Laptop Suggestions for Phd Student

I am planning to purchase a Dell XPS 15 with specific requirements: a GPU, ease of running Linux, and specifications including a 4060 graphics card, 1TB storage, an i7 processor, and a minimum of 16GB RAM. I will be working on image-heavy data for machine learning and deep learning. Any recommendations or suggestions, especially regarding potential discounts, would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: I changed my mind after considering all the suggestions and opted for a refurbished XPS 13 Plus.


  • What kind of things Phd students do these days other than playing minecraft ?

  • +2

    I will be working on image-heavy data for machine learning and deep learning. Any recommendations or suggestions

    Yeah, don't expect a laptop to be particularly useful for this.
    I'd be optimizing for battery life, screen quality and keyboard tactility, and remoting into a desktop/workstation/vm somewhere for the processing power.

  • "will be working on image-heavy data for machine learning and deep learning."

    Get a desktop & a cheap/refurbished business laptop.

    Remote into your desktop rig if/ when needed. Laptops are not data crunching devices.

  • +1

    you should see if you can get a workstation from your uni/lab, and just ssh into that from a nice lightweight laptop as others suggested above.

  • Sure, thank you for the suggestion

  • Laptop Suggestions for Phd Student

    More info required…

    Phd in which field?

  • Hi, I actually had very similar requirements and went for a DELL XPS 15 9530.
    I was very lucky that the ideal hardware combination was a) actially available (for a short time) and b) at a great price.
    - CPU : i7-13700H .. you don't want the 13900 as it consumes too much power for a small laptop and will be throttled down due to heat anyway
    - Display : get the 1920x1200 FHD+ - you might not see a difference to a higher resolution, it just consumes more power
    - SSD : get the smallest one from Dell, den replace by a Samsung 990 PRO - much cheaper
    - RAM : get smallest amount from Dell - get Crucial DDR5 RAM 64GB (Kingston does make problems) - I got mine here for $219 -
    - GPU - I was lucky to get all this with an NVIDIA RTX 4070 8GB RAM - however due to limited cooling in a laptop its heavily throttled down. 8GB is great to have not too much of a limit for model paramters, however likely real traning you would want to do in a cloud environment anyway

    Another option would be to look for gaming laptops which have better GPUs, better cooling, but wont survise too much on battery either, and possibly noisier… again really GPU number crunching over may hours/days you likely would want to do in a cloud anyway. The GPU inside would just be great for local model inference.

    Running my Laptop with Manjaro / Arch Linux

    Processor 13th Generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-13700H Processor (14-Core, 24MB Cache, up to
    5.0 GHz)
    Video Card | Max wattage for all selections is 40W
    NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) RTX(TM) 4070 with 8 GB GDDR6
    Memory 16GB, 2x8GB, DDR5, 4800MHz
    Hard Drive 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
    LCD 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit Display
    Color Choice Platinum Silver exterior, Black interior
    Keyboard Black Backlit Keyboard (US/International)
    Wireless Intel(R) Killer(TM) Wi-Fi 6 1675 (AX211), 2x2, 802.11ax, Bluetooth(R) wireless card
    Power Supply 130Watt Type-C Adapter
    Primary Battery 6-Cell Battery, 86WHr (Integrated)

      • You could already buy RAM and SSD during Black Friday even before Laptop arrives

      • I swapped out SSD with annoying Windoze even before the first boot, put it away just in case for warranty of if I would want to sell it to some regular user (however I did not sell yet my previous XPS 15 from 5 years ago)

      • To install Linux you need to disable Secure Boot in the Bios, however I think there was even a (long) documentation in the Arch Linux docs how to make it work with Secure Boot enabled, but I just saw it after I had it installed already

  • Thank you everyone for the detailed response; I appreciate it. I managed to set up a decent workstation in my lab with an Nvidia 3070 8GB. I've also found a refurbished XPS 13 with an i7, 1TB storage, and 16GB RAM, non touch, intending to upgrade it as suggested by many. I've saved up a lot of money—thank you!

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