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I am a PhD student at a university (at a computer science department). Luckily our department got some money for new hardware, and as an alternative two some suggestions by our universities IT-center everyone could choose what he wants (at least in theory).

So, for me I wanted a laptop, which is powerfull enough so I can use it as a desktop pc too (by using a docking station), so in some sense "a one fits it all solution" (as some colleagues want to buy one separate desktop pc, and one laptop for business trips).

The core features I required are the following:

  • Small, so I can take it easily with me, like 14" or less,
  • Intel i7 Quad-Core (hence no "U"-variant cpu which is mostly found in laptops)
  • 32GB RAM (as I am also using virtualisation and my browsing habits always involve quite a lot of open tabs)
  • SSD PCIe-NVMe
  • Dedicated Graphics cards, like an nVidia

Other points I want it to have (but are willing to take compromises):

  • Linux compatiblity
  • Support for multiple display (up to three), possible by docking stations
  • Thunderbolt/USB-Typ-C
  • as this hardware has to work 5 years, a warrantly spanning this time would be desirable

I am working as a theoretical computer scientiest, so in some sense it is difficult to justify that I want a dedicated graphics card (also as all my collegues from my chair are not as picky and just choose the suggestions by the IT-center), but in the past I did some computer graphics programming, and I still enjoy it and want to have the possiblity to do some computer graphics stuff if I want.

Now after extensive research I found four laptops:

1) The Dell Alienware 13 (which could be configured with the required options)

2) XMG P407 An indidvual configurable notebook by Schenker (the P407) in its XMG product line

3) MSI GS43VR 7RE PHANTOM PRO (which came shipped with 16GB, but according to specs could be updated to 32GB)

4) Thinkpad 460p (which could be configured with the required options)

Unfornutely after suggesting options 1) and 2) for me and some colleagues from another chair, I got the feedback that they could not be bought as there is too much "gaming" into them, i.e. it does not make a good impression to buy a gaming laptop for serious business. So option 4) would be left, but this fell out too, as another colleague read something that they have bad build quality, i.e. might get broken soon; and actually I cannot buy this laptop just for me, but we have to be a group of a few persons wanting the same laptop. Also option 3) suffers from being to much "gaming", and actually I had a msi gaming laptop once, which worked fine and I had very good experiences with it; but in the german keyboard layout they switched some keys which drove me crazy while touch typing (as a computer scientist I even use the "unusual" tokens like <,>,| quite often).

So, do you know any other laptops fulfilling my core requirements, but not being marked as a gaming device?

Remark: With Dell and HP hardware a warranty of 5 years would be possible as this company has special contracts with the university, also MSI offers this option and Schenker for 3 years.

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    How did you go about suggesting the "gaming" systems? Did you by chance give a side by side comparison using system specifications? All a "gaming" system is, is a system with enthusiast level parts, for users looking for the most they can get out of the system performance wise. Sure, the aesthetic design is not boring and bland like a business class system, but that does not mean that the system has to be used for gaming. I myself am using an MSI GL62 (low end gaming system) for college and IT sector work. I will look around for portable workstations, but these will likely be 15.6" class. – NZKshatriya Jan 27 '17 at 16:06
  • I know, of course and my personal aim is not gaming but just performance, and I would consider myself an enthusiast. But this is a rather small university and when my boss says no (or the administration) there is not that much space to argue (and even if they understand that, they are concerned as how this would look like for other people, as just the computer sciene department has the priviligue to choose hardware, so other department envy us and look at us anyway rather critical...) – StefanH Jan 27 '17 at 17:11
  • HAHA, same as at the junior college I am interning at currently (practicum for an associates degree, before I move on to work on a cyber security bachelors). We USED to have a dedicated network...until other departments got jealous....and we got a department head that had no business being department head. – NZKshatriya Jan 27 '17 at 18:27
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* original suggestion removed due to not meeting weight/portability requirements, can be seen in update history *

As the first option did not meet your approval, here is another option:

The EON15-X Pro Workstation

(There is an ultra thin version, but due to how thin it is there is a limitation on ram installation due to inability to have the ram overlap like in a standard laptop)

This is built by Origin PC, who are known for their custom PC work, but this system is advertised as a workstation, not a gaming system.

It can be customized to fit your needs, and the chassis can be left as plain as you would like it to be.

Cost varies based on hardware choices, but just doing a "select every high end thing" test, it can max well above $5k.

Customization link is here

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  • Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, its a fine device, but 17" is definitely to big, I have to carry it around, also when I am traveling. If its an extremely thin and small 15" I might consider it... – StefanH Jan 27 '17 at 17:08
  • Thin and small but also powerful is not a normal combination. My 15.6" is about 5Lbs on it's own. Couple that with the charger, a few textbooks, a small lunch kit (Japanese bento style lunches are perfect) and I end up carrying around a 20Lb+ backpack on most days. Decided to go with a black military tactical assault/hiking style pack (carries everything). I'll try to look around more though. – NZKshatriya Jan 27 '17 at 18:27
  • Yes, but I found laptops fulfilling my needs, but unfortunately they had the wrong marketing for the university, i.e. labeling them as gaming... so I hope maybe some more decent designs fulfilling my specs are out there.... – StefanH Jan 27 '17 at 18:33
  • They are really that stuck on the simple fact they are marketed as gaming oriented huh? I'll keep looking around. Has to be something in the vast consumer space known as the internet, – NZKshatriya Jan 27 '17 at 18:36
  • Thanks, I do not understand either... – StefanH Jan 27 '17 at 18:51

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