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I need to buy a laptop for college and I need SL to work on it. I am not an avid SL user, I only need it for bio class. I also need Microsoft etc. My budget is $400. 

Edited by ZoyaNOVA

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Good luck.  You might get SL to run on an inexpensive laptop, but the graphics will be mediocre at best.  Machines in that price range are designed for light office use and for viewing YouTube videos, not for the sort of heavy duty graphics that SL uses.  They handle the graphics with an Intel chip on the machine's motherboard rather than with a dedicated card.  If you look through the archives of these forums, you will find quite a number of posts from people who have problems ranging from lag to overheating.  My own laptop, which I use when I am out of town, is a low end gaming machine with a NVidia GT 650M card in it.  It's not bad, but even it gets hot enough that I hesitate to stay in world for extended periods of time.

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Look at eBay. You do have to know what hardware is good. But, the best bang for buck is there.

When you say Microsoft, I am assuming you mean Microsoft Office. There is a free Microsoft like office program named LibreOffice. The files are compatible with Microsoft Office. You can do most everything you could do with MS Office. If you are handing in files, you can save yours in MS File format, way easy. 

Also, the Cute PDF printer (software only - free) will let you make PDF files. MS Win 10 has a built in PDF printer that is pretty good. Way good enough for basic docuements and spread sheets.

Cheap laptops that run SL will need a CPU designated i3, i5, or i7 in the 4000 (4th Gen) and above series... i3-4500 etc. The higher the number the newer the CPU and the better. 8th gen is the newest and most expensive.

With 4th gen and above you can get by without a dedicated video chip. So, no ATI or NVIDIA needed. To future proof a 5th or 6th gen would be better. A video chip would give better performance.

Windows 10 is almost mandatory for your college/SL use. Win 10 Home is good enough. Pro is better, but not enough better to justify spending more. Pro's advantages are in networking. Home handles Internet connections as well as Pro.

Today there was a new (package opened - never used) i3 7th Gen 17" screen laptop that sold for US$300 on eBay auction. You can find some deals.

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Besides looking for a computer, I would wonder about whether your institution will allow you to use Second Life at all on the campus network.  If your Bio class has a requirement for SL, then probably there's a way, but I would still want to check it.  Lots of campus IT departments block you from accessing games; for some reason they expect the students to use the computing resources for, you know, studying.

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Hit up ebay for a Thinkpad T420 with the i5 2540m and NVS 4200 will handle SL at max settings in 720p, those things are like 150-200$ tops. Other models like the T430/440 are similar in price but you lose the DGPU unless you want to pay a lot more, they'll still handle SL on integrated, just not as well as the NVS would.

Used business laptops of any kind are a good budget pick, anything with a 2nd-4th gen i5/i7 in the Lenovo Thinkpad, Dell Latitude or HP Elitebook lineup will be fairly cheap and perform well, quadro NVS cards are a plus, but with newer stuff you can use the integrated.

Alternatively, Newegg often has these cheap Acer Aspire laptops with GTX 940mx's in them, theyre 0/10 on the build quality chart but the hardware in them in fairly decent, theyre around 400-500$.

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Hmmm integrated chips are never recommended for prolonged used of graphics intensive programs, such as SL, wether the chip is new or not :)

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Look for student discounts and/or second-hand, refurbished laptops. 

Huge plus if they have a dedicated graphics card instead of some Intel HD stuff. 

4 GB RAM at least.

No Atom or other slow CPUs...

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OpenOffice also supports direct PDF export, without any secondary tools, so should its more or less twin LibreOffice.

Also check your school's / university's offers, perhaps you can get a free OS license as a student or even an office key.

Something like this may do...

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