Help me find the best laptop for what I need.....

NIZMOZ

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 23, 2007
Messages
1,874
  • Total budget (in local currency) and country of purchase. Please do not use USD unless purchasing in the US:
    $3-4k USD

  • Are you open to refurbs/used?
    NEW

  • How would you prioritize form factor (ultrabook, 2-in-1, etc.), build quality, performance, and battery life?
    #1 Build Quality, #2 Performance, #3 must get 8-10 hours battery life, be compact/Ultrabook

  • How important is weight and thinness to you?
    Light weight, thin is a plus. Don't want a 20lb brick.

  • Do you have a preferred screen size? If indifferent, put N/A.
    15-17" - 4k resolution is a plus, not interested in high refresh due to rarely gaming

  • Are you doing any CAD/video editing/photo editing/gaming? List which programs/games you desire to run.
    I am in IT, so I use my computers for a lot of heavy loads, this laptop needs to be able to handle everything. Video editing, photo editing, rarely gaming, but I might in the future, Virtual machines, etc.

  • If you're gaming, do you have certain games you want to play? At what settings and FPS do you want?
    COD, Battlefield, etc

  • Any specific requirements such as good keyboard, reliable build quality, touch-screen, finger-print reader, optical drive or good input devices (keyboard/touchpad)?
    Great keyboard and trackpad a must. I will mostly use it docked, but when on the go, it will need one. No optical needed.

  • Leave any finishing thoughts here that you may feel are necessary and beneficial to the discussion.
    A system that can do it all as a desktop replacement when docked, and on the go when I need it for 10 hours a day on battery taking notes, working on equipment, etc. I will be throwing everything at it, including Virtual machine loads, blu-ray ripping, photo and video editing, and so on. Would need to start with 32gb of memory.

  • Ones I've considered: MacBook Pro 16" with 5600m card, i9, 32gb and 1-2tb of storage. I own a Android device for a phone, so I won't get the benefits as easy with that device on a Mac as I would with Windows. Some other laptops, Razer Advanced 15", XPS 15-17", HP Spectre X360 (I think is the name), Alienware laptop (newest 15"). A good video card will be a plus since I'll be running external monitors from the TB3 port.
 

KarsusTG

2[H]4U
Joined
Aug 27, 2010
Messages
3,229
  • Total budget (in local currency) and country of purchase. Please do not use USD unless purchasing in the US:
    $3-4k USD

  • Are you open to refurbs/used?
    NEW

  • How would you prioritize form factor (ultrabook, 2-in-1, etc.), build quality, performance, and battery life?
    #1 Build Quality, #2 Performance, #3 must get 8-10 hours battery life, be compact/Ultrabook

  • How important is weight and thinness to you?
    Light weight, thin is a plus. Don't want a 20lb brick.

  • Do you have a preferred screen size? If indifferent, put N/A.
    15-17" - 4k resolution is a plus, not interested in high refresh due to rarely gaming

  • Are you doing any CAD/video editing/photo editing/gaming? List which programs/games you desire to run.
    I am in IT, so I use my computers for a lot of heavy loads, this laptop needs to be able to handle everything. Video editing, photo editing, rarely gaming, but I might in the future, Virtual machines, etc.

  • If you're gaming, do you have certain games you want to play? At what settings and FPS do you want?
    COD, Battlefield, etc

  • Any specific requirements such as good keyboard, reliable build quality, touch-screen, finger-print reader, optical drive or good input devices (keyboard/touchpad)?
    Great keyboard and trackpad a must. I will mostly use it docked, but when on the go, it will need one. No optical needed.

  • Leave any finishing thoughts here that you may feel are necessary and beneficial to the discussion.
    A system that can do it all as a desktop replacement when docked, and on the go when I need it for 10 hours a day on battery taking notes, working on equipment, etc. I will be throwing everything at it, including Virtual machine loads, blu-ray ripping, photo and video editing, and so on. Would need to start with 32gb of memory.

  • Ones I've considered: MacBook Pro 16" with 5600m card, i9, 32gb and 1-2tb of storage. I own a Android device for a phone, so I won't get the benefits as easy with that device on a Mac as I would with Windows. Some other laptops, Razer Advanced 15", XPS 15-17", HP Spectre X360 (I think is the name), Alienware laptop (newest 15"). A good video card will be a plus since I'll be running external monitors from the TB3 port.

The new XPS 17, when they get the bugs worked out would almost be perfect for your needs. It is actually barely bigger than a 15" laptop (about 0.5" bigger than my 15".) You would need the upper end models to get the vapor chamber cooling option which you would really want if you are doing heavy loads and it's still well within your budget. With laptops, cooling is what makes / breaks most of them (especially as a desktop replacement.) It doesn't matter if you have the most powerful i9 in the world if it is always thermal throttled. Dell has probably the best warranty program of the major brands if you are willing to spend a little money on it, although Lenovo is pretty dang good too. HP has been kinda meh in that department, but they do have some great hardware options.

You will have to go with an Intel cpu if you want thunderbolt on a laptop, but if you can go without it the Ryzen mobile cpu's simply embarrass anything you can get from Intel right now. Seriously, it is not even remotely close.

If you are mostly docked and using thunderbolt already, you can go with an arguably better route of a high end laptop without a discrete gpu and use a thunderbolt E-GPU (that is up-gradeable) pushing the monitors at the desk. That gives you a full desktop gpu for workloads and much better battery life and a lighter machine when you are mobile. It also means your machine has a lot less heat to deal with when under those heavy work loads because the gpu heat is in a separate system.

When comparing them for your use case of pushing virtual machines and blu-ray ripping / video encoding you should IMO prioritize cooling > # cores > Speed of cores > basically everything else. It's rare to come across a current gen laptop that doesn't support 32+gb of ram, especially in your budget so I wouldn't focus on that too much, you can always save some money on the initial configuration and buy your own ram to throw into it.
 

Nebell

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 20, 2015
Messages
1,952
Isn't Alienware M15 R3 a better choice?
Yes it has 15" screen compared to 17", but it weights about the same as XPS 17, is a bit smaller and therefore more portable and you get a much better GPU for the same price (2070 super for $3000 or 2080 super for $4000).
 

win32asmguy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 17, 2002
Messages
128
You could consider a Dell Precision 7550 with a Quadro RTX 3000. Very expandable and the weight is not too bad. It also has a MUX switch on the TB3 ports so you can choose to drive them from either the Intel or Nvidia GPU unlike the XPS and Alienware which is Intel only. Gaming is fine with the Quadro cards, the performance is on par with a 2060 Max-Q. The only bad thing is they removed dedicated Page Up and Down keys from the new keyboard, moving them to Fn+Arrow instead.
 

cyclone3d

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
Messages
13,807
8-10 hours battery life.... I don't think that is really compatible with your other needs/wants.

My Father-In-Law just picked up a Dell Inspiron with the Ryzen 7 2700U from the Dell Outlet for less than $600. It is nice and thin and light and seems like a really nice laptop overall. The responsiveness actually really surprised me. Very noticeable even when doing simple things such as opening the browser. This is coming from somebody who has been using higher end Dell Precision laptops with Intel 7th and 8th gen i7 CPUs.

There is absolutely no comparison.

The AMD Ryzen based laptops will put a huge smile on your face.
 

NIZMOZ

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 23, 2007
Messages
1,874
Thanks everyone. Sorry that I am just now responding. Appreciate all the responses so far. I agree, that 8 hours of battery life maybe difficult. But some cases I need it for note taking. So if I need to adjust the machine I need, then I will to make that battery life go up. I need a overall great machine that meets most of what I need. The XPS 15/17 is a great machine I think, and would fit well, but the problems worry me. Razer also seems to have its problems and their support also worry me. It seems I keep leaning back to the MBP 16".
 

Aurelius

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 22, 2003
Messages
3,076
Thanks everyone. Sorry that I am just now responding. Appreciate all the responses so far. I agree, that 8 hours of battery life maybe difficult. But some cases I need it for note taking. So if I need to adjust the machine I need, then I will to make that battery life go up. I need a overall great machine that meets most of what I need. The XPS 15/17 is a great machine I think, and would fit well, but the problems worry me. Razer also seems to have its problems and their support also worry me. It seems I keep leaning back to the MBP 16".

Other than for gaming, the MBP 16 probably would fit the bill (I wouldn't buy it assuming I would spend much time in Boot Camp). The XPS would likely be fine as well and would be much better if you plan to spend all of your time in Windows, although it irks me that your display choices are split between a no-frills 1080p screen or a battery-hogging 4K touch display. I like that Apple finds a middle road that arguably strikes a better balance (you probably won't notice the 4K res on an XPS; you will notice the MBP's extra battery life).
 
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