A Sydney man who raped and murdered a student before stuffing her body in a suitcase and throwing it in a canal has been jailed for at least 30 years.

Daniel Stani-Reginald, 21, had shown no capacity for empathy and no remorse for the "extremely cruel" murder of his neighbour, Tosha Thakkar, in March 2011, Justice Derek Price said, setting a maximum 45 year jail term.

Stani-Reginald had planned to sexually assault and murder a woman well before he selected Ms Thakkar as his victim, overpowered her in her Croydon unit, raped and strangled her, the Supreme Court heard on Friday.

In the months before the murder, Stani-Reginald read thousands of internet articles on serial killers and rapists.

After he disposed of Ms Thakkar's body, he went home and read an article entitled Beginnings of a Serial Killer.

Her body was discovered two days later with a cord wrapped tightly around her neck.

"Notwithstanding her efforts to survive, the offender strangled her, which was extremely cruel," Justice Price said.

"The last minutes of her life must have been horrifying. This was a terrible way for the deceased to die."