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Ask HN: Feasible Alternative to the MacBook Pro ?, Hacker News


            

                  

I switched from MBP to a Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu . I compare the experience to living in a hotel vs. living at home [1]. In a hotel (=on Mac), everything is stylish and cared for, but you have very little freedom to change things. At home (=on Linux), you need to do the dishes yourself but there’s no external agenda. It’s simply yours.

I’m very happy with the switch. Though I’m on (Debian ) Xfce now instead of Ubuntu and would go for a ThinkPad instead of the XPS, because 1) I want a 14 “screen 2) the XPS’s fan is too loud, especially when Skyping 3) the XPS’s camera is placed at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top, so people you have video calls with look up your nostrils.

[1]:https://fman.io/blog/home-and-hotel

            

                  

I love this analogy, and it’s remarkable at how much sense it makes when I look at the choices I make in my day to day life generally.

Hotel-chic is very clean, very minimal, very sparse . Just enough to have the necessary conveniences that appeal to everyone, with absolutely nothing personalized for any individual.

As of about 10 years ago, I made a conscious choice to stop customizing my deskt op (and then later, mobile) experience away from the defaults as much as possible, as I was fed up of having to document and then re-deploy all of my customisations every time I had to reinstall for whatever reason, which was far too frequent for my liking.

At the same time, I’d been moving home roughly every year for the 7 years prior already, and had grown weary of all my physical effects. I started disposing of more and more of my things (inadvertently marie kondo-ing my life before it was a “thing” I was aware of) and decreasing the personalization of my physical space down more and more.

I now essentially live a hotel-esque lifestyle, with most of my personal customizations fitting in a small corner of the room. Added bonus of this is with the frequent travel I need to do for work, I can take one or two items with me, and the hotel room instantly feels like home.

I guess this explains why I’m relatively happy as an Apple user. The lack of customization doesn’t bother me, as I don’t customize anything outside of the bare minimums (wallpaper and privacy settings, thats about it).

It also explains how I’m able to use Windows 10 at work without killing anyone, while my colleagues are all using tiling window managers under Linux and looking at me like I’m crazy for not wanting to spend a week tweaking and customizing my environment ….

            

                  

>I made a conscious choice to stop customizing my desktop (and then later, mobile) experience away from the defaults as much as possible, as I was fed up of having to document and then re-deploy all of my customisations every time I had to reinstall for whatever reason.

I just copy my home-dir settings everywhere I go. I have a different setup on my desktop and laptop. It is mostly .config that I need. But when moving, it just moves along to a new machine or install. Happily living on the same config files for 20 years now, and I only need to adjust as I desire. I do have daily backups ofcourse.

            

                  

>Happily living on the same config files for 20 years now

I just wanted to draw more attention to this particular snippet. That’s a remarkable achievement, and you should be proud of yourself and your working environment.

Regardless that most other people (myself included) are unlikely to be able to replicate what you’ve done, the reality is you’ve done it, and it works for you. Good job.

            

                  

I also have very minimal dotfiles. Less than 200 LOC in total, including whitespace.

They have barely changed in the last decade. Two key things to be able to work like this were:

* Moving most of my computing to 3 platforms (Emacs, Unix and Firefox). I don’t use any GUI application aside from a manual tiling window manager.

* Migrating to a barebones distribution, Arch / NixOS. A small half a page imperative / declarative script is enough to configure all my system.

            

                  

I have a similarly low, although very important to me , set of requirements for my personal configuration.

I use KDE, which has many, many, many buttons and knobs available for tweaking. I use hardly any of them: I can set KDE as I wish in about 2 minutes. I add a “Keep window above others” button to the default minimize-maximize-close set, activate “Focus follows mouse”, and swap Ctrl and Caps Lock. I think I also change the task switcher (Alt Tab thing) to only cycle though not-minimized windows on the current screen.

For everything else (Zsh, SSH, etc), I just carry around my dotfiles. I’ve done this since about 2002.

If I were setting myself up with a clean KDE environment more than once every 2-3 years, I’d make the small effort to work out which bits of KDE config I need to keep. So far, it’s not worth it.

            

                  

In case you didn’t notice, Windows 10 is now a tiling window manager with virtual desktops, by default, if you just learn the new keyboard shortcuts.

            

                  

>In case you didn’t notice, Windows 10 is now a tiling window manager with virtual desktops, by default, if you just learn the new keyboard shortcuts.

But it’s not comparable to sway / i3 – no t in terms of customisability or functionality. What I suspect we have on Windows, are virtual desktops and snap-to-edge / quarter tiling. Maybe you can get some rigid layouts if you install PowerToys / FancyZones, but it’s still a far cry from my usual working environment where I can dynamically create layouts by opening new windows, configure shortcuts to my own desire, programmatically send messages to the window manager and so much more.

With Windows (and to be honest, macOS too), you get least-common denominator functionality aimed at users who don’t know what a window manager is.

            

                  

>I made a conscious choice to stop customizing my desktop (and then later, mobile) experience away from the defaults as much as possible, as I was fed up of having to document and then re-deploy all of my customisations every time I had to reinstall for whatever reason

I tried this for some time and came to the conclusion that for me most desktops’ defaults don’t fit me and it seems to get worse from release to release.

            

                  

Give me the hotel then because I want to spend my time doing work not having to do laundry or cut the lawn.

            

                  

I’ve spent more time fighting with brew and the third party package manages than I have with issues in Ubuntu.

            

                  

You might have had some exotic edge cases then because I ‘ve never run into this situation.

MacOS is unix-y enough to compile your own binaries like a John Siracusa does.

And if you’re a dev the Mac is still a much better platform for getting paid than any other platform (until ElementaryOS takes off …).

I use a number of really cool apps to do things I would get likely for free on Linux like magnet for window management (though that’s gotten a lot better in Catalina).

And … even though the current laptops have terrible keyboards my 2013 MacBook Pro is a bit rough around the edges it’s solid and fast and in my experience none of my pc laptops ever made it that far.

Side note: is there a Linux distribution or desktop environment that does what the Mac does with the scaling. Native res is 1440 p but renders at half that to effectively give a 2x sharpen on image quality?

            

                  

Stretching this analogy even further:

With Linux, we have a choice of over 20 different housemaids and lawn-cutting robots, though choosing between them is difficult at first.

Most lawn robots can also sweep patios or shovel snow, so if you move to a different climate you can use the same tools.

            

                  

>Most lawn robots can also sweep patios or shovel   >snow, so if you move to a different climate you   >can use the same tools.

I thought that the UNIX was was to one job, well.

            

                  

>the XPS’s camera is placed at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top, so people you have video calls with look up your nostrils.

The camera is no longer placed at the bottom of the screen in the newest model (9380), they moved it up top

            

                  

Huh, weird. I used to have an XPS 15 (from 2015 or so) with the camera placed on top, but my newer one (2018) has it at the bottom. Weird and unwelcome.

            
            
            

                  

I’d rather compare it to living in a hotel vs flat-sharing.

You can customize your room (your Window Manager, Terminal, etc …) but when you try to make yourself at home in the bathroom or kitchen (use and / or customize common applications), you run into issues. [1]

Since everyone has a different preferences, you have to make compromises.

On Mac, all apps follow similar guidelines. And the end result are beautiful, powerful, intuitive and feature-rich native applications, that make the best use of all the available system features.

[1]:https://stopthemingmy.app/

            
            

                  

>the XPS’s camera is placed at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top, so people you have video calls with look up your nostrils.

This is no longer the case in the latest gen, they ‘ve placed it back at the top on a very thin bezel still.

            
            

                  

Thinkpads come in different flavors, and the have very different quality. Either get a T-series, or X-series (X series is basically smaller version of T). Or if it’s a used one, the later A-series are good as well (A series means AMD instead of Intel). The old A – series were crap. Nowadays T and X series have AMD also (if model ends with 5, it’s AMD). T and X series have MIL certification. For example there’s also X1 Extreme (costs around 3000 €), but quality wise it’s a lot worse than T or X series, because it does not have the MIL certificate.

            
            

                  

Yes, when I wrote ThinkPad I meant T or X series!

First time I hear the X1 Extreme is worse quality wise – I was thinking it’d be my next machine … like in a couple of years. Do you have more info?

            

                  

Two examples: 1. No drainage system (like in X and T series) 2. Screen hinge becomes loose in less than a year (anecdata)

Edit: in order to remove battery, you have to remove the whole bottom cover.

            

                  

Just do not make the mistake of assuming that the lenovo’s next business day warranty means next business day. My current understanding is that they try their best to give a call to you next day but what comes to actual repair, there is no guarantee whatsoever when that is going to happen (some time ago my latop was in a brick-like state for more than 10 da ys and lenovo seems to be perfectly happy with their performance.)

            

                  

Yeah, sure. I was on Ubuntu, now I’m on Debian Xfce. It’s better because it’s faster and does not have some of the bugs I mentioned in the article I linked to.

            
            

                  

I have new Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu and I ‘ m satisfied with it. Camera has moved in these new models.

Dell Thunderbolt Dock (TB 16) is is disappointment. Others report problems as well.

            

                  

Our company offers Dell XPS 13 and Precision 5530 based on the XPS 15 chassis) as Macbook alternatives for all employees. I’ve had my Precision for a couple years now and couldn’t be happier, it’s an awesome device and imho as close as it gets to the overall hardware quality and usability of Macbooks with Windows- / Linux-based devices.

            
            

****************                   

I second a ThinkPad with XFCE (such as Xubuntu) as the best combination.

A few things which, although obviously in retrospect, I had to learn the hard way:

• Get a ThinkPad with physical buttons under the touchpad, if you like to track with your index finger and click with the thumb. I made the mistake of getting the kind where you push the entire touchpad, and it’s very hard to use. Apple’s was at least useable, this is not.

• Get a ThinkPad with a physical Ethernet port. USB dongles are finicky and unstable on Linux, and there are places / desks / offices where the WiFi is flaky.

• Choose theStablerelease of a well-supported OS (Ubuntu, Mint … whatever) because the beta / newest / testing versionwillmake you lose time on bugs and freezes.

            

                  

Overall I agree with your post. There are some things I’d like to point out.

– ThinkPads have amazing linux support. Dells aren’t bad either. I have used a few dell laptops with linux as my daily drivers and no issues. Currently typing this on a Latitude E 7450 and have had everything working out of the box.

– I am using a USB wired connection without issues, works out of the box.

– Currently using Manjaro linux and enjoying the heck out of it. Haven’t done a reinstall in over a year and it’s very stable across updates.

            

                  

There are not many ThinkPads with Ethernet ports. T4 ?? p or P ?? are the only ones left, IIRC. Others have either no port or a difficult to use clapet.

            
            

                  

I moved from a MBP to a Dell XPS 13. This transition made me appreciate just how nice the trackpad on the mac is. I am no apple fanboy by any means, after my MBP died out of warranty. They wanted $ 700 to fix … but after some use, the XPS trackpad is a real aggravation machine. In laymen terms, it is like the MBP knows when I am typing and reduces the sensitivity of the trackpad. On the Dell, it surely seems like the Dell knows when I am typing and cranks the sensitivity of the trackpad up 10 X. I consciously have to move my hands up to type, which becomes a real problem when the laptop is in your lap and not on a desk.

I have used Linux since 1992, literally, but I still find the mac os X more cohesive and fluid. Do not get me wrong, I love linux, but on the XPS I felt like I still have to futz with the OS too much. “hey, I just went to work, I am on the OTHER wifi now mr Dell XPS laptop. Hello? HELLO? OK, gotta reboot and turn the wifi on and off three times to connect”. This is with the Dell supplied ubuntu fully updated. Ugh.

            

                  

There is some tool I’ve forgotten that disables the touchpad when the keyboard is in use. You can set the timeout period, I think that my sweetspot was 1.5 seconds.

If you can’t find it then let me know, I’ll google it.

            

                  

It’s still rather clumsy though, if you go too fast from typing to touchpad you have to wait for the delay. If you set the delay to be too quick, you will get wrong clicks. It’s more a question of palm detection, and the Linux touchpad drivers are not great at this.

            
            

                  

>I compare the experience to living in a hotel vs . living at home

This is very apt. If we’ve all grown out of our parents’ basements when we left /., Then let me share my own analogy.

When SSHing into different servers I used to bring my .vimrc and .bashrc along with me, because how could you live without them? Likewise for switching computers, you bring along your config files. When a new job required me to be at lots of different computers, and SSH into lots of different servers, I also made a conscious effort to reduce my dependency on customization. That’s when I developed my significantOther vs girlInEveryPort modes of operation.

In significantOther mode of operation, I invest the time to customize the environment so that it is perfect for _me_. This is like looking for a woman to marry. It takes time, and the first woman (or config setting) has no more chance of being the best as does the twentyith. We invest much time finding on what we _can_ compromise, and on when we cannot.

In girlInEveryPort mode of operation, I have little problem using vanilla VIM and standard Bash. I might stumble a bit and touch her in ways she doesn’t like, but overall we get the job done and nothing is broken afterwards.

The perfect balance for me was to discover that I could have both modes of operation.

            

                  

This is straight up misogynistic and is a great example of why women are driven away from our industry, because of language like this.

            

                  

While it is a very unusual metaphor, I don ‘ t see how it is misogyny or derogatory against women. This is wildly off-topic but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

            

                  

Yes it is a strange metaphor but language like “I might stumble a bit and touch her in ways she doesn’t like ”is rapey and comparing women to config files is just weird. The whole comment feels like it is objectifying women

            

                  

It’s archaic. The analogy isn’t well served by using women and sex as an example, and I don’t really see why someone needs to hear about touching women in ways they don’t like when all they’re talking about is a shell configuration.

This probably would have gone down well back in the 60 s, but we’ve hopefully since moved on from comparing women to objects, and comparing how we treat women to how we treat inanimate things.

Personally, I downvoted because the author’s attitude to women has absolutely nothing to do with discussing good alternatives to laptops.

            

                  

>“I might stumble a bit and touch her in ways she doesn’t like, but overall we get the job done and nothing is broken afterwards. ”

                         

                  

Perhaps the mild cognitive dissonance caused by the choice of reference points.

Possibly also cross-domain projection of various strongly held views.

            

                  

It saddens me that Apple used to make (almost) perfect laptops – price aside – and it’s no longer the case, leaving a bunch of geeks looking for a replacement. In 2017 after searching the market, filtering on required specs and reading reviews, I came to the conclusion that there are no perfect laptop: every time there’s a compromise to be made.

For me, I had requirements that were previously met in the MBP: good battery life, good processing power, and not too bulky. I didn’t really care about camera or touch screen or fingerprint reader. Based on this, I finally found the Dell Precision 5520 which is the workstation version of the Dell XPS 15 “. Everything was configurable (OS, CPU, GPU, RAM, battery, screen) and with a good build quality and small form factor. Ubuntu 16. 04 LTS was an option, meaning drivers were configured and supported by Dell – a relief, after some experiences using Linux on laptops years ago. Now I’ve changed the OS to Manjaro, added a 2nd RAM stick for a total of 32 GB, configured a bit the power settings with `powertop` and I’m really happy with my portable powerhorse lasting>10 h when coding.

As for the Dell client service, I happened to use it a month ago because my 2 years old battery was now swollen. As I took the 3-year warranty extension “Next business day”, I called on Monday and Tuesday the technician was there to change battery and touchpad (that can sometimes break when the battery swells) and it was all. Fast and convenient!

            

                  

Here is an anecdote on Dell laptops. I have an XPS 15. I too had a swollen battery and I got it replaced while it was in warranty. It swelled again about a year later. Seems to be a design flaw in either their laptops or their laptop batteries.

            

                  

Let’s be fair with our memory of Apple hardware. Apple had huge issues with thermal management that resulted in GPUs failing which of course Apple blamed on the user until they could strong arm a supplier to pay for a recall.

            
            
            

                  

X1 Carbon is a really nice device. Its pretty reliable, Linux friendly and has no spyware installed like some other Lenovo lines.

But no matter what laptop you pick, its gonna take you a couple of weeks until you are comfortable with it. But it will happen eventually. Laptops have the same interface after all.

Switching the entire software stack from Mac to any other OS is probably the main struggle.

Try a couple of Linuxes or Windows for a few weeks until you find the sweet spot. Between Mac, Windows and major Linux distributions, there is none that is objectively better anymore (for developer experience). Its a matter of preference and habit.

            

                  

I used an X1 for a few months. It took me a fortnight of rage before I discovered you can switch fn and ctrl in BIOS. after that I really liked it.

I’m going to be in the market for a new

            
            

                  

I recently purchased a T 490 and it works reasonably well with Linux. My model has the base 1080 p display rated at 250 nits, and while resolution and color are no match for an MBP, the display surprisingly gets bright enough for some outdoor use.

Build quality is solid and keyboard is great. Speakers sound pretty rough but get decently loud. I got maybe 7-8 hours of use with the screen at 60%, and alternating between coding in Emacs and watching some videos.

I’ve tried Manjaro and the latest Ubuntu 18. 04 LTS and have had no issues that would be a deal breaker. The only annoyance is jittery movement with the TrackPoint, but I’ve had that on every modern ThinkPad running Linux. I’ve been leaning towards using the trackpad more often and it seems to work okay.

            

                  

Same, I bought at 480 but I went with POP OS. I bought it to see if I could switch to linux.

On the plus side its a solid and stable dev machine, iterm seems slower than the linux terminal . Rubymine, pycharm etc are stable. Google cloud shell freezes in browser sometimes but firefox quantum and chromium work pretty well otherwise. It also works great with my uhd monitor even tho it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card.

But, I encounter screen tearing a lot on web pages. The trackpad is horrible in comparison to a macbook pro. There is some pretty nice support for multiple workspaces but they dont have the amazingly useful trackpad gestures.

I honestly feel like if there was a thinkpad with a trackpad as good as a macbook pro 2012 then there would be no problem switching.

            

                  

I have a somewhat older T4xx model that’s still running ( bought in 2012 / 13 I believe). During its lifetime I upgraded the hard-drive, RAM, the keyboard (well, it wasn’t an upgrade … coffee spilled on the previous one …) and even the screen.

I have since upgraded to an X1 carbon which is significantly slimmer and lighter (although I never had any complaints about the previous laptop in that respect).

I personally think the T4xx line is a perfect compromise between portability and power. So as long as you’re ok with having a slightly thicker and heavier laptop you’ll be very happy with it.

            

                  

The new Lenovo x 390 looks quite promising for being smaller than 14, but bigger then the x (series) which is 12 .5 “).

            

                  

I also moved to Windows 10 and X1 Carbon (6th Gen) after using Apple products all my life and I’ve never looked back. That being said, my X1 also went three times to repair. I guess people have simply unlearnt how to manufacture reliable products due to the immense complexity that is involved by now, combined with a planned obsolescence mentality. It is shitty wherever you go; it’s just a bit more shitty with Apple currently IMO, and Apple deserves some flak for their provocative product policy, e.g. selling the MacBook Air with thesamecrappy low-res screen up until 2017 which is still available in some stores.

            

                  

IMO, if you’re buying a higher end laptop it’s worth shelling out for the on site warranty / accident protection. They’ll send a technician to your location (typically within the week) and replace whatever parts needed for free. So you’ll have essentially 0 time without your laptop.

It’s been excellent (used it twice: fixed a broken keycap, and a spilled drink), and gives me a ton of peace of mind.

            

                  

>They’ll send a technician to your location ( typically within the week) and replace whatever parts needed for free.

My Dell Latitude had included “next business day” 3 years warranty. I used it twice (to get motherboard and display replaced) and they sent technician next working day. There were a bit more failures then I would expect, but warranty was great and I happily bought 2 more years (5 years total) for equivalent of about 200 USD plus tax.

            

                  

Lenovo lets you buy up to 5 years of onsite support for less than the cost of applecare. I am in my 4th year on my T 460 p. Had to use it once, a few months ago when the SSD died. I found out then that whether someone actually comes out the next business day depends on the technician assigned and the region. In my case they sent me a replacement drive (arrived next business day) and expected me to install it myself. Not a problem, T series thinkpads are designed to be easy to get into, but still slightly disappointing. Still, I got the cost of the onsite back with just that one incident, so I was satisfied with the service.

I am very satisfied with that thinkpad . Excellent linux support, good performance, quiet under sustained load, best laptop keyboard I’ve ever used, and extremely durable.

            

                  

Huge 1 for this. On-site support has saved my XPS (and by extension me) a few times now. If you’re going to go for a Dell laptop I’d get ProSupport or better.

            

                  

Overall, I love my X1, but I have had so many problems that they finally replaced it with a brand new machine. Premier support is mandatory for Lenovo IMO, in spite of the problems, I never once had an issue getting someone onsite to repair it and they assigned a local case manager to sort out the replacement. On the Lenovo forum I read a lot of stories from people with similar problems, but with basic warranty they reported getting a run around, being without a machine for weeks at a time with it went back and forth to the depot. A YMMV ..

            

                  

I moved from an XPS 13 (hated the keyboard) to a Lenovo X1 Carbon (4th gen) and I’m very happy since then (Linux, XFCE). The only bad thing about the X1 are the loudspeakers (0 bass).

            

                  

X1 is a nice laptop. The problem is it’s weak CPU. Apple manages to crunch a whole different tier of CPU (h (q) series vs. U series for Lenovo) in the same form factor.

            

                  

The 13 “MBP that is most comparable to the X1 Carbon also uses U series, while the 15 “” MBP is best compared to the X1 Extreme, which, you guessed it, offers the better H series CPUs.

Same for Dell XPS 13 vs 15.

            

                  

You can’t have your pie and eat it, in exchange for battery life having U is completely understandable. Depend on your workload (mostly just a ssh frontend), even Y is acceptable.

            

                  

I’m a big fan of the U series cpus : They consume very little energy, which leads to less overheating, less fan noise, and longer battery life.

(Conversely, the H series cpus consume a lot of energy: the laptop overheats quickly and has to slow down anyway.)

            
            

                  

I’m also interested in that and collected a list recently:

* System 76 Oryx Pro (aluminum, official Linux support, US shipping, flaky hardware, poor battery)

* Prostar Clevo P 960 (rebadge of System 76 Oryx Pro)

* Huawei MateBook X Pro (aluminum, good Linux support)

* Razer laptops (aluminum, no good Linux support)

* Chuwi LapBook Plus ( aluminum, good Linux support, poor battery, poor CPU, cheap)

* Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro (aluminum, good Linux support)

* Purism Librem 13

There was a HN thread recently about Huawei MateBook X Pro:https://news.ycombinator.com/ item? id=21170765

And also one about System 76:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21216195

            
            

                  

I picked up a maxed out 2016 MPB right when it came out, including 2 LG 5K displays. I suffered random total system crashes with those external displays connected.

After going through three repair cycles Apple replaced mine with a brand new (faster) 2018 model, I didn’t even have to ask for it. It was a bit of a drag to backup / restore the machine a bunch of times but Apple’s service was top notch.

            

                  

ThinkPads every day of the week. I have a T 430 that I have owned for about 6 years and a new P 52 which is my daily work machine. Both running Linux with zero issues.

I liked the comment below describing Hotels (Mac) Vs home (ThinkPads). It’s true that if you can be bothered to tweak and install some stuff then you end up with something of your own. Your way.

Never used Macs as old enough to remember the “no one got sacked for buying IBM” saying and it’s true even if it is now Lenovo.

            

                  

“Never used macs” maybe you should try them. I’m still using a 2013 MBP, only issue is that I had to finally replace the battery about a year ago. MacBooks used to be good. Can you still buy a 6 year old thinkpad?

            

                  

Are you joking or just don’t know? Google “x 222 thinkpad ”for an example. There’s a whole market for classic thinkpads.

            

***                   

AFAIK there’s even plenty of people who order components from newer thinkpads in order to retrofit them to older thinkpad’s chasis, either as a way to upgrade their own machine or just to assemble a better laptop (like in most things in this industry, older interfaces and form factors are very often better).

            

                  

I have a T 480 s from work and it has two annoying issues for me. The first is that the cursor doesn’t always disappear when typing. That is probably a Windows / browser issue.

The hardware issue is the right side of the touchpad seems to be setup as a right click space. I want one finger left click no matter where I am on the touch pad and two finger right click. Reaching to the left side of the touchpad to click is super annoying and I often accidentally drag a tan instead of clicking on it.

Posting that in hopes someone knows a way to make the touchpad just one big space.

            

                  

I had a MacBook Pro daily driver, and had the same concerns as the poster.

I’m now running a Yoga x 390. It was the most I’ve ever spent on a laptop, and it was worth every penny. It’s the perfect size, weight, battery life, performance combination, and is an absolute treat to use.

            
            

                  

I switched to a Dell XPS 15. Didn’t think the convertible form factor would matter … but touch and stylus are really useful. Oh, and Dell’s take on a slim keyboard is much better. Linux just works and Windows is serviceable.

            

                  

Any serious contender should have an answer to the MBPs extraordinary touchpad. It is key to working without a mouse, and therefore being truly mobile and comfortable at the same time.

So please post at least some information for this aspect , which is one of the things the OP explicitly listed.

Some examples:

– Would you be able to do some solid Photoshop / Sketch / Gimp / Inkscape / Blender work with the touchpad / knob of your proposed MBP-replacement?

– Can you comfortably and efficiently organize your photos / files & folders with it?

            

                  

Has anyone tried magic touchpad on linux? Theres a driver but I wonder if its as smooth as a MBP trackpad on linux.

            

                  

That’s why I like my Thinkpad X1 Yoga. Depending on the operation, I will use the touchpad, the trackpoint, or the touchscreen.

            

                  

I find that a touchscreen (which most non-Apple laptops have) compensates to some degree for the inferior touchpad.

            

                  

I have been using a Rev1 Surface Laptop as a development machine for over a year – here are my notes after six months:

https://taoofmac.com/space/blog/ 2019 / 05 / 11 / 2030

Full disclosure: I work at Microsoft. I also still use Macs (and will keep using them regardless-for instance, I use a 5K iMac a lot of the time I work remotely) and have kept a Mac-centric blog for sixteen years, so I think I can be pretty straightforward and direct about this:

The Surface Laptop is at least as good as the MacBook (hardware-wise), and depending on what you do (for instance, if you can take advantage of WSL2 and the new Linux environment that comes with it), it may well be better. IMMV.

Hardware-wise, I cannot fault it except in the number of ports (new models changed that a bit). Having moved from a Lenovo X1 (which I hated) to it, and having avoided the hassles involved in the Surface Book (the hinge and detachable screen make for a wobbly, temperamental machine IMHO, and I’m not alone in thinking that), I’d say it is a great machine.

(I still carry around a Surface Pro 4 because it is only a slight bit smaller and lighter, but the Laptop has a nicer screen)

            

                  

The problem with Surface devices is that they’re irrepairable once something goes wrong. I had issues with my Surface Pro and Microsoft support basically said “too bad, buy a new one”.

That’s why I went for a T-series Thinkpad and am still using it. It’s not as lightweight or slim but in exchange more powerful than equally priced ultrabooks / convertibles and easy to repair and upgrade. That’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.

            

                  

Counterpoint: my two year old Surface Pro 4 developed a battery-swelling issue, and Microsoft replaced the whole laptop right away (well, as soon as I worked out how to contact the right level of tech-support).

            

                  

I think this example only solidifies gp’s point. It sounded to me like they were talking about the ability to open up the laptop and actually (repair) it, which it seems even Microsoft can’t do with their own machines . Full replacement from support is convenient, but what if I just want an extra 16 GB of RAM?

            

                  

They can do it with their own machines, as the replacement I got was a refurbished one (with a different model of battery installed). My original machine was irreparable as the battery expansion had damaged the screen and warped the metal of the case itself! I agree they’re not serviceable by mere mortals, though, and many upgrades are impossible.

I have a Thinkpad X 201 Tablet from 2010, and it’s easy to take it apart and replace / clean bits. There’s a serious cost to that, though: the entire Surface Pro 4 tablet takes up only about the volume of the Thinkpad’s (screen) . The Thinkpad as a whole is about three times that thickness. This is only partly an age thing – mostly it’s serviceability design.

            

                  

My surface 3 battery swelled and it cracked the screen. Was out of warranty about a year so I never contacted them. I don’t think I want to buy another one.

            

                  

Mine was out of warranty, but they did it anyway . They seemed to have moved on to a different type of battery, as my refurbished Surface 4 replacement has better battery life than the original.

            

                  

How bad is it really? They do have to issue warranties at least in Europe, right?

I’m thinking about shelling out for a Surface Pro 6, but I don’t want to buy a potential cat in the bag.

(We have some mandatory legal protections over at Poland / EU that apply to on-line sales, but I’m not sure if they apply if you buy a product as a business. Need to check up on that.)

            
            

                  

The current version has an externally accessible SSD and other repair tweaks. Check the blog posts on it.

            
            

                  

Slightly OT however for what it’s worth the new 16 inch MBP with a redesigned non-butterfly keyboard is supposed to be available soon.

I would suggest you hold off any laptop decision until then.

                                                                

                  

How is the keyboard on your system 76? I’ve been leaning towards System 76 for my next laptop, but its hard to pull the trigger without testing the keyboard. I really need cushier and longer travel keys these days or I get really bad muscle fatigue in my arms and wrists, while working on a laptop keyboard.

My 2014 MBP causes me issues only after an hour or two. And their newer keyboards … well, I’m just not even going to go there. The old ibm / lenovo thinkpad keyboards (before chick-lets) were the best.

Lenovo is an option too, but I’d rather support a Linux oriented company with Linux-first laptops (I also find it a hard pill to swallow to ever buy a Lenovo again, after all the spyware shenanigans

            

                  

I have an Oryx Pro and the keypad is good as far as your two requirements.

The one thing I had to get used to is that the keys have no curvature (no gradient or tapering around the edges and the tops have zero convexity). My fingertips are either a bit more calloused now from moving between keys or my fingers have worn away the keys’ sharp edges. Or a little of both.

Oh and if you do get one, and if you think it would be fun to have your keyboard light up certain sections with certain colors for certain alert conditions … it gets old real quick.

            
            

                  

I switched from Mac to a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen, when my MacBook Pro was similarly unreliable (6 repairs through the Apple Store).

The feel of the keyboard & trackpad were important to me, and the 4K display option covers 100% of the Adobe RGB color palette. I rarely use the Yoga’s tablet feature, but as a Photoshop user it has sometimes been useful for photo editing with the built-in stylus. There’s a built-in microSD card slot in the 3rd Gen & I put a giant microSD card in there for extra internal data storage (eg MP3 collection). The SSD is user upgradeable but I’ve had problems trying to get the SSD screw out myself.

There’s a lot of small irritations and frustrations compared with the Mac to overcome, but the X1 Yoga has been far more reliable than my MacBook Pro. No problems in a year, whereas the Mac over the same time would have had 3 – 4 weeks of downtime due to repairs. It turns out reliability is more important to me, I need to get work done.

I’d also seriously consider the Surface Book / Surface Laptop range, I very nearly chose a Surface Book 2 until I saw the ThinkPad X1.

            

                  

The Dell business laptops run really well on Linux. I ha ea 5290 (x 280 equivalent) on CentOS 7.7 and everything just works.

Higher end stuff like their xps 15 or 7530 are also very good.

Getting Retin a to not eat battery life has been a little tricky though. On a non retina system, I got down to 1W idle, whereas it was 15 W idle on a retina system. With Firefox, 2-5W non Retina, but 25 – 35 W for Retina. This will inevitably improve, but it’s something to watch out for. On Windows, it’s less of a problem, as they seem to run a lot of the graphics on the Intel GPU, only switching to discrete when required.

            

                  

It depends on what your priority are, but I recently bought a LG Gram 17 “and absolutely love it. It has a massive 17 “2560 – 1600 screen, yet is as light as a Macbook Air, and practically as thin too. 13 hour battery life, and super comfortable keyboard. Even the charger is smaller and lighter than any other I’ve seen. Honestly I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, and only $ 1, 448 (https://amzn.to/2P2txdv)

I’ve also used a Dell XPS 15 9570 for the past year and a half which I spent $ 2.6k on (similar to thishttps://amzn.to/ (PA) x). Specs-wise it’s awesome and blows the MBP out of the park particularly when you factor in the price. But I’ve had a lot of issues with it unfortunately, having to get it repaired twice, and then another couple times I’ve had the screen just start glitching and crashing, both times resolving it via reinstalling Windows (seems to have been problems with the drivers). Outside of that, the laptop itself is a bit thicker and heavier than a MBP, the battery life is pretty weak (4 hours maybe?), It gets very hot and the fans get really loud, and the Wifi card sucks. Although the 4k screen is beautiful with fantastic anti-reflection, I’ve found that I prefer the 16: 10 aspect ratio of the LG Gram and MBP vs. The 16: 9 of the Dell since the former feels way bigger and I find having a taller screen more convenient (eg. For coding).

Ultimately it comes down to your preferences. Do you prioritize having the best specs? Then between the two you should get a Dell XPS 15 or alternatively a Dell Precision 5540 (very similar to the XPS 15, but more geared towards 3D work). If on the other hand you value portability but love having a large screen, I highly recommend the LG Gram 17. I don’t think there’s ever been a 17 “laptop as light and portable as this one.

Ever since I received my LG, I stopped using my Dell. Unless you’re doing a ton of video editing, 3d graphics work, or gaming, you reall y don’t need more than 16 gb RAM and an i7 processor. For stuff like coding and browsing the web, I certainly don’t notice any performance difference (haven’t tested more intensive stuff yet).

            
            
            

****************                   

I have also used an LG gram for 5 years . The touchpad is just normal.

Maybe, you say that it feels cheap because it bends a little bit when you press it. I guess that is the price to pay to have a 17 inches laptop under a kilogram.

However, I did not notice any mechanical failure. The keyboard is still as solid as day one. I just had to change the battery at some point, it was super cheap and easy to change by myself with a standard screwdriver. I regularly loose the charger, but it is also cheap to buy a new one.

            

                  

I have went through a lot of differnt laptops, mainly had a lot of Dell laptops but last year I decided to buy a Thinkpad T 430 on ebay for close to notting and it’s the best laptop I have ever had.

            

                  

If you’re in the market for an ultrabook, I recommend the Huawei Matebook X Pro. Fully aluminum, solid build quality, a keyboard that matches the old MBPs and a 3: 2 screen ratio.

Downsides are a terrible webcam and all the scandals surrounding Huawei.

            

                  

I’d gladly switch hardware, but software is a bit of a problem:

– yes, I need a * nix OS – I need to run Adobe CC (Photoshop, Lightroom) and Sketch

I code for iOS occasionally (be it via Unity or XCode).

I don’t mind tweaking my OS and making it mine. What I do mind is having to tweak stuff when I don’t have the time to do it, but things are broken.

Did anyone manage to work with these tools efficiently here on a linux machine? I always end up coming back.

            

                  

If you’re doing iOS dev at all you need a mac, period. The only thing you could consider is having two machines, with the mac used for iOS dev.

As far as Adobe CC, you’ll need macOS or Windows. On linux that would mean going the windows in a vm route. I wouldn’t try getting CC to run in wine, it is unlikely to work well and likely to break even if it does. Windows with wsl is an option, but the shell is never as smoothly integrated as in macOS or linux. I went the wsl way for a few years, and it was fine, but I’m on ubuntu now and it is definitely better.

I just ditched adobe’s tools altogether. My use of them was rare enough. Not everyone can do that.

            

                  

You should use an example which actually needs a * nix OS. Adobe CC is Definitely not a good example

            

                  

I assumed the OP was saying they both need a – nix OS, and need Adobe CC (eg if you do front end web development, although with the move away from Adobe stuff for web design (such as Sketch) and the availability of web based tools like Figma and Zeplin, this is a bit less of an issue than it was).

Of course, Windows now offers WSL – not sure how good it is but it does mean both platforms can offer – nix Terminal while running all the software you need.

            

                  

As a cli dweller, none Unix OS is simply unbearable . The only time I want to get a windows is so I can play old win games.

            
            

                  

On windows check out icons8 lunacy for a free sketch alternative . It is not as good, but it might be enough.

            
            
            

****************                   

ThinkPad X1 Carbon. It’s a beautiful laptop and works well with Fedora after a couple of tweaks.

I’ve got an XPS 13 for work which is nice too but runs windows. Pros and cons are:

ThinkPad: Better keyboard by far, more rugged, better bios for Linux that supports normal sleep states

XPS: Can charge on either side, better speakers

            

                  

>works well with Fedora after a couple of tweaks

I’m considering this combination of ThinkPad X1 Carbon Fedora. May I ask what kind of tweaks are necessary / recommended?

            
            

                  

I am seriously considering Purism Librem 13 (https : //puri.sm/products/librem- 13 /) as a replacement for my MBP. I haven’t had any hands on experience with it though, so if anybody have tried it, I would love to hear about your experience. I like the privacy first approach and I think it is becoming more and more essential to have this kind of alternative.

            
            

                  

It sound very good. I would love to have a feedback on this product because I think it expensive (start at 1100 € for 8 GO RAM (GO …)

            
            

                  

I got a Xiaomi Notebook Pro, display is not excellent , but great value for the money. 16 GB RAM , decently new i7, Nvidia (M, 256 GB PCIE M.2 SSD, and an extra M.2 slot! It was 1080 € shipped. Seems to be a good option also for building an hackintosh. I am using a vm for Xcode and such and it does the job.

            

                  

I also have this machine, and am very happy with it. Added 2TB to the other m.2 slot. My only issue is not getting the fingerprint reader to work in Ubuntu.

            

                  

Planned to mention this device. I got my first generation 13 “Xiaomi laptop for something around 750 €.

Build is not exactly as sturdy or precise as a MacBook (the aluminum is thinner ), but it does look as good.

If you want to make a hackintosh the only thing that won’t work is the wifi card, which you can replace for about 50 €. On Linux everything works perfectly.

Unfortunately mine spontaneously stopped booting and charging one day. This issue has not been documented on the english speaking forum (it’s not the dead battery issue, which I had and the forum helped me solve by linking me to a replacement part on Aliexpress) and since this device isn’t sold anywhere outside of China you can be damn sure that Xiaomi won’t care. While nicely many replacement parts can be found on Aliexpress (battery, case, keyboard), board replacement parts or schematics don’t seem to be available on the english internet. Maybe if you live or have friends in Shenzen the situation will look different for you.

Since OP doesn’t seem to be looking for any trouble with repairs I don’t think I’d recommend a Xiaomi laptop (I still consider them a good cheap option), but rather something from a business line of a company that is known for good customer support, like Lenovo or Dell (which my new computer, the 5285 tablet is from and I’m fairly happy with).

            

                  

I’m writing this from my recently bought Thinkpad X1C7 after moving from a 2015 MPB. Here are some notes about my experience so far:

The hardware is fantastic. Build quality is great, the keyboard is great, the screen is great, the selection of ports is great. It’s not cheap though, price is very close to an MBP.

The software part is not so great. I tried Windows for a short while, but it’s just a disaster. It’s slow and inconsistent. I tried WSL, but it feels so alpha for now.

So quickly I decided to move Ubuntu. Overall Ubuntu feels so much better than Windows, but the caveat is hardware support. Thinkpads supposedly have very good Linux support, however, the microphone and the fingerprint reader didn’t work. After googling a lot I found a way of making the mic work by manually compiling a kernel. No solution for the fingerprint reader yet. And the volume controls don’t work properly, there are a few workarounds, but none fixes the issue 100%.

Another issue on Linux is that none of the stable web browsers (Firefox, Chrome) have hardware video decoding enabled, so watching Y ouTube drains your battery. I’m now using a Chromium Beta build which seems to be the only alternative for now.

Using Linux requires you to google and apply a ton of small fixes to make some things better. Things like installing TLP to have decent battery life, hacking grub fonts so that they don’t appear tiny on the 4k screen and stuff like that.

The hardware issues are quite frustrating, but I know those will be resolved at some point. My Thinkpad model is fairly new. The lesson here is: if you want Linux to work out of the box on your hardware, don’t get the latest model.

On the positive side, I’m really loving Ubuntu and Gnome. I don’t have plans to move back to Mac, even if they fix their crappy new keyboards. The fact that you can make Linux work the way you want is very rewarding even if it takes some time to google and hack around. But I understand that not everyone likes to do that.

            

                  

My advice for people using Linux on a laptop for the first time is to use Fedora – it has the best ‘out of the box’ support for hardware due to shipping the most recent kernels. With Thinkpads usually everything just works (in my case that included fingerprint reader, keyboard backlight, webcam).

            
            

                  

As a laptop I have HP omen 15 “, i7 6 Cores , 32 GB Ram, nVidia (GPU and 2 SSDs) 500 GB and 1TB). I paid $ 1800 Canadian Pesos for it. Has Windows and Linux Mint on it. Works like a charm. I can only imagine what would Mac with the same power cost. Sure it is not as thin as Mac but what do I care.

            

                  

The Dell XPS line is pretty decent, and the newer models have fixed some design flaws (like camera placement). The higher-end models have discrete graphics cards, fingerprint readers, and a decent resolution display.

            

                  

Bought an XPS a couple of months ago and had to return it because of the inexcusable ghosting and slow refresh on the 4K panel and the frankly inadequate thermal design. Outrageously bad for the asking price.

            

                  

If you are mostly working from one location (home- office or office), I recommend building a PC with linux running on it. Far more powerful and much lesser cost. You can use any cheap laptop for computing on the go, preferably one which is SSD only, and it fairly lightweight.

            

                  

Not really giving an alternative. But I have just bought a fully specced Mid 2014 MBP. I already have a T 460 s which I cannot decide whether to replace with a X1 Carbon or wait for a new scissor-style keyboard for MBP. But as I ran into the issue of not being able to upload React Native Expo Apps to TestFlight I had to buy a used MacBook.

I must say that even though I an very fond of the Lenovo keyboards – and they are great. The overall feel of a MacBook is just better. The keyboard pre-butterfly is one of the best ever. The trackpad is another level even though sitting with the T 460 s and T 470 s at work, it seemed like their trackpads was on par, but they really are not.

The X1 Carbon should be up there, but there is just something about the full experience of the product where MBP wins out. That is at least my experience going a bit back and forth.

            

                  

First, bad apples do happen in both Mac and Windows worlds. I’ve worked primarily on Macbooks over the last 10 years (while Windows on laptop was still in diapers) and they never failed on me. Now that Windows 10 Pro is getting really good, and the Macs are getting obliterated by horrid design decisions, I see myself switching to Windows.

I personally prefer Windows laptops with UHD / QHD screens because I can put much mo re info on it (e.g. 3 vertical code windows or two vertical web browsers). The Mac won’t let me set that high a DPI, even if the resolution is theoretically there. Also the 4: 3 Mac screen ratio many times results in the bottom part of the screen obscured by fingers, e.g.

That said, the best I ‘ ve found is Lenovo Yoga 920 and Dell XPS 15. The Dell can be fitted with 64 GB ram eg if you run VMs, and since you mention amazing graphics, the OLED version says Hi to the Macbook Pro, from another universe (in other words the Mac display looks like utter trash compared to it).

In all cases, you need to clean-reinstall from a Microsoft provided Windows installer (to get rid of the massive preinstalled, buggy and inefficient bloatware), and run ThrottleStop to undervolt the machine to avoid the extra heat and boost the battery performance. Write down what you do, and over time you will develop your “install script”. Chocolatey is your friend.

HTH

            

                  

Try running something like EasyRes on your Mac, you can then switch to the actual resolution of the monitor. It’s somewhat insane how much stuff fits into the screen of my 13 ”MacBook.

            
            

                  

With all the bad reviews about Apple, I didn ‘ t want to replace my old 17 “MacBook Pro with a new Macbook (also, they don’t do 17 “anymore), so I just ordered a Thinkpad X1 Extreme instead.

Thinkpad has had a stellar reputation for sturdy quality since forever, and the X1 Extreme seems like a fairly good compromise between power, size, and other concerns. It’s not 17 ” because the only 17 “Thinkpads are the monstrous P 73.

According to reviews, it’s quieter than my old Macbook (which was extremely noisy), but I intend to make it quieter by repasting and undervolting, which seems to be a fairly common procedure for Thinkpads.

Also, if it breaks down during the first 3 years, I get on-site support, so I don’t have to go anywhere when it breaks down;

(My specs: (GB) still upgradable to (GB), i7 – (H, 2x 1TB SSD) one for Windows, one for Linux perhaps) and the 4K OLED screen. I expect this to last me for quite a while.)

            

                  

I bought an X1E also as a replacement for my MBP , mostly for the keyboard and due to all the praise of developers about Lenovo. Mine has the same specs as yours, including the dual SSD for Linux.

Overall it is pretty good, but nowhere near the finish of an Apple laptop. The X1E has terrible coil whine, and the fan is noisy. I have Windows 10 and Linux installed, both have it’s problems. Windows has all sorts of power management issues out of the box, it still won’t suspend reliably when you close the lid. Linux support for the dual GPU situation is also pretty bad, and the $ 400 Thunderbolt dock is a hit-and-mis on both Linux and Windows.

I’m quite happy with the X1E though, the screen and keyboard are gorgeous . The ability to play some games on the GPU is also nice. But the experience is just not as polished as I had with my MBP. My MBP lasted for 6 year (professional daily use) and for some reason I don’t expect the X1E to last that long (though I bought it, like you did, with the assumption it would last me at least 5 years).

If only Apple were to offer decent support and a build a new laptop for true professional use …

>According to reviews, it’s quieter than my old Macbook (which was extremely noisy)

FWIW, this only happens when dust gets in the fan of a MBP, they are normally super quiet. I’ve written about it before on HN, if you open the bottom lid and remove the dust your MBP should be quiet again:)

            

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I’ve replaced the fans on that old MBP and that didn’t help, so I think it’s really just that noisy.

I was hoping the X1E would be quieter, but your experience is clearly different. My impression from reviews is that coil whine seems to be a fairly random issue that can affect any model, but usually doesn’t. I wonder if Lenovo should fix it under the warranty. Seems to me there’s no good excuse for coil whine.

I’ve had the same problem with a laptop not going to sleep when you close the lid with a Dell laptop from work running Windows 10. I fixed it by having it hibernate instead, which does work reliably, but wakes up much slower.

All of these things sound like they should have been solved problems by now. Why are laptops still plagued by these things?

            

                  

The dust accumulates between the fan and the heatsink / radiator , it usually has nothing to do with the fan itself.

Thanks for the tip on the coil whine issue, I thought it was just a design flaw. Maybe I can get it fixed under warranty.

            

                  

>I intend to make it quieter by repasting and undervolting

>Also, if it breaks down during the first 3 years, I get on-site support,

Aren’t these two statements mutually exclusive?

            

                  

Good question. They don’t have to be, but I suppose it’s worth checking.

I found a forum post where someone asked Lenovo support [0] which apparently said:

“When it comes to changing the thermal paste – if you know what you ‘re doing, you’re totally fine, but if you break something during the procedure, the repair will not be covered by warranty. “

That sounds entirely reasonable. But I guess it’s worth checking how well it works with the factory paste first. Some people say it’s nonsense to believe an amateur can apply thermal paste better than the factory, others report a 10 degree C difference.

[0]https: // forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-X-Series-Laptops/X1-Ca…

            

                  

>Some people say it’s nonsense to believe an amateur can apply thermal paste better than the factory, others report a 10 degree C difference.

Both can be correct.

            
            

                  

I switched from a (MBP) ”i5 to a surface pro 6 also i5, and I haven’t looked back. Development is much, much nicer with VSC and WSL, and while I do think Mac OS is better than Windows, it’s not that much of a difference.

One thing I will say though is that you don’t get the same resale value. I sold my MBP for around 80% of its original cost after one years usage, my surface pro on the other hand pretty much lost all of its value the moment I walked out the shop.

As a long time Mac user, the switch was surprisingly easy. I do miss not having iMessage and a few other Mac ecosystem tools, but with more and more of my friends switching to android it’s becoming less and less of an issue. Over all the Microsoft surface line feels like products that Apple should have designed.

            

                  

Just couple examples from me:

Asus Zenbook Linux

Lenovo Carbon Linux

Dell XPS Linux

Surface Book 2 Windows WSL

            

                  

I went from a 2015 MBP to a Gigabyte Aero 15 x and put Pop! OS on it.

I’m very happy with it – it’s a tidy little machine , build quality is good, it has a nice 4K screen, great specs incl a good GPU, all the holes and slots I could ask for, and the battery lasts something like 10 hrs (GPU usage destroys this though obviously)

If you can live without Mac OS, there are a number of top notch laptops out there calling your name.

            

                  

Not sure if this helps but Apple is supposed to offer a new 16 inch model with the old style switches early next year, the latest Catalina beta leaked its thicker design and escape key.

            

                  

Dell XPS 15 9570 4k with elementaryOS 5.0 (macOS like DE on top of Ubuntu 18. 04) libinput-gestures worked for me. Decent touchpad, keyboard’s like 2015 MacBook Pro. I replaced wifi / Bluetooth model with one from Intel and downvolted cpu (i7)

            

                  

I’ve always been pretty happy with Asus laptops and even their iMac-like “all-in-one” computers. The high-end ones have great quality and the low-end ones still have decent quality.

Another key factor for me is that unlike Apple, Asus offers good video cards!

            

                  

I’m with Asus ZenBook UX 461 bought more than a year ago. While it’s not a super-cool brand like Macs or Surfaces (my previous laptop), the ZenBook is 1/3 of the price and monsterly-packed with hardware superior to them (i7 – 8550 1. (GHz,) ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** (GB of RAM,) GB SSD and very light and good touch screen). Did my homework, you can’t beat that, and I’ve tried all the famous brands before.

            

                  

My UX 303 has served me well for four years now, dropped several times, lugged it around through all climes & my only major issue right now is that it’s nearly impossible to find a good power adapter for it and the screen hinge is loose.

Negatives: Required a lot of customization to get the trackpad right on Ubuntu so I’ve got that to look forward when I upgrade, I hate glossy screens, and it can act wonky if exposed to extreme **** changes.

It’s fast, it’s light, it doesn’t typically get too hot, I’ve treated it like garbage and it still delivers —- I’m starting to look around for a new one and will probably stick with the line, but want something with a matte screen this time for less annoying outside work, they’ve got a few models available.

            

                  

I’m looking into Chromebooks. I’m happy with my MacBook except that if I’m traveling with it and it breaks or gets stolen, I don’t have a lot of options if I’m dependent on expensive Mac hardware. If I can switch to developing on a Chromebook, picking up a new one in an emergency is a lot more feasible, plus they’re very secure and low maintenance.

Has anyone tried moving from Mac to ChromeOS?

            

                  

I’ve been using a Pixelbook for the past year or so.

I do like the look and feel of the hardware: nice screen, decent keyboard and touch pad, and a thin metal body which feels really solid. The silicone palm rests start to yellow a bit, but really increase comfort. Overall, I’m happy with the hardware.

The software is an interesting concept, and actually the reason I bought it. I like the idea of ​​a minimal, verified Linux that only runs Chrome, and (WIP) Linux containers for everything else.

I’ve had many issues that disrupted my work, and required switching to different release channels. Obviously this is on me for choosing to use the “Beta” container support feature, but I am still annoyed by it often because somehow bugs make their way through all those channels: Canary ->Dev ->Beta ->and even down to Stable . Several times I was forced to move to a higher channel to escape a serious / disruptive issue, only to encounter (different) issues. And then moving back down again requires a “powerwash”, wiping all your data. So I feel like I’m just being chased around by issues that should have been resolved in a higher channel.

As a result, there tends to be nothing on this machine that isn’t in the cloud somewhere. I suppose that’s a good thing.

Trust is another issue, entirely. I’m looking for something else. I may install an alt OS like Gallium.

            

                  

I’m curious about this as well, I ‘ m more in a hybrid role now where less and less coding effort and I’m living in Chrome anyway for most of my tasks …

            

***                   

My “daily driver” is a chromebook running linux: Samsung Chromebook Plus RK 3399. Keyboard feel is identical to the good old macbooks.

Also: feather-light magnesium casing, gorgeous 300 nit (x) screen, and 100% open-source: no blobs, no IME, no PSP. Coreboot, baby. No stupid Google G-chip.

Even recompiled the Embedded Controller firmware – and not just for geek points. I customized the charging wake behavior so it will wake immediately when AC power is applied even if the lid is closed – never could get my mac to do that reliably, despite lots of third-party hacks claiming to make it happen. So now when I get home all I have to do is plug in AC power and I can access files on the laptop over the network – no need to log in to the laptop, open the lid, or connect an external display. If it’s got AC power it’s awake and on the network.

Bonus: they’re so cheap I bought several, and don’t have to worry about damage. They take abuse amazingly well due to the alloy casing and the fact that they weigh so little. I expect to use these laptops for the next 6-8 years.

            

                  

I would recommend Thinkpad T-series even for the keyboard and touchpad only.

It’s much heavier though, but at that much more repairable and sturdier.

            

                  

Have you used a recent model? The T 490 / T 590 is pretty awful. They keyboard has been getting worse with each new release. The battery is now integrated. Not enough USB ports. And to top it off, there’s no “p” model, which means a brand new T 490 is hardly any faster than my three year old T (p.

But hey, they’re thinner now, which I’m sure makes some marketeer somewhere very happy for reasons I’ll never understand.

Edit: the P 43 seems pretty interesting, so there’s that option.

            
            

                  

Unfortunately even the T-series has gone 100% on the integrated battery now, which IME is the thing most likely to need to be fixed. Aside from that, agreed.

            

                  

Swapping the integrated battery is a 5 minute job, so if you are not planning on hauling around multiple batteries, it’s not a major issue. I haven’t really used the hot swap capability my T 440 s has, even though I have multiple. Maybe if they had a separate charging dock for the batteries …

            

                  

Did you try to open T 470 / T 480 (m aybe T 490)? There are awful latches which are integrated in case, so quite expensive to replace.

            

                  

Oh no, that’s sad to hear. I have T 460 p with completely replaceable battery and T 470 with half-and-half. Didn’t expect they would be go 100% baked in.

            
            

                  

I’m looking for a replacement, too. Had Macbook Pro 2015 and 2018.

I plan to settle on Windows 10 Pro Ubuntu WSL. I don’t need top specs (i5 and 16 GB RAM are enough for me), but build quality (touchpad, screen, robustness) and weight are most important.

Playing with Surface Pro 6 in shop I kinda like it, but I can’t find XPS or X1 to lay my hands on.

How is the build quality between Surface Pro, XPS and X1? Which one has the best touchpad, screen?

            

                  

Maybe look at Surface Book too? Bigger screen, discrete graphics option, two batteries, bigger touchpad. I have one for work. Not sure what the Surface Pro 6 is like physically, but Surface Book 2 beats Surface Pro 4 at almost everything.

            

                  

Dell XPS 15 (2019) has good keyboard – better than Surface Pro, worse than Lenovo. Very good touchpad – worse than Macbook, better than any other manufacturer. Materials are nice to touch, design is very good looking (comparable to MBP). Screen has very modest viewing angle, but if you don’t move your head too much, colors are vibrant and image quality is great.

            

                  

I’m using a Microsoft surface laptop and I love it! The 3: 2 screen ratio makes my 13 “screen feel like a 15 “laptop without extra bulkiness (the 3: 2 screen ratio adds an extra inch of height compared to the 16: 9 ratio). Everything else about the laptop is so far amazing

It doesn’t have a great graphics card, but I don’t do much of that anyway

            

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Lenovo LS 340 Gaming. Fantastic machine that has great specs at a good price. Lenovo even managed to avoid filling it with bloatware.

It is not aluminum but looks good. No outward signs that it has a gaming design.

            
            
            

                  

I love my Lenovo P 50 – except when I have to do iOS work. If not for doing iOS development I would be using Lenovo / Linux As my daily driver.

            

                  

I have a Lenovo P 52 at work. Compared to a Macbook it’s not that great. You can’t open the lid one-handed as the bottom sticks to the top. The build quality is super flimsy. The touchpad is not nearly as sensitive and accurate as on a MBP.

I run Ubuntu on it and currently my Nvidia drivers are not loading correctly so it’s running on the intel integrated graphics. When they were, all GUI applications would crash when waking up from sleep. Will have to look into it and figure out if I can find a stable configuration.

            

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Dell XPS developer edition, or if you want a 15 “, the non-developer edition.

Touch pad is not quite as good, but the rest of the hardware is up to spec. The 4K screen is arguably better than a MBP .

            

                  

just switched to a Matebook Pro X with Arch Linux and could not be happier. Slick, long battery life (around 10 hours with browser and neovim latex for writing). 3: 2 screen perfect for writing everything working (except of the finger print reader).

The webcam is at a strange place, yet you can be sure it is off and not recording you , I just put the laptop on a book and it looks fine for telcos.

Dell and Lenovo are a no go for me.

Compared to Dell / Lenovo, Huawei didn’t put spyware on their computers yet:)

If you want a decent linux laptop, I also use a Pruism Librem 15 … Great, the best if you are looking for a secure machine. It’s my private one. Huawei for work.

            

                  

Just wondering why I got downrated. Lenovo and Dell had documented spyware on their computers.

We also know cisco and other American companies worked closely with the NSA and put backdoors in their software and hardware .

Yes, Huawei is close to the Chinese government and there are definitely issues with that. Yes, they had spyware on some phones. Still no documented case of spyware on their computers:)

            
            

                  

I had similar problems. I bought a Razer Blade Stealth 13, but I cannot recommend it. There are hardware bugs, the biggest one being, 1 out of 3 times if you plug / unplug the power, it goes to sleep. Happens on both Win and Linux. It’s well known and there’s no fix from Razer.

My takeaway: other laptops also have bugs; I’m back to using a MBP & I hope the next-gen MBPs are good again.

            

                  

New Surface 3 Laptop combined with WSL2 looks promising. Also, there’re rumors on MBP 16 “with a fixed (?) keyboard …

            
            

                  

I switched from a (MBP to Thinkpad P) S with Pop_OS ! I had a year with Ubuntu and Lubuntu in the middle. Pop_OS! however is so similar in usability to macOS, that I can’t imagine going back to macOS even if the hardware got better.

The P 52 S has two batteries, all major hardware ports (including ethernet) and a SIM card slot. It had a (lower end) Nvidia card. Conveniently Pop_OS! comes bundled with Nvidia drivers.

Closest replacement for macOS / MBP I’ve found.

            

                  

The P 52, or now P 53, is the one Thinkpad PI haven’t considered. The primary appeal of the P 73 was that it’s the only 17 “Thinkpad. If I want a 15 “screen, the P1 / X1E (they’re basically the same machine except for the GPU) seems like a more attractive choice.

            

                  

You didn’t mention what are you doing with the laptop? If you filter by laptops with the same weight, screen resolution, fast CPU, etc., etc. there’s going to be a small list of laptops of comparable price.

So, if you start being more flexible in some areas you have more choices.

For example, how about a Ryzen desktop a no fuss laptop for when you are mobile? (This assumes you mostly work in one office on the desktop, but also want to be mobile).

Depending how used you are to macOS you’ll probably come back to Apple. Maybe buy an use / refurbished MBP.

            

                  

I like the look of the Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 2 , but I’d want to know if it is saddled with NVIDIA Optimus GPU switching, and whether that works in CentOS 7.7 or CentOS 8.0 with the NVIDIA drivers. Anyone had any luck with that?

It looks like NVIDIA’s drivers support PRIME for sharing between integrated and discrete GPUs these days.

            

                  

I believe the Optimus thing is broadly speaking fixed in Linux . Intel integrated defo still preferable if you are not gaming or similar.

            

                  

Al the options mentioned here are good.

Dell XPS ThinkPad Lenovo X1 Carbon

I use a Dell XPS with only 8GB RAM. This can be tight at times. I switched to Ubuntu based Bodhi Linux and I am pretty happy about it. The RAM footprint is very very low and the system is very snappy.

            

                  

Nothing equals the MacBook line even with all the downgrades since they *** switched to Donglebook models.

Closest I’ve used is the Surface line but it’s not nearly as good.

I’m still using a donglebook. My work gave me one and I had bought one so I have a spare for when one is being repaired.

The keyboards are utter shit, the usb C charging is a big downgrade, and the touch pads are now so big they often get in the way of typing.

The 2012 MacBook Pro Retina I bought before my 2018 Donglebook still hasn’t had issues.

            

                  

Slightly off topic, I greatly prefer a touch screen over the touch pad.

One downside of switching is that work software for Macs are very well built. Webstorm feels clunkier on Windows than Mac, for example.

I wish I could recommend something, but nothing seems to meet the weight, quality, power match.

HP Pavilion has the weight and power of a MBP, and the tablet mode is fun. But the touchpad is terrible.

Dell XPS has power and a good build, but is too heavy if you like to lug around two laptops like me.

MS Surfacebook seems nice, but some friends report that it also similarly fragile.

            

                  

I’ve been doing a lot of work on windows , so I bought a surface book, and I really like it. But it is fragile. I bought a refurb, and I had to exchange it twice. Fortunately the support is good, when I’ve had a problem, MS swapped it for me via courier. I’ve had everything backed up on one drive and really been quite easy. If you find yourself in this position, their online support chat has certain hours in each country, just switch the / us / uk / au path segment in the chat url and you’ll get to chat with a person any time of day.

            
            

                  

How is graphics switching working on those? AFAIK you need to use the discrete card for HDMI / displayport, and integrated for best battery life, but switching between them takes a reboot.

            

                  

Related to this, any thoughts on the surface laptop as an alternative to MBP? Are the trackpad and keyboard good?

            

                  

Screen and aspect ratio are fantastic. Trackpad and keyboard feel “cheap” compared to my wife’s 2016 MBP but I love the feel of the alcantara fabric while I type

            

                  

I’ve personally loved the specter series from HP for their 4k displays and good specs for the price. I use a MSP 16 for drafting and design work, so the gpu is pretty critical for me.

            

                  

I just changed to a dell XPS 15. I love the nvidia discreet GPU and it’s keyboard and trackpad are pretty nice. And having a escape key.

            
            

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I’m on my second Lenovo laptop (now T 450 s, before that: L-series). I use Linux on it and am really satisfied.

            

                  

I use MBP 2015 at work, Macbook Air 2013 at home, run Arch Linux on both devices (dual boot). Had no issues so far.

            
            
            
            
            
            
            

                  

I have MBP ’18 and an Air ’19 and I was surprised how much better the keyboard is. I didn’t buy it for that reason – I just like to have a second, more portable laptop for backup and convenience. It is much nicer to type on and feels more rugged.

I agree with the general consensus here however – Apple needs to get its shit together and stop pursuing meaningless marketing metrics and start making great computers again.

SWEs / tech people (myself included) probably overestimate their importance vis-a-vis Apple, but it would really only take one great alternative from Razer or Lenovo or a new company to cause a mass exodus. That will definitely not be good for Apple.

At this point I use Apple because they piss me off slightly less than the alternatives let me down aesthetically. It’s hubris for Apple to assume that will always be the case.

            

                  

Yeah, Lenovo is almost there with the X1 Carbon / Extreme and Razer’s ones look good too – if they’d just fix the trackpads and have officially supported Linux with the Optimus problems fixed they’d be a great alternative.

            
            

                  

I’m using a ThinkPad E 480, with 2 monitors attached. Lubuntu 19. 10. It’s my main dev machine running Postgres, VirtualBox, Elixir, Node, etc. Battery is still amazing after 4 months.

I’ve always wanted to buy a MacBook Pro, mostly for music production, but the ThinkPad is a fine beast by itself. For music, I use Studio One 4 on Win 10.

            

                  

Left the Apple ecosystem 10 years ago, never looked back.

My day to day work is done on a 15 inch LG Gram Ubutu 18. 04.

I just love it: super lightweight, fast, rugged (been dropped easyly 10 times, still working fine)

The dev env isvastlysuperior to what I had on my MBP where I constantly found myself struggling with out-of-date software and OSS stuff that just plain doesn’t work on the mac.

            
            
            

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