Powerful and compact business laptop

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by DuffMcShank, Jul 11, 2016.

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  1. DuffMcShank

    DuffMcShank Notebook Guru

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    Looking to buy a powerful and fairly compact business laptop for software development, preferrably a 14" in the 1.3kg range with an i7 CPU (maybe even HQ).

    I originally had my mind set on a Thinkpad X1 Carbon, but from reviews I gather that
    * The screen is a gamble
    * The hinges are bad, shakes when typing, opens by itself when in a bag
    * Lacks USB-C (not sure how important this is, but I like the idea of one port for docking)
    * Loud fan noise, although hard to get this confirmed (this is a deal breaker for me)
    * Fairly expensive

    Then I considered the Thinkpad 460s, which from what I gather has the same problems with the screen, USB-C and fan noise

    I also consider the Thinkpad 460p, which comes with a better CPU but is a bit heavier and may have the same problems as the 460s?

    For Dell, maybe the XPS13 or the 7000-series? The 7000-series is supposed to have USB-C.

    Other stuff:
    Unsure about docking solutions, how is USB-C compared to Wigig?

    So, I'd like some recommendations.

    Ok, so the form...:
    -----------------------------------
    1) What is your budget?
    Flexible, but of course I don't like to waste money

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.
    Europe

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: Dell, Lenovo
    b. Dislike: MSI and other brands with bad build quality and cheap materials
    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    No

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Software development, sometimes running virtual machines, with several different kinds servers running locally in parallell. I.e. heavy cpu-load, potential to utilize multiple cores/threads, heavy memory-load.
    I need minium an i7, maybe even a HQ 4 core version would make sense.

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Both

    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?
    A full days worth of work would be nice, but not required.

    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?
    Without is OK, I can read reviews/check videos.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (Windows 7 / 8), Mac OS, Linux, etc.
    Windows 10

    Screen Specifics

    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer?
    14" FHD or more

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen?
    Matte

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    A little, but not a deal breaker

    15) When are you buying this laptop?
    Soon

    16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
    3 years+

    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need? Do you want a SSD drive?
    256GB-512GB SSD, pci-interface if it is a large performance gain for loading data.

    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner?
    No
     
  2. Kent T

    Kent T Notebook Virtuoso

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    Full Voltage Core i7 is best in larger form factors with proper cooling. Choose thin and light or choose uber powerful, full voltage battery life will be lesser too. If you want room for more than one SSD, that's a consideration, as is ease of upgrades, and of servicing it. Choose your compromises.
     
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  3. DuffMcShank

    DuffMcShank Notebook Guru

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    Yeah, I'm thinking the U-series I7 in a 13-14" portable at 1.3-1.5kg is the best compromise, but it is very discerning to see the benchmark results of for example the XPS 13 and the Yoga 900, where the CPU is heavily throttled after just a few seconds when under high load.

    In this review, the XPS 13 throttles from 3.2GHz to 2.6GHz in a few seconds, and down to 1.2GHz in a minute...

    This article does an interesting experiment with repasting the heat sink, and concludes that the throttling is in part due to poor heat sink paste and lack of heat spreading of the RAM chips, and in part due to insufficient power to drive both the CPU and the GPU. I'm thinking the last part may just be an issue for gaming, I guess the GPU is underclocked when just doing desktop work.
     
  4. Kent T

    Kent T Notebook Virtuoso

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    I don't see any real advantage in a U series i7 over a U series i5, since both are dual cores and throttling is a known issue.
     
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  5. penguinslider

    penguinslider Notebook Consultant

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    Check out the Latitude 14 5000 Series (E5470). It has an option for an Intel® Core™ i7-6820HQ (Quad Core, 2.7GHz, 8M cache, 45W) vPro.

    I don't think it has an option for USB-C/Thunderbolt though. If you really want that, you might have to go up to the Precision line.

    I agree with the post above, if you want CPU power with extended use in mind, you will have to get something that has good cooling capabilities which will rule out ultralights.
     
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  6. John Ratsey

    John Ratsey Moderately inquisitive Super Moderator

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    The Dell E5470 isn't very thin which gives it internal space for a relatively good fan (there is thermal headroom for the optional AMD Radeon R7 M360 2GB GPU). While there is no Thunderbolt port, you have Dell's legacy docking port on the bottom for which you can get a docking unit quite cheaply. It will weigh more than your target range but is reasonably priced (look through the stock at Dell Outlet). Otherwise you have to look at the 15.6" Precision 5510 which is in the 2kg weight range and substantially more expensive.

    John
     
  7. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    The E7470 is a good middle-ground, I got the i7 Iris 540 version with CPU clocked at 2.2ghz. Hasn't throttled after 30 minutes at 100%, so thats nice, but then again, its a ULV processor. I stopped buying consumer notebooks years back, mainly because of the whole form over function philosophy. Not that hard to keep a 15W (or 35W) in check temperature wise, they just don't bother. My mother's XPS15 constantly overheats, the cause is the heat sink assembly. They put in the same size heat sink from a 15W CPU to try and cool a combined TDP of 75W from the CPU + GPU, the best part is that they denied the issue for years and refused to do anything about it. Try that in the business segment, our next order of 200 machines goes to someone else.
     
  8. DuffMcShank

    DuffMcShank Notebook Guru

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    Yeah, 7470 looks like a good middle ground at 1.7 kg and with adequate cooling. USB-C is not neccesary if there's a good portable enough docking solution.

    The local Dell web site is partially broken so I can't configure it ATM, but can it be bought with FHD, 16GB RAM, 256GB PCIe-SSD and i7 6500U?

    They seem to be running pretty big discounts on some of their lineup atm, like 30% on the Precision-line and on the Lattitude 5000-line, probably to empty stocks before the next CPU generation iteration.
     
  9. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    16GB RAM and 256GB nvme SSDs are standard upgrade options. i7 6600U is the standard, but there is an option for an i7 6650U with Iris 540 graphics (which is good for the occasional rendering tasks).
     
  10. DuffMcShank

    DuffMcShank Notebook Guru

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    So I got the chance to try an older 7440 yesterday, and I think the keyboard felt flimsy and wobbly.
    Is the keyboard the same for the 7470 and 5470?

    Anyway, seems I can't get the 7470 with more than 8GB RAM in my country, so it's off the table for now.

    I'm starting to look at the T460p with a HQ CPU again, is there a substantial difference between the 6300HQ and the higher models?
    How will a 6300HQ compare to a 6500U?
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
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