As developer (.NET), I require fast and reliable hardware. I do not care about thickness nor weight (I use such wonderful invention called table to hold my notebook while working!), what I value most is ergonomics (which is something computer manufacturers are getting rid of recent years).

I spent a lot of time investigating but I'm not really happy (also couldn't find any satisfying answer here). I'm summing up what I'm looking for and what I already found. Thanks for any input, consideration, hint or comment.

What I'm trying to find

  • ~14" notebook (width: ~340mm/13.4in, depth: ~233mm/9.2in ... yes, this is size of T420s)
  • preferably matte display (non-glossy, anti-glare)
  • possibility to upgrade RAM to 32GB - implies DDR4 RAM (and why so much?... I plan to use this machine for another couple of years + virtualization and other stuff running in parallel)
  • i7 CPU, dual or quad core, ~3GHz
  • good keyboard layout
    • no PgUp/PgDn close to arrows
    • no Fn key required for Function keys or PgUp/PgDn/Delete/Insert/Home/End/Backspace
    • Function keys grouped by 4 as on classic keyboard
  • decent (business?) look (very subjective, but let's use ThinkPad as reference again - nothing too fancy)

I'm not having any strict price criteria, it "just depends".

What I already considered:

  • ThinkPad T460s: crippled keyboard (PrtSc key position, PgUp/PgDn position) (as it has mostly same layout as any other machine on market, can't even say it's a mess... but it is, Lenovo!)
  • Microsoft Surface Book: up to 16GB RAM, arrow key size, eject button between insert and delete, display is shaking when typing (watch some reviews), glossy (but 3:2!) screen
  • Dell XPS 13: too tiny (12" footprint), just DDR3, no track point, up to 16GB RAM, glossy screen
  • Dell XPS 15: too big, no trackpoint, glossy screen
  • Dell Latitude, series 7000 (14"): up to 16GB RAM
  • Asus ZenBook: too small, Fn to "Insert" key, PgUp/PgDn keyboard position (didn't check other HW specs)
  • Toshiba Portege Z30: ... it's Toshiba, weird position of PgUp/PgDn keys, but slightly better than other models (didn't check other HW specs)
  • Apple MacBook 13": Fn (Cmd?) key for PgUp/PgDn/Home/End/Backspace, no trackpoint, up to 16GB RAM, glossy screen (+ is it good for running Windows in regards of ergonomics?)
  • Vaio Z (flip): 16GB RAM, no track point, glossy screen
  • ...
  • ThinkPad T420s - renewed: 16GB (DDR3) RAM (but also way much cheaper than anything else in this list)

TLDR: Wouldn't it be great if we could put today's hardware into T420s body?!

PS: If someone from Dell reads this, please fix up your catalogue on your web and/or product lines!

PS2: Nothing is going on with ThinkPad "retro" as stated: David Hill interview, CES2016 (== I heard only corporate excuses why not to do it, correct me if I'm wrong)

  • Would you consider a separate desktop keyboard? Apr 14, 2016 at 14:20
  • Yes, that could work too - if I was able to find nice keyboard (... do you know where can I buy classic ThinkPad USB keyboard with track point?)
    – Zdeněk
    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:41

3 Answers 3


Another, not listed by you solution is MSI GS40 Phantom-001:

  • dimensions: 13.58" x 9.65" x 0.87" (so the size is close to your preferences)
  • display: it has 14" FHD non reflection screen
  • 16 GB of DDR4 (2133) RAM with possibility to upgrade it to 32 GB
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ (quad core, 2.6 GHz)
  • not sure if layout of keyboard meets your requirements

It is avaliable on newegg in two versions:

  • with Nvidia GPU - $1499
  • without Nvidia GPU - $1379
  • Thanks for your input, and despite HW specs looks OK, and keyboard layout is not so terrible, but I have to say there's another criteria I have - very subjective one - machine must look somehow decent (you know - e.g. black ThinkPadish brick or anything not so fancy).
    – Zdeněk
    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:39
  • @Zdeněk It is really important criteria you should add it to your question. Sadly this one is really "gaming" laptop and it doesn't have buisness look so I fully understand your disqualification for this model. I will look for something which additionally looks like buisness gear.
    – ivaan
    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:57
  • I just updated my post. More and more I'm thinking of buying renewed T420s - still have to consider how less power it has in comparison with today's hardware (CPU and RAM frequency).
    – Zdeněk
    Apr 15, 2016 at 7:11

After some investigation what's difference in performance of DDR3 and DDR4 I decided to stick with 5 years old hardware - as what I saw, performance is not so drastically different (and actually with current mobile CPUs it could be even worse). Yet I'm left with "only" 16GB RAM for now.

I managed to buy almost-like-new ThinkPad T420s, equipped with i7 processor and secondary nVidia graphics card just for ~450USD, including docking station. (Well, I still have to spend another money on 512GB SSD drive)

Edit - specs what I got:

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s (~450 USD)

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 2620M
  • motherboard: Lenovo 4173AZ1
  • 8 GB RAM (didn't check what brand, ... see below)

Docking station (with DVI and DP) (~35 USD)

And of course I wanted to tune it little bit, so I bought additionally:

  • SSD Samsung 850 EVO 500GB
  • Kingston SO-DIMM 16GB KIT DDR3 1333MHz CL9 (8 + 8 GB)

... so my final spending is ~720 USD for 3.4 GHz i7 beast with 16 GB RAM. But indeed it is used notebook, so there are some things which don't shine so much and I'm considering further polishing of it - but I don't need to rush with these.


Dell Latitude, series 7490 is obtainable with 32GB RAM (I have one sitting on my table). The keyboard layout is sadly far from ThinkPads (answer to all three points regarding the keyboard is a "No"). Looks decently.

Have you looked into Thinkpad X62 and T70?

  • Hi! Thanks for getting back to this ancient post. Yeah, last year, I bought Latitude 7480 :) ... By that time, I also saw Lenovo X# (not sure whether 2017 or 2018) and it was really poor looking thing. I'm happy with Dell!
    – Zdeněk
    Jan 10, 2019 at 20:53

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