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Ask HN: What laptop should I get instead of a Macbook Pro?
94 points by qntty on Oct 28, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 111 comments
I was waiting for the new MBP to buy a laptop, but the recent announcement left me cold. What laptops have you found to be comparable in build quality to MBP? It looks like HP Elitebooks and Asus Zenbooks might be possible candidates. Are Lenovos worth considering post-superfish-gate?

I mean, not for nothing, but you do know you can still buy the old style MBP with 2x usb3 and an hdmi port, right? You don't have to get the new style ones that they announced.

That said, I hear you. I wanted a 32gb model with crazy good battery life also, but to be honest, Windows laptops are kind of all shit right now. I'm in the exact same boat as you. I hate the new MBPs and need a new laptop soon, BUT I'm still landing on the old style MBP as the way forward every time I look through the available options.

Probably not much help, but that's my 2 cents.

e: that said I am going to keep refreshing this thread and hope someone mentions something I haven't looked at yet.

razer has some laptops with 32gb if you want to check them out.

I actually just replied to another comment saying I actually might give razer a more serious look. My initial impression a few years back was all their stuff was over priced gimmicks with unique color schemes as their only selling point, but recently that opinion has changed as I realize some of their stuff is actually pretty quality.

I assume that if you considered an Apple product, you expect portability, so...

If you want to spend a similar amount of money, get the Asus UX390UA (Zenbook 3). 1) It's lighter 2) It's got better components in every single aspect -> CPU, GPU, SSD size, Screen, keyboard, etc., etc.... 3) It's actually cheaper STILL

If you want to spend less, but now around the same performance of a MBP, maybe get the Asus UX330. It's basically a toned-down UX390, but still awesome.

If you want a cheaper STILL, consider a Clevo reseller like PCSpecialist (UK), Scan (Everywhere?), Sager (US), XMG (Europe). They are the ultimate in performance per cost, it's just that they tend to not be the most asthetically pleasing.

Wow those asus ones look like straight copies of the macbook, but with better hardware. Pretty impressive!

As an add-on question: how can one figure out if a laptop supports Precision Touchpad rather than trying to emulate a mouse with the trackpad? Does Precision Touchpad actually make Windows trackpad usable and enjoyable like the Mac ones? Is Precision Touchpad supported by Linux distros?

This was one of the reasons I returned the xps 13 I bought. As nice of a computer as it was, I found the touchpad to be very frustrating to use vs my mac air.

I can seccond that. Had an XPS 15 whichs sports an etched-glass trackpad that still sucks so much I barely used it.

Yeah, windows laptops have always been shit (considering MS never made hardware early on, until recently), MS has done some blunders in past as well (remember Vista and Win8).

But it does learn from its mistake, the new Surface line-up is epic. http://mashable.com/2016/10/27/microsoft-better-apple

I have been using a Windows laptop for over 5 years (Yeah a Lenovo!) and have went thru the whole upgrade from Windows 7 --> Windows 10.1 Anniversary update (for free), and to much shame of mine, my b!@#ch of a laptop still doesn't cry considering a boot up time of 6 seconds!

Yet I needed a dedicated Unix environment and although Bash is available natively now on Windows, it's not going to be stable soon enough for me (6 months from now maybe, Creators Update is coming in Jan' 2017). So, a week ago I did buy the MBP retina 13" Early 2015, and trust me I am not disappointed, after last night's #AppleEvent.

I might be biased but coming down to your query: > Are Lenovos worth considering post-superfish-gate?


"based on my personal experience".

Oops I forgot to mention, you should clean install Windows 10 on Lenovo, i never liked the crapware that they gave, the hardware does have a great shelf life.

I'm very happy with my XPS 13, great build quality, great battery life, new hardware, tiny screen borders(resulting in a tiny laptop) and linux support.

Which version? I've got XPS 13 9350 and it's been a constant pain. Boot time is very slow [0], bluetooth connectivity is weak, I've got constant graphic glitches when on battery. Latest update of the video driver introduced annoying coil noise, I had to downgrade. Actually I have two XPS 13s at home and both of them have some issues.

I'm also using Dell Thunderbold Dock TB15 and it drops video output and USB connections after 3h (because of heat) [1].

Of course I've got everything updated.

I had an excellent experience with XPS 12 years ago but this 9350 is constantly driving me crazy. I would certainly not recommend it.

[0]: http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/p/...

[1]: http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/p/...

I have XPS 13 with Linux but consider installing Windows and using Linux in VM. The external display support is terrible, WiFi speed is halve or even less than one gets under Windows and touchpad is rather imprecise and often misses taps. This is with Ubuntu 14.04 or 16.04. I also tried Fedora 25 beta few days ago. That seems to work better, but still hardware works worse than under Windows.

Also, the display is too reflective. It was a mistake to go with 3200 resolution.

XPS 13 seems to refer to a pretty large number of completely different computers manufactured by dell (some of which of some pretty serious issues).

I had the skylake version of this and returned it in two weeks. It was a nice little computer but had a lot of weird issues.

I should've done the same. After 8 months of having it it still has a lot of very weird issues. I hoped Dell would somehow fix it with a firmware update but nope... everything is still the same.

Same here, haven't seen any of the issues that people are reporting below, dual booted with Arch and Ubuntu, runs like a dream.

I am extremely happy with my Lenovo ThinkPad X1. It is beautiful, powerful, and is pure joy to use.

Dell XPS 13 is also a very good alternative, I've heard.

Lenovo X1 has no Thunderbolt 3 ports (not a single port), Dell XPS laptops have widely known coil whine problem. So not the best choice.

For those wishing to run Linux, which of laptops require no (or minimal, I suppose) closed source firmware? I tend to prefer Debian sans non-free but I'm practical enough to just weight that as one factor among many.

Clevo reseller?

We'll the Macbook Pro 2015 is still a decent machine. We should expect to see some discounts as it phases out in the following weeks.

In the spirit of "teach a man to fish" I'll plug this handy resource for consumer electronics that I think makes very trustworthy and good recommendations. [1]

And they have an entire article devoted to the topic of laptops. [2]

[1] http://thewirecutter.com/

[2] http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/what-laptop-should-i-buy-th...

Unfortunately they ignore Linux as far as I could tell on a quick browse. Having Linux work with the hardware out of the box (more or less) is crucial.

Surprised to see no mention of the excellent Latitude E7450 and E7470 and the Latitude E5450 and E5470.

Run Linux beautifully, if you care about that.

agreed, the 7000 series machines, while not having the pretty factor of the XPS are much better professional machines. Thinkpads and Latitudes are basically all that is left of that machine class. I could be biased against the EliteBook tho

They are heavy, that's why :)

For work, you need that easy-to-carry-in-a-shoulder-bag thing

There's like a 100g difference between my E7470 (14 inches, touchscreen, i7, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM) and the new 13 inch MacBook Pro.

The 15 inches MBP weights 30% MORE than my E7470.

Are you sure about the weight?

I couldn't be more happy with the little beast. Even though I was happy with my previous X1 Carbon (4k touchscreen, 8GB); this one feels way snappier under Win 10.

I would get a MBair or the last gen MBpro that is still for sale, I can't use any other track pads for starters and for development I love OSX.

I plan to get another MBair or maybe the new MBpro without the touch bar. I might go for the touch bar but right now it just doesn't interest me but I'll go in and try one out, read reviews and see how it's integrated with software I use.

I would still stick with a macbook.

I was hoping there would be more commentary on the Lenovo superfish situation as it stands today. This is exactly my concern with purchasing from them.

Wasn't superfish limited to consumer devices, i.e. not Thinkpads?

Yes, but there were a number of security-related incidents discovered afterwards that affected even the Thinkpads:


Doesn't matter to me. If they did that to 'consumers' I don't trust them even if I am a 'professional'. Ethics are not selectively applied.

The arguement that they would never be stupid enough to do that to big corporate customers doesn't help me because I am not a big corporate customer.

Thinkpad is sort of a separate company within Lenovo. That's why Lenovo says "we have headquarters in Beijing, China and Morrisville, North Carolina, U.S."

- Dell XPS 13

- Thinkpad x250 (x260 has PWM issues)

- 4th Gen Thinkpad x1 Carbon (FHD model to avoid screen lottery)

- Thinkpad x1 Carbon Yoga (OLED)

- Refurbished 2015 Macbook Pro

Do you know if refurbished Macs commonly have scuff marks or other wear?

I bought a refurbished Mac Pro and it looked new to me. Has worked well so far and I never could tell the difference between a brand new and the refurbished one. Saved almost $400 compared to a brand new one. I say go for a refurbished one.

Apple replaces the outer shell during the refurb process. Every Apple refurb I've ever seen was cosmetically perfect - these are the same units they use for warranty replacements.

I have never bought any. But colleagues swear they are "like new".

Hm. Might get a maxed out refurbished 2015 Macbook, seems like it's around $500 cheaper.

I've purchased two certified refurbished Macs, a MacBook Air in 2012 and a Retina MacBook Pro in 2015. Both were cosmetically new.

I've been using a "refurb" Macbook Air 13 for the last 3.5 years. It was scuff-free when I bought it and it's been great so far. I've started running into some issues now such as battery health and the fan going on for extended periods of time since the last OS update.

I bought a refurbished MacBook Pro over 6 years ago now. It was in perfect condition. My 2010 model is still going strong. When I bought it they had upgraded for free the RAM to 8GB and gave me the 7200 RPM drive as a nice surprise.

I got my 2014 13" rMBP refurbished and saved about $200 that way, and it looks identical to my brother's new model he got a few months later.

Mine was pristine. I'm pretty sure they replace the battery and the case (if need be), so it always appears new.

Usually not, most come from Apple's 2 week free open box return window

4th Gen Thinkpad x1 Carbon

Picked up one of these a couple months ago. Nice little machine for sure, especially if you are addicted to Trackpoints.

I am using HP Spectre x360. Really close to MBP 13". Never actually used the tablet mode. Bonus points for hassle-free linux experience.

I am surprised that most of these posts tend to gather recommendation for dell, and very few people mention the spectre which to me seems great and is on my shortlist of laptops to get when my old macbook finally kicks the can

How are you finding it in linux? does everything work well?

[edit] my perception of the x360 was based on the older models, after reading this[1] on the stylus issues on the newer ones I am starting to wonder now


I've been using it since December 2015, and for the most part everything was working nicely. The issues I had would be present on any other laptop running linux, so it's not related only to this one:

- Hi-DPI still deserves some love, especially if you're using different DPI on different screens (e.g an external 4k display), although ubuntu gnome seems to handle it better than plain ubuntu and definitely better than xubuntu.

- Tablet mode is funny: orientation sensors don't work well, keyboard & touchpad are not autodisabled in tablet mode, but then again it's not my use-case, so I just disabled all those features.

- (ok this one is a flaw of this particular laptop): When the display lid is closed, the touchpad is not auto-disabled, which results in weird mouse movement and clicks, since the lid presses on it. I had to hook an X-event with a script to disable the touchpad input device when the lid is closed.

Other than that - everything works flawlessly.

I agree the Spectre looks good, and I'd be delighted to find it's reliable, but I've had too many incidents with HP over the last 15 years or so to feel confident... Whether it's my own kit or fixing that bought by others (friends & family). But perhaps it's time to give them a shot again

Updated HP Spectre x360 looks very promising, probably the best Macbook competitor for now, I wrote some related details there https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12816033

Same here, I just picked up the latest iteration with Kaby Lake (released this month) with maxed out specs, for only $1300. Just aesthetically it has to be one of the nicest looking laptops I've seen.

I installed Arch Linux for dual-booting, which was definitely hassle-free as you said. The convertible/tablet mode works great in Windows, but I haven't gotten it to work well on Linux (need to disable the keyboard & trackpad). But I can develop in Linux, then reboot and browse the web or watch a movie.

Some Arch Linux related info https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php?title=HP_Spectre_x360_4... Though it's about previous Spectre generation.

Most of my colleagues on our SRE/devops team have Lenovos and swear by them. I have a System76 and I wish I could recommend it. Great system software packaging, decent mainboard and display, horrible keyboard, touchpad and case quality. I'd go with a Dell or Lenovo for my next one.

I am going for two computers. Server and budget Asus ultrabooks with touch support. This should be ideal for me. I will not invest in high end laptops or All in One because upgrading them isn't so smooth but whereas desktop (especially servers) are built for long term use with option to upgrade any time.

I have heavily relied on Microsoft Remote desktop in past and my experience has been smoother for task like running and computing in MatLab or Mathematica.

I have also been thinking of getting Razor blade pro laptop if this setup does not work out. They have 2 TB PCie SSD with RAID 0. That's insane in less than one inch thick laptop.


Switched to a MS Surface Book after nearly a decade with Macbooks. Reasoning:

1) Powerhouse specs (core i7, 16gb ram, 512gb SSD, nvidia GeForce) for running pretty much anything

2) Convertable to tablet for casual browsing, watching videos and drawing

3) Super accurate pen and touch support, pen acts like a mouse so can be used for OS level interactions not just specific apps, even hover works

4) Pen mounts to screen magnetically

5) Can be used like a traditional laptop on your lap

6) Beautiful 3000x2000 pixel display, higher DPI than retina with a 3:2 aspect ratio

7) Windows 10 with all the patches is actually a decent OS and supports all form factors, touch etc.

It's really nice to be able to do creative work, everyday work and gaming all on the same system. Currently playing Overwatch with no issues!

I would recommend a Surface Book. Even if you don't plan to use it as a tablet at all it still beats every other laptop on the market. Initially it had a lot of issues but now they have been fixed and it really is amazing.

How's the linux support on it? Even if I got over the my frustrations with the windows desktop user-experience, not being unix-like is an absolute no-go for development.

Ubuntu is built into Windows 10

I don't think Bash on windows is a valid replacement for a full Linux setup. Nor does it indicate hardware compatibility for Linux on that machine. That being said, I believe that Linux runs with minimal issues on it. (https://www.reddit.com/r/SurfaceLinux/comments/4gjx8g/ubuntu...)

it's not just Bash, it's Ubuntu minus Linux, including binary compatibility. bit-for-bit, checksum-for-checksum Ubuntu ELF binaries running directly in Windows. all of Ubuntu user space.

Does WSL implement all the Linux system calls now? The last time I looked at it, there was no support for PTYs and maybe ptrace? There was also some limitation related to running GUI programs.

It's still lacking a fair bit of low-level stuff, but hopefully that's on the way.

its not Linux, its Ubuntu minus linux. It translates Linux system calls to the Windows kernel, like reverse wine.

I think I speak for a lot of people here when I say that good Linux support is extremely important. I'm not convinced the surface book has that.

I tried the Zenbook for a year, but the GPU didn't listen to sleep/lid close events even after trying several fresh kernels, the Wifi wakeup on linux sucks compared to macos (even with the mDNSresponder desaster), the trackpad was much worse. In the end it burnt/overheated because of the overheated GPU. The casing was also too edgy, I constantly did hurt myself with the right hand.

A fully upgraded MacBook Air is still the best. (i7, 500GB HD, 16GB RAM) I got several of them.

Lenovo is too heavy to carry around. Even a MBP is too heavy and bulky for me. The Elitebook has no 500GB HD available and also only 16GB RAM.

I have never seen a 16GB MacBook Air for sale. Please advise?

Oops, you are right. I thought I got 16, but only got 8.

    Macbook Air (13-inch, Early 2014)
    Processor 1.7 HGz Intel Core i7
    Memory 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5000 1536 MB
    Storage  APPLE SSD SM0512F 500.28 GB

Chromebook and SSH into a REAL computer ;)

on a serious note, look at Aorus X5, I like the RGB keyboard. you can get it to colour the keys based on context. could be a nice alternative to the overpriced touchscreen of the new macbooks.

> Chromebook and SSH into a REAL computer ;)

These threads have surprised me, because I figured most developers (or at least the web-focused ones that seem to be common on HN) would only need a browser and a shell. Instead, there is talk of needing 32GB of RAM. Wow.

Not everyone is a web dev :)


But there are a lot of developers whose work could be done on a remote machine, and I wonder if those people still prefer to work locally, and if so... why?

It's entirely possible that the complaints/calls for beast-machines don't come from any of those people at all.

I think there's a market for a localised CI machine or localised dev server that developers can log into which is beefy enough to do tasks at fractions of the time a devs machine would run at. Ideally it could have and IDE that runs on the server designed for collaboration.

One use case is you do work onsite and there's no Internet. Like defence industry or you work on ships.

You don't mention if Linux support is vital to your search. It would be good to know, since there are plenty of great Windows ultrabooks that are not-so-great if you're planning to load Linux onto them.

There are 4 laptops I'd buy right now (if I could):

- Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW (15.6")

- MacBook Pro 2016 (15.6")

- Dell XPS (13" or 15")

- Lenovo X1 Carbon

If you don't like the MacBook Pro (or think it's too expensive), then I'd go with the ZenBook Pro.

I got a Asus Zenbook UX32vd a few years and I'm still very satisfied. Good Linux support and a nice screen and keyboard. The mouse pad could be more responsive though.

Razer has a 14" laptop that looks really nice, if you can look a little past the color scheme.


They also have a 17" and a 12.5" laptop, but you're probably looking for something in between 13 and 15.

I'm in the same market. I have a late 2013 Macbook Pro and there is ZERO chance I'm buying a modern 15" MBP. The Touch Bar is offensive to the point that I'll put up with Windows instead.

I've actually been more and more impressed with Razer lately. At first I was totally against their stuff claiming they were over charging for "cool colored" stuff that was the same or worst than their alternatives (which was true at the time), but I've slowly started using some of their stuff and it is actually pretty nice. And the new stuff they're putting out seems like it actually might be top of the line stuff and worth the price.

That said, I have no idea if this laptop is any good, I just wanted to mention my feelings toward the company as a whole because I know a lot of people like me who think of all their stuff as over priced normal stuff with "cool color schemes".

What's the battery life on Razer Blade? One thing I like about Macbooks is that, for some reason, they can work in dusty environment and still stay silent(ish) after that. That's especially true for Macbook Air.

how's the touch bar offensive?

I am using the Dell Precision 5510, it is really nice.


Comes pre-installed with either Windows or Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Also comes with Thunderbolt over USB type-c so you can charge and hook up your peripherals over 1 cable.

I think this is the sleeper laptop in this thread. I scoured and scoured for a laptop with a 15" footprint, nice large matte screen, and not 4k (for reasons obvious when considering running Linux painlessly still - and the fact that I really didn't want a 4k screen from a battery life consideration).

I started down the path of Lenovo since I've had decent success in the past. I literally ordered a P50 the day you could order them. Ended up getting rid of it (long story in itself) because I found the Linux support of it was just downright bad. The laptop is a dream on paper (I had an i7 with 64GB of RAM) but running Linux on it in a workspace that includes multiple monitors was just a ridiculous challenge day after day. For one - multi-monitor support is very broken in the firmware when running on the Intel GPU. This may have been addressed by now, but it was a royal PitA trying to get to a working setup that was frictionless in my work cycle. The TL;DR of it was I wanted the NVidia there for a few things I'd use a few times a month - but 99% of my workflow would be done with Intel GPU. Also I've found that the newer Lenovo units have quality control issues. While the P50 was decent, it felt cheap (in my personal opinion) for a workstation class laptop. The plastic (even though Mil grade) is long in the tooth, especially when compared to a lot of the premium chassis experience you get with a lot of other laptops.

If you look here: http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/555/campaigns/xps-linux-lapt...

You'll find all of the Dell laptops that have a good indication of Linux support.

I really liked the 5510 on paper, but couldn't find any solid experience reviews with regard to Linux. So I took a risk and bought a refurb unit off eBay that had a full warranty to save a few bucks in case it wasn't what I expected.

The laptop I got was certified refurb from Dell and I will say I didn't start off on the right foot for the first two months. The 5510 would shut off if you picked it up. Yep, that's right. So I opened a ticket with Dell and they offered on-site or remote repair. The way it was presented it sounded like remote repair would be faster so I sent it in. Got it back in a few days and same thing. Literally Dell stated they replaced the mainboard and "tested". Clearly the person fixing it didn't read or actually do anything (hindsight I should have documented the original mainboard prior to sending).

Then the email and phone tag back and forth with Dell. They originally stated that they would replace the entire system if they repaired it and the same issue persisted, so I held them to that asking for a total system replacement (thinking it would speed up my road to a usable system).

First blunder: they send me an "upgraded" 5510 with the 4k screen. I don't want the 4k screen I tell Dell. They state that it's an upgrade. I argue it's not and oh by the way after actually booting it the screen has a nice blue blemish right in the middle of it about the size of a quarter - so it's broken anyway (this was not a refurb unit but brand new).

I tell Dell to send me a 1080p version of the 5510. They state they don't make them anymore. I argue you can buy them online still - really? Really Dell?

Miraculously after 2 months from start to finish another refurb 1080p version of 5510 shows up (no warning from Dell). It's refurb and it works. I'm happy.

Now that I have it - it's great. The Linux support is awesome, the screen is awesome (XPS "borderlesss" type screen). But the part I really wanted was the RAM support beyond 16GB. There's just no reason to not support 32 or 64 with the advent of 16GB sticks these days. The 5510 supports 32, so I have a nice Linux laptop with 32GB of RAM, a generally new proc (Skylake), 1 x USB type-C, 2 x USB 3, SD card slot, and full HDMI. I did buy a type-C breakout (Ethernet & HDMI) and it does work, but I've found it to be flaky at times. Although since the latest distribution kernel (Ubuntu MATE 16.04) it's been fine.

I do hate the trackpad and wish Dell would put some pointers on laptops. The feel of the trackpad is good and with some tweaks it's generally usable. Disabling soft left and right keys should be the default, stupid annoying and you have to just run a script at boot since there's nowhere to disable it permanently in the OS. It's also too high against the bottom of the keyboard and mouse focus becomes an issue if you're not the type of person who is 100% diligent about having wrists off keyboard. Now maybe this is a good thing because it's really forced me to type in a more appropriate manner. But very awkward when you're not used to it.

Build quality (sans the first units) is great. The chassis is rock solid, the hinge is a bit too tight for single hand opening though. But no flex in either the screen or the keyboard. Not too heavy or large (compared to the P50). All around far better physical construction in my opinion having owned both. I also like the keyboard on the Dell better. The P50 is off center and just odd. I'm sure you get used to it though.

So... TL;DR of the whole experience? * Tried a Lenovo P50, did not work with my workflow due to firmware / BIOS issues with multi-display support under Linux and Intel GPU * Tried a Dell 5510, horribly QA. After third 5510 finally have a unit that works appropriately. Dell support is frustrating. Trackpad is the main nuisance, but not a deal breaker. Nice hardware and physical build quality. Battery life is easily 9+ hours during normal usage for me. Currently typing this from and at 93% charge it states 10 hours remaining. Probably not quite that since any video playback does impact that - but it will definitely get you through a half day easily and a full day if you're not leveraging heavy CPU.

edit: wrong word

I would recommend the Dell XPS 13.

Maingear's Pulse lineup is worth looking at. I got mine with an Nvidia 980M and 4K display and love it. They recently updated the line and offer it with a GTX 1060 too.

Not quite as thin and light as a Macbook Pro, but not far off: 17.5mm and 4 lbs.


As for me the only decent laptops on the market are HP Spectre x360 (second generation, recently updated, comes with Kaby Lake) and Acer TravelMate P648. Unfortunately not the Dell XPS laptops due to the widely known coil whine problem and in general a quality control issue.


I just got a T460s, and am super happy with my Arch Linux setup.

The build quality definitely isn't as good as Apples. I had to return my first T460s due to severe light-bleed issues. The new one is fine, though the TrackPoint isn't as good as it was in previous generations. The TrackPad also is not as good as Apples, though I try to keep a keyboard-only workflow so it's not that much of an issue (till it is)

I just got one from System76. I like it a lot so far.


(I got a lemur)

Looks like a Clevo reseller. Btw. the Schenker S306 looks like a neat machine for the money.

Have no personal experience with any of following laptops, but there is a list of laptops with Nvidia 1060: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/11702-laptops-nvidia-1060/ There are even laptops with less than 2kg weight

I got a Macbook Pro 2 months ago. Was dreading the announcement as I thought I might have buyer's remorse. Nope.

The gentoo wiki has a guide cross posted from thinkwiki on used thinkpad shopping which might be useful:


T460. Install Ubuntu. Install powertop and tlp. Run powertop to make sure its happy with the settings on your machine. With the extended battery this setup will get > 10 hours battery life (for programming workloads) and is near silent with an excellent keyboard.

I am a dev who needs to travel light. I was looking for an alternative to the MBP in the MS world. I found it: the Lenovo X1 Carbon. Pros: light, well finished, classic design, technical specs, keyboard is a dream. Cons: some crapware to remove

Thinkpad P50 - 4K screen, Xenon CPU, 64 GB Memory in a supprisingly nimble package.

Wasn't aware of the p50 (or p70) - too heavy (and expensive) for what I want in a laptop - but aside for price I really like the 4k screen paired with 8 hours of battery use. Some more info for others here:


I recently bought a mid-range (according to autocorrect: mild-mannered) ms Surface pro 4, and I am reasonably happy with it.

I don't think I'll ever own a regular laptop again - high resolution touch screen with real pen is the only sane graphical environment - something I suspected before I got my Surface (I mean this is not a new idea, it's basically a "dynabook" logically expanded for touch/pen) - and I now feel I've confirmed that it is.

Maybe the 360/tent design will win out - I tried a yoga 3, and found the keyboard to be surprisingly bad. Much worse than on my old thinkpad t420s. More importantly it's actually rather nice to be able to have the device (sp4) become a reasonably light tablet for reading (comics or books) and drawing/taking notes with the pen.

I love the old IBM thinkpad keyboard so much that I bought one for my desktop. Still works great, but the lack of windows keys is a bit painful in win10. And even in Linux - having a dedicated window manager hot-key other than ctrl/alt (meta) is convenient.

Having also played with a Dell xps 13, I think I would've gotten a Dell xps 15 if I were to get a regular laptop today. The 13 is nice, but it being so small I think the 15 would be great. The xeon thinkpad looks a bit heavy (and expensive).

The lenovo yoga 900 got good reviews - also for the keyboard - but so did the yoga 3. And I couldn't use the 3 for daily programming etc. The surface 4 keyboard is surprisingly good - currently I've been using it in mostly short burts - but I've also written a few lines of code on it - and for me it's good enough. I'm not aware of any other new device with a better keyboard.

I would actually like a water/rainproof device - I guess maybe the surface 5 will be that (hey we need some perks for a needlessly locked down cabinet). And I wish they'd put in a battery three times as big. There are also minor glitches - typical Pc/windows stuff - it feels a bit like a last iteration proto-type. And that's OK - that was my expectation.

In sum, I think the sp4 (probably with a docking station) might be one of the best devices to get right now. Possibly the recent lenovo x1 yoga oled tablet too - but I haven't played with one, and I actually suspect Microsoft makes the best keyboards right now.

I don't think anyone should rush into tablets yet - there are no good, productive touch environments yet, outside of graphics packages (I suspect Smalltalk and the acme editor are two of the best things we have). But I know we're going to see good touch/tablet experiences built around Linux/bsd (because people will want it, and build it) - and windows will keep improving. We will go from cute to Useful - but I'm guessing real touch/pen uis are a few years out. Needless to say if you want to be part of building the (near) future you should probably get one of these.


If there was a truly-good cloud IDE for Java I would buy a chrome book. When I think of the tens of thousands of dollars I've spent on compute hardware over the years I want to cry.

I have been super happy with my ThinkPad X1 Carbon running Fedora (migrated from MacBook Air to this about 7-8 months ago as I heard the airs were likely to be phased out).

I just got a System76 Lemur.

The actual build quality isn't great, but it's functional with no frills which is exactly what I wanted.

I have a Samsung Book and it is unquestionably the best laptop I've ever owned. Happy to answer questions.

Dell Precisions are well built.

a happy dell 7710 and lenovo w520 user here. if you want a more compact machine, go for asus zenbook or dell xps. lenovo x1 isn't bad either. all of them got great linux support

I'm waiting for Dell XPS 15 to get Kaby Lake update.

I'm curious about this myself. I want to know what they'll do with the video card as well as if they'll be able to solve the coil whine issues. Also hoping for an improved touch pad.

I'm quite happy with my mid-2014 Macbook Pro, but if I were in the market for an upgrade, I'd buy a Razer Blade Stealth and install Ubuntu on it.

Any opinions on why developers on HN/elsewhere seem to prefer laptops over desktop machines?

Do you really need to be coding on the bus/train/plane or in hotels? When you go to a meeting, do you really need to bring your entire development setup with you?

When I go into a client's office for a meeting I usually only need to take notes and do presentations. So I get a cheap $500 laptop for that. If I need anything at all from my home workstation, I just remote into it. Actually, I did this even before I was working for myself - I'd just remote back into my workstation at my desk.

Is it just that you don't want to deal with 2 machines? Are you just doing it because that's what everybody else is doing?

As a college student developer, my needs are a bit different:

- I need to write code. This means having a machine that has all the software you expect available in some way.

- I need to collaborate with my classmates on projects. This means working on campus around a table to figure stuff out.

- I have to go to classes, labs, and workshops. Oftentimes classes will say "make sure you bring your laptop" because they're going to give you work time in class, or expect you to finish something in class.

- I like working with my laptop on my lap. I have a really comfy chair at home. There are a lot of great lounge areas on campus. It's nice to be able to pick up and plop down anywhere you feel like.

I got two machines at the moment. But I'm working in 4 places right now and only one is my home. Yes, 60-70% of the time I'm working from home, so it's okay. But the 30-40% I'm missing my desktop. Because my laptop screen is so tiny (13") I don't got a numpad or just 8GB memory.

I think I'll get a 15,4" laptop with i7, 16GB RAM and nVidia next and then simply get rid of everything on my local setup besides the boxes and the 2 displays (27" 16:10, they don't build them like this anymore, at least not below 700€, haha).

I think its because the performance of laptops is no longer dreadful, but its still a terrible money / performance choice. You can buy a dual CPU Xenon workstation (Thinkstation 910p) for less than the a 15" Mac released yesterday.

That's along the lines of what I do. I get a used Thinkpad for occasional travel and use it to remote into my beastly dual Xeon workstation that is stupid fast and less than half the cost of a 2015 MacBook Pro.

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