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I am planning to buy a laptop. I am not in a huge rush. So I can perfectly wait another 3/4 months with no issues. I am looking for a laptop to work mainly. I will mostly remote from it to my office desktop so a very good screen and keyboard are important so that I can perform multiple tasks simultaneously while remoted. Stuff that I care about:

1) Processing power - I run heavily computational stuff (paralellized codes). I mainly use my desktop for those, but would always be nice to have the option of running some lighter stuff on the laptop (not very important)

2) Graphics card - I played a lot of games more than 10 years ago. I would like to start playing again. With cloud gaming coming soon mainstream, maybe it is not that important to have a good graphics card. I would mostly play tomb raider, csgo, pubg.

3) Durability/Longevity - This is important for me. I would like the laptop to last under normal usage.

4) Portability - I travel once every other week and need my laptop.

With so many tradeoffs not sure what should I buy. I compiled a list below with 5 laptops I narrowed down. The last 3 lines are my personal opinion.

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  • You're gonna want the Gigabyte if you want to game, the Dell will do alright. The Lenovo has integrated graphics, so might handle some ok. The mac would probably need a dual boot with Windows and that graphics is kinda low end for high end gaming. – user1691 May 8 '18 at 19:03
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    The Gigabyte is going to be the standout performer there. And I think your support and durability ratings are radically different to mine. You'll get better support from Gigabyte and Lenovo, and Dell are not reknowned for durability either. – CJM May 9 '18 at 12:47
  • Thanks! That is useful! – phdstudent May 9 '18 at 13:13
  • Invest in an external keyboard (usb) and external monitor. This will improve efficiency. Laptop keyboards alone are always a compromise. – BerndGit May 9 '18 at 16:32
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Don't worry about cloud computing when it comes to graphics adapters; at this time, there's no realistic way to process high-definition graphics and then pitch them to a screen at 60 frames per second over distributed computing vs. a card on a PCI-E bus. Going off of your diagram:

Macbook Pro:

The issue you'll have here is largely tied to your code. The machine will swallow some exceptions and bury them in a log that only an Apple "Genius Bar" can access. You also get less hardware in the machine for more money, and have the usual compatibility issues with having Mac OS instead of Windows. The hardware is actually still just the same stuff you'd see in a Windows PC, but your service is handled through Apple. The only exception is the Retina display, as these are exceptionally clear and color-balanced out of the box. You may have noticed in the diagram that competitors now offer similar hardware here, as well, which closes this gap. 4GB of texture memory on the video card is just enough to push this resolution if you decide to game or do any 3D design work.

Lenovo X1:

Having first-hand experience with the display on this one, I can tell you that it's one of the best. It's not as high-res as two of the other offerings, but it's matched well with the maximum capabilities of the graphics adapter. Unfortunately, said adapter in this case is the on-die Intel adapter that comes part-in-parcel with an Intel i7-8550U. The U stands for "underpower" in Intel SKUs; that is to say, the processor is underclocked and under-spec in order to provide significantly longer battery life. The 8th-gen U-series are the first to offer quad core options, but any demanding computing is likely to be inhibited by the product. It's very light, though, so if you have access to a desktop at home with better specs, this makes a great portable work machine.

Gigabyte Aero 15x:

Gigabyte is a big name in motherboard manufacturing, similar to Asus but without the weird stigma that some business-types add to the "Republic of Gamers" sticker and price premium added to the Asus laptop shells. A gaming laptop is just another term for "most powerful laptop available" and in no way suggests the machine isn't ideal in a work environment; computer design progression is pretty linear when it comes to that sort of thing. The unit is larger and heavier, but with good reason; you get the newest, proper "H" series of i7 processor in it, with the very powerful 1070GTX from nVidia with all of its lovely texture memory. This unit is effectively a portable desktop.

You're limited to 1080p resolution on the monitor. On the surface, that sounds, bad, but in a laptop, it's really not. Modern LED screens at high resolution use "scaling" to make icons and text larger. If you leave them at their native sizes, they become too small to read properly on an Ultra-High-Definition display when the display is only about 14-15" diagonally across (which is how screens are measured). If you're not doing graphic design or gaming at 4k+ resolution, anything more than 1080p in a laptop is usually a waste.

The only other downside I can see here is that with all that power, battery life will be shortened. This is why you always see gaming laptops plugged in; you only get 2-3 hours out of the battery if you're doing something that really takes advantage of the machine's sheer processing capability.

Overall, this would be my pick given the choices.

Dell XPS 15:

This machine is a good compromise, and has the highest-resolution display of the lot. You'd definitely want to scale your desktop a little in order to see clearly for daily use, but you get some nice hardware here for the price. The only real loss here vs. the Gigabyte is that the video card is less powerful and has half the texture memory, which can make for a slow gaming experience on newer games (especially if they support resolutions higher than 1080p).

The reason it's easier on the wallet is because the processor inside is a generation behind the one in the Gigabyte, but it's still a very good processor by today's standards and I strongly doubt you'd see a difference. I'm not a huge fan of the Dell brand, but I think you'd be pleased with this unit as well. You will likely get longer battery life out of the Dell due to the lower power consumption of the graphics card.

Conclusion:

I would go with the Gigabyte if price isn't an issue and you can reach an outlet when you're doing anything particularly intense. Barring that, I'd recommend the Dell. If battery life is the most important criteria, Lenovo's will have the best. I wouldn't bother with the Apple.

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