Dev laptop comparison

Posted on 11/10/2016 @ 4:13 PM in #Non Techie by | Feedback | 1897 views

My current laptop, Macbook pro 15” Late 2013 is a very very sweet machine. It has served me very well. But it’s getting old, and I’d like to upgrade it. I’m sure many others are in my shoes are faced with the same question. So I did some analysis, that I am sharing that I hope everyone will benefit from, and I look forward to your feedback. Plus a lot of this is thinking out loud .. and since my current laptop is Macbook pro, it is natural for me to compare my next laptop possibility to the new Macbook pro.

My requirements are,

  1. I love having big displays, so at the bare minimum I would like to have the ability to drive 2x 4K displays at 60hz. More the better.
  2. I still sometimes end up running multiple virtual machines, lesser now, and cloud has opened some options. But this means I would greatly prefer to have 32G RAM. 16G is not a deal breaker, but massively inconvenient.
  3. I would like to have a decent keyboard. I travel with an apple wired keyboard. So the touch bar is a somewhat negative in my opinion.
  4. I am a cross platform dev. Carrying a macbook means I can carry one machine. Switching to PC means, I’ll need to carry two (Mac and PC). Although I could get replace my iPad pro with the macbook (not pro), and perhaps that may be ok.
  5. I do travel quite a bit, and I’ve owned Dells, Lenovos, and Macbooks. Only the macbook managed to stand up to the rigors of travel. The dell and Lenovo, I had to throw them away after 2 years. The chasis cracked, they looked like a truck went over them. The macbook pro, still looks new.
  6. I don’t want a really heavy machine. And I think I would enjoy a nice looking laptop that didn’t look like yeti’s butt.
  7. Cost

So based on this, my contenders/finalists are –

#1 – The new Macbook pro
#2 – Dell XPS 15
#3 – Surfacebook i7
#4 – Lenovo P50
#5 – Razer Blade Pro (not released yet).
#6 – HPZbook Studio G3

Lets get one thing out of the way before I dive into an indepth comparison first, Windows vs MacOS.

I really really dislike Windows’s heavy duty nature, and constant updatey nature. And with Windows, it’s like a gift from your grandma or a baby’s diaper. You don’t know what’s inside, but you are pretty sure you are not gonna like it.
For instance, in my opinion HDD speed matters a lot. And windows update could push drivers that drive your fancy hardware speed down. That is no good frankly! NVMe HDDs are as slow as 200mbps and as fast as 2000 mbps, the same hardware – just different machines, and different drivers. All thanks to windows. That really sucks!

That said, there are some things I don’t like about MacOS too. Finder sucks, keyboard shortcuts suck, Alt Tab sucks, walled garden sucks. And Tim Cook is frankly an expert at picking your pocket. The price of Apple anything is getting absurd.
So lets just say, as far as the operating system goes, it’s a wash out. Both have their issues, pick your poison, and deal with it.

With that, lets dive into a laptop by laptop comparison. Since my current laptop is a Macbook pro, I’ll compare #2, #3, #4, #5 with a Macbook pro.


Also, one bummer for Mac is “dongles” – but I don’t think that is a big deal because of two reasons,

a) The third party marketplace will solve that in no time.
b) I’d rather have lots of fast IO ports that can be down converted to slower older ports than the reverse.

And all the information here is accurate as of late 2016.

So -

Surfacebook i7.

Spec

Comments

Winner

HDD

MacBook pro is 2x faster and 2x bigger

Macbook wins big time.

Processor

I7 6600U vs i7 6920HQ

Macbook wins big time.

RAM

2133 Mhz vs 1867 Mhz

Macbook wins big time.

VRAM

2GB vs 4GB, surfacebook cannot run 2x 4k

Macbook wins big time.

Aesthetics

Both are very pretty

Draw, and this is frankly the only reason I am even mentioning surfacebook here.

Durability

Hard to say, I have never used surfacebook over many years. But with my travel etc. I doubt that plasticky body will hold up. So .. I have to give this to Macbook

Macbook pro wins.

Keyboard Surfacebook is better Surfacebook wins
Price Both are hella $, but given the specs, Surfacebook is definitely over priced. Draw (both loose).

Result: Not getting a surfacebook.

Dell XPS 15.

Spec

Comments

Winner

HDD

MacBook pro is 2x faster and 2x bigger

Macbook wins big time.

Processor

i7-6700HQ vs i7-6920HQ

Macbook wins slightly

RAM

2133 Mhz, but 32G vs 16G

XPS15 wins big time.

VRAM

2GB vs 4GB, surfacebook cannot run 2x 4k

Macbook wins big time.

Aesthetics

Both are very pretty

Okay Macbook is prettier, so gonna give this to mac.

Durability

XPS 15 is plasticky. Macbook is a solid piece of metal.

Macbook pro wins.

Keyboard

XPS keyboard is better

XPS wins

Price

$4299 vs $2500ish

XPS wins big time.

So …. XPS 15 is actually a pretty sweet laptop. And perhaps the kaby lake upgrade will push it past the macbook.
Result: Gonna keep this one under consideration.

Lenovo P50

Spec

Comments

Winner

HDD

Same

Lenovo wins because it can offer the same speed via RAID0, but can also offer additional storage on top of that.

Processor

i7-6820HQ or Xeon vs i7-6920HQ

I’d say draw. Xeon in laptop has downsides.

RAM

2133 Mhz, but 64G vs 16G

Lenovo P50 wins by a massive landslide

VRAM

4GB

Draw

Aesthetics

Lenovo looks butt ugly, also 5.6lbs vs 4.4lbs.

Macbook pro wins by a landslide.

Durability

My last Lenovo didn’t handle travel very well. In fact, it was completely broken.

Macbook pro wins by a landslide.

Keyboard

Lenovo is better

Lenovo

Price

$3500 vs $4299

Lenovo wins by a lot

I love the specs vs price of Lenovo. Frankly it seems like a very nice laptop. I just wish it wasn’t so ugly and was a bit more durable.
Result: Gonna keep this under consideration.

Razer blade pro

Okay this laptop is not released yet. So the price guess below is a guess .. but otherwise the specs are on their website.

http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade-pro

Spec

Comments

Winner

HDD

Same

Draw

Processor

i7-6700HQ vs i7-6920HQ

Macbook pro wins slightly

RAM

2133 Mhz, but 32G vs 16G

Razer wins

VRAM

8GB vs 4GB, and this is a 17.3” Laptop

Razer wins big time

Aesthetics

Both look hot. Razer is heavy though (7.8lbs vs 4.4), but it is 17.3” so will pardon (and it’s not ridiculous heavy like those Alienware types).

Draw

Durability

Both are CNC aluminum

Draw

Keyboard

Razer is better

Razer

Price

$3699 start, but probably gonna go much higher

Macbook wins, I cannot believe I am writing this.

Result: Now this is a super duper sweet laptop. Really hoping the price for fully loaded isn’t a total ball breaker, and the reviews match up to the hype.

HP ZBook Studio

Spec

Comments

Winner

HDD

Macbook pro is 2x as fast

Macbook wins

Processor

i7-6820HQ vs i7-6920HQ

Same (they also offer xeon)

RAM

32G vs 16G, both at 2133

HP wins

VRAM

HP doesn’t make it clear if they support 2G or 4G. I’m gonna give this to Macbook pro

Macbook wins

Aesthetics

Macbook looks nicer, and is more durable. Both weigh the same

Macbook wins

Durability

Macbook

Macbook wins

Keyboard

HP is better

HP wins

Price

$3745 vs $4299

HP wins, but damn that’s pricey.

Result: If this laptop was $500 cheaper, it’d be a decent contender. However, disk speed and durability are a big issues (just as RAM is an issue for Macbook pro).

Final result/summary

The sticker shock is getting a bit absurd lately. But outside of that, I think I want to wait and see what the razer blade pro looks like. But if  had to rank without considering price,

#1 – Razer blade pro
#2 – Macbook pro
#3 – Lenovo P50
#4 – HP Zbook studio
#5 – XPS 15
#6 – Surfacebook i7

and if I did consider price,

#1 and #2 – Razer blade pro, and Macbook pro.
#2 – Lenovo P50, or XPS 15.
#3 – HP Zbook studio
#4 – Surfacebook i7.

What are your thoughts? Do you have anything to add to this analysis, and are there any other laptops I should consider?

Sound off but keep it civil:

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