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Ask HN: Is Dell XPS Developer Edition a Good Replacement of Macbook Pro?
135 points by kornakiewicz 212 days ago | hide | past | web | 105 comments | favorite
Hi, I've been waiting few months for yesterday's MacBook upgrade and I'm dissatisfied, as most of you. I read many comments about alternatives and one of recurring favorite is Dell XPS Developer Edition. Could I ask you about your experience with this model? I'm interested in high-end version (16gb and UltraSharp screen). Is it worth this money (less than Macbook, but still)? I actually want to buy "best machine money can buy", which is powerful (for JVM development, besides personal stuff like movies and web), but still easy to carry-on while traveling. Most of the machines are Windows-oriented, which doesn't fit my workflow and there's a limited choice of laptop fully compatible with Linux. Dell XPS 13 seems like one. Do you have positive experiences with this? Would you recommend it?

I just get rid of normal desktop and use mainly my office machine - heavy, powerful ThinkPad W541 with 32GB ram and i7, but it's plastic and the screen is so-so.

Thanks!




Yes,

I've been using a Retina MacBook Pro 13" (early 15) and 15" (mid 15) and just picked up the xps 13 9350 with iris pro.

There are definitely some quality control issues but once you get a working model with no faults (I had one that wouldn't reboot and had terrible coil whine, one that had loose trackpad and yellow tint on screen but this could also be because of Amazon's shitty packaging where the laptop was in a box with only some brown paper crumpled in) - atleast they took them back no questions asked. I'm amazed how far windows laptops have come along.

The only real downsides are that it power throttles (and thermal too, but I placed my own aftermarket thermal paste and it doesn't cross 66 C on full load now) due to the iris GPU itself consuming 18W at it's rated turbo boost with the SoC's TDP being 15W (long turbo) and 25W (short turbo). Perhaps go with the i5 model that has the HD 520 or the new 9360 that has kabylake with better thermal and power consumption (HD 620 is roughly similar to HD 540 but won't throttle). You can also use Intel's XTU to undervolt and better battery life and throttling if you're going to use windows.

Linux runs flawlessly, infact so does OS X if you can replace the wifi card. AMA


> once you get a working model with no faults (I had one that wouldn't reboot and had terrible coil whine, one that had loose trackpad and yellow tint on screen

I never understood how people can deal with multiple rounds of RMAing (or whatever) a defective product and still turn around and recommend it to other people. If a company can't consistently deliver their products intact and functional, why should I waste hours of my time (which effectively increases the price of the product by hundreds of dollars) picking up their mess?

The fact that this is still a thing kinda says to me that PC laptop OEMs still aren't ready to go toe to toe with Apple in the customer experience department, despite the overall improved quality of their offerings.


well let's not get into how bad Apple screws customers when it does so. I had the macbook (was it '12?) that had the gpu death issue - apple denied that the issue was a defect until a class action was brought against them; I was out at-least a thousand dollars as I had to toss the unit because apple wanted me to pay for the repairs which cost almost as much as a new unit in my country. Did I mention I faced the same bullshit with iPhone 4? Maybe I was just holding it wrong.

And as I said, `but this could also be because of Amazon's shitty packaging where the laptop was in a box with only some brown paper crumpled in` - I'm not even sure if the issue was because of improper shipping or factory defect. If you're all that worried about wasting your time, go to the nearest retail store and test your unit as you buy it.

I also forgot to mention, I bought the defective models through Amazon Warehouse Deals - so it could very well have been a return due to the said defects.


this is a complete not starter. I had an XPS 15 that stopped turning on after a week and I immediately returned it and did not bother trying a new one. Such a waste of time to get situated on a new device then find out said device is broken.


If a company can offer a product substantially cheaper than a competitor with lower reliability but offer acceptable customer support for dealing with these issues, the hours of my time I spend fixing the issue might very well surpass the extra money I spend on a competitor.


A recent Linux kernel (4.9.0-rc1) even gets you 9-10hrs of battery life after 9 months of heavy usage!


I'm surprised no one has linked to this already, but Ars: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/06/the-xps-13-de-dell-co... has a pretty thorough review.

If we're talking about MBP replacements, Purism also has an interesting one: https://www.crowdsupply.com/purism/librem-13, but they're much smaller than Dell.


> so does OS X if you can replace the wifi card

How do you install OS X on this machine ? Any tutorial you can recommend ?


If you google for 'hackintosh' that should set you well on your way.


> so does OS X if you can replace the wifi card

Please tell us more! What card am I supposed to replace it with, and is it anything involving soldering or just sockets and switches?


If it's anything like the 9343 model from 2015, a T5 Torx driver and a wedge tool can pop it open. I swapped the Broadcom card for an Intel 7620 in mine.

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Dell+XPS+13+Teardown/36157


+1 on this. If you get the Broadcom card in your Dell, replace it ASAP. It can cause so many issues but it's really easy to replace. Costs around $40 including the torx driver and takes under 10 minutes.


The broadcomm DW1560 is the currently recommended card.

There are numerous guides on replacing the wifi card in the dell, ifixit has guides. And because this isn't apple, the laptop has a upgrade/repair/owner's manual (online).


The WiFi card is a simple mPCIe card. You can just switch that out.


> xps 13 9350 with iris pro

Do you mean Iris Graphics 540? I think Iris Pro Graphics 550 included on-chip eDRAM and isn't available on any of their 15W Skylake CPUs, it's a 28W only part.


Oh, yes. Thanks for the correction.

I thought only Pro SKUs get EDRAM but turns out I was wrong.


I didn't know 540 had eDRAM! That's awesome. Their naming sceme is very confusing.


IRIS = edram


For Skylake, yes. For Haswell and Broadwell, no. A small "e" on the graphics generation denotes eDRAM. Iris 5100 (Haswell) and Iris 6100 (Broadwell) were GT3, no eDRAM. Iris Pro 5200 (Haswell) and Iris Pro 6200 (Broadwell) were GT3e with eDRAM.

For Skylake they switched it up so that Iris 540 and Iris 550 are both GT3e, and Iris Pro 580 is GT4e. All with eDRAM. My comment above is incorrect, Iris 550 is not the "pro" version, Iris Pro 580 is.


What version of linux are you running on it?

What do you primarily use it for?


I went with a ThinkPad P50. It's not nearly as bulky as some think. I specked mine with the Xeon processor, and 1080p screen (but 4k is an option). Also specked everything else as low as possible (HDD/SSD, RAM). I upgraded these items myself after. I now have a server grade processor, have put two 512 SSD in it (one M.2 NVMe), and 64GB of RAM. It's a beast. I can also swap out the LCD panel directly for the 4k panel if I so choose with an after-market one later if I so choose. Initial base price was only around $1400 (was on sale), and about $500 for the SSD/RAM on my own dime (would have been well above $1000 on lenovo's site).

So for ~$1900 I have something that blows the MacBook Pro out of the water.


P.S. I do own the a 2014 MB Pro as well, so not being ThinkPad bias. Just stating the options and route I chose as a replacement.


Is that Xeon CPU specifically designed for mobile?

I'm asking because, AFAIK, Xeons need proper cooling (think datacenter conditions).

It would be really cool if they made them for less climate controlled environments.


Probably a silly question but I imagine its battery life is pretty short with that much power...


One gem I found when I was shopping for a laptop is the Dell Inspiron 7559 (part of their "gaming" series). I bought the most expensive $1300 version last winter and it's been great.

- 4k touchscreen

- i7 Skylake processor w/ identical stats to that on the $2400 15" macbook pro

- 16 GB RAM

- 128 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD (I replaced the HDD with a 500 GB SSD from Amazon)

- NVIDIA GTX 960m w/ 4 GB GDDR5 RAM

It's sturdily made, I take it everywhere. The only thing I miss from my mac is the trackpad. You can't beat mac trackpads. However, the trackpad on the Inspiron is great, much better than many of the others I've tried. When you take into account it has better graphics acceleration than the $2800 macbook pro, you find that dollar for dollar, it's one of the best value laptops out there. (Seriously, compare it to even Dell's XPS 15, you'd have to pay ~$1650 for an XPS 15 to get comparable specs to the $1300 Inspiron 7559. The Inspiron even has double the graphics card RAM of the $2550 XPS 15!)


Wow, those are great specs for 1300. what's battery life like?


It's one of those "it depends" answers, but mine lasts around 4-5 hours when:

- cranked the screen to 80% brightness

- have two browsers open with multiple tabs (plus YouTube playing in the background)

- doing development

I'd say it's about average. If you play games the graphics card is going to soak up energy within a couple hours, but for heavy gameplay you'd want to plug it in anyway. I always want more battery life, but it does well enough and has such good specs otherwise that I can't complain.


Have you done any tuning with 'powertop'? If not, that can add some non-trivial time to your battery life.


I carried a 2013 Dell XPS Developer Edition and a MacBook Air in parallell for a while this year. Note that not all of this necessarily applies to more recent versions of the XPS.

* My XPS has a really awful touchpad. When I first got it, it was definitely my main reservation. I tried a 2014 model and noted that it wasn't much improved.

  * The battery life is much, much worse on the XPS, which is probably the main reason why I find myself reaching for the mac. I've kept Ubuntu 12.04 on it, so Linux power management has likely gotten better but there's still no comparison.

  * other than that, I've loved my XPS. It's super light, has a brilliant keyboard, excellent specs and still works well after three years.


Yeah, touchpad is crap if you're used to a Mac. I think the battery life is because the OS config is not optimized.


I have had a few models of the XPS 13 now and each one seems to get better and better. They're both light enough to carry around and they are still quite strong, I have seen a lot of them dropped without any damage.

Initially I though I would never use the touch-screen, but it is actually quite useful when reading things (scrolling) or quickly clicking basic things when not really sitting behind the keyboard on a desk. Same for the light in the keyboard, very useful when working at night and on airplanes etc. The screen in general is really really good, some colleagues have the 1920x1080 screen, I would pick the 3200x1800 screen again next time since it's much nicer to read from and allows you to use smaller fonts (= more code on one screen)

Linux support is generally much better than other relatively new notebooks I've had, but still sometimes things break. The Developer Edition is released a bit later than the Windows models, probably to stabilize Linux support. I've only used it with Ubuntu, but I see others use several other distros which seems to work without much issues.


Does Linux use the touchscreen?


It does on my install of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS


My girlfriend recently bought one for her daily driver. We decided to go with Arch Linux to gain access to packages as they release, rather than wait for the next iteration of Ubuntu or Fedora to get updates.

Here are my pros and cons:

Pros:

1. The hardware is great; the developer edition favors more Linux-compatible hardware (obviously), and for us, it didn't require very much setup. Usually the default configuration will be enough. The touchpad, like the MacBook, has a glass surface and feels excellent.

2. Like the MacBook, it's very light. The screen looks great, and honestly on Linux I prefer 1080p.

3. Dell has a very reasonable warranty, and is very quick to respond. Example: You can install whatever Linux distribution you like, replace the SSD (so long as you don't ruin anything while you're there, of course).

Cons:

1. It's fragile. Unlike the Macbook, you have to be at least (more) careful with this thing. We ended up breaking the screen without much effort; I wager it was the fact that it was in a backpack that got dropped somewhat aggressively.

That being said, we also bought the $60 accident protection, and Dell sent out a technician from a local repair shop to fix it for us within that week. If the technician can't fix it, they will over-night you a shipping box and a FedEx label to send your laptop back in.

Just be careful with it; treat it like the $1000+ machine that it is.

2. No replacing the RAM. It's soldered onto the board. That's not a problem for me because I barely push ~4GB.

Conclusion: I use a MacBook now; my XPS 13 is actually coming in tomorrow and I'm very excited. I think it's a great machine and a great MacBook replacement, and has excellent Linux compatibility. Dell's customer support is great, just be careful with it; it's not an aluminum body or several layers of glass in front of the screen. Make sure to buy the one with the right amount of RAM so you don't regret it later. If you're worried about storage, there's a $150 500GB M.2 SSD on Amazon, buy the lowest storage version and upgrade it. Get the protection plan. It's cheap compared to the cost of buying a new device.


I used Arch Linux for a few last years, but recently switched to the Manjaro (Arch Linux based distributive). Manjaro has a little better stability than pure Arch Linux since Manjaro before shipping packages does (I hope) some testing and verifying that core system components are not broken after updating. When you know what to do having you laptop not bootable after system update (not so likely, but it happens), then Arch Linux is for you :)


No. I had the Dell XPS 15 9550 and there were several issues.

• Trackpad much worse than on a Mac

• Coil whine

• Bad fan control means it was sometimes noisy in near-idle contitions (though in idle it was very silent)

• there were some flicker issues with the GPU (might have been resolved though)

• one key was bouncy, meaning it sometimes triggered twice

• it woke up from sleep randomly, sometimes while in my bag, often completely emptying the battery

In the beginning it also crashed very often, however this was resolved with an update.

So all in all the quality wasn't on the level of a Mac.

And I wouldn't even start speaking about the OS. If you're used to macOS, it's still such a day and night difference.

Connecting a normal low dpi display to the 9550 with HIDPI display lead to so many annoyances with Windows and all the programs that won't support this for the years to come. I'd barely consider it useful. Although the display itself was quite nice.


This I think is the Windows perspective. The Linux perspective (Debian in my case) is somewhat different:

- Hardware wise the Trackpad is identical in performance to the Mac. All the same gestures are recognised - but the software doesn't use most of them. In fact the software side was terrible until libxinput took over from the old synaptics driver. Now if it works, it works well - but it's still a little lacking on the gesture front.

- Coil whine should be no different - but I've never heard it.

- Fan control is perfect, which is weird. Maybe it was old BIOS?

- Intel's GPU firmware & driver has been a 18 month long cluster fuck. It's the same cluster fuck on Windows and Linux. It still isn't perfect, but it's much better. At the rate they are going, they may get it right 2 years after the initial release of the CPU. Here's hoping. I don't know how Apple could escape this mess. Maybe they knew they couldn't, so escaped it by not upgrading the CPU's for donkey's years.

- Oddly the wakeup problem happened on Linux too. Once I opened by bag and it was so hot I though I'd destroyed it. The issue has gone now.

- Linux has the same issues a Windows when it comes to mixing HIDPI and normal displays. In Linux it's a fundamental limitation of X. It can be fixed in Wayland.

One piece of advice: update the BIOS religiously. At least until Intel fixes their Skylake GPU issues.


14" Razer Blade 1060, grab a dbrand matte skin to cover the hideous Razer logo. No problems with Ubuntu 16.10 currently installed. Also have a 13" Dell XPS dev edition used for specific work. It's a nice system as well. The Razer def has more power if you want a full replacement.


I'm considering moving from a macbook pro to the blade and adding the core to get a beefed up desktop experience with the ability to unplug and take work anywhere it needs to go. I'm assuming I would need to stay in windows land with linux via Hyper-V. Besides iMessage, all my apps run on linux (more-so) or windows (less-so). Any thoughts?


The only loss i've felt so far is my documents that were written / design in pages & keynote. Still have a older mac around to handle them. Otherwise i'm back to Windows 10 fT with the Hyper-V bash and docker. So far so good (going on a month now).


Any idea on battery life? Can't find anything printed about it.


Gaming, it's pretty short, if you set the intel graphics power settings right though you can get 6 hours give or take. I rarely use the laptop more than an hour without access to power anyway so the whole battery life issue mac or pc doesn't seem as big an issue for me.


How do you live with the bezel?


Adapt and Survive. Seriously the only cosmetic issue I have is the Razer logo. They really need to offer alternatives.


I have a new XPS 13. It's impeccably built, you can use it comfortably on an airplane, and it runs Linux with no issues. But I wouldn't use it for daily development. The 13 inch screen just doesn't have enough real estate, and it often feels like it's struggling to drive the 4k screen whenever I try to switch applications.

If you don't mind something heavy, check out the new Thinkpad P50 or P70. They have actual desktop-level performance, terrific screens (matte, color corrected 4k IPS!) and the new NVMe SSDs. I do most of my daily development on a P70, and increasingly just lug it along when I travel even though travel was the reason I bought the XPS 13.


I don't own a P50 or P70, but one complaint I would have is that having a numpad on laptop ends up putting your hands in an awkward position. I almost never use the numpad anymore since I can touch-type on the number row and my main laptop (a Mac) doesn't have one.


The XPS 13 was recently upgraded to Kaby Lake, so if you're fine with the smaller display, I'd say go for it, I've heard great things.

Also, do realize that the UltraSharp model will have a significant impact on battery life. The comments I've looked at for the XPS 15 9550 (4K display) say that the battery life is basically halved, but it's supposedly still around 4.5 hours of battery life.

If you prefer the 15-inch, you might want to wait for a while - they still only feature Skylake CPUs and I think an upgrade is imminent (given the recent XPS 13 upgrade and all.)

I don't have any personal experience with the machines, but I'm planning to buy the XPS 15 once it gets an upgrade.


Confirmed on the battery life. With Linux on my Dell XPS 13 9343 QHD+ version, even running tlp and powertop, I'm lucky if I get more than 6 hours. If I do music streaming or any kind of video, it plummets to 4.


I'd love to see some real competition with macbooks but I haven't seen anything close yet... Alternatives do exist but they are still very expensive... I mean really, they are bloody expensive. When I'm thinking about putting this kind of money on the table, I just go to apple store, no?

Why on earth there's no startup which just puts together linux laptops? I'm sure you can grab Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean whitelabelish product customised with linux friendly peripherals or just put the box together yourself with engraved penguins here and there. Half of devs would love it, another half would hate it - but that should be enough to survive, no?


> Why on earth there's no startup which just puts together linux laptops?

Do System76 or ZaReason count? They even have non-Windows super keys. (Ubuntu logo or Tux, respectively)

I have no experience with their laptops, but I have a System76 desktop, and have no complaints.


Woah, I'd not heard of System76 - the specs on that Oryx Pro are jaw dropping!! I wonder how well it would do as a hackintosh...


Consider the outgoing Macbook Pros. You can probably get a good deal on one.


Apple sell refurbished MacBooks directly and they come with warranty and full accessories.


They are still being sold, much like the previous one.


This is a buy I consider, but since I decide to get new computer once in five years, I would like to choose best option.


For the next 5 years, I'd wait until the 32GB option appears. It'll probably be a very minor manufacturing process change that'll most likely come with slightly better processors. If the current support for the previous-gen model is any indication, the new ones will be supported for a very long time - the previous-gen 13-inch was sold from 2008 up until this week.


I personally prefer the XPS 15 for the quad-core CPU and discrete graphics, but it looks like getting it to play well with linux could take some work, and there might still be some issues: https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2317843.

Out of curiosity, what has you disappointed with Apple's new laptops?


I had a laptop from System76 at my previous job, which runs Ubuntu: https://system76.com/laptops

I liked it, but I didn't travel with it so not sure how carry-able it is. Current shop is Mac oriented but I would have gotten another one if it had been up to me.


Quite interesting that no one has mentioned the Microsoft Surface Book here. Anybody has any thoughts on it?


That's where I am headed.

I bought a Surface Pro 3 to play around with and to use for my one .NET project. I loved it, but I gave it to my assistant b/c I didn't really want to use two computers.

Well, time to buy a new computer and I think I am going to ditch my MacBook Pro and switch to a maxed out Surface Book. I'll keep the MBP around in case I need to do any iOS dev.

I am hoping that the Linux on Windows 10 stuff will make the terminal feel familiar enough.


Question for the iOS developers on the thread thinking about switching (or have already switched) away from macs as you dev machine. How do you plan on continuing to do iPhone/iWatch/iPad dev given apple's requirement to use their hardware?


Unfortunately XPS Developer Edition does not support external 4k displays @ 60Mhz like Dell's own P2715Q. If that kind of thing matters to you.

Otherwise I think it a great machine.


I think people are talking new gen XPS here right? Think all of them have supported 4k external @60hz as they have nothing older than broadwell.

I'm sitting here now with a gen1 xps 13 2015 pushing a 4k monitor at 4k 60hz.

My xps 15 in work also supports 4k @60hz although needs an annoying usb-c to displayport dongle.


Afaik, the 6th gen XPS 13 supports even two 4k 60Hz monitors...


Best developer laptop is a Dell Precision 5510. Up to 32GB ram, thinner and lighter than a Macbook, SSD that does >1.5GB/sec, and has a docking station.


Half of my my company i.e. ~2000 developers and ~2000 other associates switched to the dell 5510(dell xps 15) this year and its absolutely amazing. Its carbon fiber !!!! 32GB ram, 512 SSD. Amazing edge to edge display. So far the best trackpad (after apple) with gesture controls. Superb laptop! Definitely a MBP replacement. I am not a big Windows fan but with the recent windows 10 update i am warming up to it. I hope Microsoft will soon support Linux completely within windows.

I wish there was a well funded linux operating system like the macOS or whatever so that we all could switch over from MBPs. Apple has been mocking us for the past few years with its lame products and specs and extremely high prices.


My last 2 laptops have been MBPros but given the latest changes to that line, I'm looking for my next non-MBP laptop. I had no idea that the Dell 5510 existed. Thank guys!


If only it had ECC like it should with a Xeon. Of course, no MBP has that either.


XPS 13 is well worth it. Its only downside is the webcam looking up your nose. It's lighter than a macbook pro and is about as sturdy.


I have one for the work. It is absolutely wonderful. I am currently using Ubuntu 16.04.1, and I feel it lightweight and performant. The battery lasts about 9 and a half hours (doing web browsing and light programming).

I suppose that the thing will only improve with future Ubuntu Hardware Enablement Stacks that include new kernels and so...


Be warned that the current XPS 13 is kaby lake and has a rather slow (non-IRIS) gpu. 3200x1800 is quite a few pixels and the built in GPU is pretty weak.

Might want to consider the skylake version, sure it's the previous generation, but the CPU perf is pretty similar, and the Iris 540 is a significant GPU upgrade. Not a nvidia/ati killer by any means, but much better than the normal intel integrated graphics.

Either that or way for similar to ship in it's kaby lake incarnation.

Also keep in mind that the "upgraded" 3200x1800 screen about halves the battery life and is reflective. Not really worth it for me (at least in a 13" screen).

Sadly you can't get more ram or an i7 with the 1080P (they called it FHD) screen.


It might sound vain, but all I really want is the Rose Gold on a non-touch...


I have xps 9550 FHD with 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM. I installed Ubuntu gnome 16.10. Everything worked out if the box. I even played steam games on Linux (like firewatch). I get around 6 hours of Rails and Ember development.

I think it's really good machine.


I got a Dell XPS 15, the 9550 edition. Before purchasing I was scared of the bad stability reviews it had when it was release. However Dell treats it with updated drivers regularly, and with latest drivers it works great. It can even handle 3D shooter without thermal throtteling etc. I use it as a developer machine with Windows 10.

Just be careful with the Dell Thunderbold 3 TB15 dock (not sold any more I think). I got one, and with the latest drivers it works, but has some quirks. Also be careful to sort out complaints about the XPS in the net: may have problems using the dock, not with the laptop itself.

And the touchpad is great by the way.


Same boat here, although I'm a bit worried about the downsize from 15" to 13". Perhaps with a docking station, it might not be so bad. But hopefully dell jumps on this opportunity to make a 15" developer edition


Looks like they come with Ubuntu...is that bog-standard Ubuntu, or does it have custom drivers for things like the touch screen? (Basically, I would be curious whether it's easily replaced by another distribution.)


It's regular Ubuntu, I believe. You can install whatever distro you want, but Ubuntu is guaranteed by Dell to be fully supported. I installed Arch on mine with no issues.


It is a beautiful machine but I want to voice my experience having tried on the XPS 13 for size:

https://medium.com/@securitystreak/buying-a-professional-pen...

Granted I owned the older 9343 model but despite the many BIOS updates (and several Linux distros) my laptop kept up phantom right clicks and cursor jumps - very annoying! No issue with Windows 10 though.

I sold it onward and happy with the real-estate 15" provides me once more.


Sounds like everyone below is saying the XPS is great, with exceptions of the battery life, build quality, trackpad, and webcam. So you're probably better off buying the now last gen MBP.


And still paying a premium price for a 3 year-old specs laptop. If money wasn't an issue people would just but the 4300$ mbp


I'm on my fourth motherboard for a year-old Dell XPS 13. They've released a new model since then, but the experience was pretty awful. Each failure is hours down the drain dealing with tech support and a hard drive wipe. The overall experience of using it as your primary computer is made painful by the inability to depend on it working.

The warranty just ended, so unless they finally fixed it for good, the machine may have been a waste of a thousand dollars. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it keeps working.


I recently got a Dell Latitude 12 7000 Series for $work and I was surprised by how good it is:

- Plays 4k video under Windows 10

- Runs Arch linux without any hardware compatibility problems

- Silent, portable, fast (pick all three)

It sounds like an advert but this was a machine I didn't pick myself and it is the best computer I have ever used. The next time I spend money on my own laptop I will move from Thinkpad to Dell. This is after using Linux on Thinkpads for the last 13 years or so.

I thought this was worth mentioning as the Latitude is probably a bit cheaper than the XPS.


I don't know about the developer edition specifically, but I just had a XPS13 (with a skylake processor, so not what's available on the store right now) with stock Windows 10 pro on my desk, and debian stable installed just fine except for the wireless card (which is the only network interface on the machine). It wasn't mine to play with so I didn't try to figure that out but whatever version of KDE that gets installed with Debian 8.6(?) seems to be 99% of the way there.


I really liked the physical feel of the trackpad. It'll be a sad day when that rubberized cover gets nicked. The KDE system setup couldn't set the trackpad up for taps instead of clicks but I didn't spend a whole lot of time with it. ISTR that kernel 4.4 had wireless NIC drivers but I didn't have time for that.


In a similar boat. The closest machine to the Macbook Pro is the razer blade stealth.

http://www.techradar.com/reviews/razer-blade-stealth-2016

It's basically a rip-off of the (2015) macbook machined aluminium body design. It has the 7th gen processors rather than than the 6th of the new macbook, and a similar price.

Not sure about linux support, from what I've read there may be an issue with the webcam.


I'd say Stealth is more compatible with Macbook Air. The dual-core processor is really the only thing that stops me from picking one up.


Oh? I had read that everything worked ootb. I'm interested in that model for my next machine. Got a link for me aboit the webcam?


If you go for XPS then really be careful about coil-like noise (google for "dell xps coil whine forum"). Dell doesn't consider this to be a fault - it's "normal" from their point of view. And for you such coil whine could be like chinese water torture - constant pain.



I had the first gen XPS 13 and while it was a beautiful machine it ran extremely hot at time. So much so that I couldn't use it while on my lap. I'm not sure if the deciding has changed much since then but it's worth taking into consideration.

I ultimately went with a retina MBP (early 2015). My next laptop is likely to be either a Lenovo T460 or a Dell P50 (or their successors).


Dell P50?


Give Razer blade a shot http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade

I do think XPS keyboard is little off, I use Thinkpad T440s with ArchLinux.


The nice thing about an OSX machine is that it (legally) runs more software than any other operating system.

It sounds like the software you need is available on all three operating systems, so the Dell machine is a fine choice.

I'm assuming that the movies you want to watch are rips or Netflix and not something like UltraViolet streams.


I've got a Dell Precision 5510 with Ubuntu. I've been very happy with it. My only major grievance was the slightly slow graphics drivers, but it's not like I'm gaming on the thing.

I got some very good - and upgradable - hardware at a good price with an extended battery. Good call, would buy again.


I have one, and love it, but I have used Linux for the past 20 years and am not about to switch any time soon.


The quality control concerns in the comments mirror my experiences. I would not buy one. I would still rather get the new MBP with function keys vs. the Dell XPS Developer Edition.


Linux users on the xps13/15, with synaptic you typically can't rest your thumb in the corner of a touchpad while using it. Do you have this issue or any work arounds?


Thinkpad X1


Can you replace this windows key with a pingwin? I'd buy it but I can't look at windows logo so many times a day (yes, it is really a problem for me).


I have been using an XPS 13 9350 for around 6 months now, coming from an 13" 2015 MacBook Pro. I picked up a basic FHD core i5 model with 8GB of RAM on sale, replaced the WiFi chip with an Intel 8260NGW and replaced the 128GB SSD with a 256GB Samsung 950 Pro NVMe. All said and done, I spent less than $1,000.

Ubuntu 16.04: Pretty much works flawlessly as long as you have Intel WiFi- I had some issues with a flashing screen at first but they all seem to have been resolved using `apt-get upgrade`. Suspend/resume, audio controls, and brightness controls all work fine. I run docker images for pretty much everything and it's great to have native docker without a VM involved.

Physical Characteristics: It is very light and easy to use on the lap, on the couch, or in bed. It feels more like a MacBook Air than a MacBook Pro. Fans are on the bottom but they don't really spin up that much, even when I don't have anything under it.

Keyboard and Touchpad: Keyboard is fine. Touchpad is a lot smaller and more "clicky" than a MacBook Pro. The force touch on the MacBook Pro is way better (it's pretty much the gold standard of touchpads).

Screen: I have the FHD screen because I don't care about touch, and it is Matte (the QHD+ touchscreen is glossy). DPI scaling in Ubuntu 16.04 is hit or miss. In my experience, some apps, like Chrome, only respect DPI Scaling if it's in multiples of 0.5 Other apps, like Firefox only respect DPI scaling if it's an even number. JetBrains products do a good job of respecting DPI scaling though. I keep it at 1x DPI scaling, so everything looks pretty small at 1920x1080. If you go with the QHD+ touchscreen, native resolution is 3200x1800 so 2x DPI scaling will be an effective resolution of 1600x900, and it will look great. I think most apps should work fine at 2x DPI scaling.

Webcam: The webcam location really is stupid. I dislike video chatting on this computer so much I'd rather use my phone. I use Android and kind of miss iMessage and FaceTime from the mac (it's how I would talk to some Apple friends), but whatever.

Other Thoughts: Linux FTW. IMO, the last good release of OS X was 10.6.8. Everything after that either changed the scrolling direction or added some sort of bloat to the OS. I'd run 10.6.8 still if I could. Ubuntu 16.04 feels like getting your life back. It's super quick, you can use apt-get to install dev tools instead of hacking around with homebrew, you get the real version of `sed`, and you don't feel like Apple controls your life anymore. Gotta say it twice- native Docker support and no messing around with VMs anymore!

Take the leap of faith and get the XPS 13. Or a Lenovo with good linux support. Part of me wants to try out the big ass trackpad on the new MacBook Pro but none of me wants to go back to paying $2k every time I want to upgrade my laptop.


I recommend carbon 3rd gen


Seconded. I have this running xubuntu and all is fine with the world.

My only complaint is the limited ram.


Apparently there are a lot of complains on quality, as in "quality control" before shipping to people doesn't exist, if you are lucky, you're fine, if not, you'll need to return, is that true?


Could be true. I had no problem with mine.


Does it run macOS? No? In which case no its not a good replacement for a MacBook Pro.




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