I am a computer science student with specialization in machine learning and I need a new notebook. I work inside most of the time, but I take my notebook to presentations / collaborative development / lectures quite often.

Past Notebook

I am currently using the Acer TravelMate 5744Z. It has several pain points:

  • Only 4 GB RAM
  • No SSD
  • Weak CPU: I compile LaTeX documents VERY often. So single-threaded CPU power does matter to me.
  • Too heavy
  • Battery lasts for about 2h (3.7h according to the specs)
  • 15.6" screen which I like very much

And some good points

  • Everything works out of the box on Linux
  • It's VERY silent! (29,6 - 32,0 dB(A) in idle mode, according to notebookcheck)
  • Sturdy enough to be put into my backpack without any protective case
  • The size of the keyboard is comfortable. I don't need the numpad, though.

All in all, I was happy with that notebook. However, as the battery seems / the power supply unit seems to have problems now. Together with the other issues, I think it is time for a new notebook, as I use it many hours every single day.

Hard Requirements

  • Has to be available in Germany
  • Has to work with Linux
  • Not more than 2000 Euro
  • At least 8 GB RAM
  • SSD with at least 120 GB
  • Not heavier than 2.5 kg (inclusive battery, of course!)
  • Battery has to last for at least 5 hours under random web surfing.
  • Resolution of at least 1366x768
  • Not more than 16" screen, not less than 13.3" (I'm not too sure if I will like small screens, though. And I'm not sure how I can figure that out without buying such a notebook)
  • Connectivity
    • WLAN (which has to work out-of-the-box for Linux!)
    • At least 3 USB ports
  • Has to be silent under normal work load (e.g. surfing random web pages)

Positive

The follwing is positive, but I don't need it

  • +++++
    • D-SUB connector (VGA connector)
    • Good keyboard
    • German keyboard layout
    • SD card reader
    • at least 256 GB of storage
  • +++
    • RJ45 slot for network
    • DVD player
    • Matte display
    • NVidia GPU which can be used for machine learning
    • Less than 2.0 kg
    • A review by a developer who uses Linux
  • ++
    • USB 3.0 / USB 3.1
  • +
    • Aluminium case
    • Backlit keyboard
    • Webcam / microphone
    • Bluetooth
  • Neutral / I don't care
    • Numpad
    • Blue-Ray player

Additional information

I think I'm able to add RAM to the notebook by myself. I did so several times with desktop computers. However, if it doesn't make a price difference of more than 40 Euro I would prefer to let it be done by others.

Related question

My notebook (kind of) still works. I could wait for 2 more months without problems. Is there any benefit of waiting? Do prices significantly differ after Christmas? Are there new interesting notebooks being released?

  • 1
    Would you be alright with hybrid storage of say, 128/64 GB of SSD and 1 TB of HDD? If yes, what if the HDD was external? – timuzhti Dec 10 '15 at 8:25
  • @Alpha3031 You're right, I don't need 256 of internal storage. If I need more, I can use my external HDD. I've edited my question. However, I'm not willing to go below 120 GB of internal storage. - About the SSD / hybrid storage: I want an SSD because of the reading performance. I've noticed that I spend a significant amount of time to wait for my computer booting / reading several GB of data into the memory. I would have to look it up how hybrid storage performs compared to SSD. I guess it would be ok. – Martin Thoma Dec 10 '15 at 8:32
  • You could consider a Dell Inspiron. I've not checked all features against your specs, but I have an older Inspiron which I use for heavy development and it still works great 4 years on. – paj28 Dec 10 '15 at 14:35
  • Recommend against laptops with Broadcom wireless chipsets, can be troublesome under Linux (Arch in my case) – Mark A. Ropper Dec 10 '15 at 20:41

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display

Positive:

  • Available in Germany
  • Works with OS X and Linux
  • 1649€ with the specs you want
  • 8 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 256 GB SSD (really fast: over 1.5 GB/s read and write)
  • 1.58 kg
  • 10 hours of web surfing
  • 2560x1600 display
  • 13.3-inch screen
  • Wi-Fi ac (over 1.3 Gbit/s; I have tested it myself)
  • Silent under normal workload
  • D-SUB/VGA (via Thunderbolt adapter)
  • Good keyboard
  • German keyboard
  • Backlit keyboard
  • SD card reader
  • RJ45 (via Thunderbolt adapter)
  • Anti-reflective display
  • USB 3.0
  • Aluminium case
  • Webcam / microphone
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Negative:

  • Only 2 USB ports (extendable via Thunderbolt; never was an issue for me)
  • No DVD/Blu-ray player (never needed one)
  • No Matte display (anti-reflective)
  • No NVIDIA GPU
  • No numpad
  • No USB 3.1

I don't think there will be any special pricing in the near future. But go to a Media Markt, Saturn, e.g. or look at notebooksbilliger.de or similar for special pricing.

If you have any questions: I am german and own this Notebook (Late 2013). Feel free to ask any questions.

  • Ooh, nice. Welcome to Hardware recommendations. – timuzhti Dec 11 '15 at 11:39
  • Thank you @Alpha3031 – Julius Rickert Dec 11 '15 at 12:33
  • Which linux distribution(s) do you run on your MBP? Have you had negative experiences with some distributions? – mike Dec 12 '15 at 14:19

I'm having trouble finding an official Ubuntu Certified or Shipped-with-linux computers with shipping to Germany, so I'm going to reccomend the Lenovo Y50-70.

Lenovo Y50-70 (Amazon.de) !!C- (52.6%)

2 potential problems (marked by (~)) Score calculated by number of (+) divided by total possible (+)

  • Available in Germany, via Amazon.de with free shipping (+)
  • Is not Ubuntu certified, but there have been multiple people who have successfully installed linux on the Y50-70, though exact hardware configurations may vary (Most models used were using the 860M) and the installation was not always without trouble. (~)
  • The DOS/256 GB SSD version linked is €949.00 (++)
  • It has 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM, potentially upgradable to 16GB in the future (+)
  • Weight is 2.4 kg (+)
  • Battery is claimed to last 5 hours. This is probably under Windows, so you may need a battery efficent distro and try to limit display brightness and CPU/GPU voltage (~)
  • Model has a 15.6" 1080p IPS display (++)
  • 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 (+)
  • Intel WiFi cards (Wireless-AC 3160) are generally supported (+)
  • The fans shut off at low load (+)

10/12 The above section accounts for 60% of the total score

  • The GTX 960M has a VGA port (5)
  • Keyboard is fairly standard for a gaming notebook this size (3)
  • The keyboard is a standard QWERTY layout (0)
  • 4 in 1 card reader (5)
  • 256 GB SSD (5)

18/25 The above each has a maximum score out of 5

9/18 The above each has a maximum score out of 3

  • 2 USB 3.0, no USB 3.1 (+)

1/2

  • Partially Aluminum (0.5)
  • Red backlit keyboard (+)
  • Webcam and microphone built in (+)
  • Bluetooth (+)

3.5/4 Total for section 2: 31.5/49 (64%)

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