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Dell XPS 13 Review (anandtech.com)
269 points by ismavis on Feb 19, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 297 comments

A Developer Edition (with Linux preloaded) will come at some point.

Currently there are driver issues of which the non-working audio is most persistent. Most elaborate info on it here:


In this Reddit thread...


...you find comment from barton808, who identifies himself as the Team Lead of Sputnik (= XPS13 Linux), and gives away that they are waiting/working on the same issues (to be resolved).

I think it will make a great laptop. I currently own an XPS13 old version, and think it is just a bit short of Apple hardware. I've heard this new one should be up to par with Apple's hardware while having an eventually more compatible hardware stack.

It will probably be the most powerful Linux-preinstalled ultrabook on the market, when releaed.

Fingers crossed it may be released soon. :)

For those interested in following along on the process: https://major.io/2015/02/03/linux-support-dell-xps-13-9343-2...

With an updated BIOS and a bunch of patches, it looks like it's getting close...

From the link:

   you could replace the bluetooth/wireless card with a     different one.
Can you really? Many laptops have whitelists and if a device doesn't present the correct pci id it won't be enabled by the bios.

I would be surprised to see that kind of setup from Dell. From my experience they produce work horses and don't mind people tweaking their laptops. You can disassemble, replace memory, hard drive, clean CPU/GPU fans, assemble it back, and still have valid manufacturer warranty. And yes, I personally replaced wifi and bluetooth cards on my inspiron, precision, xps15 laptops without problems before. So unless they drastically changed their vision, I would expect them to still build product which is hacker-friendly.

Probably not Dell (I have no idea) but Lenovo apparently has a white list for these things. I don't mean to pile on the recent carp storm that they are in... I just happen to have a idea pad y510p. (I am contemplating removing everything and installing Windows from scratch.)

That doesn't surprise me, Lenovo seem to be working hard to become the next HP in terms of hardware quality. I recently spent hours and hours trying to get a Thinkstation to boot with ECC memory that it specifically listed as supporting. The Lenovo engineers seem to basically get the motherboards to the point that they can kind of boot with the exact hardware the machine ships with and then completely give up. The smallest hardware changes would render that machine unbootable, including inexcusable things like changing graphics cards (Nvidia -> Nvidia too, just a model change).

FWIW, I got nothing but grief from the Lenovo Windows 8 / 8.1 installation on my Thinkstation--Windows booting into repair mode for no apparent reason, janky addon software, etc. A clean, fresh install made it all better, although finding the right storage drivers was a chore.

I'm thinking of doing the same for my y510p. Will the reset windows option keep the recovery partition so I can go back to factory state if I need to do so?

AFAIK the recovery partition is actually somewhat difficult to destroy even during a fresh, non-OEM install (I tried and gave up) but I would never choose to recover to the Lenovo build.

I created a bootable Windows image on a flash drive and sure enough it does give you a choice to keep the other partitions intact. YMMV.

I replaced the one in mine with an Intel card (7260NGW) and it works fine under Linux.

Thanks for the feedback. I've had problems with this in HP and Levovo laptops before.

In my experience, HP and Lenovo are usually the only ones enforcing whitelists.

Does Lenovo enforce whitelists on its Thinkpad laptop line too? Or just non-Thinkpad laptops.

If they have Thinkpad whitelists, do you remember if IBM did so when they owned the Thinkpad line?

They do, and it seems to date back to IBM days.


I think the Dell linux team could..

Nice one, thanks!

I was excited until I read 8GB max... that can't be right can it? What modern developer machine would have an 8GB cap?

It's a bit of a bummer. But I can live with it.

For me it's all compared to other ultrabooks, like the MacBookAir which also does 8G max.

I hope I'll never need to carry a classic-full-size laptop anymore, ever.

The original samsung series 9 is a sandybridge "ultrabook" from 2011 that can take 16GB of ram. While technically before ultrabooks were first released, it has a similar profile to the air. It was also released before 8GB dimm modules were available, but while never being "supported", they work just fine.

I haven't seen an ultrabook I'd prefer over it, especially when I rule out ones that use a tapered design.

My macbook pro isn't that much thicker than an air.. though I wound up getting the 15" retina because I needed 16gb without waiting a few weeks for it... tried an 8gb/13" retina model, and returned it, needed the extra ram.

The 3rd Gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon has 4GB (soldered) by default, and the biggest configuration that I can find has 8GB. What are they thinking?

Know that the most it can go to is 12GB.

If you want more memory you have to go to the T4XXp series, and probably buy the RAM yourself as the premium charged is considerable: 16GB on NewEgg is $120, while the premium payed for 16GB out of the box is $340. The T440s also maxes out at 12GB.

Just don't buy the RAM from Lenovo. On my T430, access to the RAM is a screwdriver away.

It's a bit of a pain with the T440s (have to pry apart all the plastic), but still better than paying what Lenovo wants.

I did this. I had an X1 Carbon, but couldn't find a way to upgrade the SSD (it's some weird size and connector) and 8GB wasn't enough, so I sold it and bought a T430s.

I'm curious, but why do you need more than 8Gb for ? I can think of a few potential uses of more RAM (large video files edition, R on very, very big data sets) but 8Gb seems reasonable for most tasks. Are you really in a situation where you need 16Gb every single day ?

Are you really in a situation where you need 16Gb every single day?

Maybe not every single day, but easily 3 days a week. Personally I could never consider owning a primary work machine with less than 32 GB of RAM, as that is just about enough (with some swap) to do something reasonable with a moderately sized data set in reasonable time, without having to try to get too clever. That being said, I currently have an MBA with 4 GB of RAM as a secondary computer to complement my workstation at work, and that's fine for most of my day to day programming tasks.

> Personally I could never consider owning a primary work machine with less than 32 GB of RAM, as that is just about enough (with some swap) to do something reasonable with a moderately sized data set in reasonable time

Suffice to say, you probably don't represent the average developer, or power-user. I can write code just fine without having to resort to 32GB data-sets. I think most other developers can too.

Not saying I don't acknowledge that some people may have such a need, but I don't see this is a big enough issue for enough people, to think it warrants making the already expensive developer edition even more expensive.

If you need 3-digit Gigabytes of RAM, have you considered just remoting into a server which has all the juice you need instead? In the age of the cloud, why on earth do you need all that power in your laptop? That just seems awfully backwards.

32GB might be somewhat excessive for mainstream developer laptops, but 16GB is not. A pair of VMs (for various MSIE versions, isolated dev environments, ...), an emulator or two (Android, iOS, …), 2-3 browsers open (with many tabs in at least one of them) and an IDE and you've blown way above 8GB working set without working on any big dataset.

I'm currently on an 8GB machine and regularly have to pare down my working set to avoid swapping.

I don't see this is a big enough issue for enough people, to think it warrants making the already expensive developer edition even more expensive.

Sure, I agree. And I'm sure I'd be happy with this machine as secondary coding machine. But I do dream of one day getting a single laptop that covers all my needs.

have you considered just remoting into a server which has all the juice you need instead?

I do the few times I need 100+ GB of RAM, and to be honest it's a bit of a faff. Getting your tool chain set up, copying huge data sets back and forth, working out how to install proprietary software and the licensing there of. I'm unbelievably ecstatic that the option exists when I need it, but I'm equally glad every time I don't have to deal with it. Most of time my data sets aren't that big and all my work fits comfortably in 64 GB of RAM.

Yeah, I also work quite a lot with large data sets, but what I want from a laptop is for it to be really great at doing everything else. I'll ssh to a machine that cost more than my car when heavy lifting is required.

I had to sit on my hands to keep from giving Dell my credit card number reading that review.

An Java app, IntelliJ IDEA, few Docker VMs, 2 browsers (and you know how much memory Chrome eats?), few not so complex tools for development (like SourceTree, Dash, etc) - and 14Gb are used. Just checked. And I didn't run anything serious yet.

Had 8gb before, machine was swapping too much, become unresponsive, etc.

I run into the 8GB limit on my laptop pretty regularly. Mostly due to VMs for testing and building for other systems. But I also recently found that running Android Studio, plus the emulator, plus my usual stuff pretty much shuts my machine down. I had to use a VT to kill my mail client, the VMs, and some other processes, in order to get the mouse and keyboard responding in X again. Java memory usage is kinda crazy.

This is my use case for having 16GB on my laptop as well. Being able to simulate the network architecture of our infrastructure with a bunch of little 512MB-1GB VMs is a nice thing to be able to do.

If I'm not doing development with a cluster of VMs though, I rarely go over 8GB.

I use a Dell E6420, as a data scientist I kept breaking the default 8GB so upgraded to 16GB which is almost always fine. I won't go >8GB most days but when I do, I need it (else I lose hours trying to partition data and think about ways to subselect). 16GB for data science seems a sensible minimum for the folk I know. I'm on Linux Mint 17 (Ubuntu 14.04) + Python.

I work in games industry(as a programmer) and my machine has 64GB of ram. I hit swap pretty much every day, and our IT is currently in process of upgrading all machines to 128GB. In my own time I develop games in Unity and I used to run out of ram on an 8GB machine - upgrade to 16GB was an absolute necessity. I would not even consider buying a laptop with 8GB nowadays.

I have 16GB in my work laptop, and I find myself wishing for more constantly. I support a Linux application that wants 24 GB of RAM for itself. I'm also client-facing, so I have a Windows VM in order to run Microsoft Office. 16GB of RAM is plenty to run RHEL and Windows, but not quite enough to run RHEL, Windows, and a VM of the software I support.

Indeed I am, my "minimum useful" amount is 16GB -- my desktops are 128GB, and my current "monster laptop" is 64GB. The in-flight state on the software I work on can get well over 8GB with our test dataset.

I have 8gb and get warnings quite often that I'm running out of memory: windows 7, ubuntu vm with oracle or Postgres, IntelliJ, Firefox, chrome, office, R. Both R and the virtual machine take 2gb+, IntelliJ 1gb+...

Well one plus is the total RAM footprint of a Linux distro + a DE, is less (by a lot) than just OS X's kernel. Right now, xnu alone is using 960MB on my laptop. Oink oink oink.

Edit:MBP82, created new user accounts, reboot, login, launch Firefox, load CNN, wait 2 minutes. Did this twice each Fedora 21 Workstation (Gnome) and OS X 10.9.5. Fedora free -m used = 614MB. OS X top PhysMem Used = 2866M, Activity Monitor Memory Used = 3.69GB. I suspect Activity Monitor includes "wired" which top splits out. shrug Anyway, it's not a tiny difference. Omnomnomnom.

The RAM footprints of most development tools on Linux are also less than on other operating systems, due to shared libraries and not just shipping every dependency bundled with binaries. A developer on OSX told me he was close to maxing out his 16gigs of RAM, blaming it on having to run 2 vagrant VMs simultaneously while working. While I wasn't able to establish a conclusive cause of his sizeable memory consumption (he was busy), I spun up 3 vagrant VMs of my own, simulated work, and opened/visited many more sites in Firefox to try to hog resources. I could hardly break 4 gigs of RAM used (out of 16), in Ubuntu 14.04. 8 gigs might not actually be so bad if you're doing development work using tools that aren't shipped as complete packages, but rather adhere to the unix philosophy.

I look at my RAM usage on ubuntu sometimes and I suspect that about 40-50% of the machine's total use is due to adblock running on firefox.

Give µBlock[1] a try, it seems to use quite a bit less memory. I've also found it to block more ads by default.

[1]: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock

I suspect a lot of this comes from OS X apps all shipping with most of the library dependencies, so there's no way of deduplicating libraries that are loaded in the memory. In Linux, shared libraries are used, at least with software installed by package management. OS X should benefit from a kernel feature something like Linux KSM (kernel samepage merging[1]), that scans for duplicate memory pages and merges them to shallow copy-on-write clones.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernel_same-page_merging

The 8gb model is 2x4gb, maybe the developer edition will see 2x8gb?

One can hope, currently as my next portable, I am looking at the Asus UX303LN (great memorable Asus names...) but haven't found much info on putting Linux on it yet.

16 GB is a must for my next machine, nothing I do is that CPU intensive anymore. I'd also like a Dockingport... its the main reason i love my Surface Pro 2 so much.

Displayport, Dockingstation, 8GB Ram and 512GB SSD all below 1200g, that is to be beat. I hope for a 16GB Ram version for the next Surface Pro 4.

I run daily into swap, having just one VM open, Photoshop and PHPStorm...

Hold off a bit then. USB 3.1 Type C is just around the corner. Once it's established, pretty much every laptop, tablet and phone will contain a USB 3.1 Type C docking port. (and most monitors will be docking stations).

Do you have a particular timeframe on that? I'm in the market for a new laptop, and considering just getting an XPS 13 tonight. However, the advent of skylake has me considering waiting (but who knows if that'll be out in the next 6 months), as does your comment.

The rumour is that the next-gen macbook air will have it, and that this is going to happen this quarter. Iff that happens, then other manufacturers are going to hop on board too.

If not, I expect it may take over a year before it's ubiquitous -- Intel isn't including USB 3.1 in Skylake, so it will require an extra chip, something manufacturers are very hesitant to add to laptops.

Hmm. Rumor has it the next Air refresh is next week. If that's not the next-gen one, then I'm a bit skeptical that they'll put a brand new model out right after a minor change. I guess I'll see what happens next week and then make my decision.

I run 8GB now on my 2011 MBP but if I am search for a new laptop it will have 16GB.

Luckily, I run a remote VM most of the time and can get away with 8 but if I need to do anything locally that involves a VM I start running short.

I don't know of any ultrabook that lets you go past 8GB. Not this, not the Lenovo X1, not the MacBook Air. Do you know of one?

Edit: saw your pointer to the Asus UX303LN. Interesting.

Dell E7240, 12.5" and allowed upto 16GB.

What do you use more than 8GB for? Only things I can think of are massive Illustrator files and large Windows VMs.

Might have multiple app servers running on the same machine for development. 16gb is pretty useful.

I have another OS installed in a VM, an admittedly ridonkulous number of open tabs (that's just how I work) and an IDE, and that puts me at around 11GB in use.

Same as a Macbook Air.

I had the same impression, 8G max is a regrettable decision. The price is also a little too much and Dell seems to be one of those coupon bullshit companies.

There are plenty of workstation class laptops available, pick one of ultrabook / powerhouse.


Linux on good new laptops always tends to be 85-90% of the way there. I'd like to switch back to Linux from Apple products but it's never 100%.

One option that works 100%, is just to let it run Windows, and run Linux in VMWare or VirtualBox. I've done it before, and I'm doing it right now - never had any issues with it.

Then why windoze? Why not go with Apple?

Windows-specific apps, and getting Linux working on modern macbooks has been difficult at times (Apple's bootloader is always a source of fun issues to troubleshoot....)

Any way you slice it, you're having to do things you'd rather not do and that aren't at all necessary were we in a sane world.

If I pay 1900-2200$ for a deluxe laptop, I would be keen to pay about 300$ more and have a deluxe Linux. Please Canonical, charge me but give me the deluxe experience ;)

Install microcore - your machine will really fly.

give Fedora 21 a shot - you will see what a deluxe experience is like

> I currently own an XPS13 old version

Which one?

I currently have two laptops: one is a recent (less than 3 years old) Dell Latitude 6430u, and the other one is an old Dell XPS 13 (the M1330, from 7 years ago). Of course the recent one is faster and lighter, but I have to say that the XPS still is a very good laptop, as 7 years later it is still able to compete with new ones.

So I don't need a new laptop right now but this new XPS 13 looks very interesting indeed, thanks for the information about the GNU/Linux version :).

> thanks for the information about the GNU/Linux version :).

You're welcome.

I own the previous version XPS13 (think I bought it in 2013 or 2014). It's a great piece indeed.

I dont use the Ubuntu version that it ships with (by I like NetrunnerOS, in case any one does not know it: have a look), and in the beginning I had problems with the touchpad. Now I mainly have problem with slightly unstable wifi connection (not toooo bad, but annoying).

Last two things: it makes a bit of funny squeeking noise (condensor screem), and sometimes a keypress fires double.

That said, I really dont need the touch screen -- I rather have one without.

In a way I am glad there's issues.

My mbp gave up and I was over the whole apple thing, so I went for a previous revision one just around xmas and installed Ubuntu myself (Australia doesn't get the Developer Version).

It's a great machine, and I love it, but then I got miffed when they rolled out a new revision just after I decided to buy. However, I had a feeling that Linux on the previous revision would be a lot more solid, and your post confirms that.

Any idea what battery life might look like on the Linux version? Really hoping it can get near the 10+ hours of the Windows version.

I have the 2014 XPS developer edition and can get 10 hours with modest screen brightness. I get even more if I use a minimal WM like i3.

I find the two things that can really eat up the battery are screen brightness and having a poor Wi-Fi connection.

Try running Powertop and check out the tunables pane. You might even be able to reap some additional battery life.

There will probably be some hit, but probably not terrible.

I have the Ivy Bridge version; I probably get 4 hours running Ubuntu and perhaps just under 5 with Windows; this is not scientific though. I really should measure it.

I had a previous developer edition. I was hard to get over the fact that you paid for a Linux laptop but it still was not visible for people, everyone immediately pointed to the windows key on the keyboard.

Maybe this time Dell will customize that key for the developer edition? One can hope.

Sitting here using an XPS 13 Ivy Bridge (didn't buy as developer edition, but running Ubuntu) and definitely considering jumping for one of these for the battery life alone.

It would be great, but I must admit I'm on a MBP now.

The interesting difference between this review and that of most others is that Anandtech endorsed Dell's claims of 15 hours of battery life.

Reviews like at The Verge[1] measured the battery life at 6.5 hours.

I trust Anandtech more than The Verge to conduct properly controlled tests, but it really does illustrate the point that usage has a far bigger impact on battery life on modern notebooks than it did in the past.

1: http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/13/8030821/dell-xps-13-laptop...

The 15 hours of battery was only for the FHD (1920x1080) display. I scanned The Verge review but wasn't clear if they tested battery life on the FHD or QHD+ display.

Toss up some terminus and vim and the FHD model sounds like a great all day coding machine.

On my Samsung ATIV (QHD+), I found that running the display at half the native resolution dramatically increased battery life and didn't seem to look any worse than a normal panel with a ~72 DPI native resolution.

How very odd... is it integrated graphics? I wonder if it's the display or the gpu/(v(ram)/cpu that makes consumes less resources.

Well....1920x1080@3 bytes per pixel@60Hz = 336MB/s, while 3200x1800@3 bytes per pixel@60Hz = 989MB/s. In QHD mode your laptop is sending nearly a gigabyte of data to the display...per second. It might not be very power hungry to compute those pixels with a modern GPU, but even simply sending that much data requires a lot more power than sending "only" 330MB/s.

I'm not so sure. Given this random google hit (on 10gbps ethernet nics) -- I'm not sure it makes much difference: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~acr31/pubs/sohan-10gbpower.pdf

I couldn't find anything on hdmi/4k, but this seems to suggest it doesn't make much difference (compared to what I assume the backlight and screen draws): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbolt_(interface)

At any rate, if we assume it takes 4 times as much power, and we know that phones do just fine with 1080p+ displays -- I doubt the signal is the problem. Maybe it's the RAM used for the videoframes?

I always assumed it was the screen that consumed power with HDPI displays (flipping more pixels) -- but maybe it's something else.

I was always under the impression that the backlight is a lot of the power that displays consume, which is why LED displays use so much less power than CCFC displays. That would remain constant with resolution, right? If that's the case, I'd think that the actual GPU work (or the RAM, like you say) is where the power difference was for me.

I could be wrong about how significant the backlight is on an LED display though.

I also thought that modern video cards (as in from the last 15-20 years) optimized 2D graphics so that regular desktop use didn't require pushing a screen full of pixels to the GPU on every frame. That would seem to diminish the significance of the actual number of pixels at QHD+.

I don't have a good answer.

That's a clever battery hack. I'll be using it on my sp3. Nice.

The Verge and most other reviewers simply run the tests with the display at some percent brightness - I forget what the Verge uses, but I think it's 50% or 65%.

This is a fairly useless metric. Since different displays have a different max brightness (and perhaps even different brightness curves, I feel like the "percents" aren't always linear), testing at a certain brightness value is the only way to go.

Thankfully AnandTech uses 200 nits for all laptops so we can actually compare these numbers.

Apparently simply disabling Windows Indexing increased battery life from 7.5 hours to 9.5 hours in some tests.

If you have a Pro or Enterprise edition of Windows, you can configure this:

1) Launch mmc (Win+R, "mmc")

2) File -> Add/Remove Snap-In

3) Group Policy Object Editor -> Add -> Local Computer -> Ok

4) Expand Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Search

5) Find "Prevent indexing when running on battery power to conserve energy"

6) Enable -> OK -> Close

If you're on Home Edition then make a new *.reg file with the following content:

     Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

     [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search]
And run it.

You can change steps 1-3 to just "Win+R, gpmc.msc"... which will take you straight to the group policy editor.

You have to install Group Policy Tools for Windows in order to have gpmc.msc on Windows 7 work from the run box.

Going through MMC works even on virgin Windows 7 pro/ent without installing anything.

1-2 steps, Windows key, type gpmc.msc and it will be the first result in the prog search. I think this assumes the index is enabled, but since we are here ...

I'm giving this a try, and I'm having trouble following step 4. Once I add the Group Policy Object Editor to the right side of the GUI, I can click on it and get a pop-up, but I can't seem to find the expansion option.

Are you still in the "Add and Remove Snap-Ins" dialog by any chance? If you click ok on that dialog after having added the snap-in, it should appear in the main mmc UI on the left hand side.


I've updated the original instructions a little to be more clear.

I feel very silly -- thank you very much for the help!

Do you have a link to the tests or the data?

I work on the indexer and am always looking for more data about what we are doing wrong.

Check out the top comment of this article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2015/01/26/dell-x...

A commenter pointed out to the author that Windows Indexing was responsible for significant battery drain and the author confirmed by running the test again with it disabled.

Thanks, not great to see, but good to know what we have to fix

Perhaps a sane default would be to pause Windows Indexing by default when on battery? Defaults matter.

That's not really ideal though... for example, Windows Indexing is responsible for indexing email in Outlook. If you've been mobile for the last two days, that's potentially a lot of email you can't search.

Reminds me of a somewhat unrelated scenario in Android world. Auto backup of photos in Google+ Photos has a setting where you can have backup only happen when connected to power (and/or on Wi-Fi). Perhaps Microsoft could add something like this in their settings as well?

Yes, I understand this could be seen as feature creep but I think if the savings in battery life are as much as the grandfather says then it is worth the extra complication of a setting. What do you think?

Laptops can't really stay mobile for 2 days. At some point, it needs to power up, and your indexer can do the deed then. Too bad Windows doesn't have something like PowerNap that allows the system to run services while the clamshell is closed.

How often do users search in Outlook? I'd say maybe 5-10 times a day, and if it's already indexed, I won't notice.

Ars found their data to be roughly in line with Dell's claim as well, though they only tested the high-res notebook and didn't check the FHD one:

> Dell claims that the battery life of the XPS 13 is an impressive 15 hours for the 1920×1080 model and 11 hours for the 3200×1800 version. Our own battery testing is a little more punishing than Dell's, but the company's numbers seem to be in the right ballpark. In our test of light Web browsing, the XPS 13 came in just shy of nine hours

Usage pattern is definitely a huge factor though:

> in a more intensive WebGL test, it hit five hours on the dot.

and so is software running (using Chrome is a terrible idea if you want battery life, for instance)

Did you mean Anand, or did Ars do their own test?

If you meant Anand, they tested both. Look for "Dell XPS 13 (9343) QHD+" and "Dell XPS 13 (9343) FHD" values in the charts.

I have never met a laptop review where dividing by 3 is not a more credible estimation of actual battery time.

TheVerge is more like a lifestyle blog than an actual tech blog. They have this belief that Apple hardware is the best and any review - or any post really - will reference Apple if they get a chance. And if they don't get that chance they will work hard to create it. For a very specific cult of people thadt is OK, but it wouldn't work for an independent tech blog.

Isn't that because Apple is by far the biggest laptop manufacturer? Comparisons with the market leader are often useful.

I didn't think they were? I thought they had a very niche market and are outsold massively by Windows laptops? Unless that position has changed? I couldn't find any figures on the Internet (admittedly I didn't do an exhaustive search); someone else might do better.

Though the analysis in this article I'm linking is disingenuous ( it compares Apple laptop+iphone+ipad+ipod sales to Windows laptop sales...) its graphs tell the story pretty clearly: http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2014/2/12/apple-passes-mi...

Look at the little sliver of black that represents Mac computer sales (looks like ~5m sales/quarter) and compare with the orange line that represents Windows computer sales (just under 80m sales/quarter).

Even if 100% of the Macs are laptops and only 10% (as a pessimistic guess) of the Windows machines are laptops, sales are still heavily in the Windows territory.

I had been trying to find a decent developer's laptop for some time, and it led me to the xps 13 "developer edition" (the predecessor to this one). Keep in mind that I really wanted to like that laptop.

However, in the end, I went back to my macbook air. There were just too many small headaches to deal with. I'll list them here. I'd like to know if there are any improvements this time around. I'd be curious to know if they're going to do another "developer edition" for this new model.

1) The touchpad sensitivity was way off in ubuntu, and I couldn't use normal configs to tune it properly. Sounds like they fixed it.

2) The wifi range was very poor compared to mba.

3) Battery life was not as good as mba.

4) Ubuntu wasn't very good at scaling high dpi resolutions on smaller displays. The mba I have doesn't have a high dpi, and I don't need it for my work. FWIW, the retina class displays in the mbp all are perfect.

5) The mba are better balanced. The xps13 was a little wobbly since the weight was not well distributed. It was also slightly harder to open and close.

Honestly, all of these things add up. Darwin isn't a "true" *nix, but it's close enough for me. If I'm off the mark on these issues these days, let me know.

I've got a 2014 Dell XPS Dev. Edition, and for me the TouchPad sensitivity is fine and the Wifi range is good (even using 5Ghz networks).

I can get about 7 hours out of the battery so long as I'm only browsing the web or editing text - probably still not as good as a MacBook Air, but I'm never more than a few hours from a socket.

Ubuntu still isn't great at HDIP displays, although things are getting better.

Balance seems fine for me, but I can't compare to a mba.

I'm very happy with the XPS 13 (2014), and the 2015 version seems like a big upgrade, however I'd still recommend the 1080p display for Linux.

If you're using display scaling it might make sense to go with FHD anyway; from what I understand the scaling gives you effectively the screen space of a 1600x900 display, 1080p might not be as rich but it can give you a bit more workspace.

> Darwin isn't a "true" *nix, but it's close enough for me.

Yosemite is a registered UNIX 03 product.


Darwin to me is pretty much the poster child for "unix-like" operating systems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_%28operating_system%29

Hell, OSX has been UNIX03-registered since Leopard/Intel: http://www.opengroup.org/openbrand/register/brand3555.htm

I very much doubt that any pc laptop married with any given Linux distro will ever be a better macbook experience than a macbook running OS X. I understand that a lot of people like working in a Mac -- but unless you point out what don't like on the Mac it's hard to see why you'd switch.

Personally I love bare xsession+monad+apt-get of Debian, along with a sprinkle of schroot for running testing and sid in parallel, all with my home-dir available and on accessing the same X11 display. So OS X isn't really interesting. Apart from drivers married closely to the hardware, and maybe a nice collection of fonts (and font rendering) -- I won't feel very much at home in OS X.

I am curios: why would you want to move off of OS X?

At some point, OSX will jump the shark. It just doesn't fully take part in the nix ecosystem. Different projects like homebrew address some of these issues, but still, Darwin feels more like a nephew, rather than a son of nix. I don't think OSX has done anything really stupid yet.

On the other had, the nix ecosystem has really flubbed a lot of key opportunities for progress. You mentioned liking X11. Personally, I hate it. It's incredibly outdated. Rather than unifying behind a next generation display api, we have efforts divided between Weyland and Mir, ensuring that the display landscape for nix remains fragmented for the foreseeable future. This really is bonkers.

So, to answer your question, I want to move off OSX for the typical philosophical reasons, but I'm not willing to do it at the expense of basic ergonomics and fit and finish.

> So, to answer your question, I want to move off OSX for the typical philosophical reasons, but I'm not willing to do it at the expense of basic ergonomics and fit and finish.

It's good that we have diversity; I wouldn't move to OS X at the expense of basic ergonomics either (even though I do admire the finish :-).

I'm a bit curious about the frustration with X11. Sure, it's a cludge and has issues and so on -- but does it matter so much that people can't wait for the alternative? I really only see two cases were it matters: If you're writing an X11 server, or if you're writing an X11 screensaver. As we have both of those, and they work fine -- I don't really feel the pain.

I'll admit that I don't do a lot of programming for X11, but both qt and gtk seem fairly pleasant to work with as far as I can tell. It might be papering over cracks -- but those cracks have already been papered over?

Did you consider running chrome OS (maybe with a full GNU/Linux chroot)?

My frustrations with X11 are more specific to my line of work. I do a lot of front end work. X11 is just a mess. It's tough to call out dealbreakers with X11, since there's always some obscure workaround. It's tough to find careful explanations of X11 shortcomings without the discussion devolving into ranting.

Wikipedia probably gives the best overview of problems:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Window_System

Keep in mind X11 came out in the late 80s, and many of the current criticisms were expressed in the early 90s. We're full on 25 years beyond that now, with no de facto replacement.

> I very much doubt that any pc laptop married with any given Linux distro will ever be a better macbook experience than a macbook

And thank god for that. If Linux was reduced to a Mac-like experience, I would probably move on to something else, and quickly.

I need something for a power-user, something configurable, something which puts me in control. I need something which I can adapt to my needs, to flow with my work-flow. Something I can mold as I see fit. That is the promise of Linux.

What I don't need is ooh shiney rounded & patented buttons at the cost of everything else, with the late Steve Jobs having made all the decisions for me, with everything cast in stone. Oh sorry. Ceramics. My bad.

If you like it that way, good for you, feel free to stay on the Mac. A Linux laptop is supposed to be different. If you consider that to be at odds with a Macbook OSX experience, you're entitled to your opinion and you're probably right.

But that doesn't make the Linux experience bad. It just means it's not for you.

WiFi range is one of the only problems I have with my Ivy Bridge XPS 13 (2013) running Ubuntu. Mine is not the developer edition. It has an Intel 6235. I forget if Dell shipped the developer editions of this generation with different cards or not.

I'm hoping with newer chipsets and hopefully better support, that things are better with the 2015 models.

Okay. Those are the technical differences.

Now, what are the price differences? Also, the XPS 13" dev edition is 1080p, does the equivalent MBA?

The Dell can come with Ubuntu pre-installed and certified, and while they are both Unix there is the fact that Ubuntu is more-or-less FOSS whereas MacOSX is proprietary to some (most?) extents.

What I'm trying to say is that in listing the differences, you didn't list all the differences.

1) The touchpad sensitivity can be tweaked, and the config saved.

2) I have no data on the wifi range differences.

3) Agreed

4) Is this true? I think Linux does do HiDPI?

5) Really?

The "new" low end xps 13 looks like it starts around $800. Macbook Air is roughly in the same ballpark. For my purposes, the raw tech/price specs were not enough to matter.

My old xps 13 dev had a higher resolution screen, but it ended up being more of a problem than a bonus, mainly due to the inability of most of the ubuntu ecosystem to scale gui elements well. I could go on in more detail on this, but the fact is that Apple chose an even multiple for pixel scaling in retina displays (so non-retina apps can simply be displayed at effectively at twice normal size). In FullHD, some manner of fractional scaling must be employed on a 13" screen, and it needs to be done across the OS gui elements, as well as the rest of the app ecosystem in order for it to look right. I don't believe Ubuntu has this completely covered yet. In Ubuntu's defense, I haven't seen a fractional pixel scaling done "right" in a desktop environment (e.g. Windows 8).

As far as the opening/closing issue goes (as well as the other small fit and finish nits), this Forbes article mentions these details as well on the latest xps 13: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2015/01/26/dell-x...

OSX has been certified Unix since Snow Leopard I believe?

It seems great, but I really need a 16GB RAM option. (At least they have the 512GB SSD)

With a couple of VMs, and a webbrowser, 8 GB can get tiny, and those machines don't evolve, so I'd like to plan for a couple of years...

My company recently gave me an Precision M4800. It's a beast to carry around, but I love it. The whole thing feels very solid. Once I updated the BIOS then Fedora 21 ran like a champ. If it didn't cost nearly $3,000 I would buy one as a personal laptop. 32GB of RAM and 2xSSD make working with a lot of VM's very easy.

That laptop sounds insane, particularly with that resolution! It does look like something from the mid 1990s unfortunately, but at least nobody will pinch it based on looks alone (more likely with Apple hardware sadly)

It's pretty awesome. I don't have the 3K resolution screen, but the 1920x1080 is still great. It is heavy though and my commute involves a lot of walking so that can be a bit annoying.

I kinda like the mid 1990's look. I think the best thing though is the more traditional keyboard. I really cannot stand the chiclet-style keyboards that have become all the rage.

I'm in a similar boat and couldn't go back to a laptop with less than 16GB of RAM. To develop a mobile app for example, sometimes I need to be running a couple of Android emulators, an iOS simulator, Vagrant and VirtualBox for a local server, a couple of IDEs, a browser and more.

Same, laptop has great potential especially if they release a Linux version. I hope the MB supports 16GB and Dell does not solder the RAM to the motherboard.

> I hope the MB supports 16GB and Dell does not solder the RAM to the motherboard.

On 13", all the RAMs are soldered on the boards.

12" ThinkPads like the X201 are not soldered on. Dunno about later models since the X201 was already part way down the lack of good engineering.

As far as I know, all x220 and later are.

I don't think anyone's making machines in this class with that much RAM. They practically have to be built with on-board RAM to get this thin and there's just not enough demand to justify the logistics of building 16GB motherboards for them.

ThinkPad X201 to the X230 had two memory slots, so there's nothing stopping a 2x8 layout. But for single slot machines, the real issue is Intel deliberately not supporting 16GB SODIMMs.

The first samsung series 9 (2011) was an ultrabook-class machine that can take 16GB worth of RAM. Though, 8GB dimm modules weren't available when it was first produced.

The MacBook Pro 13 has an option to get 512+16GB. It's a bit heavier, but not that much.

The Asus Zenbook UX303LN has 12GB (it's better), but only 256GB of SSD.

I don't mind the price, I need a powerful tool.

The MBP is a different class of machine. This thing is roughly the size of an 11 inch MBA.

There is definitely a market for a slightly heavier, slightly thicker, but easily upgradeable machine. I know of at least one physics student who can live with 16GB, but would rather have 32GB.

I would love to find a 13" form factor convertible tablet PC that's just a bit bulkier than a Macbook Air, but has something equivalent to a Wacom stylus.

(EDIT, Actually, there are plenty of situations where more RAM but not more CPU would be of tremendous benefit.)

Sure, there's a market, but the question is whether there's a large enough market to justify building it.

Either way, I'd say the high end computing market (which I'd say needing 16GB of RAM falls into, personally) is currently different from the ultra-light, ultra-portable market.

I mean, if you need 16GB, you probably need more than a low power dual core CPU anyway, and that's not realistically going to fit into the form factor of this machine today.

The weight isn't that different, though.

Current 13.3" Macbook Pro weighs 3.46 pounds. The Dell XPS 13 weighs 2.6 pounds. The MBP thus weighs 32% more (0.8 pounds) than the Dell. That's a big difference to me, and to lots of people.

Something a bit bulkier, but a lot lighter and more durable would be great.

The upcoming Lenovo LaVie Z machines will weigh 1.7 lbs but be in a bulkier (tough) Magnesium-alloy case. Not sure if they'll have enough RAM, hd-storage, or battery-life for many, although if they're that light I'd probably be happy to carry an ac-adapter around for periodic charging: http://news.lenovo.com/images/20034/Lenovo%20LaVie%20Z%20Spe...

You'll never heard about it in North America, but the most gorgeous laptop right now IMO is the Panasonic CF-MX3: http://panasonic.jp/pc/products/mx3s/

It's tragically expensive to import, though.

I want one of these, but I have no idea where to get it from: http://www.fujitsu.com/fts/products/computing/pc/notebooks/l...

I'm not sure how you can say that with a straight face. The next MBA is going to basically be a netbook, the MBP is already thin enough / light enough / small enough to qualify as an ultrabook in my view.

"BTO"[1] is a laptop brand originally from The Netherlands which allows you to configure your laptop before purchasing it. I own their "X-BOOK 13CL58"[2] model with a 13.3" IPS screen, 16 GB RAM and an i7-4700MQ processor. It works pretty well for me and the screen is beautiful. I think they also ship to other Benelux countries.

[1] http://www.bto.eu/contact

[2] http://www.bto.eu/bto-x-book-13cl58-ips.html (click on "Zelf Samenstellen" tab to see self-configuration options)

Recently bought a Dell e7440 14" machine with i7, 16GB and then added a 1TB SSD. As developer machines go, it's pretty decent. Not as much battery life as I'd like (3-4 hours) but I haven't actually run it out yet. It's small and light enough that I can take it anywhere, but big enough that I don't need external monitors to get proper work done. Only real downside is that the video is a little underpowered (HD 4000) so no gaming.

I recently ordered a HP Omen gaming laptop. 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Nvidia 860m with 4GB VRAM, 15.6in 1080p IPS screen. It was $1700 USD from Costco, but it has taken three weeks to arrive. It is a little heavier than the e7440, but I really wanted a 15in screen.

I'm using 16 gigs of ram right now, and I'm upset by the idea of only having 8 gigs, but just out of curiosity, why do you regularly run multiple VMs?

I almost never run any VMs, but occasionally one to play around with other distros. I see a lot of people talking like running multiple VMs is the norm for devs, and I'm curious what people are doing that requires it on a regular basis.

As a web developer, I use VMs to have a completely isolated and reproducible development environment for each project. Vagrant [1] is a popular tool to achieve this, so take a look if you're interested :)

[1]: https://www.vagrantup.com/

what surprises me is that they would run all of them on their laptop. If it was me, I would be strongly inclined to build a workstation in my basement for hosting all those VMs and remote connect.

Depending on what you're doing, you don't need any VMs for 8GB to feel small...

When I have a couple of Visual Studio instances running, an instance or two of WinDbg, Firefox, IE, and RDC Manager with several connections open, I can start getting low memory warnings!

remember that for a couple of VMs running smoothly you will need more than 2 cores

Sure, but it's 2core HT

I thought HT offers crippled performance compared to a real core because of sharing a lot of resources within the physical cores. Can a HT logical core really count as a physical core when hosting a VM on it ? I'd love to hear your experience, because I will be upgrading PC soon from an old AMD Phenom and am hesitant to count HT as a real benefit.

It depends, but I'm doing a lot of compilation and playback of videos, and the bottleneck is now more and more I/O and RAM than pure CPU speed.

I have this requirement. I just bought a Toshiba Z30t. Ultrabook that is self serviceable and supports 16GB. But build quality and feel - talk about your pieces of shit.

Yeah this is exactly how I feel.

I was actually recently (in the past couple of weeks) in the market for a laptop and heavily considered this device as an option based on the very positive CES reports but the non-upgradable 8GB ram was a dealbreaker and I ended up with a bigger, uglier Toshiba (with more memory).

I see ultrabooks more as secondary devices. You really run VMs on a 13.3" display? I can't see any portable PC totally replacing my desktop PC.

Is screen size a barrier to running VMs? I build all my customers environments in VMs and do this on the road, most run headless anyway.

For me, I absolutely need a portable to replace my PC, since I don't have an office.

What do VMs have to do with the size of the display? How are the two even remotely connected?

I think he's thinking of VMs as in Parallels or other graphical VMs

Yes, my Ux31 is my main machine. I often plug an extra screen, though.

Sorry, didn't realize you guys were using a 13.3" PC for real work. Yikes!

I guess spoiled here to have separate PCs for work (two 21" displays), home (24" display plus TV as second display), and a laptop for portable use. Using a small display laptop as my main box would be to limiting for me.

When I am running a VM or logged on to another PC remotely, I like to view it on a second display instead of switching back and forth...

You do not understand, do you? We do work on these machines. Using VMs, mostly headless. I have 10 to 20 VMs running on my X220 while on the road - in my case mostly build environments - and _none_ of them is taking a sinlge pixel on my display.

I'm genuinely interested in why are you running 10 to 20 VMs at once. I come from a MS environment and I don't see any use cases in my daily work where this would make sense.

Sure, let me explain.

First, not all my VMs are for the same things.

A group of 8 of them is a set of build/test environments for a piece of open source software I am the author and maintainer of. They host different combinations of Linux distributions and kernels (the software is the userspace layer for a set of kernel modules), so that whenever I commit enough changes, I can just mass-run tests, code build and package builds accross those VMs. This is just run by a central Makefile on my local machine, and is more convenient than remotely using the build environment I have on my servers when on the go, sometimes using 3G WWAN, because of better latency saving me many seconds for each test build or when having totally unreliable uplink (train and plane mostly).

Then, I generally have about 5 to 10 VMs which hold customer environments, from simple standalone servers or clusters that I am currently prototyping, to full-blown network topologies with Linux/BSD server VMs connected to GNS3-powered emulated Cisco devices. I typically have copies of those on my servers too, but again, on the go, it is more convenient to have them running locally, again to speed up development cycle.

Of course, anything that requires long-running tests goes on my servers, not on the laptop. When at home (home office actually), I typically only use the VMs on my servers, fiber internet connection making working remotely with the datacenter seemless.

The paradox is that I have more things running on my laptop than on my desktop workstation, typically ~10-12GB of RAM for the VMs on my laptop, when my workstation 32GB are barely used at all (but used to be before I could afford to buy servers and host them somewhere nice) :-)

I understand perfectly... You guys have use cases much less common then mine. Sorry that I have use of more then one computer and my laptop is strictly a portable device that is stored in my backpack (I don't really want to connect and disconnect it all day long).

These were reasons to down-vote me?

I think the downvotes may be due to perceived boasting about your many systems, and/or to mockery of others for not working the way you do.

You should not boast about having two desktops and a laptop. Lots of people prefer a single machine setup and use very large servers or large external displays when needed. This usage pattern has got nothing to do with money constraints.

My 13.3" notebook (or my 15" notebook) happily drives two 27" displays. Plus the internal panel. Why would I have another machine?

"Real work." Come on.

I use a Dell XPS 13 (2014 edition) as my main dev machine with an i7, 512GB SSD and 8GB RAM.

It supports DisplayPort 1.2, which means I can Daisychain monitors. I plug in one DisplayPort cable and it connects to my 27" 1440p monitor and my 24" 1080p portrait monitor, giving me 3 separate displays to use.

My XPS13 stays closed 90%+ of the time. It's connected to 2x27" monitors, external keyboard, etc. I use a laptop because when I do need to travel I don't have to sync a laptop up to have everything I need, it's already there.

I'm surprised that Dell managed to get back to this point, but I think Apple is no longer a no-brainer if you want a "nicer" build quality, and you can start differentiating based on support. I never thought I would buy a non-Apple laptop again, but I've actually been eyeing the Dell XPS and a friend's recent experiences w/ AppleCare makes me want to take every effort to find an alternative hardware vendor, assuming they can hit close to the same quality.

I have an XPS 13 from 2013. It's just over a year old. As I wrote elsewhere the left usb port can't support full power devices - something which support tells me after sending a technician out three times to replace the logic board. They couldn't fix it, so they told me it's "by design". Riiight...

This week the SSD died. I won't be calling them again, I can't face the pain of talking to them.

Ha, that's the some issue my friend is having... except every time he has to drive to the apple store, wait for his genius, try and get the problem (sometimes intermittent) to reproduce, then they'll replace the logic board for a 3rd or 4th time and send it back to him. It appears that Apple doesn't even have a "premium" support option whereas at least with Dell I could get accidental damage coverage.

The SSD is just a hard drive, and they do die...

You wouldn't tell people not to buy a Ford because you owned one once that got a flat tire...

But I would expect someone not to buy if they are expecting good support, and the vendor cannot offer that.

> after sending a technician out three times to replace the logic board.

Seems like that is premium support. Lenovo only does that if you pay the upgraded support fee and have a business model laptop. Most have to mail their laptop to the depot and wait 1-2 weeks to get it back... then discover the original problem wasn't fixed.

In my experience, Dell's support is pretty good.

Today is not a good day to extoll Lenovo's benefits :\

Internal computer parts are not even close to comparable to a tire. A more reasonable comparison would be a clutch, which you'd expect to last more than a year if treated properly.

eh, I had a wheel bearing go bad on a brand new car after 8k miles.

The model/make reviewed excellently, and is still considered a great choice. Two years later, it's been reliable and gets us from point A to point B affordably.

Manufacturing is hard.

> Manufacturing is hard.

Especially when you are not the one who manufactured the item, but get the blame for it's failure (Hitachi hard drives in Dell computers... Takata airbags in Toyota cars...)

I have a 2012 XPS 13. After a year there was only one working USB port remaining and the DVD drive was broken. I have no idea why people are gushing over Dell, every one I've had has been cheap rubbish.

So far the consumer support stories I heard from Dell and Lenovo, have almost always been way worse than Apple's. When you read about good support from Dell for example, it's usually their business support. Apple can be tricky, but so far I've always been able to find at least one support partner or Apple store that is competent in a particular area. I've also never had to wait for long.

one thing also to consider, though is that Dell and Thinkpad have tiers of products (consumer, business), whereas Apple only has one. For example, the superfish thing doesn't even affect the Thinkpad line of Lenovo. If you only compare consumer reports for their Thinkpads vs Macbooks, you'd probably see less difference in costumer satisfaction.

> I'm surprised that Dell managed to get back to this point, but I think Apple is no longer a no-brainer if you want a "nicer" build quality, and you can start differentiating based on support. I never thought I would buy a non-Apple laptop again

As someone not fond of companies using patent-lawsuits to ban competitors from market, I can assure you that me, and lots of people like me, never once considered Apple a company it would be ethically defensible to buy hardware from.

If you're a software-developer, why would you fund and reward the lawyers trying to use software-patents to ban your right to deliver a product? It's suicidal and doesn't make sense.

Yes. Maybe these days Apple has kinda backed out a little and stepped down from the thermonuclear bit of the patent-throne. But they were the ones who started it, and we do remember. They're not getting our money.

In the mean time we're very happy companies like Asus and Dell are chugging out quality products without the guilt and bad karma associated with patent-trolling.

Man, I finally a few years ago got completely comfortable with OSX and scripted so much stuff that I can set myself up basically anywhere in 5-10 minutes. Now I'm stuck on a MBPr and get to watch all of these amazing new PC laptops come out that are so innovative. All of the hybrids, convertibles, detachable convertibles, rotatable convertibles. I'm so envious.

Come on Apple, seriously.

The MBP is not all that "pro" any more. Soldered components, the bare minimum of USB ports, no RJ-45 ethernet jack. I'd be more than willing to add thickness & weight to one in return for those features, and better thermal management.

I don't think those features are what make it "pro". I prefer it being thinner and lighter with soldered components rather than heavier without. RJ-45's are terrible on laptops, they're ugly, bulky, and hardly used. I'd much rather just use USB -> RJ45.

You can point to any feature (excluding reliability) and claim that feature doesn't make something 'pro'.

I know one senior sysadmin - the kind of guy other sysadmins go to for advice - who's getting a Novena laptop as his next machine for work. That thing doesn't come with a keyboard and exposes the motherboard when the screen is up.

Well, that's just like, your opinion, man.

I've used the Ethernet controller on my laptop many more times than I've used USB 3.0. Heck, I used a USB/Serial adapter more times than I used USB 3.0.

Not every professional is a web developer.

I've played around with a few of those devices, had a Surface for awhile, etc. Ended up moving back to a big-ass laptop (15" rMBP) and a big-ass phone (iPhone 6+). It's really hard to beat the combination of quad-core power, tons of RAM, giant battery, and lots of screen real estate.

I'm the opposite, I loathe big laptops. I always used Thinkpad X's or the Vaio Z's connected to monitors. That way when I leave I just pop them off the dock and carry them out the door with my paperwork. Take 'em to a coffee shop or out on the porch and get some work done. On that note, I can't do the 11s though. I initially had an 11" MBA and that was way too small.

I'll never do another 15" laptop!

Fair enough. Though, my 15" rMBP is slightly lighter and 40% thinner than the 12" PowerBook G4 that used to be the height of portability not too long ago.

I have used a 15 rMBP in coach on a plane before. It's really not that big. At some point being smaller and light makes no practical difference imo.

> Come on Apple, seriously.

By depending on one non-standard HW supplier, you are building your own jail. Have you considered breaking out?

Get out there. Try these wonderful gadgets you want so badly. Taste freedom. Freedom feels good.

I'm actually not a fan of the hardware at all. I hate that I can't buy an actual dock to dock, so I'm unplugging ghetto caddy every time I want to take my laptop home from the office.

Thing is I love OSX, and actually, not even specifically OSX, I love some of the apps MADE for OSX only. If these damned developers would make webapps or linux ports I'd LOVE to migrate back to either a thinkpad carbon X or some sort of cool new Surface Pro/convertible deal.

I'm going to go through all of my apps at some point and see what I REALLY need that is OSX only. I just realized Intellij has a Linux version and so does Unity.. so, as long as I can virtualize efficiently with virtualbox or something to get .net 4.5+ stuff going I'm totally game to start working from Linux.

> as long as I can virtualize efficiently with virtualbox or something

You can use VirtualBox on Linux, but QEMU with KVM is, in my experience, far more efficient, and a lot less buggy.

They really need to step it up this year or their status as the go to dev laptop is going to fade. I really dont know why i can't get a touchscreen MBP yet either..

I don't understand the appeal of touch screens (really, not trolling). What sort of tasks do you find one superior for?

They are extremely convenient when laying down on my back and my laptop is on my upper chest. It's very awkward to try and reach the touchpad in that position.

Yes, I have a similar problem.

I often carry my Macbook on top of my head when I go around the house.

It's just really awkward to reach the touchpad that way, so I hope the next Macbook will add one on the bottom as well.

I am hoping that there's a screen on both sides of the lid so that I can use it when it's shut.

I've been using a Dell XPS 15z for the last three years, comping from an MBP and it has been a relief so far on a lot of points: reliability, drivers, support. I probably had a non-exemplary extremely bad experience with Apple and AppleCare but it was enough to say 'thanks but never again' (mobo replaced twice, swollen battery, OSX actually gave gray screens more then windows gave blue screens on that machine, completely dead in the end - of course right after the extended AppleCare expired, people working in the local Apple store seemed to have been trained to behave like assholes). Again anecdotal but had none of such problems with Dell. So far.

I could never get used to the weird placement of the fn button, to the far left of the keyboard. Many other laptops also have this, it's a dealbreaker for me. All shortcuts I know fall out, and even with long use I can't really get used to it. And a lack of proper arrow keys is annoying for some gaming. It's weird, but it's those little things that count.

I'm glad other vendors are getting better with build quality, so there is more options available for people with my preferences.

Lenovo laptops have had a bios setting since 2010 that lets you swap the fn & ctrl keys. That doesn't swap the keycaps though.

Some history of the placement and many comments http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/fn-versus-ctrl-let-the-games-...

A series of posts where they asked for feedback, then acted on it.

Thinking about changing the key configuration http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/switch-mode-for-fn-ctrl-keys

They decided to make it bios switchable showing screenshot http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/switch-mode-for-fn-ctrl-keys-...

Announcement of implementing it across many models http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/switch-mode-for-fn-ctrl-keys-...

I have an apple desktop, however laptops are not viable for many because they are not business friendly nor is OS X. Between large phones, tablets, and great desktops, I find the need for a laptop is far less than before. Work issues laptops (all Dells / Windows) because we have to have remote ability in case of disaster as well as a guaranteed safe system to connect from (no non company connections, laptops are encrypted too)

What did drive me off Apple laptops was more wallet oriented, keeping the best features for only the top configurations priced them beyond what I was willing to give.

Nice looking unit. I'm going to look seriously at it, instead of a MacBook Air 11, for a travel machine.

Dell's claim of "a 13 inch display in the chassis of an 11 inch notebook" is reasonable:

Dell 13: 304 mm x 200 mm x 9-15 mm

Air 11: 300 mm x 192 mm x 3-17 mm

And the weights are within 100 g of each other.

I ordered a XPS 13 in 2014 over the phone since there was a problem with checking out at the website at the time. I spent 15 hours (started logging hours after the 2nd) total fixing their mistake when I realized they didn't order me the developer edition. Those hours were also spent fixing the screw up of them sending it to the wrong address.

I did end up getting the laptop. It was pretty nice except I could hear an electrical hiss coming from the bottom of the laptop when the room was quiet.

I had a friend who had one and confirmed the sound was coming from his as well.

I sent the laptop back and spent another 2 hours with their "support" for that.

I'll never buy from Dell again.

This laptop will most likely get official support for Ubuntu 14.04.

How does 'official support' for Ubuntu look like?

Nice. I wish ThinkPads had that. I'm ok with the way Ubuntu works on my old X200s, but I'm uncertain about the device support for latest ThinkPad models.

Do you know of similar official support for Ubuntu in other decent laptops?

EDIT: Oh wow, ThinkPad X240s and X250, along with many other models, are certified. http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/desktop/models/?query=&c... I wonder how am I supposed to use fingerprint scanner on my laptop?


I have a Galago Ultrapro personally, but if the XPS 13 2016 is any good (and they don't jump the shark like Lenovo is, what with the Intel bootguard DRM bullshit - hell if they put coreboot on any model XPS notebook I'd be all over it instantly like butter on toast).

What do you think about it? I had an UltraPro for one day and returned it because the keyboard was so bad as to be essentially broken. The case was also about as solid as a warm stick of butter. Their support also tried to convince me I was typing improperly which broke any trust I had with them; it's a well-documented issue they eventually confessed to knowing about and ignoring.

I did a lot of research in advance, I think I have a third gen keyboard on it. They must have added a backplate or something because its pretty solid.

I won't lie that the display is flimsy as cardboard, though. I was torn between the Sputnik and it, either I get performance or I get build quality, and I figure whats a warranty good for if not to subsidize a better CPU inside.

14.04 is almost a year old?

14.04 is the LTS release, most corporate environments using Ubuntu that I've encountered jump between the LTS releases due to the five year support cycle. Being that a fairly large portion of the Dell's customer base it does make sense.

The LTS one is the one to install if you want a system to use and do stuff with for an extended period of time. I don't miss the days of reinstalling the bleeding edge version of Fedora every so many months, only to find that they'd changed things and that the GNOME preferences in $HOME no longer worked or meant anything etc.

How do others cope with the incessant wheels or progress/reinvention?

It is the most recent Long Term Support release and will be supported into 2019. I expect that is why they are shipping that version.

This turned out to be a longer first post than I though it would be. I don't know why people are comparing these "good" laptops to Apple laptops in specs. Apple laptops really have not been better than the best laptops. For every MBPr that has come out there has been a better laptop by one of the tops Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer. The reason is I buy Apple is I need a stable operating system. The last 4 Windows based machine I owned crashed when I close/move/sleep/awoke it/plugged in another display (who would think that would crash a computer), the reason was drivers. I switched those laptops from Windows to try Linux and it was marginally better but again driver support did not fix those problems. I bought 4 non Apple laptops in hopes to get a good one.

When I switched to Apple I still faced issues bug only 1/10 the time as when I was with other brands. I hate apple operating system lack of getting things I want. I wish I could have stayed with Windows, I am hampered by using silly work arounds to play video games I love. Linux is great if I didn't have so many configuration issues, installing the correct video driver is a pain (I'm looking at you intel video cards). The system works.

I spent 20 years working on windows machines. The last 4 years Windows machines just have had more and more issues which pushed me to something that is stable and will work.

I've heard people say this about Windows but it certainly hasn't been my experience. Since 1999 I've had nine (I think) different Windows machines, eight laptops and one tablet. They're from varied manufacturers: Dell, Compaq, Lenovo, Acer, Asus. I still have all of them and they all still run. I've never had resume problems or crashing problems on any of them. (Well, maybe I did with my 1999 Dell running Win98, don't particularly remember, there. But since WinXP all has been good. I did just buy a used Thinkpad with a bad motherboard, though. It crashes, but it won't once I replace the motherboard.)

At least for the last 10 years or so my use has involved rarely turning them off or rebooting, just close the screen and re-open to get going again, often going for weeks or months at a time between reboots. When I do reboot it's usually because things seem slow or buggy because of some problem with the browser or with Flash.

I recently converted my 2008 vintage Thinkpad X200 to Linux. Linux Mint installed quickly and without incident and sleeps/recovers fine, just like my Windows machines. I didn't do anything other than bog standard install, no search for any specific drivers.

This is all just my personal anecdote to counter other people who claim to have had lots of problems on Windows machines. Hasn't been my experience at all.

I've liked Macbooks and Macbook Airs for quite a few years, ever since I deemed that Apple was charging reasonable prices (not sure exactly when I decided that). My next laptop may be one of the forthcoming Macbook Airs, or maybe the new 12" retina Macbook that's supposed to come out soon. I expect one of the first things I'll do is install Linux. I like the Macbook hardware; OS X not as much (although OS X is okay, too).

I've never ever ever had problems with Windows machines (admittedly ones that I built myself) in 15+ (?) years. The only problems I did have were: 1. Virus (Win95.CIH if I recall correctly) 2. Bad RAM 3. Hard disk died 4. Windows XP didn't recognise my SATA motherboard (no drivers) when I upgraded my machine and just took my old IDE disk and put that on it; my problem expecting it to know about SATA (when XP was released, it hadn't been invented yet). 5. nVidia drivers were duff / GPU was faulty

So none of those problems have been actual Windows problems.

Maybe I've been really fortunate but I don't remember having any problems or deaths of items. I have never had problems with the Macs I've had either, even the minis that I installed Linux on and used as tiny convenient Linux boxes back in the day when miniITX and Atom boards didn't cut it (and when PCs with the same power as the Mac Mini were significantly larger).

I have had to clean up virus-ridden machines from others though; if you fill your machine up with junk and aren't careful browsing the web things go wrong apparently.

This is a surprising comment to me. I've followed the laptop market pretty closely for years now and Apple consistently has offered the highest quality devices of everyone in my opinion. Most importantly to me is the sheer size/weight of the device while still maintaining features. In this way Macbooks have been superior for years - but I'm hoping there's just some lines I've missed.

If you could point me to some laptops that match the specs of a Macbook for the year they were out and are as thin/light then I'd much appreciate it!

I traded in my MacBook for an i7 ATIV Book 9 Plus about a year and a half ago. The Samsung was (I think) thinner and lighter than my Air, but had a higher than MBPr resolution display and i7 processor. Basically like a high end MBPr in an Air form factor. The Samsung was a pretty dramatic upgrade and I sold my MacBook almost immediately. I only miss it occasionally when I'd like to be able to build an iOS app.

Today, I'm using a Surface Pro 3 and actually like it even better than the Samsung. There's something impressive about being able to carry a full i7 development machine around like it's a thin, hardcover book.

I haven't used the Suface Pro 3 myself but I'm wondering, can it become your sole/main dev machine? Or is it only good for some light coding?

I don't use the Surface Pro 3, but my friend does. He used it as his work "laptop" for the duration of a gig at one company. The dock attachment is a good addition if you want it for that purpose, but its tablet form factor makes it work better than any laptop I've seen for being productive off the office desk, like sitting in front of the fireplace and writing a bunch of text. His use has convinced me that if I ever need to get a new personal laptop (my company provides me with the only one I use) I would get the Pro 3.

I use a desktop as my main dev machine, and I haven't tried to supplant it with any of these portable machines, just supplement. I do run Visual Studio, WebStorm, Photoshop, etc. on the Surface though, no problem, to code and push real features.

The docking station and a large display or two would probably be a must for using it as a primary machine. I haven't tried the docking station myself, but I've heard lots of good things about it.

Dell has been producing amazing spec'ed laptops since 2013. When they use the IGZO display. Dell and Fujitsu both produced a 3200 x 1800 display laptop. Samsung has their 9 and 5 series that are pretty nice spec'ed work horses. Apple Does not have any laptop with 32 GB of memory, and you cannot upgrade them. They have the i7 but only 1 of the 13 different possible specs.

Given size it is a bit more difficult but there are laptops with higher display density than apple and faster processors.

>The last 4 Windows based machine I owned crashed when I close/move/sleep/awoke it/plugged in another display

What century was this? I could understand one model having these issues, but 4? I think you embellish.

I actually didn't tell enough. I have had 2 Asus, 1 Dell, 3 Lenovo, 1 HP, 1 Chromebook, 1 MBPr 2013 late. In the span of 5 years 2008-2013. I only stick need my Apple now.

I purchased and sold 4 of those the Asuses, Dell, and HP. The Lenovos were purchased by my Prof. I complained and she gave them to the incoming students and I got a new one.

Update: Thanks for down voting because I am the most unlucky person with crappy crappy computers.

Honestly (and really, hear me out here). Alot of those crashes were device drivers for graphics cards. Windows 8 (I know... 8.1 isn't bad) actually moved the display drivers out of kernal space (at the chagrin of every game dev ever) and now at least the system/applications recover from a graphic driver dump.

Although I will say I'm having issues with 8.1 that I can't really peg down. Sigh. We've had a string of issues with mavericks/yosemite here at work so I can't say everything is all rosey either.

Ubuntu is pretty easy going as far as linux distros and working. At least when you throw recent but not bleeding edge hardware at it!

I'll agree that right now osx is probably the most stable of systems for developing but that comes at the expense of lack of some pretty critical software (well... lets be serious, games...)

Alot of those crashes were device drivers for graphics cards. Windows 8 (I know... 8.1 isn't bad) actually moved the display drivers out of kernel space

The NT kernel was worked on the by guy who did the VAX kernel. The thing is pretty rock solid so long as you don't do certain things -- like put display drivers in kernel space. There were people selling monstrous RAID arrays run by the NT kernel. You can't get much more stringent than that for stability requirements.

What problems have you had with Mavericks and Yosemite?

Oh, I got this! Worst wireless reliability I've ever seen in a business. They keep putting out 'fixes' to wpa2 authentication and we still have constant issues in our office when going from WAP to WAP.

Honestly there's been a few issues here with some apache configs and just general web development brew snafus. Most likely from upgrading the OS. The clean installs we recently got have been pretty good so far.

Windows 7 already enjoys user space drivers.

As does Vista.

I'm in the same opinion, mac os has become less and less stable. I get crashes more often than before. I like to never reboot my machines and can barely get a week before something causes it to freeze up forcing me to reboot or get the system message that its being rebooted for some type of crash. On top of other issues like wifi stability, etc.

I don't use windows. I wish there was just a good linux laptop.

There is nothing on the market competitive with a MBPr in terms of hardware (completely ignoring software).

The XPS 15 is the closest, and it's apparently plagued by coil whine.

Hahaha @ haters downvoting without providing any counterexamples... because they can't

What else on the market is that size and weight with a quad core, 16gb ram, and pcie storage?

I got a custom built 13.3" Sony Vaio S. It's got 12GB ram, 1TB disk, Intel i7 at 2.9Ghz, 1600x900 display, Blu-Ray Reader/DVD-RW Combo, 3G modem, gbit ethernet, both VGA and HDMI output, 3 USB ports (2 of them 3.0) SD Card and MemoryCard and cost 987 GBP plus tax which I got back on my way out. Oh and it's got very good Linux compatibity out of the box. Resumes from ram without a hitch, I only reboot when I need to get something done with the kernel. I'm writing this while listening music via my bluetooth headset. Battery sustains around 2 hours of work, but it used to be better. It was leaps and bounds ahead of what Apple had to offer with its Macbook PRO line at the time at 2/3 of its weight, and I fear still is.

I'm looking at Dell's machine and yes it's got a higher resolution display (but is it better at that display size? I hope!), and presumably an updated processor, but that's it. No nic, no disk spinner, less ports, no VGA, etc. Call me old-fashioned but I can't consider a laptop without a couple easy ways to get data on/off (e.g. ethernet ports, disk spinners) as a development workstation.

Top that and I'll pay you.

And shame on you, Sony, for not being able to properly sell today's market leader that you came up with two years ago. Shame on you.

And I'd call a computer with 2 hours of battery runtime a desktop with a UPS. :) I jest.

That said, I think the Dell is okay in terms of connections. There's seemingly half a dozen video output plugs at the moment, including one that's been around since 1952[0]. I'd rather buy 4 adapting cables than have more than one video out on a subnotebook.

Getting data on/off seems easy: there's wifi, there's 3 USB ports for everything else[1]. Spinning (optical) disks? Really? Might as well put a LTO tape drive in there. I'd have like Ethernet, too, but in those cases where you're most likely to need it (at home, in the office), it's easy to stash an adapter.

[0] I'm not even kidding. http://www.dansdata.com/gz061.htm [1] Also bluetooth. And there's an SD card reader, if your development process includes taking photos. External optical drives are like, 20 bucks.

> And shame on you, Sony, for not being able to properly sell today's market leader that you came up with two years ago. Shame on you.

Unless you consider Japan. Sony has never been very keen on marketing their top stuff in the US and Europe; it's mystifying.

I've had the high end version (i7 & hi-res touchscreen) for a couple of weeks as my primary development machine and so far is pretty satisfied

The keyboard is more plastic than for instance the Zenbook but good. I've had no issues with the track pad, two-finger scrolling works perfectly. Best trackpad I've had on a PC laptop (don't know what The Verge was raving about, maybe pinch gestures aren't as good as mac?)

As for battery issues, It does feel that it doesn’t last too long, like 3-4 hours tops (I run Bitlocker & Chrome though so that has some impact). I don't think this is as much the laptops fault really as it depends mostly on having a screen with very high resolution and depending on how you configure power saving options, what kind of work you do etc.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Xps "13 is the best PC laptop in this form factor right now until sharp releases the exclusivity on the screen in November, then Asus might give them a run for their money again.

To their credit I vowed never to buy a dell laptop again but they proved me wrong. A 14"-15" version of this laptop with more ram would be the ultimate though, larger screen so you can use the resolution better, more battery volume for a little better longevity.

I'm not so sure the hi-res version is the best option for developers because of the energy drain, especially if you need to work on battery for a whole day. The power pack buys you some time but very doubtful you'd last a whole day.

Also matte screens is often better than glossy for development, at least when working outside or where's there's sun.

Then again, you might need touch for development and the touch version with gorilla glass looks much better.

Personally the feature I'm dying to get now that we have almost bezel free computers are Amoled screens. Bezelfree where the true blacks of the screen blends into the little bezel there is would be truly droolworthy

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