Recommend a laptop with drawing abilities for college student? Surface Book?

Discussion in 'SFF, Notebooks, Pre-Built/Barebones PCs' started by fuzzybabybunny, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Moderator<br>Digital & Video Cameras
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    My dad's cousin's daughter is graduating high school this year. Unfortunately her household doesn't make very much money so we want to help pitch in for a new laptop as a graduation present.

    She wants to study architecture, but of course that can end up changing. I have an old Microsoft Surface 3 (non-pro) that I use with the keyboard cover and a Wacom pen for taking notes, drawing, etc. I wish I had the Surface 3 back when I was in college for taking notes, and I think something similar could benefit her.

    The Surface 3/4 have screens that I think would be too small for taking lots of notes and for functioning as her only laptop for writing essays and stuff. So maybe a $1,000 Surface Book?

    13", 256GB, Core i5, 8GB RAM, integrated graphics, horrible self-repair score (1 out of 10 on ifixit).
    https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Surface-Book-Intel-Core/dp/B016C874Z2

    Or we can save even more money by getting the 128GB version at $775 and having her use a big SD card that just lives inside the card slot for storing all her movies and music and stuff.

    Thoughts? The Surface Book comes with the keyboard and pen, which is a big bonus. The normal Surfaces usually require the keyboard case and pen to be purchased separately.
     
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  3. Chaotic42

    Chaotic42 Lifer

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    I have the dGPU version of that (which seems to be similarly priced) and I bought it for a similar use case - taking math notes with the pen, and I love it. The pen is really amazing when combined with OneNote, the computer doesn't get too hot, and it has good battery life. The keyboard is pretty decent, and its ability to fold over is really nice. Some people feel it's too thick when folded up, but that really doesn't bother me. I'm used to hauling around workstation laptops for work, so this thing is tiny in my eyes.

    I'd definitely suggest external storage for movies and whatnot. My system is pretty barebones with no media on it and I've only got 108GB of storage free. All in all I'm very impressed with it, but I'm a 35 year old engineer and not an 18 year old highschooler, so she might think differently. :p
     
  4. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Moderator<br>Digital & Video Cameras
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    What made you get this versus something similar like the Dell XPS 2-in-1 and HP Spectre X2?

    I'm a bit concerned with the Surface Book because I read that Consumer Reports refuses to recommend it on account that they've seem horrible reliability with the machines.
     
  5. Chaotic42

    Chaotic42 Lifer

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    The excellent pen input, high-DPI, and its inclusion of a CUDA-capable GPU. I'm a little jealous at those prices. I think I paid $1800 for mine last year. I bought one when they came out, but there were issues with CUDA and I couldn't get a good answer out of Microsoft or Nvidia, so I returned it. They got those fixed and I picked another one up. I haven't had any technical issues with either.

    I'd definitely buy it again, but I wish they'd just steal the old Thinkpad keyboard. Can't have everything, I suppose.
     
  6. fuzzybabybunny

    fuzzybabybunny Moderator<br>Digital & Video Cameras
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    Adding discrete graphics and CUDA support increases the price pretty significantly. CUDA is still only supported on nVidia chips, right? Not integrated graphics?

    I don't think she'll be gaming or using this for video or 3D editing, so what that in mind, would another brand be ok?
     
  7. Torn Mind

    Torn Mind Diamond Member

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    https://www.ultrabookreview.com/2218-top-ultrabook-convertible/

    Try checking the alternatives to the Surface line. Surfaces can be flaky at times. Nothing worse than not accessing files because it just decides to crap out when you need it most. It's not very serviceable either while those that are built as laptops first can at least be somewhat checked out.
     
  8. DaveSimmons

    DaveSimmons Elite Member

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    One thing to be careful about with at least some Surface models is they are not repairable and data is not recoverable from them without voiding the warranty and destroying the device to try to extract the HD from the glue.

    My boss has a Book. He broke the power button and the only option he had was to get a replacement and lose his data. Luckily he had cloud backup set up so he dd not lose anything important just the time of setting up a new Book.

    If you get a Surface you almost certainly want to pay for the extended warranty including accidental damage. You also want to come up with a backup strategy that she can follow so when things go wrong she is covered.
     
  9. Chaotic42

    Chaotic42 Lifer

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    I haven't checked out any competing products, so I can't make any recommendations. CUDA is only supported on Nvidia GPUs, and it was a dealbreaker for me. Unless I'm missing something, on that link it looks like the CUDA version is slightly cheaper than the one you were going for.
     
  10. Optimummind

    Optimummind Member

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    I recommend the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 13.3" model. It comes with Core i7, 256GB SSD, 1080p screen, decent battery life, folds into a tent or tablet, and the excellent S Pen is integrated into the laptop housing. The Precision Touchpad is also very excellent. I've been using mine for about 3 months now & it's been very durable & performant.

    (Spam removed)
     
    #9 Optimummind, Nov 11, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2017