i3 or i5 128 GB for student?

rynoa

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Hi everyone,

I'm hoping to get some advice on choosing the right surface pro 3 for me.

I'm a full time student and I want to go paperless with the surface pro. I'm hauling pounds and pounds of notebooks and textbooks around everyday. I have to print pdf notes that profs send out just to annotate them in class. The surface seems to be the only device that can actually really replace a good old pen and paper AND get some work done.
I do have a very good desktop PC at home that will smoke every surface in terms of performance, I'm not looking to replace my desktop.

Since I am a student, I'm obviously also restricted on cash, so the only two feasible options for me are either the i3 or the i5 128 GB, but the i5 is really pushing it.

I will use the surface primarily for school, so I need to take tons of handwritten notes, annotate pdfs (Both at the same time in split screen mode probably), do research online, use MS word, excel etc, run applications like matlab (I do that over a virtual desktop vpn solution, so I don't think it even uses my CPU for calculations). I will probably also install some of the programs I have on my desktop, but I don't expect the same performance. However, I really need the surface to be running smoothly for my school needs.
I'm not looking to store all my pictures, music and whatnot on my surface either, only ebooks, notes, and everything school related.

Do you think the i3 will be sufficient for my needs?

Do you think it could potentially run solidworks and/or AutoCAD? This is optional for me, like I said, I have a desktop. But it would sure be nice if I could open a drawing and make a few changes (I will do the major work at the desktop obviously).

Thank you in advance for your help!

rynoa
 

gpobernardo

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Hello,
Sounds like you're into engineering.:cool:
I recommend going for the i5 - the difference in performance may make the investment worthwhile. I don't have a surface pro, but I've got SolidWorks, MATLAB and AutoCAD (along with other "heavy" computational software) installed in my laptop, which also runs an i5. Now while majority of the performance improvement will be brought by the "Solid State" nature of the main drive compared to "Hard Disk Drives", it would still be best to maximize the resources you have for processor performance. I've found the i3 insufficient for my needs - especially for computational speed. The i5 should do you well.
 

xboxonthego3

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If you don't know already and you're buying from Microsoft don't forget the Student Discount! Other stores offer similar discounts for students as well. I suggest the i5 as well for the more intensive programs such as AutoCad. But an i3 will be plenty for notes, eBooks, Office, and Web browsing.
 

rynoa

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Thank you both!

Bingo gpobernardo, I study mechanical enginnering :).

AutoCAD or solidworks will be an exception. I have an i7 desktop with 32GB RAM and an SSD at home, it can handle anything I throw at it and then some. It will be really more like I finish a drawing at home and I MIGHT have to do some minor changes when I meet with my project group. I can do that on one of the campus computers or even use the university vpn, but like I said, it would be nice if the surface can do that. If not, oh well. I don't think even the i5 will be super awesome at it considering it has only 4GB of ram.

I'm really more concerned about annoting a pdf and writing notes at the same time in split screen. Isn't that kind of like running two graphic programs at the same time? (Like I said, I study mechanical engineering, I'm not that good with computer stuff). I need that to run reasonably smooth, that is, without significant lags. If the i3 does that, I'll be a happy camper.

I don't really want to spend the extra 200 since I already have a very good computer at home. I'm just getting tired of carrying such a heavy load (on an average day, my backpack weighs 20+ lbs because of the paper textbooks and big binders full of notes) and until now I found laptops to be not very practical because I just like the pen and paper feel to work and take notes.

EDIT: Long story short: So do you think an i3 should be able to handle split screen applications like I described?!

Also, I'm sure I will run out of space with the smaller 64 GB sooner or later, I will get a 64 micro SD card. Do you think it will slow down the system significantly if the surface has to access the micro SD a lot to open and save files?

Yes, I know about the student discount, thanks a lot :)
 

rdubmu

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The i3 should, it would make sense to get the i5 as it is more future proof, double the memory, and faster. You can take $200 off by using the education discount
 

onlysublime

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If you can swing for the i5, get it especially if you want to multitask or run any high level programs. Eat ramen, wash your clothes at home, whatever...

I swap between PowerPoint, Word, and OneNote a lot and with the i3, everything happens a little bit slower and over time that all adds up. The i5 feels luxurious. Everything loads faster and is more responsive. Which is great for situations when you have to switch on the fly (like during notetaking). Nothing is more annoying than clicking on the stop button and waiting for the sound file to save (remember, if you're saving long lectures which can be 45 minutes+, it can take awhile to save) when the professor realizes that there's more things he wants to say but you aren't recording because you're waiting for the system to be ready again.

Here's how I do notes... It really depends on how your professor does things. If your professor does a lot of PowerPoint, I load up the powerpoint and take notes in the notes section of the powerpoint. At the same time, I use PowerPoint's audio recorder so that the audio matches the slide the professor is on. It's also great because the notes always matches up with the slide in question. This is great because I never have to search through the audio to find the spot in my notes. The only time this messes up is if the professor is the type to go back and forth in the slides. If the professor moves through the slides linearly forward, it works perfectly fine.

For the professor that moves back and forth, I prefer traditional audio recording. I snap the Metro Sound Recorder to the right side of the screen and I take my notes in PowerPoint (if it's a PowerPoint presentation) or in Word or in OneNote.

Usually when the professor is rapid fire, I prefer Word because I just worry about typing. It's not formatted nicely. It's more about getting as much of what the professor says. I can always rearrange later and reorder in Word or OneNote. Besides, when you're home and have time to more properly digest the information, you almost end up rewriting your notes in your own way with your own take so that you remember it. I use OneNote more for organization and drawing than for actual note taking. Unless it's a situation where I do mostly handwriting and then of course, OneNote is king.

And of course, if there are diagrams, I use OneNote to draw them. Or if it's a diagram in PowerPoint, I draw directly on the PowerPoint.
 

link68759

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The i3 should, it would make sense to get the i5 as it is more future proof, double the memory, and faster. You can take $200 off by using the education discount




Never ever use the term "future proof" when talking about an electronic device. You will be wrong every time :)


He saves $200 now by getting the i3, and he can buy something more powerful than the i5 with that $200 in maybe 2 years.





OP the i3 will be fine- what you want to use the surface for could be done on an ancient CPU from 2008- I know, I had a tablet in 2008 I used for taking notes, and that was Windows 7, which doesn't run as efficiently as 8 does.





Someone mentioned previous experiences with an i3: It's a haswell i3, which is not equivalent to an ivy bridge or other i3. If your experience wasn't with haswell, your input is irrelevant here. Sorry.
 

rynoa

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Thank you for your input.

Wow, it seems like you have note taking down to a science :). I never record any lectures, I don't think I will have the time to re-watch the entire lecture. But I take pretty detailed and neat notes, so far with a pencil and paper, hopefully soon with the surface pro. Quite a few of my professors send out scripts in either word, power point, or pdf prior to lecture, so in those cases I print them and add my personal notes during lecture. I will have to get familiar with all the possibilities within the programs, sounds like you can do a lot of handy stuff, I just can't wait to have everything digital in one small package without loosing the pen and paper feel.
 

rynoa

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He saves $200 now by getting the i3, and he can buy something more powerful than the i5 with that $200 in maybe 2 years.

OP the i3 will be fine- what you want to use the surface for could be done on an ancient CPU from 2008- I know, I had a tablet in 2008 I used for taking notes, and that was Windows 7, which doesn't run as efficiently as 8 does.

That's kind of what I'm thinking. Thanks for your input.
 

onlysublime

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Thank you for your input.

Wow, it seems like you have note taking down to a science :). I never record any lectures, I don't think I will have the time to re-watch the entire lecture. But I take pretty detailed and neat notes, so far with a pencil and paper, hopefully soon with the surface pro. Quite a few of my professors send out scripts in either word, power point, or pdf prior to lecture, so in those cases I print them and add my personal notes during lecture. I will have to get familiar with all the possibilities within the programs, sounds like you can do a lot of handy stuff, I just can't wait to have everything digital in one small package without loosing the pen and paper feel.

but that's the thing... with PowerPoint (and even with OneNote), you would never have to relisten to the whole lecture. each page has only the audio for that page. So when you go to record for a powerpoint and the professor is talking on slide 1 for time 0:00 to 0:03 and then he goes to slide 2 and the audio will be for 0:03 to 0:04 and then slide 3 will be 0:04 to 0:08. So when you go back through the slides, when you go to slide 3, you will only play 0:04 to 0:08. This is why the new way to record is so much better than the old days when people recorded 1 huge 45 minute lecture and then had to manually scan through the audio to find just the right audio to listen to.

It wouldn't hurt to start off with the i3. I think you'll find it pretty limiting but in that case, you still have time to return it and get the i5.
 

rynoa

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Ok, I just ordered the i3. SO EXCITED. I just couldn't bring myself to spend any more, with tax it came out to 774, that is already quite a bit for a glorified tablet - still need the type cover too. I will report about performance once I've tested it :), worst case, I'll send it back. Thank you all for your input!
 

rynoa

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but that's the thing... with PowerPoint (and even with OneNote), you would never have to relisten to the whole lecture. each page has only the audio for that page. So when you go to record for a powerpoint and the professor is talking on slide 1 for time 0:00 to 0:03 and then he goes to slide 2 and the audio will be for 0:03 to 0:04 and then slide 3 will be 0:04 to 0:08. So when you go back through the slides, when you go to slide 3, you will only play 0:04 to 0:08. This is why the new way to record is so much better than the old days when people recorded 1 huge 45 minute lecture and then had to manually scan through the audio to find just the right audio to listen to.
hmmmm, I will have to try that to see if like it. I've been very low tech thus far when it comes to note taking. I bet those files then take up quite a bit of space if you include audio, don't they?
It wouldn't hurt to start off with the i3. I think you'll find it pretty limiting but in that case, you still have time to return it and get the i5.

My thoughts exactly, it doesn't hurt to try, right? So you are using the i3 right now, right? Or did you switch to the i5?
 

gpobernardo

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Thank you both!

Bingo gpobernardo, I study mechanical enginnering :).

AutoCAD or solidworks will be an exception. I have an i7 desktop with 32GB RAM and an SSD at home, it can handle anything I throw at it and then some. It will be really more like I finish a drawing at home and I MIGHT have to do some minor changes when I meet with my project group. I can do that on one of the campus computers or even use the university vpn, but like I said, it would be nice if the surface can do that. If not, oh well. I don't think even the i5 will be super awesome at it considering it has only 4GB of ram.

I'm really more concerned about annoting a pdf and writing notes at the same time in split screen. Isn't that kind of like running two graphic programs at the same time? (Like I said, I study mechanical engineering, I'm not that good with computer stuff). I need that to run reasonably smooth, that is, without significant lags. If the i3 does that, I'll be a happy camper.

I don't really want to spend the extra 200 since I already have a very good computer at home. I'm just getting tired of carrying such a heavy load (on an average day, my backpack weighs 20+ lbs because of the paper textbooks and big binders full of notes) and until now I found laptops to be not very practical because I just like the pen and paper feel to work and take notes.

EDIT: Long story short: So do you think an i3 should be able to handle split screen applications like I described?!

Also, I'm sure I will run out of space with the smaller 64 GB sooner or later, I will get a 64 micro SD card. Do you think it will slow down the system significantly if the surface has to access the micro SD a lot to open and save files?

Yes, I know about the student discount, thanks a lot :)

Takes one to know one :wink:

I was about to suggest testing the i3 first and then see if that's already sufficient for your needs, but then I read through the posts and looks like you're in the right track. On a personal note, though, I'd get the i5 for flexibility in case I suddenly, for example, decide to do more with in than just handle documents. But at any rate, let us know your experience with the i3 - might turn out to be more than you need after all. :smile:
 

fdalbor

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I don't have a Surface; but I do have two HP Envy all in ones with touch screens. One has a I3 and the other a I5 and there is almost nothing you can do with the I5 that you won't be able to do withh the I3. The mobile I3 and I5 may be a bit different; than the desktops but the comparison is a help in deciding. It is a bit slower; but just a bit and most things you will never notice the difference. I would not let the processor be thing thing that decides which unit you get; there are other things that are much more important. The processor is only a part of the system, I would rather be processor poor than system poor. I took a class a few years ago that showed how much the processor was as part of the system and how other things affected the system. I was surprised how much memory and system board and other things affected the unti compared to just the processor. Get the I3 and you will be just fine as long as you don't short change the rest of the system.
 

ShinraCorp

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Let's not forget that a mobile i5 is a dual-core 4 threads CPU compare to the desktop version that is a 4 core and 4 threads CPU and the i3 is a dual core with 2 threads. Just wanted to let you know that :p
 

Jaripi

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Let's not forget that a mobile i5 is a dual-core 4 threads CPU compare to the desktop version that is a 4 core and 4 threads CPU and the i3 is a dual core with 2 threads. Just wanted to let you know that :p

I think that MOBILE i3 is just missing turbo mode, both (mobile i3 and i5) are dual cores with hyperthreading ....
 

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