- Macbook Air
- Surface Book
- Surface Pro
- Chromebook Pixel
- Thinkpad X Series
- Thinkpad T Series
- Thinkpad P Series
- Ideapad / Yoga
- Dell XPS
- Asus Zenbook
- System76 Lemur / Gazelle / etc
Feel free to share your overall evaluation (positive/negative), technical specs, anecdotes, etc.
Battery lasts for 5-6 hours. The laptop itself has survived intense use travelling through India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia, including having the corner of the screen melted by accident in the Himalayas.
Haven't found anything lightweight that works better than Lubuntu out of the box (trialed Xubuntu, Ubuntu, Debian, ElementaryOS and some Arch flavours). Getting a dual boot up and running was easy.
My work is mainly fullstack, so I sit mostly between a terminal and a browser. An effective configuration with a tiling window manager is a must with this size of screen and being a TMUX/Vim user helps cut down the number of workspaces I need.
Couldn't recommend it more for travelling programmers!
Pros: "it just works" (mostly, nowdays, :)), it seldom overheats/has the fan turn on, it makes a good impression (read: 'dress for success'), I like the screen size, its got enough RAM for me to run a couple VMs, Unix/terminal power.
Cons: Price. Accessories.
(And for the record, I use both a MBP and a Thinkpad. They're both good, in different ways.)
To be fair to the commenting system, we generally don't downvote comments just because we don't agree with them. We downvote them if they don't add to the general discussion. I think mine did add to what the immediate parent was discussing. Of course, you have the right to disagree to that, in which case you'd have downvoted it for the 'right reasons' :).
All I can say is "looks are deceiving" & "do not judge a book by its cover" or "do not judge a person by their appearance".
I adore this laptop, it runs like a constant stream of freshly melted butter. It's so light I no longer have to worry about "lugging a laptop", and most times I pick it up and carry around with just two fingers. It has taken a few beatings — filled backpack falling laptop-side-first onto a railing from a height of a half-metre, dropped/slipped from a sitting desk to the floor, thrown across a (small) room and (upon a failed catch) rolling on its side — but there's no sign of damage, either in appearance or running.
I almost forgot! When I got this laptop, my typing speed jumped by nearly 50%! I was using a Dell Inspiron (from 2010) before, and although the keyboard on it is terrible for typing, the ThinkPad has really good keys and typing is just such pleasure on it.
I have plans to upgrade a few components as time progresses: bump RAM up to 16GB, replace either the smartcard reader or the WWAN modem with an M2 SSD, that's about it.
One con is getting used to the extra long battery life. I used to intentionally and lazily not pack the charger, which is actually quite light, and then after a long day find myself with low battery and no charger. Another is the small SSD this particular unit came with, but I'm planning on replacing that.
Might be just the one I have but my keyboard, even after replacement, does not register some keys even when they're fully pressed (they have to be pressed further) and since I'm used to Apple's keyboard, I can't use it for more than a few minutes — It misses half the stuff I type.
> It has taken a few beatings — filled backpack falling laptop-side-first onto a railing from a height of a half-metre, dropped/slipped from a sitting desk to the floor, thrown across a (small) room and (upon a failed catch) rolling on its side
I have re-assembled this unit fully and having seen the hacked together inside of it, I highly suggest against physically abusing it.
As for mine, I bought the 16GB version and threw in a Sandisk Extreme Pro 480GB SSD and it's faster than a Ferrari. Overall I like it but in build quality department, it's in league with likes of Asus and Acer. It'll be my last Lenovo for sure.
> the hacked together inside of it
Could you elaborate on this? I have only seen videos, and it seemed quite tightly packed, but beyond that I didn't find anything hacky about it. I plan on opening up my unit, but from the Hardware Manintenance Manual, it seems very well put-together.
I've had the motherboard replaced twice and the keyboard once and their last technician incorrectly assembled the main board which put it under a lot of physical stress. So I don't actually trust them to repair it anymore.
As for the internals, there are a lot of parts and the cabling is all over the place. I think it feels steardy because it's lightweight — I would not do anything to twist or bend it the tiniest bit. Compared to a macbook, or even a dell/hp, the lenovo is on the fragile side in my opinion.
EDIT: and worst part is that inlet vents for the fan are on the bottom. So "lap"top? not really, it takes 5 min for the thing to start cooking after used on your lap.
Make sure you get an IPS display and not a TN one when you buy a ThinkPad. Matte's are better than glossy (IMO) and my screen is matte. The color range is not top-of-the-line, but it is certainly good. And the brightness, OMG! Only time I've ever had to go above 25% brightness was in direct sunlight.
It was a rough Linux install, ( noapic edd=off use a new kernel, Debian has the iwlwifi drivers in nonfree, don't use uefi, touchpad in legacy mode. I used both "grub>" and "grub-rescue>" before it was working) but it does just fine for OS development.
The display has such a narrow acceptable angle of view that you can't angle it to get the center and the top and bottom all with a decent black point at the same time. But I use it for programming, so that isn't too important.
I'm really pleased with the eSSD storage. It is much nicer than USB or SD card and supports ext4's discard option.
The power connector is optimized to fracture the solder connections.
This is my "where is cheap hardware" excursion. I tried repurposing a Chromebook into a computer, which was great until it failed to sleep, ran down its battery, and lost the setting that let it "legacy boot" then ate all my data in the restore operation. On the road, away from Internet and any synchronizing. Grr.
Most of my work is at a proper desktop with as many displays around as are helpful for the task, and I generally use a MacBook as my laptop, but I needed to rotate the extended family laptops a little faster than I wanted, so my wife was sharing mine, but she doesn't share well and I found myself with a laptop deficit until Intel can get a Skylake processor into Apple's hands and then they feel like having a rollout.
Are these low-end machines being used as hobbyist or frontend-only web development? I can't think of any other explanation.
To answer the original question: Thinkpad X220. i7. Maxed out RAM. It's no portable workstation but I can push it just as hard without worrying about it overheating or failing.
Many people have their dev environments sitting on remote hardware and ssh in. Terminal sessions or an IDE aren't that resource-intensive, and that's all you need.
For work I really use whatever workstation my employer provides me, but this is my main machine at home for entertainment and personal projects; I hardly power on my more poweful desktop.
Definitely the best machine I ever had: very light, still runs cool and completely silent when on battery power. It is not a speed monster, but it is still fast enough to browse even most complex websites (no webgl though). The screen is notoriously bad, but is more than enough for my needs.
I dropped it about 6 months ago, and it stopped working. After considering buying a replacement (you can get a refurbished x200 for ~100£) I thought maybe it was time to buy a new machine, and was eyeing a new XPS 13. Then that evening it powered on again (probably a loose RAM). Never had a problem since
Cost ~£750 from Dell's refurb store and can easily see it lasting anther 3 years. Bargain!
- Form factor is great for travelers. Since it's technically a tablet by TSA guidelines I don't have to take it out at security.
- screen resolution is excellent
- handles VS reasonably well
- battery life can be 5-6 hours with a local instance of tomcat and SQL running
- kickstand is kinda clumsy when I'm working in my lap
- high gloss screen
- loooong wake up time and it's easy to accidentally put it to sleep by hitting a button the side of the frame. This is my biggest complaint. It sometimes takes up to 10-15 seconds to come back up. This wouldn't be an issue but it is way too easy to accidentally put it to sleep. I've thought about disabling this button, it's enough of an annoyance.
This is my 3rd Macbook. I had a 2009 MBP, a 2012 MBP and now the mid 2014 retina. They're by far the best laptops I've ever owned. My only regret with my current laptop is I didn't max out the RAM when I bought it alongside the SSD.
When I'm at my desk it's plugged into a LG 34UM67 34'' 21:9 ultraWide monitor and I use a magic keyboard and magic trackpad 2.
Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5718slv; i5-4xxx, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD
Windows 10: Nuwen MinGW, IntelliJ for C++, Java development respectively
VirtualBox VM's: Ubuntu 15.10, CentOS 7
Pros: cost: $400; 1080p IPS screen; backlit keyboard!; reasonable battery life (4-5 hours?)
Cons: Windows 10 (I prefer Windows 8.1 (my last laptop)); slow HDD (planning to upgrade to SSD soon); fan is not silent
I know there's a strong case to be made for spending more $$$ on a better laptop since "[I] use it all the time" and I can easily afford it, but "parsimonious me" objects spending 2x-4x my $400 baseline price for a laptop that might perform 1.4x better.
This laptop replaced a 3 year old $400 Toshiba i3-3110 laptop with 8GB RAM; according to my benchmark (a clean parallel build of one of my C++ projects) the new is only 6% faster than the old. I think my upcoming SSD install will make a big difference.
And: I'm among the apparent minority of programmers who prefers and requires a keyboard with numeric (for me: cursor) keypad. This requirement "narrows the field" of candidate-laptops substantially.
Pros: lightweight, solid and extremely fast. Battery is good enough for me.
Cons: LTE module is abysmal. People say it is awful even on windows, let alone linux. Keyboard is non-standard, but I got used to it (expect for functional keys).
I almost nothing bad to say about this machine, in fact I love it. I run Windows and Linux VMs through VMWare Fusion for work and for personal development. It's nice having one machine to handle all of these tasks.
The one downside is that the battery life can be pretty low depending on what I have running on my Windows VM so I find myself taking my charger with me everywhere nowadays.
Edit: I purchased it refurbished and saved about $400. No issues whatsoever. It was indistinguishable from New save for the packaging which was just a plain white box shipped from Apple. I have AppleCare and have extended it beyond the initial 1 year warranty that came with the machine.
Best computer I've ever owned.
I can definitely say the same thing.
Regarding battery life, I am extremely impressed with the amount of use I can get out of it when using just OS X with no VMs running processes. ITunes is a battery hog, but most other uses will give me 6 hours at least, now 2+ years later.
It's pretty badass to type one shell script name that spins you up an supercomputer for a couple of hours.
The main issues I found with the X220 were:
- Heat and CPU Throttling with two 1080p monitors that can make it unusable
- Relatively high CPU usage by bad designed drivers and Lenovo applications (e.g: Synaptics)
- Completely terrible support for Bluetooth and USB 3 (e.g: Bluetooth headset unusable)
Touchpad isn't great but usable
lenovo is hard to trust
battery control with TLP utilities.
connectivity, VGA, full size Ethernet etc. (try giving a presentation with circa 2003 projectors)
I got about $2000 stipend for a machine and looking for something to buy. the X260 was my goto but it's botched. no USB-C for example. 12.5 is a tad small, 13" would be better. 16:10 or had 4:3 would be awesome but not available. looked at XPS friends who have it hate the Touchpad under Linux.
However, I had an incident where I needed a quick laptop and decided to buy a Lenovo Yoga 900.
Now, two months into using it, I am actually surprised with my decision and it's working fantastic. I'm glad I bought it.
I even wrote up a review about the laptop (http://www.danylkoweb.com/Blog/review-lenovo-yoga-900-13isk-...)
A very nice desktop replacement for me. So far I am loving this laptop. It is very fast and great as a development machine. I usually have MySQL, Tomcat, Eclipse IDE, Emacs, several Bash terminals and Chrome with many tabs open. Everything feels fast and fluid.
Weighs around 5.5 lbs and the power brick probably an extra lb. Not bad for a workstation class 15" machine.
The matte screen is good, but not amazing. The 1920x1080 resolution is perfectly adequate for a 15" screen. There is a higher end option with an IPS panel and G-Sync, but I didn't purchase that.
If I have one complaint, it is the battery life. I get 2 or 2.5 hours max on this laptop with light to medium use. I don't know if it is poor power management under Linux, but I think on Windows it uses Optimus switching for the dedicated graphics card. Since I use it mainly as a desktop replacement, this is not a deal breaker for me.
Speakers are loud and clear.
I have Steam installed and can run AAA games like "Shadow of Mordor" at Ultra settings with high frame rates. It is great for getting some game time when I travel.
If you are looking for a powerful Linux workstation which can also handle gaming this is a very nice choice.
I do a lot with this computer, software development, PCB design, photo processing, CAD, and gaming(only reason for Windows). It's not out of the question that I would be running a full server VM, debugging a micro controller, and doing live data analysis at the same time. So I've come to appreciate power.
Even though this is quite a machine, I have performance issues in some applications. A lot of it boils down to the INSANE way that dedicated GPUs are handled today. Nvidia prime is the worst thing on my system. I like to describe it like this, using the Intel GPU is like driving a Mazda Miata, it feels fast and nimble but give it a load and it will just crawl. Switching prime to the Nvidia card is like driving a semi truck, it's not great at the little things but it can plow it's way through really intense stuff. DraftSight runs horribly on the Intel GPU but excellently on the Nvidia. But the window composition with the Nvidia card it terrible, lack of repainting the screen, vsync issues, and general slowness. It's very frustrating. My next laptop purchase will have to be something like a desktop GTX 980 in a laptop so I can avoid prime at all costs.
This may be resolved in a newer release of Ubuntu. I am version locked right now thanks to TI's 32bit Eclipse based IDE Code Composer Studio being a dependency nightmare on newer versions of Ubuntu. I'll find out later this year when they finally release a native 64bit version.
Haven't had any major (or even minor) issues. I've enjoyed using the trackpad (and learning about it, sometimes by accident!) and the backlit keyboard is nice when I would use it outside in the evening. Light and very portable, far more comfortable on my lap than my previous machines. Only real complaint is the lack of a cd/dvd drive.
For my day job I have a PC Specialist Cosmos IV (https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/notebooks/cosmosIV-15/) maxed out with a Full HD IPS screen, 16gb, SSD & traditional disks and it is currently running Windows 8.1. It's a good PC replacement and I have used PC Specialist for about 10 years for work laptops. I have to say this is the first one I have had some concerns about as the keyboard is wearing out after 18 months. My first one from them lasted through 4 years at my first start-up where I was using it 6 days a week 12 hours a day.
· works nicely with Linux whatever kernel build is used,
· UEFI is optional and it can be manually configured without hassle
· acceptable battery life under light load (~5 hours) but dual-core i7 can perform reasonably well if the power draw is not a concern,
· a nice FullHD screen with fine brightness adjustment (I prefer my screen to have the same brightness as a sheet of paper next to it — this is darker than many screens' minimal settings)
· after third time warranty-replacing HDD I gave up and bought a similar one from a different manufacturer
· slightly too small at 13.3 inch — a larger screen plus larger battery plus larger keyboard would be nice…
I recently put it on the edge of a bed in a wrong way and it fell onto a plugged USB extension cable — the cable apparently suffered more than the notebook, which is nice.
I love how ThinkPad can enable the workflow of working anywhere and when returning home, just dock it and the charger is already plugged in the dock so that you don't have to struggle with any cable when you're tired, it works out of the box.
I do essentially full stack work but sometimes I do drastically different stuff (security, pentesting, low-level optimization, science, etc...)
My next laptop would still be a Lenovo for sure. But I definitely look forward to Dell XPS capabilities.
Anecdote: A day, my ThinkPad X230 had better 3G coverage than my XIAOMI RedMi Note 3 phone. I mean, I had Internet on my computer, but not on my phone. That was funny.
* Great 1080p screen
* Great form factor
* No apparent incompatibilities with Linux
* Keyboard is fairly good
* Fast despite its fairly low-power CPU
* Battery life
* Track pad isn't great
* Some small dents appeared on the body of the laptop after only a few months (never dropped it or anything)
* A small bright spot has appeared on the bottom of the screen
Although I have a few negatives listed I believe the positives far outweigh them. I have really enjoyed using this laptop for development.
As far as development goes, I have a dual-boot of Arch Linux and Windows 10. I primarily do Go and Python in Arch, and C/C++ in Windows.
I apologize in advance if the formatting of this post is messed up. First time posting on here. :)
There is no other better laptop to do programming or other development in the world!
The keys are soft and silent, has grooves in keys for smooth feeling. Touchpad is sensitive enough to be used without a mouse, I have the VERY important middle key, and left-right click, on 2 places
The build feels solid - despite being plastic, this thing is heavy, its not a toy, it cant be accidently moved on the desk while typing or connecting other devices. There are no stupid led lights everywhere shining up in my face, all the led indicator lights are soft white color. The screen can be tilted anyway, is not glossy. Overall the best computer to work on ever.
The insides are i7 quad core with 32gb of memory, dual graphics cards, an intel and nvidia for gaming.
* Power management and wifi are usable if you can live with needing a couple of tries to unlock and having to 'connect to hidden' to get wifi working. Battery life seems to be the same awake and asleep (not in a good way).
* Keyboard is 10% too small for adult hands.
* touchpad is constantly moving cursor while I type
* touchscreen support spotty, no touchpad scrolling
* typecover keyboard is unusable without a perfectly flat table (i.e. tough luck on trains, airplanes, your lap, or uneven tables)
* high-glare coating on the glass screen was a design mistake by MS, but on the bright side I can see people coming up from behind me. A normal solution to glare is to tilt the inwards of vertical, but the kickstand makes that impossible.
I loved that machine.
Now at work I'm stuck with a Latitude W series. While certainly powerful, it barely qualifies as portable. I hate it.
I'm considering getting a 13" MacBook Pro, for myself, whenever they announce an upgraded model this year.
I wrote a bit about it here: http://josephdaigle.me/2015/12/03/search-for-ultimate-dev-la...
Downsides: we have found nasty clang and gcc bugs on darwin only lately. Having to use dsymutil sucks, but if you use it it works as on Linux. ranlib sucks. A bit more integration needed, as on windows with similar gyrations.
Plus there is support for Adobe software and MS Products if you need to run those.
Lots of people doing this very thing, on a regular basis. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
Seems to me like SSH+tmux can be a dev's best friend.
But the portabiliy and usability of the Dell XPS13 is hard to beat. It took me a long time to get the money together for it and the only thing I regret is maybe not waiting a couple of months for Skylake. But I have no speed issues, even with just 4gb RAM. It's faster than my desktop at home.
Current: MBP 2012
Works fine. Upgraded to SSD and 16GB ram.
DVD player stoppped working.
Trackpad needs adjustment and/or replacement.
I run OSX and virtualize everything else.
Would buy a MBP as next machine if I can upgrade (none of that soldered on parts).
Ready to give up on it around 2 years ago, just seeming slower and slower, I installed a very minimal OS (Ubuntu, but the 40MB USB installer) then added Gnome 3. Great decision. The machine is now very pleasurable, far more than my work PC. I do most development remotely.
Low end Lenovos tend to have quite poor batteries, compared to higher end ThankPads or Macbooks. They seem good at the beginning, but degrade after just a few months.
Pros: Cheap, Effective, runs Linux without an issue [ I'm a fan of full disk encryption ], and reliable
Cons: Keyboard is a little small, Trackpad is slightly more annoying than others I've used
I got this with 8GB ram and 500GB hdd, I can work on it for 5-6 hrs before the battery runs out but the charger is very light. This thinkpad weighs around 1.2 KG's and it's easy to carry and the keyboard feels great when typing.
If I have to buy a new laptop I would try Lenovo X1 Carbon (the 2016 one, with skylake processor )
EDIT: I got this on ebay for $380 with 2 years onsite warranty, so keep an eye on ebay listings.
Pros: It's a great machine compatible with Linux. The price isn't too bad.
Cons: The battery is screwed in so it's not easily swappable. The 1920x1080 display is inferior to the 1920x1200 display on my 8 year-old Dell XPS M1530.
Regarding their general commitment to linux support: frankly, I don't know. Everything just worked out of the box (besides the Broadcom WIFI, which gave me a hard time), so I have not spent much time to investigate this further.
The day there is a Laptop with specs comparable to the Apple MBP (in terms of battery life, build quality, screen resolution etc.) that runs a major Linux distro out of the box with full hardware support and no pain in the ass, i am switching.
Until I can afford a new laptop.
Simply it gives the expected performance, always.
In the past i had HP notebooks, they were good but not excellent.
Mbp costs more that it should compared to other notebooks, but i think it's one of the best machine out there.
It runs 2 big monitors, 3 if you count the laptop screen.
More dependable in my experience than Think Pads.
I can get another one in a day if this one breaks or gets stolen.
Has NVidia GPU for running Cuda.
Can anyone suggest a good laptop / setup for this?
Is there really nobody that went for the 16GB RAM version who can speak about the experience?
Also: you probably want to use https://github.com/raphael/linux-samus to get started.
Obviously a 128GB SSD would've been preferable, but I think this strategy will work out.
I can confirm that Sandisk's 64GB microSD extreme pro is TRIMable on a raspberry pi.
Love almost anything about it. Have about 6 hours of work without charging, it's lightweight and very comfortable for me.
Got a work machine to upgrade from my 2011 13" MacBook Pro, and the extra screen space really helps with multitasking, but it sure is a lot heavier than the 13".
Next one will be Thinkpad P... (in a few years)
I like it. I'm a back-end web developer(php, node.js, python) that likes using Windows. Everyone else at work is on Macs.
Unfortunately I chose a Lenovo X1 Carbon - I personally think this was a mistake - despite its build quality it is not very performant.
Yesterday I had to connect to a new Canon scanner. The standard Ubuntu SANE package did not have the driver, but the Ubuntu PPA package did, and it worked without a hitch off the PPA.
I have been very happy with it for my purposes. I should probably increase the space bar sensitivity. Also, the 15.10 upgrade went well, except Firefox became more crash-prone so it took a little fiddling to fix that.
I have been happy with the battery life as well, it is much better than their models from years before.
People just do not know what they miss out on, using those stupid Asus Zenbooks (wife has one), and MacBook Pros, jesus, how can those things be called "laptops" or considered good enough for working on!?
HackerNewsers, try Dell Precision workstation series, seriously.
old 13" macbook air 2012 for weekend trips (this was my primary until it got a little too sluggish for daily use)
the air is still much easier to travel with which is why i take it when i don't need full horsepower on the road. the small difference in weight makes a huge difference when lugging it around. both are ssd.
Absolutely love everything about it. The charger, the backlit keyboard, the El-Capitan OS, everything. Everything about this machine is beautiful.
I think it is the best value for money if you are looking for a laptop.
The only thing I miss is my mechanical keyboard. But the trackpad makes up for it, to an extent..