a Macbook Air M1 for College students, some things you need won't work as well.

However, these Apple Silicon Macbooks do offer a high batterylife. Enough so you can leave your Charger at home, even on longer College Days. Nothing i could say about Windows Laptops.

 

 

But take a look into the new 2022 Version of the Lenovo Ideapad 5 Pro with Ryzen 6000. There are 14" (14ARH7) and 16" (16ARH7) Models, 16" has options with a dedicated RTX 3050 (ti), but even the Radeon 660m and 680m are really good IGPs. If you don't need Ultra settings, and might halfe the Resolution, your games should be very playable.

16" comes with a 2560x1600 16:10 Screen, 350+ nits brightness, often 120 Hz.

14" comes with a 2880x1800 16:10 screen, 400 nits brightness, 90 Hz.

Ryzen 6000 should give you some solid batterylife.

 

Lenovo Yoga 7 14ARB7 is good too, if you want it as Convertible with Pen Support.

 

Also: Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 ProX 14,5" with 3072x1920 Screen, 400 nits, 100% sRGB. Also, with Ryzen 6000 only.

There are models with Intel 12th Gen, but stay away from those. Just Josh reviewed it, and it's pretty much Garbage. Gets hot, batterylife is utterly Trash. Idk what they did, but those Intel Chips inside that model are really horrible.

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14 hours ago, Darkseth said:

But with a Mac, you might have some issues with CAD (depending on the Application) and Gaming. Especially Valorant and stuff with anti cheat will give you problems.

So, as much as i like recommending a Macbook Air M1 for College students, some things you need won't work as well.

I'm afraid this might be a deal breaker for me. I'm too used to having everything just run on my computer... Maybe I might pick up a Mac later. A dedicated PC at my place and a portable Mac just for light work. Thanks for the suggestions, the pros of macbooks are really tempting to me. I was spewing nonsense with the Sync part, online cloud storage is probably the only link I have between my phone and computer now so that is all good. Just assumed Macs and Samsung phones would have some issues. 


The Ideapad is probably my best pick currently. It fits all the bills and has everything I need. I also watched Just Josh's review on it, looks very promising. Thanks for the recommendation. Safe to say I will not be getting 2 in 1s because I will accidentally break something within a week! 
 

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I’m a ME. Windows at work, mac at home— because of CAD software. 
 

Do you know which CAD software you’ll be using? Some has mac versions, in which case a max will be fine, but almost never does the user/student get to choose what they’re using…

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw "mid-range" in the title and was expecting a $500 - $700 budget, then OP hit me with $1300 😂

 

All of your requirements, especially the I/O, good keyboard and ease of upgradability ones, are screaming "business laptop", like a Lenovo ThinkPad. A lot of options in the link below. Personally I'd pick the "Build your PC" option and select the 2240 x 1400 screen + 16 GB of RAM, it should stay a little under $1300. 1 TB SSD won't fit in your budget but you can upgrade this one later on.

 

https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpadt/thinkpad-t14-gen-3-(14-inch-amd)/len101t0013

 

My issue is that shipping times might be somewhat long.

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