I couldn't really figure out where to ask this question so I figured I'd start here.

I'm currently a junior studying CS at Uni and I've been using my Elitebook 8570w for 3 or so years now. It's a great machine that packs a nice punch especially for the price but it's just simply not practical. It weighs nearly 10 pounds, is the size of a briefcase and can't hold a charge for more than an hour or so. So I usually just opt out of bringing it to school at all and rather use the computers at the library which is also a bit impractical.

So my dilemma comes from this. I would like to purchase a new laptop (2018 MBP) to replace my Elitebook but I only have one year left of Uni. How much use will I get out of it outside of school? I already have a pretty nice machine at home that I use for gaming and homework. I will also be provided a work laptop at my internship this summer. I suppose it depends on my individual use case but I'm curious if you guys have both a desktop and a laptop and what you use it for. Maybe there are some compelling reasons I haven't thought of yet. I will be (hopefully) working in the software development field for context.

  • 7
    Don't buy it, I had the same issue as you, I was also considering buying a new one, but I rather just got the battery replaced and rode it out, I still have my old laptop but always use my work laptop and don't really feel like looking at screens once done, so it will not be a sound investment. And Don't let the weight of the machine get to you. Also if you fell like contributing to community after college and don't want to use your work laptop, then you can buy after 6 months of job or so. May 2, 2019 at 3:44
  • 2
    This probably will ultimately depend on your personal preference of where you like to work on your computer. For home use, do you prefer to use the desktop at your desk, or do you prefer to be able to move around, or to be able to go, e.g. to a coffee shop and work on your laptop? If the value of the mobility is more than price tag of the laptop, and you can afford it, then it makes sense to buy one. A work-provided laptop is not a substitute because a work laptop should generally be used for work only.
    – Brandin
    May 2, 2019 at 5:25
  • Also, MBP go downhill every year. Look at other brands, and don't buy the poisoned apple--we all know how that went for Snow White...
    – user62890
    May 2, 2019 at 12:52
  • This depends entirely on how you choose to spend your free time. Or are you asking whether employers might expect you to carry or bring to work your personal laptop? May 2, 2019 at 17:27

6 Answers 6


Personally, I feel keeping a decent separation between work and business is a good solid plan. Even if your employer allows you to use your laptop on the job, or they allow you to use their laptop for your personal use, I would say it's not worth the risk involved to take them up on that.

I've had computers freeze up and need a complete operating system reinstall because of a game I was playing. It didn't affect my work the next day, because it was my laptop, not theirs, that had the issue. I had coworkers at my previous jobs who held up projects by weeks because of issues they caused their company laptops with their reckless personal use. It felt unprofessional to me. I would have felt differently about it if our employer wasn't paying us a decent rate, but they were paying us fairly well.

Looking at it from the perspective of looking out for yourself, I've also heard of companies firing people with no notice, and insisting on getting their machine and any backups the person made of it back immediately. In the US, I'd consider this an interesting legal situation I don't know enough about.

But I really don't need to know about them to want to avoid them like the plague. I've known people it happened to, and still couldn't imagine going through that. I wouldn't want to, really. Laptops are relatively cheap these days, if you have a decent job, you can afford to keep your digital work life separate from your digital home life, and I feel it's well worth the cost.

All of this having been said, my personal advice is to take the route of financial prudence and don't spend money before you have it unless you need it. I've put up with hauling significantly heavier computers around to avoid saving money, but I'm not you, so I can't say for certain the 10 pound weight is too much. I can say having a good laptop backpack properly worn using both straps properly cinched up and fastened together may add a few extra pounds on top of that, but make it seem like the whole thing is only a couple of pounds.

On another note, last I checked, there were portable bluetooth keyboards that you could get that would sync with an iPad, and let you do programming on the go. I don't know a lot of details about them, except that they exist, and iPads probably still support them. Google gave 'ipad bluetooth keyboard' as a suggestion at just 'ipad blu', and found about 70 million hits. Just saying, so you know.

  • 6
    +1. Going beyond being fired, you may find your employer tracks what you do, scans emails, has difficult lock-down policies, and other means of making things awkward and invading your privacy. May 2, 2019 at 7:49
  • 1
    @JuliaHayward That really depends on the employer and also the locale. Have never worked so far for an employer that monitored personal activity (aside from noticing on the firewall / external internet gateway level if you are target of a ddos attack or download the whole internet via company connection). In many countries it is strictly regulated under what circumstances an employer can monitor which parts of employee behaviour. I'd still agree with the main advice to ride it out - at least until it is clear in what kind of job OP ends up afterwards and what his needs then are. May 2, 2019 at 11:11

Most business won't allow you to use a personal laptop for company work related stuff. Mostly for security reasons, protecting company property and insurance.

If you instead plan to work as a freelancer or similar then you need to see your laptop as an investment in your career. However you won't be able to properly evaluate that until you actually start that path.

As for the uni, if you manage with the university computers (which you should) then I don't see that as a reason for spending money on a laptop.

So, to sum up:

  • for uni: it's a commodity (want) rather than necessity (need)
  • for a job: it's (most likely) completely unnecessary
  • for the freelancer path: it's a necessity and an investment in your career.

So I suggest you hold on until (if ever) you actually need it, especially since you say you already have a capable desktop.

  • 1
    Thanks for the insight. I honestly don't see myself getting into freelancing so maybe its best to put buying a laptop aside for now. I guess I was just trying to buy it for school which isn't really practical give that I only have one year left. I did however recently purchase an iPad for school work and notetaking which fills that gap of having a personal device on the go. Only downside is that I couldn't really work on coding projects or coding in general.
    – Aleks
    May 2, 2019 at 2:57
  • @Aleks: You've got a desktop to run the development tools on, so all you need is a screen and keyboard plus remote desktop client. Does your iPad allow pairing with a bluetooth keyboard?
    – Ben Voigt
    May 2, 2019 at 5:06

It really depends on what work you do.

Some workplaces, especially if you are working as a contractor, have a bring-your-own-device policy - in which case a decent laptop, with the specs that you like, is a good idea.

But other than that - typically a workplace will provide you with your work machine, and so the device you are considering buying would be for personal use only, and so outside the scope of workplace advice.

Probably - if you are primarily concerned about a device for work - I would wait until you have a job, and seeing if it is a BYOD workplace, and buy a device then. That's what I've done with my most recent job.

  • Thanks for the response, I think I'm trying to jump the gun too soon. I'll wait to see how it pans out once I actually graduate because maybe I'm just trying to impulse buy the device for school.
    – Aleks
    May 2, 2019 at 2:54

How much use will I get out of it outside of school?

That depends on so many factors....

I suppose it depends on my individual use case but I'm curious if you guys have both a desktop and a laptop and what you use it for.

I've a desktop, a laptop and a work laptop. I work 4 days/week from home, and I most of the work I do from home, I use my desktop, using a VPN to connect to network of my employer. Sometimes I do some work in the living room for which I use the work laptop; and sometimes I take said laptop to a coffee shop or lunch place. I do carry the work laptop to the office, where I connect it to a docking station and have a monitor, keyboard and mouse. My employer provides everyone with two chargers, one for home and one for the office, so noone has to lug around a charger.

My personal laptop spends most of its time in the living room, where I use it for non-work stuff. I do a fair bit of open source work, which I do both on the laptop and the desktop, depending whether I am in my office or not. And I take my personal laptop with me on vacations and conferences.

Both my laptops are MacBook pros. They are much lighter than any of the other laptops I've had in the past 20 years. That's a blessing. And they hold a charge long enough that I can get several hours of work out of them before they need to be recharged.


I would like to purchase a new laptop (2018 MBP) to replace my Elitebook but I only have one year left of Uni. How much use will I get out of it outside of school?

From personal experience, zero. Well at first it may seem infinite possibilities but I think eventually you'll find it has zero uses. As others said it depends on policy of a BYOD but I think adding to it is that if it breaks or you need to upgrade, it's on your dime instead. And also if the device is incompatible with something, you might spend more money fixing it.

I already have a pretty nice machine at home that I use for gaming and homework.

This is what I do these days. Every few years I rebuild my home pc with a good mobo, processor, gpu, and memory. The one I have now has been with me for the past 4 years which at the time had the best gpu and cpu on the market. It can still play the latest games without much hiccup. Even later, I don't think I'll upgrade that much as I have other obligations now. I think eventually you'll move away from your "college envy" and look at things differently.


I have never in my life used a private laptop or computer for work. My current boss would get a fit if I did. You might consider one of the less powerful and lighter and cheaper models if you think you are using it privately.

  • Never? You've never VPN'd in?
    – Prodigle
    May 2, 2019 at 12:38
  • @Prodigle, not with a personal computer, no. No place I have never worked would even let a personal device on the network, even with VPN.
    – Seth R
    May 2, 2019 at 17:38
  • That sounds unusual considering the purpose of a VPN is to protect the network. Unless you mean physically bringing the device to work but at home the purpose of VPN is for the company to protect itself while allowing employees to access limited services.
    – Dan
    May 2, 2019 at 18:37
  • @Dan, I guess it depends how your network is set up. I can VPN from home with my company-issues laptop, which gives me the same level of access to our network as if I were in the office. That's necessary for us to do our jobs when we're remote, so letting any device on through VPN would be a security nightmare. We do have some services like email available through other channels, however.
    – Seth R
    May 2, 2019 at 20:43

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