Tue, 09 Jun 2015
Laptop Upgrade, take 2
After thinking about upgrading my laptop in 2013, it is time for another try. My old ASUS F3E has flaky power connector, and sometimes fails to charge, which is quite annoying. So far my requirements are:
- Fully supported by Linux without proprietary blobs (definitely not nVidia graphics or Broadcom wireless).
- No Microsoft tax (read: no pre-installed Windows).
- At least 8 GB of RAM, upgradable to at least 16 GB, more is better.
- As big battery as possible (upgrading my old ASUS F3E to a 9-cell battery helped a lot).
- 14" to 15.6" display. Maybe even 13.3", but not 17".
- Keyboard without the numeric keypad, with full-sized inverse-T arrow keys, and with backlight.
- Display resolution higher than my old ASUS F3E has (1280x800), especially in the vertical direction. Definitely not that "HD-ready" thing.
- Matte display. Glossy displays suck.
- Touchpad with at least two physical buttons, so that the middle button can be emulated.
- Not very heavy, if possible.
- Magnesium chassis (or, generally speaking, no brittle plastics).
- Internal SSD storage, or no storage at all (I already have a 240 GB SSD drive from my old laptop.
- No DVD drive. It only eats power, and it is dead weight anyway.
- CPU with as high single-core performance as possible. For a laptop, two cores are more than enough.
- If possible, something less ugly than classical black Thinkpads.
Of course, all the above criteria are met with exactly zero laptops currently available in the Czech Republic. So far I am considering the following less-than-optimal models:
- HP Probook 450 G2 (K9K20EA) (cons: HDD, DVD drive, only 4-cell battery, Realtek ethernet, probably no backlit keyboard).
- HP ZBook Z15 G2 (K0G61ES) (cons: HDD, weight 2.8 kg, numerical keypad, no information about wifi)
- HP EliteBook 850 G2 (J8R65EA) (cons: 3-cell battery, Windows)
- Lenovo Thinkpad T550 (20CK000XMC) (cons: 3-cell battery, price, Windows)
- Lenovo Thinkpad L450 (20DS0003MC) (cons: Windows, probably no backlit keyboard)
So, my dear lazyweb, what would you recommend? Any other models? Any known problems with the abovementioned laptops? Thanks!
12 replies for this story:
Šimon wrote: x1 carbon 3rd
Hey, I am old school thinkpad lover and after initial hurdles I am quite satisfied with Lenovo X1 Carbon 3rd. However, it may not be for everyone. Just take a look.
Yenya wrote: Re: x1 carbon 3rd
OK, X1 definitely does not look like a Thinkpad, which is positive. However, it looks too light and too brittle for me, does not have a VGA connector, has touchpad without buttons (the buttons above are definitely not usable for working with the touchpad itself), and comes with Microsoft tax. If I read the prices correctly, an X1 with i7-5500U costs at least thre times more than the HP Probook 450 G2 with the same CPU.
Michal wrote: EliteBook
From the list of possible machines I would go for EliteBook 850 (or better for EB 840, i.e. 14" model, as that screen size seems to me to have the best usability/mobility ratio). I have EliteBook 840 G1 (http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-HP-EliteBook-840-G1-H5G28ET-Ultrabook.114717.0.html) and I like the machine very much except for its display and keyboard. :-) The FullHD screen on your machine should be perfectly OK (matte IPS display; beware of models with lower resolutions as these are TN displays with terribly low contrast [I have one with 1600×900 in my EB 840 G1]). However, the keyboard sucks and I am afraid your model will do no better. I use my notebook just occasionally so more practice could do better but any move from my desktops' mechanical keyboards to the EB 840 keyboard is always really painful. After six months I am still unable to write my passwords correctly in two out of three attempts. Everything else seems to be OK. The chassis has its solid feel (and incredibly easy maintenance: http://youtu.be/j6Dujq2fHrc?t=1m59s) but the computer is very light with just a tiny charging adapter. You can install M.2 SSD (only 42 mm variant fits) which I really like – I use M.2 SSD for system and files in use and the original large rotating HDD (usually sleeping) to have encrypted backup of all my files always with me. Non-original (i.e. much cheaper) RAM modules are also usable with no problem. [I made a really bad experience with Lenovo laptops – non-original DVD-Drive to 2,5" HDD adapter (for secondary SSD) did not work at all (confirmed on two models of Lenovo notebooks with two different HDD adapters). However, Lenovo keyboards are far better. (Even though not as good as used to be in IBM era.)] Battery life is very good (recent Intel CPUs have amazingly low power consumption in idle states so turned of notebook lives very long [~5–6 hours] on battery if used for lightweight work such as browsing internet or working over SSH). It is possible to buy (inelegantly expensive) secondary battery to effectively double the battery life. There is also a docking connector. I _really_ like docking my notebook for use of better keyboard and monitor and charging and networking with no need for clowning around with cables.
Yenya wrote: Re: EliteBook
You are right. Today I have discovered that it would probably be possible to buy an EliteBook 840 G2 without the Microsoft tax, even though it is not offered as such in Czech e-shops. So yes, an EliteBook 840 G2 with FullHD screen is currently my favourite. I have a slightly different use case - I don't use it as my primary workstation neither at work nor at home, so I don't need docking or an external keyboard at all.
Michal wrote: Re: EliteBook
How about HP EliteBook 840 G2 J8R60EA? http://www.hpmarket.cz/productOpt.asp?konfId=J8R60EA http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=c04472796
Yenya wrote: Re: EliteBook
It is a similar one to what I'll probably buy. I've got a really good price to a similar configuration - only without an operating system and with i5-5300U CPU.
Milan Zamazal wrote:
Maybe you should also consider the preinstalled backdoors (especially BIOS) and whether they are going to be replacable by something like coreboot. That would probably limit your options more than any of the other requirements though.
Tomas Ruprich wrote:
We bought few HP EliteBooks 840 G2 recently and they're fine so far. Just few cons, which may not be important for your use case :-) We had EliteBooks 8540w earlier and the chasis was more solid. The new chasis is more like plastic from my point of view (although it's magnesium/aluminium) and i don't trust it would survive what those old did. Second is just a cosmetic, but could be really painfull in a long term... If you'd have a look, there's a divide between front edge of chasis and the area with keyboard: http://www.hpmarket.cz/library/configuration/notebooky/HP-EliteBook-840_v3b.jpg If you don't use keyboard and lay your wrists on that edge when typing, it could be really disturbing and even painfull (esp. after few hours). Arrows on the keyboard layout are terrible! And we bought it from Autocont, they were able to order it from HP precisely how we wanted it - part after part, without OS. Price might have been bit higher than from eshops, but it was still better for us. I could provide you with direct contact. Btw. there's HP Ultraslim Docking Station available for this model.
Yenya wrote: Re: Tomas Ruprich
Thanks for your information. I'll definitely check the edge of the 840 laptop before buying it.
Possibly interesting machine: http://diit.cz/clanek/lenovo-chysta-retro-thinkpad-jako-ze-zlatych-casu-ibm#utm_source=atom&utm_medium=feed&utm_content=article
Yenya wrote: Re: Michal
Yes, I am aware of this. However, I am afraid that it would be an outer design thing only, and as I wrote above, I am not a big fan of the classical thinkpad look. We will see after the specs of the internal parts are announced.
DELL Latitude E5450 vs Lenovo ThinkPad L450 comparison: http://notebookblog.cz/technika/zkusenosti-a-reklamace/prime-srovnani-14-fhd-notebooku-dell-latitude-e5450-a-lenovothinkpad-l450/