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New Machine

Started by bobberdude, 2007-02-02T14:18:34-06:00 (Friday)

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I'm a freshman student trying to go into the CS field!
My old computer is junk so I'm trying to replace it.
I have no idea what sort of machine I need? how much RAM? etc.
I don't even know what all I don't know!!

Can someone tell me what I need in a new machine for the CS major!

Also if someone can sugest a good company I would appreciate that!
 :-?   :-?    :-?    :-?    :-?   :-?  :-?  :-?


Some questions we'll need to know first

1)How much money are you willing to spend?

2)Are you wanting to build it yourself(possibly with some CAOS members assistance) or do you want to buy prebuilt from a manufacturer?

The recommended requirements for Visual Studio 2005 are 1Ghz processor, 256MB ram, and ~3GB hard drive space.  Therefore, you dont need a great system to do typical CS assignments.  The main thing is do you want a good all around system or something to just get you by?  Like most things in the world, it all comes down to my first question.


1) One of my grants will pay for it, so I don't think cost is a problem!

2)I don't want to have to build the computer!

I want a machine that is "a good all around system"!


The state of Illinois has a an educational discount deal with Dell.

You can get to it through here: SevenTen Book Store
"Make a Little Bird House in Your Soul" - TMBG...

Scott Magouirk

Alright, there is one website you need. And only one.


Go there and build whatever you want. Thank me later.


Thanks BUT

How much more do I need than what visual basic requires?

Is there another program that I will need later for the CS major besides just visual basic?

I know very little (next to nothing) about computers!
I don't know what I need is the main problem!

William Grim

http://store.apple.com has an educational deal with itself :)  You could go there and get one!

I second Skott's comments about them.
William Grim
IT Associate, Morgan Stanley


I'll give you a tip
-Don't buy anything with windows on it!

Get a mac and if, for some reason, you must have windows, run it with parallels

Here is a link to the SIUE Discount at Apple


Retired President of CAOS


Thanks for all the feed back,
but I still have questions!

I was told to "build whatever I want"!
The problem is I don't know what I want!
I need specs.

I thought that there were lots of problems working on Macs??


For the core CS classes anything that is powerful enough to run the Visual Studio .Net will be powerful enought to run anything else you'll encounter. The rest just depends on what CS elective you choose. If you take Graphis you'll likely be using OpenGL, if you take a network course you may want have enough hd space to set-up a dual-boot for linux.

Jeff Croxell has been spec'ing out new machines for the CS labs. You might send him an email or stop by his office in 1022 to talk to him.
"Make a Little Bird House in Your Soul" - TMBG...

Scott Magouirk

Alright, well again, it depends on how much you can spend, or how much the grant will pay for... but some nice specs would be...

15" Macbook Pro
160GB Serial ATA HDD @ 5400RPM
2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU
6x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVDÂÃ,±RW/CD-RW)
15" Glossy Widescreen

That'll run about $1,999.00 without taxes.

And for a Desktop:
20" iMac
250GB Serial ATA HDD
2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU
8x Superdrive (DVD+R DL/DVDÂÃ,±RW/CD-RW)
ATI Radeon X1600 Graphics Card with 128MB of VRAM

That'll run about $1,674.00 without taxes.


Since money isnt really a problem, I would suggest getting a laptop.  You dont sound like a hardcore PC gamer so it should do everything you want fine.  As people previously mentioned, probably Dell or Apple are your best bet.  

That said, some things to keep in mind are:
1)laptops are meant to be portable.  Compare the laptop's size, wieght, and battery life with others you are looking at.

2)as far as cpu goes try to get a core2duo...anyone will do.  Obviously faster speed is better but it costs more and you wont see an incredible amount of improvement.

3)for ram i'd recommend 1 gig.  Also it is usually cheaper to buy the laptop with a lower amount of ram and then add the extra ram in yourself later.  If your planning on doing this pay attention to the amount of ram slots your laptop will have.  Most only come with 2 so dont buy 2 256 sticks from dell if you plan on upgrading it.  You will end up wasting one of those when you put in a bigger stick.  Try to get your ram amount in 1 stick(module) if possible.

4)screen size is pretty much personal preference.  Again these things are supposed to be portable so I prefer the smallest i can get.  If you want a large screen you can alwasy hook it up to an externel monitor when you want to.

5)try to get an internel wifi adapter b/g.  you can get externel ones but having it internal is so much easier.

6)hard drive space is also personal preference.  60 gigs seems to be the average which is fine.

With all that said, I dont own a Mac.  While I agree that windows is not the best OS out there lets remember that this guy wants this laptop mainly for his CS classes.  Therefore he will probably be using visual studio a lot.  Since I dont own a Mac I dont know how easy it would be to get around using windows for this.  If it would be a big pain, go for a dell and you could always dual boot with a flavor of *nix.  Otherwise go for a macbook.


If you don't feel like living in the Engineering building labs using MSVS: get a windows machine.
SIUe Computer Science Graduate


well, yes, everyone around him is going to be using VS so he has help readily available for learning VS however, xCode is more usable.

plus, if he really wanted VS, he could still put it on his mac  (but i'll bet he takes it off once he is comfortable programming in other environments)
Retired President of CAOS

Ross Mead

For purposes of the CS curriculum, it is highly recommended that you stick with a Windows machine, leaving explorations into the Mac and/or Linux worlds as a side-project.  my_handle gave a pretty good breakdown of how to shop for a new computer (I agree with his suggestion to purchase a laptop) and Jerry gave a link for student rates at Dell (SevenTen Book Store).  I would suggest going on the site and customizing your own laptop (or select a standard model), then posting your selection and/or specs on here and we can give you feedback.  Shopping for a PC can be a fun and educational experience; I hope you find this to be the case! :-)