Budget 90k+ Laptop for college

thawfu666

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Mar 18, 2012
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Hello all. It has been so many years since I posted a thread on this forum. I'm (finally) in need for a new laptop, after owning the first-gen Retina MacBook Pro (13-inch) from 2012. It has been a sturdy and loyal machine, but judging by the troubles that I'm getting now, the time has finally come..
Here's the basic questionnaire:
  • What's your Budget?
    I can stretch my budget till 1.5L (or approx. USD 2100)
  • What will be your primary usage for the notebook be?
    Web surfing, game development (UE4 and Unity), Web Development (Sublime Text), and watching FHD movies.

  • What size and weight considerations do you have?
    As I've already mentioned, I own a 13-inch MBP, and it's form-factor has been truly excellent. The only gripe I ever had with my Mac is the absence of discrete graphics card. Hence, a 15-incher is preferred now. I won't be doing much of gaming (apart from basic 3D game development). Somewhere below 2kg or max. 2.25kg, as the current one that I own is 1.6kg.

  • Any brand that you prefer, or any brand that you detest?
    No lesser-known brands please (MSI and the like). I'm open to Apple, Lenovo and Dell. Even HP (although there weren't any laptops that fit my bill).

  • Any other considerations?
    Battery life is the most important. Higher, the better! Next would be the screen resolution.. Definitely more than 1080p, but not to the point of 4K (massive battery drain). A 2K display would be a nice compromise. Next would be storage and RAM. An SSD is a must (given the price I'm willing to pay), but I don't need much of in-built storage (already have 6 external drives each of 2TB capacities) (minimum of 256GB needed for the main drive, not willing to stoop to 128GB level). Even on a Mac which (I think) does not utilize much RAM, running UE4 with a couple of Chrome tabs, and iTunes playing easily maxes out the 8GB of RAM that I currently have. 16GB is preferred (bonus points for being expandable).
In short:
  • Any typical configuration in your mind you're eying for ?
- Display - Good color coverage and brightness with at least a 2K display
- CPU - At least i7-8750H (No U-series processors please)
- GPU - Not a GPU expert (maybe anything with 4GB VRAM?)
- Weight - At most 2.25 kg
- Storage - At least 256 GB SSD (preferably NVMe) (Bonus point for being upgradable)
- RAM - At least 16 GB (Again, bonus points for being upgradable)
- Battery backup - 7-8 hours on normal web-based usage

Shortlisted laptops:
  • MacBook Pro (2018, 15-inch) - Obviously Apple's top offering made my list. But I am apprehensive about the Butterfly keyboard being too unreliable (Apple's previous scissor mechanism keyboards were top-notch). As also every component being soldered, and thus being even more difficult to repair and replace (not to mention eye-watering expensive). Although even the base model is out of my reach, there is a discount in the States for exactly $2100. I did try the keyboard extensively (borrowed my friend's). It wasn't as comfortable as typing in my Mac, but I could easily get used to it. The trackpad was even more awesome, with its huge size and palm rejection technology was excellent. I hated the touch bar, but there's nothing I could do about it. I don't mind about it being all USB-C though.
  • Dell XPS 15 9570 - This fit my bill perfectly, but very much concerned about Dell's reliability and service, and more specifically, the said laptop's heating issues, and BSOD issues that seem more prevalent. And also, no 2K option here. Only 4K or FHD! There's no compromise here.. The RAM is same as the MacBook Pro, soldered!
  • Lenovo ThinkPad P52 - This is one demon of a laptop! Configurable with upto a staggering 128GB RAM (Trust me, I would still get it with a 16GB RAM config). Here is the worst part: Having a comparable configuration with the MacBook Pro, it was priced at an even more premium than the Mac, which frankly shocked me! And despite it being the same price, it still offered only a 500GB HDD. No SSD!! If I wanted to install an SSD in it at the time of order, I'd have to shell out ~$450 for a 256GB SSD, which is insane pricing! It sells for less than $60-70 these days. There is no way to replace the hard drive with the SSD at the time of order.
The final prices stand as follows:
The MacBook Pro (2018, 15-inch base model, 84Wh battery) - $2100 (incl. of taxes and shipping)
The Dell XPS 15 9570 (16GB RAM, 4K, 97Wh battery, 256GB SSD) - $2022 (incl. of taxes and shipping)
The Lenovo ThinkPad P52 (16GB RAM, 4K, 90Wh battery, 256GB SSD) - $2460 (incl. of taxes and shipping)

Please suggest some solution to this problem that I have.. :| Thanks in advance!
 

mutant

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Jan 30, 2008
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You should also include Surfacebook 2 in your shortlist. Although I think you would eventually settle for MacBook Pro 15, I got used to the keyboard pretty quickly, and I actually type faster now.
 
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thawfu666

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Mar 18, 2012
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@mutant I wanted to include one of the Surfaces, considering it's from Microsoft themselves. But then, once again, the pricing was on the higher side (yes, higher than even the MacBook Pro). I would really be grateful if you could give me your honest review, cons including! Thanks in advance.. :)
 

thawfu666

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Mar 18, 2012
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@sid1712 USA[DOUBLEPOST=1538735581][/DOUBLEPOST]@mutant Was just checking up again on the new Surface Book 2.. Man, it looks gorgeous! But sadly, if you dig deep enough, you'll notice that if the batteries show signs of age, even MS will NOT replace it. They will charge you ~$500 and will give you a refurbished device. That is a huge NO-NO right there, both in-terms of pricing and the refurb.. If I get no more replies on this thread (I'll be ordering it mostly by mid-November), the MacBook Pro it is.. :)
 
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mutant

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Yea, that's an issue. But I think after everything you would just settle for the MacBook as I did. Peace of mind and it works, just don't forget to take the apple care :)
 

k_m_Arya

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If you can spend a bit more go for the Aero 15x or else Thinkpad P1 will be good enough I guess.
 

thawfu666

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Mar 18, 2012
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Yea, that's an issue. But I think after everything you would just settle for the MacBook as I did. Peace of mind and it works, just don't forget to take the apple care :)
Hahaha, yes yes, but in all my cases, every issue that occurred happened after AppleCare's expiry! :( But yeah, AppleCare is a no-brainer..
 

thawfu666

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Mar 18, 2012
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If you can spend a bit more go for the Aero 15x or else Thinkpad P1 will be good enough I guess.
Thank you for the suggestions.. Now for the Aero 15x, I do agree it is a killer of a laptop.. But then the reason why I'm looking only at the big brands is the after-sales service (and also the price (duh!)). Does Gigabyte offer reliable servicing in India? Please do educate me here, I'm a noob when it comes to the Gigabyte brand (I always associate them with a motherboard-manufacturing company image). And as for the Lenovo P1, same reasons as the above (Lenovo ThinkPad P52). Too high a price.. At least in this case, they're offering a 256GB SSD in the base model. But still, the pricing goes haywire even before taxes ($2150 something). Add in a 9-10% tax, and you're looking at a price north of $2400.
 

thawfu666

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Mar 18, 2012
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@mutant Ended up buying a 15 inch MBP. :D Getting used to the new keyboard now..

First impressions is that it is crazy fast (to be expected considering the eye watering price), and the keyboard is actually not bad. It certainly cannot beat the old one. That was gold! I could certainly get used to the new one though. It is my second day today of using it, and I'm already touching 75-80 words per minute, which is somewhat my usual pace (I usually do between 80-85). I still have to verify its reliability, only time can tell that. Although I did get a keyboard cover that does its job perfectly. I can clearly see the letters on the keys themselves, and there's no sliding when I type whatsoever.

The touch bar is a hit-or-miss. One some applications the functionality is truly useful (that extent of usability is mostly available only in Apple's open apps). I just wish they added some haptic feedback like with the iPhone 7/8 home button. That way you get the feel of actually pressing some buttons.

Touch ID - no words! Excellent as always. Logging in with a fingerprint is so much easier than typing out a password (in my case, extremely long one ;) ).

Speakers are KILLER!! They, in fact, give a tough competition to my 5.1 Philips speaker system.

Screen - I never believed Apple could perfect my old Retina MBP's display. But I was stunned to my core! This display was just ... Phenomenal!!

The USB-C ports though.. Truly bad decision. In order to eliminate some heft (which is appreciated, though) they have replaced every port with USB C. At least the scenario in USA and other countries is much better with dongles and replacement cables available readily. I ventured out yesterday to Richie Street (widely regarded as the best choice for shopping technology products in Chennai). They didn't even have one single dongle or replacement cable. I was very much shocked.. For now, I have ordered a 7 in 1 USB-C hub from ebay for around $19. That ought to do the job. The ports part is where Apple truly messed up. Maybe by 2020, the time would be perfect, and the transition would have been seamless. I pity the ones who ordered a new MacBook Pro in 2016.

The trackpad - the same awesome one lifted from the old one, albeit larger. Actually MUCH larger! :D When I place my fingers on the keyboard, the palm area grazes the trackpad continuously. Very rarely the trackpad slips and it truly thinks I want to move the mouse somewhere else and registers the gesture. The rest of the time, it is near-perfect. I guess that is the one downside of increasing it so much in size. The thing is basically the size of my sister's 7 Plus in length!

One of the main thing that disappointed me was the absence of the glowing Apple logo at the back. But the mirror finish on the new one looks even more classy. So there's that. Moderators can close this thread. Thanks for all the help guys. :D
 
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mutant

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Jan 30, 2008
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@mutant Ended up buying a 15 inch MBP. :D Getting used to the new keyboard now..

First impressions is that it is crazy fast (to be expected considering the eye watering price), and the keyboard is actually not bad. It certainly cannot beat the old one. That was gold! I could certainly get used to the new one though. It is my second day today of using it, and I'm already touching 75-80 words per minute, which is somewhat my usual pace (I usually do between 80-85). I still have to verify its reliability, only time can tell that. Although I did get a keyboard cover that does its job perfectly. I can clearly see the letters on the keys themselves, and there's no sliding when I type whatsoever.

The touch bar is a hit-or-miss. One some applications the functionality is truly useful (that extent of usability is mostly available only in Apple's open apps). I just wish they added some haptic feedback like with the iPhone 7/8 home button. That way you get the feel of actually pressing some buttons.

Touch ID - no words! Excellent as always. Logging in with a fingerprint is so much easier than typing out a password (in my case, extremely long one ;) ).

Speakers are KILLER!! They, in fact, give a tough competition to my 5.1 Philips speaker system. Screen - I never believed Apple could perfect my old Retina MBP's display. But I was stunned to my core! This display was just ... Phenomenal!!

The USB-C ports though.. Truly bad decision. In order to eliminate some heft (which is appreciated, though) they have replaced every port with USB C. At least the scenario in USA and other countries is much better with dongles and replacement cables available readily. I ventured out yesterday to Richie Street (widely regarded as the best choice for shopping technology products in Chennai). They didn't even have one single dongle or replacement cable. I was very much shocked.. For now, I have ordered a 7 in 1 USB-C hub from ebay for around $19. That ought to do the job. The ports part is where Apple truly messed up. Maybe by 2020, the time would be perfect, and the transition would have been seamless. I pity the ones who ordered a new MacBook Pro in 2016.

The trackpad - the same awesome one lifted from the old one, albeit larger. Actually MUCH larger! :D When I place my fingers on the keyboard, the palm area grazes the trackpad continuously. Very rarely the trackpad slips and it truly thinks I want to move the mouse somewhere else and registers the gesture. The rest of the time, it is near-perfect. I guess that is the one downside of increasing it so much in size. The thing is basically the size of my sister's 7 Plus in length!

One of the main thing that disappointed me was the absence of the glowing Apple logo at the back. But the mirror finish on the new one looks even more classy. So there's that. Moderators can close this thread. Thanks for all the help guys. :D
Enjoy bro!