A classic question that we always have is about having a computer on campus. I probably hear it every other day. There's a reason why we're called the Rochester Institute of Technology, because we have so much of it. I'm willing to bet there are actually more computers on this campus than students. I'll tell you from experience that it isn't entirely necessary to have your own personal computer or laptop on campus.
While I know a lot of people who have brought their own, I've only seen them use it for games and entertainment purposes. In my two years of experience, you don't actually need a computer to do any work on campus. Unless you want to work on the go or just be able to access the web whenever you want. All of the labs on campus are well outfitted for your majors.
Whether you are Design, Engineering, Photo, or Computing, the computer labs are a great place to do work. All the programs that you need for your major are supplied on the lab computers. For example, as a Game Design student, all the computers in my department come with the Adobe Suite, which contains programs like Flash CS6, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Audition, Autodesk Maya, Unity, and Microsoft Visual Studio. With Visual Studio alone, the program costs upwards of $6,000; although it is free to download as a student, it would still take 4 hours to install it onto my own computer. You also have the added benefit of help being available at any time. All you need to do is ask a lab assistant, or maybe even an upperclassman, and they’ll happily help you out. In my opinion, any computer you’ll need can be found in a lab.
Overall, having a laptop is strictly for convenience. You wouldn’t need to bring a real computer, unless you wanted to do some hardcore gaming. I hardly ever bring my laptop on campus, but it is useful to have if you just want to be connected, or use it during lecture halls or even write papers without being attached to a lab.
Now, if you did want to buy a computer on campus, I did a little research and found some good options to get in terms of laptops, because I assume this is what most of you would be getting if you wanted to get a computer of any kind.
First off, there is the Dell Inspiron 13z. It isn’t an amazing computer, but you get what you pay for. At $450, you get a solid general use computer. It can’t play games that well, with only an Intel HD 3000, and isn’t entirely fast with only an Intel i3 processor running at 1.4 GHz, but for writing papers or just using the internet it’s a good buy. At 500 GB, you can store everything you’ll need, and having a 13 inch laptop means that you can bring it anywhere and won’t take up much space in your backpack. To be fair, all of the laptops that I’m listing are 13 inches, but I feel like most people don’t enjoy carrying around a 15 inch around all the time.
Link for the Inspiron 13z: http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-13z-5323/pd
The next computer is the 11 inch MacBook Air. My favorite thing about the Air is that it is the most portable computer you’ll find. At 2.3 pounds, it’s probably lighter than most textbooks you’ll have with you. At $1000, you get a fairly fast computer running at 1.7 GHz with a dual i5 processor, 4 hours of battery life, and a computer that leaves no real fingerprint in your bag. The downside is that it only comes with 64 GB of solid state space. Granted it is going to load fast, but it won’t be able to store very much, so an external will be necessary.
Link for the MacBook Air: http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/
Following with our line of Apple products is the MacBook Pro. Standard, it runs at around $1199. With Retina Display, it jumps to around $1499. Honestly, you don’t really need the Retina version, because it just makes everything on the screen look really crisp. With the standard Pro, you get a 500 GB hard drive, so you can store anything you want, but it won’t boot as fast. It also comes with the dual i5s, but runs at a nice 2.5 GHz, so it’ll be pretty smooth running for whatever you need it for. Seven hours of battery life means that you can use it for a long time without having to plug it back in. At 13” and 4.5 pounds, you will feel it in your bag, but it won’t be obnoxious to bring around anywhere. I know quite a few people in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences that use these, and it’s a good price for what you get.
Link for the standard MacBook Pro: http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/features/
Finally, for those that want to game and don’t own or want to bring their own rigs, I present the Razer Blade. Recently given the Best of E3 2013 award, it is pretty hard to beat in terms of how small it is compared to other gaming laptops. While the price point is definitely out of the range of affordable at $2000, it’s a good option if you don’t want to keep moving a tower around. It comes with 256 GB of solid state space, so you can store a good amount on it and put anything else on an external. Its 8 GB of RAM and quad-core i7 at 2.2 GHz allow it to do a lot at a good speed. An NVIDIA GeForce GTX 756M means you’ll get some nice graphics on the game you’re playing. With this 14 inch and 4.1 pound laptop, it would be like carrying around a MacBook Pro. It’s a really good option if you want a gaming PC in my opinion.
Link for the Razer Blade: http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade
Apologies, if it was a bit long winded, but there was a good amount to cover. Keep in mind that all the laptops I covered were merely suggestions. Anyways, auf Wiedersehen!