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Suggestions for a new laptop?

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Okay, the previous time I asked this question, I decided that buying a big desktop machine would be preferable, but I am currently traveling and I am pained at the speed of my current laptop.

Therefore, I am going to need a new one. I am the happy owner of a Mac Book Pro, but I can’t really justify purchasing a new Mac given the cost of a new Mac vs. a comparable PC. The Mac tax just doesn’t pay for itself at those levels for me.

Any recommendations? I want something 15” with enough horsepower to be a major development machine. If there is something like the Mac’s touchpad, I would love that.

Any ideas?



Dell Precision M6500, but its 17"


i also want to get a new laptop. i also suggest dell precision m6500, but since it is a 17" i'm waiting for the 15" precision, but i've no idea when it will be released. since m6500 is 17" a advantage would be raid and more space for memory, as far as i know. i'm currently running on alienware for two years without issues, which has a good price/performance ratio. this time i'm going with precision, since i never liked the design of alienware. hope that helps.

Henning Anderssen

I don't have a concrete make and model for you, but I prefer to use HP. I've worked with hardware support, and they where quite pleasant to get support from, atleast here in Norway.

Word is taht HP is coming out with some new models in May, so if you go for HP you should probably wait for those models.


What's wrong with the Dell Precision 4400? It's a 15" laptop. He doesn't need the 6500.

I've got the 4400. It's no MBP but you get a lot for your money. The trackpad sucks, but it gets the job done.


I would suggest Dell Latitude E series. E6500 is with 15". I am using E6400 which is slightly smaller and I'm happy with it. There are plenty of processors to choose from when configuring your own instance.

Dell support has been also good, even when I've traveled around.

Paulo Prestes

I have a dell vostro 1520 and it is good.

By the way, I have a MacBook Pro too and after read your post a question poped up in my mind. Is it possible to install VS2008 and Microsoft.NET in my Mac? I'm new in mac word.



HP 8540w..

Quad Core

16 GB of ram

2 internal HDD

USB 3.0


I have a Dell Precision M4400, 15" 1900x1200, quad core x 2,54 GHz, 9 cell battery, 3kg.

I'm pretty happy with it, although I have W7 Ultimate 64 and after a while no computer is good enough if you put Windows on it.

On the cons: poor trackpad (but I don't use it that much), it gets pretty hot when doing intensive computing.


I've got a Dell Studio XPS 16 that I absolutely love. It's got a Core i7 720QM, 6GB DDR3, 500GB 7200RPM drive, ATI Mobility Radeon 4670 1GB, a 1920x1080 display, 9-cell battery, plenty of inputs and outputs and a multi-touch track pad. I paid ~$1600 for it w/ 2-yr complete care warranty back when the Core i7s were announced in laptops back in Oct '09.

I get about 3-3.5hrs of battery life out of it, it's pretty weighty compared to a MacBook Pro, and there is no docking station option for it. However, it's fairly thin, very fast, and works well for me to carry in a backpack and use on the go since I'm rarely without AC for more than a couple of hours.


Maybe HP Envy 15?


How about a Fujitsu Stylistic ST6012?

Steve Wagner

I suggest a Lenovo Thinkpad.

They are very robust. I have mine in my backpack every day and no problems with it since 3 years.

There driver and tooling support is still excellent. I have never seen a better app suite which helps and is perfectly integrated. There update application refresh all drivers and apps automatically and BIOS updates too.

And i get Window7 drivers for my 3 old year laptop. Which i think is not naturally for laptop manufactures.

Will Hughes

I used to use Dell for laptops, but I've switched to Lenovo after a few bad experiences.

My primary mobile unit is a T400 (not the T400s model - that's lower powered), although that's 14" not 15". I preferred the lower weight for travel rather than the slightly larger screen.

They're not exactly the prettiest machines on the planet, but I've personally dropped this one in some pretty terrible ways, plus it's had an unfortunate encounter with a bottle of exploding soft drink (soda/pop) and it keeps on running just fine.

It also feels solid, with only a little bit of flex. And unlike the Dell's I've used, the heat management is absolutely awesome (it gets warm to the touch if I'm hammering the CPU and GPU for a LONG time, otherwise is at ambient temp)

I've swapped out the DVDRW for another hard drive (it's a modular bay, so I can put the DVDRW back in if needed), and added a 3G card.


  • Core2Duo P8400 @ 2.26Ghz

  • 8GB RAM

  • 1x 250GB SSD (boot)

  • 1x 500GB 5400RPM HDD.

  • 802.11a/b/g/n for Wifi - plus Bluetooth and 7.2Mbit UTMS 3G card.

  • 9 Cell Battery, for >5 hours of heavy use, or 8 hours if I'm prepared to switch some features off.

Denis Gladkikh

Lenovo the best!

T61 or R500 - 15"


I have a Dell XPS m1530 that's maybe a year old and the price performance ratio seemed pretty good for me. I opted for the bigger battery and the highest resolution screen and it runs VS 2008 and SQL Server wonderfully!


I second Dell Studio XPS 16 series with 16" Full HD RGB LED display. Check 1645 model with i7.


I also have a Dell Precision M4400 and develop on it every day. It works great, but it does get hot sometimes.

William Highfield

I have a 15.4" (WSXGA+ 1680 x 1050) HP EliteBook 8530p that has been excellent since I bought it last year. 2.4 GHz Core2Duo 8gb RAM, swapped out the DVD drive bay and put in a 2nd HD. I love the fact that everything feels solid (keyboard, body enclosure, display enclosure) on this laptop.

Chris Patterson

Good luck with this one. So far, everyone has suggested to buy what they have.

The trackpads on everything sucks, so if you are married to the trackpad, well, good luck with that. Because face the fact that no trackpad is close to the MBP trackpad, particularly the unibody glass trackpad. Believe me, I've looked.

Every Dell i7 machine has issues with processor throttling from what I've read, but other i7 machines are working well.

The Dell 6500 workstation is a tank, huge, heavy, no way you'll ever use it on a plane. Maybe the 4500 workstation would be a nice unit, but we've yet to get one for anyone here yet.

The E-series are not great by any stretch, but they meet the cheap market needs and a lot of our managers have them for light computing (read: not development).

The HP Envy has a lot going for it in the design and features department (like dual HDD, 4 RAM slots, no optical drive) but the keyboard is not backlit and the trackpad is horrendous. But it is an i7 quad core and you can easily to 8gb of memory (I'm talking about the 15" envy).

Good luck with finding something. I'd have to say that most of the laptops people have mentioned on this page are "laptops" but they hardly fall into the MBP class of machine in terms of quality.

Of course, I use a Mac, so I'm biased. But coming from that experience, I can tell you that finding a good replacement is a chore if you want bare metal performance. There is always Bootcamp. The 13" Au MBP with Bootcamp is pretty hard to beat in terms of battery life, performance, and of course, the trackpad.


Try the Acer Aspire One with the Intel Atom N270 processor..it's light and travel friendly.

Pablo Ruiz

Dell precision.. after having two of them.. I will stick to them for life ;)

Patrick McEvoy

I have a Lenovo x301 and love it to bits! Powerful to use all the time, and so small/light I take it everywhere. Downside is cost, but if you're gonna spend 8hrs+ a day using something....

Nick Berardi

Stay away from the Dell consumer brands and vostro which is the consumer brand under small business. In general stay away from anything that you would find at a store such as Best Buy. The quality is sub-par, they use plastic cases, and the tech support lines when you need them are almost always non-exisitant.

However that being said I have been happy with both the build quality and solid structure of the Dell and HP business lines.

I would recommend either the

Dell E-Series or

HP EliteBook

If you want the latest in processors the new HP EliteBook offers Intel Core i7 Mobile porocessors.



I am a happy owner of VAIO F series. i7, 8G memory, perfect mate ! 16' screen (1920x1080) with led backlight. I highly would not recommend HP, Dell, Acer, they suck. Good luck.


Have to agree with Chris above, use my mbp 13" for development and although it probably isn't as grunty as some of the machines mentioned here it copes quite well as it is very balanced. You could always just stick some additional RAM and a faster 7200rpm disk in your machine to see if it helps.

I had a vaio in the past and the battery lasted about a month or two, battery life sucked from the beginning anyway, i used to get about an hour out of it so it was hardly portable.

I have friends that had dell machines and they were just incredibly heavy and clunky and again not that portable.

Guess it depends how much portability you are willing to sacrifice for speed.

Justin Etheredge

My prediction: The Apple tax won't be worth it, until you buy some cheap, plasticy, ugly, power sucking monstrosity from any of the major laptop suppliers. Then you'll end up buying a MacBook anyways, and you'll have spent even more money.

The HP Envy was the closest thing to MacBook quality that I have seen, but according to the reviews it has horrible battery life.


Consider TOSHIBA's laptops. I bought my Sattelite A100 almost 3 years ago and havent problems with it and it is still modern in all means


How about Sony Vaio ? they have some models with i7 proc, 64 bit OS, upto 8 gigs RAM, 15 inches display.

Demis Bellot

HP envy is probably the best quality laptop outside of apple but its also priced like a macbook so they're is not really much point. I usually like spending more on my desktop as I find it more enjoyable and productive to use, although I recently went on a holiday and needed to buy a laptop for the month I was gone so ended up buying an Acer as it looked to have the best value per specs:


Acer Aspire 5740G (£599):

  • Core i5-430M (2.26 Ghz, 3MB Cache)

  • 4GB RAM

  • 500GB HD

  • Win7 (home)

  • 15.6" wide-screen monitor

Even though its not a macbook it's got a decent build quality and got me through the whole month with pretty good perf so I'm happy with it.

James L

Make sure you have SSD for Windows & Visual Studio and your working area. Probably a mechanical secondary disk for all the crud.

Adam Mokan

@Paulo (#37) - In regards to your Mac question, I run Windows 7 perfectly on my MacBookPro with Bootcamp and use Visual Studio daily. Works great.

Rafael Belliard

HP Pavilion DV6-2190US 15.6-Inch Laptop

  • Intel Core i7-720QM CPU w/1.60GHz w/Turbo Boost up to 2.80GHz

  • 4GB DDR3 (2 DIMM) (expandable to 8 GB)

  • 500GB (7200RPM) Hard Drive (SATA)

  • LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD±R/RW with DL Support

  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

  • Up to 3.25 Hours of Battery Life

  • 15.6" Diagonal High-Definition LED HP BrightView Display (1366x768)

  • Nvidia GeForce GT 230M with up to 2815MB total graphics memory with 1024MB dedicated



Have to add to the votes for a Lenovo Thinkpad. The past few years, imho Dell has slipped. There's a few nice laptops from their Alienware line, but to be honest, Lenovo (formerly IBM) laptops have always been top of the line for mobile workstations.

To be honest though, I'd look at the customer service reviews for any company you choose, and would look at the keyboard layout, and the layout of any peripheral and power jacks. I've found the front-load headphone jacks are something I hate. Also, when the ctrl key isn't in the far left corner, and the shift key on the right is obstructed, it gets cumbersome. I've noticed a lot of laptops put the Fn key to the left of ctrl, which is harder for touch typists. I've also had issue with my netbook, where the right shift is to the right of the up arrow.

The hardware specs themselves tend to be very similar at various price points. Those things that make the most difference, tend to be easy to upgrade as a user, and less expensive to do yourself. (Upping the RAM, though max allowed is something to look at), replacing the 5400RPM HDD with a 7200 or SSD. etc.

If you like to watch video (HD), or run mild 3D gaming, I'd opt for descrete graphics (AMD/ATI or nVidia), other than that, I find a decent dual/quad core is usually sufficient. It tends to be the amount of ram, and the slow hard drives in laptops that make the biggest difference.

You may even want to see how your existing system performs with an SSD drive, and maxed out ram. Which would be a nice upgrade, and less costly than an all new laptop. Odds are it isn't your CPU load that's holding you back.

Gabe Anzelini

I just purchased a MBP and when I checked the prices, the comparable Dell was only $300 less than the MBP (2600 vs 2900) and I decided the MBP was more than worth that "tax". As aside, I recently purchased an HP for my wife and it is terrible all-around; should've bought a MBP for too :)


Lenovo T60/T61

Jason Truesdell

I'm reasonably happy with the HP Envy 15 I bought; my only complaints are irrelevant to development concerns (the built-in webcam is horrible compared to anything I've used since 1998). It has a Mac-wannabe capacitive touchpad but just doesn't work as well as my wife's MacBook Pro (current generation).

Jeff Olson

Dell Studio XPS 16" w/ i7 and 8gigs of RAM.


You can get the entry level i7 and 8gigs of ram for ~$1,500 . pretty frickin nice, if you ask me.


HP Envy 15 intel quad i7 + ati radeon 5830 up to 16 gig ram

Graeme Hill

I do not recommend the Studio XPS laptops. I have one and it performs extremely well, but the battery life is pathetic and it overheats easily. It also didn't cost a whole lot less than the comparable Macbook Pro. I have a Dell Precision at work, and they are also very powerful computers, but they weigh about a million pounds. Depending on what you're looking for I would be tempted to try a ThinkPad. The problem I find is that so many laptops look like better deals than an MBP on paper, but in the end you realize that the cost to quality ratio on a Mac is actually very good.

Graeme Hill

Oh, and I highly recommend getting an SSD.


Before you splash on a new laptop buy an SSD and drop it in your Mac (if at all possible). It might be enough for a while longer.

Jason Y

My wife loves her cute little pink Asus EEE.

Jon V

I highly recommend the Gateway FX series. They're big, but they are awesome and reliable (and a great price).

Remco Ros

I own (and recommend) a Dell Precision too (M6400).

When you config your HDD's in Raid-0 (sata or even better: SSD) it really is a power development notebook.

Hendry Luk

I can't be happier with my G73JH-A1. For the price ($1600) it's a steal.

Their lowest spec:

Core i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB 7200rpm hdd raid, 1GB directx11 ATI 5870, 17.3" 1080p LED.

You can adjust the spec to 16gb ram, i7-920m, and an SSD. It's a beast.

She's got a "twin-turbo" button to operate its CPU and GPU on overclocked mode.

Its cooling system is amazing you can barely feel any heat on your arm rest, and can be used on your lap without grilling your legs.

Not to mention its terrific warranty terms.

Hendry Luk

Forgot to mention the brand :P

It's an Asus, and yes it has multitouch touchpad gestures ala mac

junior programmer

also mbp gives you opportunity to play with other platforms. i am considering moving away from .net platform.


Buy a used MBP. Definitely MBFTB.


Bootcamp your mbp - as mentioned drop in some more ram and a 7200

Chris Carter

Lenovo Thinkpad ftw.

My current W500 model is great, i upgraded from a T60P:

2.8GHz core 2 duo T9600

4 gigs ram

60 gig solid state drive

1 gig vid, 1920x1200 res

picked up mine at the lenovo outlet store for 1200 bucks


I use a Dell Precision M4400 with 8GB ram and a 250GB OCZ SSD.

Boots win 7 x64 in less than a minute and performs well with pretty much everything. Visual Studio runs great, SQL Server is there in the background and stability has been second to none.

It gets about 3 hours out of the 9 Cell battery which isnt too bulky but if you're away from sockets, the battery slice is a useful addition which gets you about 9 hours in total. Full work day on one charge off a powerhouse.

It can get hot, and its not the smallest thing ever, but its portable unlike the M6500.


I recently got the Dell Studio XPS 16 with i7 820, 8GB of ram, and a SSD and its super fast, a solid machine, and am very happy with it. SSD is key for doing development with VS on a laptop. With Win 7 it literally does a cold start up in about 20 seconds for me after you blow away all the crapware and repave it with a fresh OS install.

Jeroen Trappers

I'd also suggest a Lenovo Thinkpad. W500 is the best. I own an R500, it is larger and heavier, but cheaper. Excellent driver support. Very sturdy. High quality screen, keyboard and pointing device.

Sergey Prokhorenko

everyone has suggested to buy what they have

Well, then let me add what I wouldn't suggest, and that's HP, especially Paviliion. Couple of years ago me and my collegues bought a few different models, and they all broke due to a manufacturing error (video card overheating) that HP denied to confirm (there's a whole site devoted to this - hplies.com).

I second Toshiba if you need durability and quality.


Just for alternative, i would NOT recommend my laptop (Dell Latitude E6400). It just sucks. The material used is just like a fat magnet, everything from your fingers get stuck in a very visible manner, graphics is average at best, hard drive has shown symptoms of quickly dying (replaced it already once) all because the sucker gets way too hot. I mean dock port gets burning hot, everything else inconveniently hot. And it's addition to all this very very noisy. What I've seen, same applies to all more "powerful" Latitude E series.

Steven Willems

Go for the MBP, and as someone here already said, maybe wait till the new ones are out, as the new MBP's will be really mean machines.

As developers, we need the best stuff out there. We already loose too much time waiting for compiling to be finished, deploying, memory swapping, disk access.. (btw, take a 7200rpm disk!) and so on.

Believe me, they're just worth the 'mac tax' every single day.

Patrick Smacchia

Whatever you take, a SSD is a must-have

I am happy with my 14 months old DELL Latitude E4300 with a 128GB SSD except with the battery lifetime which is around 4hours (I used to be use to to 8 hours on my previous Dell XPS) but then I bought 2 batteries.

Derek Fowler

I'm currently engaged in this search myself, the main feature I've been struggling with has been the screen resolution. There are a lot out there with 768 or 800 lines which just isn't enough for a dev machine IMO. I've been looking for at least a res of 1440x900 and preferably 1920x1080.

Two possibles I've found so far have been Dell Studio 15 (not the XPS one) which has an option of a 1080 line screen and good processor and memory for a decent price. Also the Sony Vaio E series which has a higher res screen option.



You can upgrade the RAM and hard drive your self as they are deemed user replaceable and will not affect your warranty (assuming you don't put a screw driver through your cpu or something like that). I concede that the mac tax is ridiculous when it comes to customising your mac and adding upgrades like additional ram etc, but you can always purchase an ssd or additional ram from places like crucial.com for a fraction of the price.

Also apple do a pretty hefty student discount. You can get around 15% off a mac book and all you have to do is take some one with you that is a student. It doesn't matter if the laptop is not for them.


The most important thing is the SSD. I use a T61p which is almost 3 years old - running VS 2008, MSSQL, MySQL .....

Changed from 1st gen SSD (Mtron) to OCZ Vertex resently, and this beauty is still running lightning fast. Faster than any new laptop with traditional hard drives on it.

If you want a laptop as a workstation, the SSD is cruisial.


Lenovo's LS510 is simply amazing.

It's powerful, it's quite, and it's light even though it's big (15.4" I think).

My mom has it. I couldn't believe when I came to visit and saw that magnificent beast... I borrow it any chance I get (when we're in the same country), simply because it feels so no working on it.

Paul Hatcher

Just picked up a Dell Studio 15 Core i7 for £550 and then spent another £800 to upgrade it to 8Gb RAM and a 256Gb SSD. This should hopefully make the VMs fly!

Used to spend a lot on laptops, but a friend suggested rather than spending £2k and making it last 3-4 years, spend £500-600 and treat as a dispoable item.

Simone Basso smnbss

What better than an Italian design to replace apple ?


The Multi-Touch Touchpad

Forget about old touchpads - now everything is possible with Altro®.

  • Enlarge or reduce pictures using two fingers? That's possible - we call it Two-Finger Pinch Zoom

  • Rotate a picture using two fingers? That's possible - we call it Chiral Rotate

  • Scroll a web page without using a mouse? That's possible, and with just one finger - we call it Linear Scrolling

  • Launch your preferred applications without having to search them? That's possible - we call it Three-Finger Down

Innovate to make things easier - that's Altro®.


You guys know he's going to end up buying a Macbook anyway, right? :)


I just got a quad core 17" screen HP dv7 that has been working really well for me - $1000. At work I watch all the people with macbooks fiddling with and bitching about things that are wrong because they run windows in a VM... Whilest I happily work away on all 4 cores.

Steve Jones

I just bought a new Lenovo W510 and love it. I spent US$1900, w/ 3yr warranty, but only 4GB RAM. You could up that for about $300 to 8GB and have a nice machine.

It has a nice large keyboard, wide screen, and it feels solid.


Whatever you do, get SSD. I have a Lenovo Thinkpad, and the SSD makes a world if difference during development.


"but I can’t really justify purchasing a new Mac"

Do it anyway! And get the new cinema display too. And don't look back...

Chris Smith

I've found that a top end laptop requires too much more cash for the performance improvement. The cheaper ones are far more economical - you can afford to throw 3 of them in the bin for the price of a "high end" one.

I went for an Acer Timeline laptop (bottom-range 3810TZ one!). 8h (!) on batteries with heavy work in Visual Studio and SQL 2008 for a mere 500GBP. Plus it's an inch think, has a decent 13.3" screen, has HDMI and weighs only 1.6Kg. It's getting an SSD in it when the prices drop slightly.

I cannot tell the difference between that (with a 1.3GHz Dual core Intel SU4100) and my main workstation which is a quad core 2.4GHz machine for 95% of what I do.

IMHO, 99% of laptop purchases are penis envy related.

Bernardo Heynemann

I was faced with the same problem about a year ago. I came back to my home town after an year living in London. I sold all my stuff in the UK (including my notebook), so I had to buy a new one.

I went with a Sony Vaio, which proved to be quite "ok". An oportunity presented to buy an Alienware M15x in November 2009. I don't think I'll get back to another brand ever. I had a Macbook Pro 15'' and even though the m15x is a little heavier, I'd go with it over the MBP a thousand times again.

Awesome quality (specially if you are using WIndows, because you get several features including face-recognition login), amazing performance (mine is I7 quad, 4gb DDR3, 500gb HDD and a 1GB DDR5 Nvidia graphics card). A friend of mine got the same one,but he got Solid State. It's a little faster, but I need the HDD space, so I couldn't go with a 240gb drive.

I got both Ubuntu and Windows 7 coexisting in the same machine and it works GREAT!

I'm well aware that, as the other commenters, I'm biased. I hope I am less biased, since I already owned HP, Dell, Acer, Apple, Sony and Alienware Notebooks. Being a developer that needs the horsepower and a consumer that just can't stand to wait those 5 seconds to open a browser window I would say definitely go with the Alienware.

As for the plane argument, every time I travel I use it on a plane. It's a little bigger than the MBP, but you can always go with the 13'' one. I wouldn't, though, since the Alienware screen is a thing of BEAUTY.

I hope that helps!


Bernardo Heynemann

Dev @ globo.com

Charlie Barker

I have also bought an Acer 3810tz I have few complaints except for the trackpad buttons which require too much force. Definitely needs an SSD drive.

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