Ultrabook with Thinkpad-quality keyboard and discrete GPU

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by sgtrobo, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. sgtrobo

    sgtrobo Notebook Geek

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    Basically, 3 requirements:
    1) Lightweight (sub-3 lbs, preferably closer to 2.5~2.6)
    2) High quality typing/keyboard
    3) GPU
    4) A way to output to HDMI (using an adapter is fine)

    Ideally, there is a Thinkpad X1 with a discrete GPU. If there was, I'd buy it right now. To my knowledge, the lightweight Thinkpads don't have discrete GPUs. i've been looking at Yogas and Zenbooks and Elitebooks and Envys and I can't seem to find one that checks all the blocks.
    I'm sure it's staring me in the face, just not seeing it yet.

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    I assume somewhere between $1500 - $2000 should do the trick.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen ==> this right here
    3) Which country will you buying this notebook?

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: anything good, Lenovo, HP, Asus probably the top options
    b. Dislike: Can't do a Macbook
    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Some moderate gaming will be the most stressful thing. OpenGL 3.1 support required (Zwift is the game I play)

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Yes, it needs to be light. 3 lbs is the absolute upper limit, I have to carry this on my back (I ride a bike) several miles up a lot of hills. Needs to be lightweight, sturdy, strong hinge

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?)
    yes, as mentioned, some OpenGL gaming. Doesn't need to be super high power, i.e. I don't need the top-of-the-line GPU, but some GPU power is desirable.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    at least 5-6 on the low side, preferably much more

    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?
    As long as it has a keyboard that I can test out

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

    Screen Specifics
    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    minimum 1080p

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.)
    I much prefer matte, but I can get a screen protector. However, I'd really rather just go with a matte IPS-type screen with good viewing angles

    Build Quality and Design
    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    build quality, i.e. "sturdy and well made" = yes. "stylish and pretty" = no

    Notebook Components
    15) How much hard drive space do you need?
    512GB should be fine

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity
    16) When are you buying this laptop?
    As soon as possible, within the next week or 2

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop?
    Several years

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail?
    I can temporarily have down time, this will not be a limiting factor

    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?
    a week or more of outage is fine

  2. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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    Maybe a Thinkpad X395? It is an AMD based Ryzen 3700U with a Vega 10 iGPU. I am not sure how it compares to a MX250, but in theory it would be better than any of Intel's iGPU offerings.
  3. rlk

    rlk Notebook Evangelist

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    The problem is fundamentally that a discrete GPU (and its associated memory) require considerable power and as such better cooling and either a larger battery or shorter runtime. Putting a discrete GPU into a very small laptop while keeping the weight down would be challenging, and current APUs (such as the Ryzen 2 and Ice Lake) are quite capable.

    The keyboard is also going to be a challenge, as there simply isn't a lot of room for key travel and the size of the keyboard itself is very restricted on such a small machine.
    Viares Strake likes this.
  4. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw Big time Idiot

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    If this existed, I would have already bought it years ago.

    As @rlk stated, all of what you want has costs in weight, size, packaging (battery life is affected by this), etc.

    That being said, the MSI PS42 is as close as it gets. It's successor has already been announced, apparently with a MX250 or GTX1650. I haven't actually kept close track of it. Might be slightly different in KB tactility from what you want, and is hard to find in retail. Battery life isn't a strong suit (though MSI is trying), travel is hindered by using a barrel jack charger (its announced successor seems to support USB-C charging, though), and MSI longevity isn't really a strong suit. They seem to be trying on all those weakpoints, so it's really up to you.

    Oh right. Single channel RAM (does come with a SO-DIMM socket, at least). That's what held me away from buying one last time, mostly because it does make a difference to my workloads.
  5. Viares Strake

    Viares Strake Notebook Guru

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    The best build and keyboard quality I've encountered for laptops with the criteria you stated is the Razer Blade models.Those models can certainly push your budget's upper limit though.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019

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