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coelacanth2
05-22-2015, 09:02 PM
My son will be attending Rowan University this fall for biomedical engineering. We've always used Mac products but theirIT guy recommend a PC. One machine noted is the Alienware 15 - the fast processor and graphics card are supposed to be very good for handling graphics intensive engineering programs. Cost not much of a object - he's been saving for years.

Opinions and adviceplease

Paul Pless
05-22-2015, 09:15 PM
I just bought a high end gamers laptop as my business machine. Couldn't be happier with it. Mine's a Lenova, aluminum case, backlit keyboard, Intel 7 chip, 16gig memory, 1 TB hard drive, super fast gamers ultra HD card. I like everything about it except Windows 8. Retail for about $1500, but there are deals for about $1100 to be found. Mine has a touch screen but I don't see much need for that, might be uaelful with a pen or stylus though. . .

CWSmith
05-22-2015, 09:49 PM
I have starrted buying cheap - they all break too easily. The keys on my current Gateway wore out in 8 months.

However we have several graduate students with Alienware and they are happy.

J P
05-22-2015, 09:57 PM
I've had a Sager (rebranded Clevo) "gamer's" 17" laptop for six years now and it's run great with no issues whatsoever. Just got another 15" Sager laptop for work. Haven't even fired it up yet so can't offer an opinion. One thing I like about the Sager/Clevo's, and what drew me to them in the first place, is that they don't come with any bloatware, at all, just the OS. I'll be putting Windows 7 on the new one and the older one.

You might compare the Sager NP8651 (Clevo P650SE) to the Alienware 15.

Stiletto
05-22-2015, 10:04 PM
A backlit keyboard is a plus I wasnt aware of until I got one. Gaming computers have the processors and the graphics an engineer might need.

Old Dryfoot
05-23-2015, 12:12 AM
Yup. Look for a gaming laptop to get the horsepower needed for graphics and math intensive programs. I have an ASUS ROG "Republic of Gamers" machine and it runs like a top, cost was around $1800 but I have zero complaints.

Canoez
05-23-2015, 06:34 AM
Processing power, RAM and graphics cards are important as is decent screen size and quality. If they are expecting him to use specific software at college make sure the computer can handle it.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
05-23-2015, 08:05 AM
Talk to a third year student from the same course.

john l
05-23-2015, 08:32 AM
Compatibility with CAD programs will be the biggest concern. Check out Dell Precision mobile work stations or dell xps.
The precision models are quite common with CAD users.

Norman Bernstein
05-23-2015, 10:51 AM
I have starrted buying cheap - they all break too easily. The keys on my current Gateway wore out in 8 months.
..

I tend to agree with you. I have been buying HP machines from big box stores for $300-400 that are more than fast enough, with more than enough RAM and disk space for lots of engineering work. Sometimes, they last a long time, sometimes not, but at that price, if it breaks or gets dropped, it hurts far less. The problem with a $1500 machine is that while you can get better performance, a failure hurts a lot more.

MOST engineering software is written for Windows, although many people run Windows on Macs these days. Seems kinda dumb, to me, since the performance isn't going to be any better, but the machine cost is a lot higher.

Of course, for someone who is a gamer, the considerations change. I'm NOT a gamer, so 'gamer performance' isn't an issue for me.... but maybe your son is into the games.

DMillet
05-23-2015, 10:59 AM
I tend to agree with you. I have been buying HP machines from big box stores for $300-400 that are more than fast enough, with more than enough RAM and disk space for lots of engineering work. Sometimes, they last a long time, sometimes not, but at that price, if it breaks or gets dropped, it hurts far less. The problem with a $1500 machine is that while you can get better performance, a failure hurts a lot more.

MOST engineering software is written for Windows, although many people run Windows on Macs these days. Seems kinda dumb, to me, since the performance isn't going to be any better, but the machine cost is a lot higher.

Of course, for someone who is a gamer, the considerations change. I'm NOT a gamer, so 'gamer performance' isn't an issue for me.... but maybe your son is into the games.

I'm desktop support (among lots of other things) for one of the big multi-nationals. I tend to agree with "buy cheap" attitude but I've gotta add that over the last several years HPs have had an extremely poor reliability record for us. There was a time, about eight years ago, that we had the same sort of issues with Dell machines. Dell sorted it out, maybe by now HP has also but I'm so soured on HP computers that I doubt I'll ever buy one again. Still love their printers though.

TR
05-23-2015, 11:04 AM
I have a Dell Inspiron 15R with a NVIDIA graphics card, a few years old now, less than $1k new. Runs Excel, AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, etc, just fine...no problems with the machine, use it every day.

john l
05-23-2015, 02:45 PM
Engineering students are using ProE or Solid Works with finite element analysis packages and other specific packages. Check the system requirements specified by the software you are using and build out the hardware to that spec.

CWSmith
05-23-2015, 03:17 PM
MOST engineering software is written for Windows, although many people run Windows on Macs these days. Seems kinda dumb, to me, since the performance isn't going to be any better, but the machine cost is a lot higher.

I am seriously considering going to a Linux-only machine. I'm not convinced they are yet adequate to interface with the world on multiple levels, but when they are I am saying good-bye to Windows and Macs. My PC is ALWAYS doing something that prevents me from doing what I want to do. I am fed up with it!


Of course, for someone who is a gamer, the considerations change. I'm NOT a gamer, so 'gamer performance' isn't an issue for me.... but maybe your son is into the games.

If I had a son who was a gamer, I'd lock away his computer and put him to work in the garden. Gaming rots the brain.

Norman Bernstein
05-23-2015, 03:29 PM
I am seriously considering going to a Linux-only machine. I'm not convinced they are yet adequate to interface with the world on multiple levels, but when they are I am saying good-bye to Windows and Macs. My PC is ALWAYS doing something that prevents me from doing what I want to do. I am fed up with it!.

It's all a function of what software you need to run. As an electrical engineer, I would have no choice.... the overwhelming majority of programs I need to run are Windows only.

If all you need to run is what's readily available in Linux, then great.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
05-23-2015, 03:57 PM
It's all a function of what software you need to run. As an electrical engineer, I would have no choice.... the overwhelming majority of programs I need to run are Windows only.

If all you need to run is what's readily available in Linux, then great.

Spot on.

Almost everything I do is done under Linux, but, there are a couple of windows programs I need - One runs nicely under Wine (google is your friend) and the other runs adequately in a virtual machine using an old copy of Windows 98 (!)

VirtualBox (there are oter similar programs) is a godsend when running anything likely to blow up.....

CWSmith
05-23-2015, 04:01 PM
It's all a function of what software you need to run. As an electrical engineer, I would have no choice.... the overwhelming majority of programs I need to run are Windows only.

If all you need to run is what's readily available in Linux, then great.

This is exactly right. Engineers and other professions use a variety of commercial packages that are special to their profession. I use mine as a smart terminal to access my Linux boxes and as the usual communication tools (web, Word, PowerPoint, etc.) that have Linux versions. Laptops don't have the memory to be my primary machine, but they do keep in integrated into the world around me (both local and international).

Old Dryfoot
05-23-2015, 05:33 PM
Laptops don't have the memory to be my primary machine. . .

How much Ram do you use? My laptop is running 32GB. I also have two HDD bays with 750GB drives in RAID 0 if you are talking about storage needs, it's not a huge amount of space, but I also have a file server.

Canoez
05-23-2015, 05:44 PM
Engineering students are using ProE or Solid Works with finite element analysis packages and other specific packages. Check the system requirements specified by the software you are using and build out the hardware to that spec.

Bingo.

I use Solidworks on a desktop, not a laptop, but I do just fine with about 24 GB of RAM

Asking a third year student may do you no good. Software choices change so quickly that what a third year is currently using isn't what an incoming Freshman may be using by the time they get to their third year.

CWSmith
05-23-2015, 07:09 PM
How much Ram do you use? My laptop is running 32GB. I also have two HDD bays with 750GB drives in RAID 0 if you are talking about storage needs, it's not a huge amount of space, but I also have a file server.

Not RAM. I have numerous large disks for data files. Since I'd be tied to the disk farm, I don't see using a laptop as anything more than a smart terminal. I probably should not say disk farm - just too many disks to go inside a laptop. So, it's easiest just to communicate with the machine that is attached to the disks.

andykane
05-23-2015, 09:17 PM
In my mechanical engineering degree I found the most demanding software I ever ran was IL2: sturmovik, the WW2 flight sim I played in the back of physics class. The software you use the most is Word and Excel and nothing, even Solidworks, ProE, MATLAB, or the finite element analysis packages were overly demanding for the type of project they saw during school. I'd recommend getting something with good battery life, a high-resolution screen (one of the hardest features to find), and an SSD (solid state disk drive). Lenovo makes nice machines.

CWSmith
05-23-2015, 09:21 PM
Lenovo makes nice machines.

Thank you! I'm looking at them right now.