• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

Question New PC for college bound daughter

lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
982
69
91
My daughter is heading to college next fall and will be majoring in science (either oceanography or geology (although that's subject to change)). She is a gamer who mainly plays MMO's but occasionally does Rainbow Siege 6. Her PC is currently an i5-6600K, 16GB RAM, and a AMD RX570 GPU. I am planning out her new rig that will hopefully last her a while. I'm thinking of getting her a Ryzen 5600X with B550 motherboard and my current 5700 GPU (I would get a new AMD 6800 or nV 3070 GPU).

For those of you who are in college science, do you have any insight or recommendations? Any gotchas I should be aware of? I have time so I'm not going to buy anything until prices settle down.
 

lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
982
69
91
I should have been clearer, does anyone also have suggestions for other components? Something like a touch screen for some special software, or a digitizer pad? If she was majoring in art I would think a digitizer pad would be mandatory.

I teach college oceanography part time and doing so virtually from our home has made me wish many times for both a touchscreen for drawing things and an HD document camera for zooming in to small items. I'm not so good at drawing to start with and forcing me to draw with a mouse has made it far worse. My wife teaches biology part time and would kill for a decent USB microscope.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
50,495
6,065
126
If she is going to be doing presentations, then yes, those are options. (USB microscope, high-res (4K) cam, digitizer tabler, etc.)

I don't know enough about those categories to recommend anything.
 

MalVeauX

Senior member
Dec 19, 2008
592
136
116
Heya,

The 5600X, B550 and a 5700GPU will be a solid platform. Overkill for anything school oriented frankly.

Realistically, anything she will be getting into that needs additional peripherals will be hard to predict. It would be better to simply keep those funds on reserve so when the need is there, you have the funds to make it happen immediately and there will be a much better indicator of "this is needed" as it will be present, versus trying to figure out what they might be, a year ahead of time or more, just to miss the mark and rebuy.

I'm tightly bound into the world of university science and most of the kids are just using mac book pros. Nothing else. And their iPhones do the rest.

Very best,
 

Steltek

Platinum Member
Mar 29, 2001
2,677
481
126
As far as your daughter is concerned, I agree with @MalVeauX . Just set up the basic hardware before she starts. The 3600X/XT and B550 are a good starting point and will allow you a good future performance leap to a Ryzen 5000 series chip. You can't future proof any more than that because AMD plans for a socket change from AM4 with the next Ryzen release.

If there is any specialized hardware or software, the school may have specialized resources through which your daughter can obtain what she needs at a student discount. Likewise, I wouldn't purchase any software like MS Office or Adobe going in as the school may have a blanket IT contract allowing use by students very cheaply or for free.

For your own drawing, you might consider a drawing tablet to start. I haven't looked at them lately, but Monoprice used to sell some decent ones with good pressure sensitivity. Granted, they weren't Wacom Intuos quality (Wacom has great pens and excellent software compatibility), but for the average user they were more than adequate. My niece has a digital drawing tablet (I believe it is an Huion KAMVAS 1080p) which she likes to draw on because it has a screen. It ain't a Cintiq, but it only cost $250 vs $2000+.

As far as your wife is concerned, have her look around for a USB microscope camera designed to work with standard microscopes (they work by replacing the eyepiece or integrating with it via an adapter) and allow you to take some really neat images. I think OMAX used to sell a line of them that ranged up to 20 megapixel cameras.
 

lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
982
69
91
Thanks for the advice. I suspect you're right. I'll just set her up with the 5600X machine and not worry about anything special until grad school. She already has a good laptop so we're set there.

When I got my undergrad we were still using the original IBM XT (the 286 was released half way through). Students with computers was definitely not a thing then. When I got my grad degree much later, yea, we all had computers. Our department (Oceanography) was actually divided into two camps, those who used Matlab and those who used IDL. Kinda silly when you think about it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MalVeauX

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
4,658
376
126
Earning college credit for college classes in high school AP classes is totally not worth it when you are thrust into Matlab cold turkey and don't know what the hell to do with it.

Hearing the word Matlab gives me a headache.

It's not the hardware, it's the software that matters for undergrad and is the ultimate bottleneck. If I had hindsight, money would have been spent on Matlab beginner books. But nothing in the education system suggested it as something you should be prepared for.

The programming you do in basic calculus, etc, are rudimentary and even Core 2 level computers can handle running the script.

(Confessions of a Matlab victim).
 

RLGL

Golden Member
Jan 8, 2013
1,762
202
106
LAPTOP, is what she needs. My daughter saw other students who had desktops that wished they had laptops.
 

SamQuint

Golden Member
Dec 6, 2010
1,128
30
91
On the laptop front, most kids stop carrying them around after the first few weeks. I would get the cheapest iPad and get a keyboard for it. Then get a OneDrive or Dropbox account. The student could then take notes on the iPad, use the camera to capture what is on the whiteboard/chalkboard, and then upload to dropbox. They could then pull the notes down on their laptop or desktop computer back at home or in the dorm. Or use OneNote or another note taking app of their preference.
Another option is a Rocket book notebook. Those are the reusable notebooks that allow you to scan the notes to your computer. You write the notes, scan with phone, and upload. Then erase the page and start over. Those are pretty cool. Only issue is having to buy the special pens.
 

lifeblood

Senior member
Oct 17, 2001
982
69
91
On the laptop front, most kids stop carrying them around after the first few weeks. I would get the cheapest iPad and get a keyboard for it. Then get a OneDrive or Dropbox account. The student could then take notes on the iPad, use the camera to capture what is on the whiteboard/chalkboard, and then upload to dropbox. They could then pull the notes down on their laptop or desktop computer back at home or in the dorm. Or use OneNote or another note taking app of their preference.
Another option is a Rocket book notebook. Those are the reusable notebooks that allow you to scan the notes to your computer. You write the notes, scan with phone, and upload. Then erase the page and start over. Those are pretty cool. Only issue is having to buy the special pens.
I actually offered her an iPad but she declined. She can use her phone to do anything she’s could on an iPad. And yes, it’s amazing for what they use their phones for. She her and friends take pictures of notes and email them to anyone’s who missed class, etc. Honestly I’m jealous.

And she has to have a PC because she’s an gamer girl. She’s got all the Razer accessories, custom case with LED’s, etc.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY