Apologies if this is not the right place for this post. I'm entering a bioinformatics program this fall and I need to get a laptop to run class exercises and to do analysis of my own research data using Q2, R for Q2 plugin, and other tools. I've always used desktops for these purposes so I'm not sure what specs would be appropriate for a laptop that could run these tools. If anyone has some suggestions or a laptop model that they use and find suitable that would be great!
I would check with your program about whether or not you're expected to provide your own computer. I've worked lots of places where the institution preferred to provide the machine. (It doesn't preclude getting your own working computer, but it might put you toward a different model for home; had I known work was providing my computer I probably wouldn't have bought something quite so powerful to watch Netflix on )
I've always used macbook pros for my analysis. I think they're reliable (buy yourself apple care!) and a good balance between unix, UI, and playing nicely with my schools' very Microsoft-centric approach. I've been using the new M1 recently and the computational capacity has been great, but the computer itself is a bit heavy. (Not sure if weight is a consideration for you.)
If you're doing heavy computation (processing multiple runs of 16S data, doing metagenomics, etc), it may be worthwhile asking if your program has access to a server, or ask if your PI will buy you time on an institutional/local/national/cloud-based compute resource. It's umm... semi-okay to burn through a work Macbook. It's expensive AF to burn through a personal one.
Thanks for the reply! As far as I know the school doesn't provide laptops, though I wouldn't be surprised if they have a server to connect to. I don't have a lab selected yet so I am also not sure what resources each lab could provide. I was also thinking I could get a decent laptop that can connect to my own PC at home and run things from there if needed, so maybe that would work.
I am personally using MacBook Pro 15" 2017 with 16GB memory, it works fine for some mini-jobs, however, I think even flagship laptops are unfit for any heavy lifting in bioinformatics, but for class-taking purpose I guess any laptop with enough memory (at least 8GB, preferably >16GB) will work. Maximizing memory capacity is beneficial if you only consider BI work, because slower CPU will just prolong the analysis but if you lack memory it doesn't run in the first place. In the end it all boils down to the size of the data, but again for class purposes I assume it would not be that much large.