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Broadly speaking I am looking for a very mobile fully featured desktop replacement laptop.

I currently have Sony Vaio VPCZ138GG (13 inch Full HD screen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, GeForce GT 330M, DVD Drive, Win 7 Pro, 3hr battery) purchased in 2010.
I have been overall very happy with the purchase in terms of specs, weight, and features. IMO everything aged fairly well (except GFX, as you would expect).

Over the past few years I have been keeping an eye out on a replacement option but have found nothing that ticks all the boxes and today I accidentally dropped my laptop and broke the screen so a replacement is needed.

Usage pattern:
The laptop goes where I go and is used for database and front end development during the day and occasional gaming session in the evening.

Must have features:

  • Display: Full HD or higher, that is useable in sunlight
  • CPU: "powerful" I5 / I7 (ideally not ULV)
  • RAM: 8GB - 16GB
  • HDD: 512GB SSD
  • Weight: under 1.8kg (with battery)
  • Dedicated GFX: something that would manage most games on medium settings
  • Ports: 3 x USB, mic, headphone, HDMI, Ethernet (RJ-45), (the more the better)
  • Support for 2 or more external monitors.
  • Build / Finish: looking for a high quality "professional" / "business" look.
  • Ability to run Windows (7 Pro ideally)

Optional (in order of priority):

  1. Built in mobile internet (keep in mind that it has to work in Australia)
  2. Replaceable battery
  3. 2 in 1 mode (similar to Lenovo Yoga) where it can be converted into a tablet.
  4. Availability of a Docking station
  5. Light weight Power Brick
  6. Long battery life
  7. Built in optical drive
  8. Built in card reader

Price: unlimited (ball park figure: up to around 4,500AUD ~ 3,500US)

I have investigated Clevo (with Metabox budge) and while specs are fantastic the weight and "look" are a bit underwhelming.

Can someone recommend a laptop that fits most of the specs?

  • Just pointing out one thing: A desktop replacement does not typically have 2 in 1 abilities or long battery life. The typical desktop replacement can be quite power hungry as they tend to pack higher performance hardware. – NZKshatriya Feb 19 '17 at 5:24
  • @NZKshatriya Depends on the price range. For $3k+ you get a quite powerful laptop that is light and has decent battery life. Obviously it is not as powerful as desktop in raw performance terms. See my answer. – Alex Feb 20 '17 at 7:52
  • I was referring to desktop replacement class systems specifically. – NZKshatriya Feb 20 '17 at 11:13
3

The 13 inch MBP fulfills most of your requirements in certain configurations, except for the ethernet port, which none of them have anymore, but can of course be realized with a Thunderbolt - Ethernet adapter. No need to talk about the business look. For simplicity, I'm going to list what it does NOT fulfill:

  • Dedicated GPU: It only features the Iris 6100, which is still fine for not so heavy Games, like League of Legends or similar.
  • Ethernet: This is something Apple doesn't do anymore on their Macbooks. I also would like to see them back, but not going to happen, due to their strong emphasis on making the Macbooks as thing is possible. Help/Fix: Thunderbolt - Gigabit Ethernet Adapter.
  • Built in mobile internet: You would have to go for a USB LTE Stick. Or way better: Use your Phone for Tethering!
  • Built in optical drive: You would have to go for an external Drive.
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  • Welcome to Hardware Recs! Can you split your recommendations into two seperate answers? This allows us to vote on the merits of each one independantly. (See this meta post). While you are editing your answer, can you add more info to each laptop, checking off each feature that the laptop supports, kind of like what I did with my answer here. – Cfinley Jun 14 '16 at 17:06
  • Thanks for the reply. Previously I never considered Macs due to my requirement for a Windows computer (I forgot to explicitly state it in my original question) but IMO it is worth a shot as I have heard of people sucessfully installing Windows with full driver support. I will check the specs and reviews in more detail and will reply. – Alex Jun 15 '16 at 1:03
  • @Alex You can install Windows using Boot Camp flawlessly, works perfect. – ffritz Jun 15 '16 at 9:19
1

Since this has been bumped to the front page, I'd like to add a current generation laptop for anyone currently looking for a laptop. I'm recommending the

Gigabyte AERO 14 (Newest version, A$2699)

While it's weight is 1.89 kg, which is slightly above the OP requirements, it is significantly lighter than many other laptops with comparable hardware, for example, the Alienware 13, which weighs 2.6 kg.

The display is a QHD IPS panel, though it's somewhat dim, measured at less than 300 cd/m^2 by this review, because it's a matte (non-reflective) panel, it should be usable outdoors.

The CPU is the i7 7700HQ (2.2 GHz, 2.8 Turbo), the newest generation high performance quad core. While not top of the line, the only faster CPUs are the same, with only a few hundred MHz extra clock speed.

The base model also comes with 16 GB DDR4 2400, a 512 GB M.2 SSD and the GTX 1060 GPU (1280 CUDA cores, 6 GB VRAM), which is a desktop class GPU: Even at maximum detail settings and native resolution, it should be able to maintain more than 30 FPS for today's AAA games.

Unfortunately, there is no Ethernet port, so the laptop relies on 802.11 ac WiFi, though you could use a USB to LAN adaptor. There are three USB 3.0 (Type A) and one USB 3.1 (type C) ports, as well as HDMI 2.0, mini-DP, Headphone-out jack and a SD card reader. I don't believe it comes with an optical drive

The grey version linked looks fairly standard and minimalist, and while it is preinstalled with Windows 10, Windows 7 should be supported

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0

I have bought Lenovo T460s in Sep 2016

Specs:

  • CPU: i7 6600U
  • RAM: 16GB
  • HDD: 256GB SSD (I have separately purchased a 512Gb Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVME and swapped hard drives)
  • Screen: 2560 x 1440 (non touch)
  • Gfx: GeForce 930M (2GB)
  • OS: Win 7 Pro
  • Extras: Fingerprint Reader, built in mobile 4G internet, Smart card reader.
  • Ports: HDMI, 3xUSB 3.0 (with always on power), Ethernet, Mini Display, Headphone/Mic jack
  • Weight: 1.50 kg

Rational:

This laptop met all of my must have requirements and few of the optional ones.

Comments about laptop:

A little bit plain looking but solid and light weight. Port placement is IMO questionable e.g. HDMI is on the right and power on the customary left. Screen is good but not suited for graphics designers. Fn and Ctrl key functions can be swapped in BIOS. Lenovo provides fairly good management software suite without extra crud. Extensive theft mitigation security features built in - I have not configured them yet.

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