Multimedia 2-in-1 or Laptop w/Huge Internal Storage

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by ChemTrails, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. ChemTrails

    ChemTrails Notebook Enthusiast

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    First time post, standard sticky questions and answers below. As a primer, here's what I'm looking to do - and after some research, I know this seems somewhat crazy. I travel a lot, and can be on the road for extended periods of time. I have a pretty large multimedia collection - mostly 1080p movies at 4-7GB/movie, 400+ movies right now. A significant amount of my time on the road I won't have access to any (or reliable) internet, so streaming via Plex or some similar solution is off the table - media has to be physically collocated with me.

    I'm currently using a Lenovo X1 Yoga 2nd Gen 14" with a 5TB Seagate external HDD to do this, but the HDD drains my laptop battery significantly faster than were I to watch something stored on the 256GB internal SSD. I get about 1.25 movies/charge with the HDD vs ~3 movies using the internal drive. I could add an external battery, but at that point I have wired headphones, the HDD, and a USB C cable for charging - way too cumbersome for a mobile setup. But I do love the footprint of the X1, and how the tent/tablet mode make it easy to watch movies when confined to an airline seat or a bunk in the back of the airplane.

    I've started looking for 2-in-1's with a 2.5" drive bay to accommodate a Micron 7.86TB SATA SSD (2.5"/7mm form factor, model #MTFDDAK7T6T). I found a Dell 7786 17" and an Asus ZenBook 15, but the manuals for both seem to indicate that the max supported SATA drive capacity is 2TB. I'm not sure whether this is a motherboard limitation or something else, but without confirmation that they support anything larger those are off the table, and so it seems are just about any 2-in-1.

    So my question is, does a 2-in-1 exist that can do what I want, or am I looking at some sort of slim profile 15" gaming laptop as the only solution? Thanks in advance for any help, I know I've provided a lot of stipulations.

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    ~$3.5K

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    a. Ultraportable; 10" - 12" screen
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen
    e. Desktop Replacement; 17"+ screen
    D: 15" 2-in-1 preferred, although that is looking less and less likely the more I dig. Up to 17".

    3) Which country will you buying this notebook?
    US

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: Any
    b. Dislike: None

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    Sure

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Watching movies/TV (both stored and streaming), internet access and standard office stuff

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Significant air travel in the US and internationally, so extended periods of time without lack of external power

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?)
    No.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    The longer the better, but I'm willing to trade battery life for my desired 15" size and the ability to store media


    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    Online is fine

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.
    Windows

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    1080p minimum, 4K is fine although not optimal since it seems to decrease battery life

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.)
    Either

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    No

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need?
    Here's the kicker: minimum of 5TB required now, more for room to grow would be ideal. My current HD movie collection is about 3.8TB, another 60GB of music, plus random TV shows. I'm eyeing a Micron 5200 7.86TB SATA SSD. Whether or not this will work in a portable computer is my biggest question

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity


    16) When are you buying this laptop?
    Next couple of months

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop?
    3-5 years

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail?
    No time requirement

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage?
    Ship to repair is acceptable
     
  2. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    Top spec Dell XPS 15 2 in 1. Toss in the biggest SSD you can find. Done. A smokin system with the space you need. If it runs half as good as my little inspiron 13 5000 2 in 1, (which obviously it will), you will be extremely happy!
     
  3. ChemTrails

    ChemTrails Notebook Enthusiast

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    The XPS 2-in-1 is an awesome looking machine for sure...except it doesn’t have a 2.5” drive bay for the SSD I’m looking at. It does have a single 2280 M.2 slot, but the largest SSD I can find in that format is 2TB. I have found some larger drives in a 22110 size, but I haven’t found any current laptops that support that form factor.

    I also just read a post on the Dell forum asking the same question about the current XPS 15 laptop (not the 2-in-1) that I asked about the Inspiron 7786. Both manuals have the same statement about the max max 2.5” drive size being 2TB. However someone indicated that the XPS 15 would recognize a larger capacity drive in a 7mm form factor, if such a drive were made. Now this has me wondering if the same is true for the 7786 - anyone here happen to know?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  4. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm not aware of any SATA hardware that restricts drives to 2TB (or NVMe drives to 512GB). It may be that they don't offer configurations with anything bigger, but I'd be very surprised if you'd have any problem with putting that big SSD in your system (whether Windows can handle a filesystem that big I can't say, but Linux certainly can).

    I don't quite have that much in my ThinkPad P70, just a 3.84TB SSD, 2TB hard drive, 1TB M.2 for Linux, and the original 512GB M.2 with Windows. In my case it's mostly photography. I specifically wanted a machine with 2x2.5" for precisely that reason.
     
  5. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    I just had a T580 with UHD screen screen pass through my hands. The UHD is gorgeous. Unfortunately, 4K do hit the battery hard, but the T580 uses two batteries, so you can swap one out if you need more. The T580 is light and can take a 7mm drive.
     
  6. Kyle

    Kyle JVC SZ2000 Dual-Driver Headphones

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    Here is another alternative: Put in a 2TB ssd in the X1.
    Get a couple of external 2TB SSDs (bear with me).
    Keep 300GB of the laptop internal SSD as your "currently interested in" area.
    Whenever you want to watch something from an external SSD, first transfer over those files to your laptop (should be very quick). Unplug the drive, and watch just using your laptop.
     
  7. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    If you're willing to go 15", you can (or at least could) do even better; the older Clevo P650 series could take 2x2.5" drives in addition to two M.2's. I don't see that available in 15.6" any more except for the P750, which uses desktop-type processors. Maybe there are other options available; you might want to contact the likes of HIDEvolution to see what options might be available.

    There are more 17" options, of course, but that's a considerably larger device.
     
  8. ChemTrails

    ChemTrails Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for all the advice here, it's been greatly appreciated. RLK said what I've been thinking the more digging I'm doing - there really shouldn't be any 2TB capacity limitation on the 2.5" SATA drive for either the Asus or Dell 2-in-1. I looked at both machines in person, and the Dell is just too big of a footprint for me, so I'm going to get the Asus. Its M.2 drive is only SATA, but I'll put the OS on there and then throw the 7.68TB 2.5" drive in for data (formatted as GPT) which should be easy since it isn't the boot drive.

    Regarding the Asus, does anyone have an estimation on how what percentage of battery life I'd get back by going with an HD screen vs 4K? Reported life for the 4K screen playing movies is about 4.3 hours.
     
  9. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    Which particular ZenBook 15 are you looking at? The base ZenBook 15 does not indicate any expansion capability.
     
  10. ChemTrails

    ChemTrails Notebook Enthusiast

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    They're essentially the ZenBook Flip 15, but BestBuy seems to have their own product codes - either the Q525 (HD) or Q536 (4K). They have an M.2 slot and a 2.5" bay, both SATA. I'd use the M.2 slot for a boot drive, and the 2.5" bay for the large SSD.
     
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