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Thread: Which ultra-portable?

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    Which ultra-portable?

    I'm thinking about completely changing my archaic home computing, to :-

    1) NAS
    2) Desktop replacement laptop (I have an option available here)
    3) One tower PC driving old hardware & software
    4) An ultraportable for the bulk of my usage, now that my needs are pretty minimal

    I'm after thoughts and opinions on 4) - the ultraportable. My current thinking is a new Dell XPS-13.

    What does the group think of them?

    Any better ideas?

    Budget = sub-£2k.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    How much typing are you doing VS browsing/clicking?

    That would determine what I'd look for - something like a MS Surface Pro 7 is worth a look if you do only a moderate amount of typing - the detachable keyboard is actually pretty good, but if doing a lot I'd go for something better (and better than the XPS too). £1399 for the 10th gen i5 with 16gb Ram but only 256gb SSD.

    *If* you can get on with the operating system, a Mac Air is surprisingly good for an ultraportable. I've yet to find a Windows laptop with anything like as natural a trackpad or as seamless resuming from sleep etc. Natively running linux is handy for somethings , but it still feels a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. £1299 for a 10th gen Core i5 8gb ram (which is enough for a Mac) and 512SSD.
    Last edited by kalniel; 03-05-2020 at 07:32 PM.

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Not huge amounts of typing, Kal. It's a general usage machine and there will be some typing, but nowhere near as much as would have been in the past. I'd probably add the 1-user lifetime basic Office (for Word/Excel) but not via Dell).

    The main criteria is to do pretty much anything, except video editing or heavy gaming, on one decently powerful lightweight machine.

    As for OS, my circumstances have changed and while Ubuntu is a Dell option, I'm seriously contemplating W10. Apple OS? Completely new to me. Dunno what to think about that. Will take a look at the MS machine.
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    Moosing about! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Can you wait a bit longer?? AMD Renoir has recently been launched and seems to better than what Intel has out at the moment. The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 is a 14" laptop which weighs only 1.4KG:
    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo....448720.0.html
    https://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Ry....463643.0.html

    It comes with upto an 8C/16T CPU,with very capable integrated graphics close to an MX150/MX250. All the Intel ultraportables come with a 4C/8T CPU at best.

    Going back to the Intel based laptops for a minute. I will try and do a rough summary of the better options you can get. The XPS13 and Macbook Air are probably the generally more popular options in this class.

    The MacBook Air has a slower CPU than the XPS13,as the former uses a 10W TDP CPU and the latter is a 15W TDP CPU but both are broadly similar in specifications:
    https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us...-3-80-ghz.html
    https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us...-3-90-ghz.html

    If you configure both to a similar spec with the top CPU option,top panel,16GB DDR4 and a 1TB SSD,the XPS13 is £1649 and the MacBook air is £1849. The XPS13 does have a highest resolution panel.



    However,there are quite a few other alternatives,which fill different niches.

    You can get the Acer Swift which is under 1KG but has a 14" screen,if you want lower weight:
    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Acer-S....442104.0.html

    This also uses a magnesium body,and a previous generation CPU which is passively cooled,and is around £1800 but I think it is the lightest 14" laptop out there,unless it is one of the hard to get LG Gram laptops. But you pay for this lightness with a slightly more flexible chassis.

    Another laptop is the 2020 Huawei MateBook X Pro which has a fantastic 3:2 13.3" screen(others use 16:9 or 16:10 ratio screens) and unlike the other laptops has an MX150/MX250 dGPU:
    https://www.ultrabookreview.com/2803...ook-13-review/

    The earlier 2019 version with the Intel Whiskey Lake CPUs,is available with its max specification for £1300.

    I will also give you with an obligatory cheaper option. This is also from Huawei and its the MateBook 13 which is a cheaper version of the MateBook X Pro with the same specs and a metal body:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B083VCBPHX/ref=dp_cerb_2

    It is under £800 and has a more standard screen,but its the best value ultraportable currently.

    However,I would say that the previous laptops are probably more in the midrange of ultra-portables in terms of materials used. The higher end,and lighter ultraportables tend to use magnesium alloy or carbon fibre to reduce weight and add extra rigidity to the chassis. My last three laptops either used magnesium alloy or some form of carbon fibre reinforcement. These kinds of laptops used to be called semi-ruggedised or business ruggedised and use mil spec ratings for added ruggedness,ie,they undergo drop and shock tests. This means you don't need to be as gentle with them.

    One of them is the HP Elite Dragonfly which is around 1KG and uses a 13.3" screen and has mil spec tests:
    https://www.notebookcheck.net/HP-Eli....459861.0.html
    https://store.hp.com/UKStore/Merch/O...rtible#pib1-t1

    It comes with the previous generation Intel Whiskey Lake CPU but is more orientated towards business use,ie,its a magnesium alloy body and a toughened glass screen. NBC gives it an excellent review,and so do many other websites. It is around £1650 to £2000.

    There is also the new 2020 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 which is a 14" laptop and weighs just under 1.3KG:
    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo....459048.0.html

    It uses a carbon reinforced body,and is rated to similar standards to the HP. The earlier 2019 version with a Whiskey Lake CPU starts at £1500.

    It's not released yet in the UK but is probably going to be closer to £2000,however both the HP and Lenovo are the highest rated thin and light laptops on NBC.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 03-05-2020 at 10:40 PM.

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Thanks, Cat. Plenty to think about there.

    Whether its rational or not, I don't see me buying anything Huawei now or in the short/medium term, but that still leaves a range of options.

    I'm not bothered about minor weight wariations on an ultra-portable, but what I don't want is the full-weight 15" or 17" options. I seem to have acquired one of those anyway, and it's the desktop replacement bit I mentioned. I want something to move about or lay in hed and use.
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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    Thanks, Cat. Plenty to think about there.

    Whether its rational or not, I don't see me buying anything Huawei now or in the short/medium term, but that still leaves a range of options.

    I'm not bothered about minor weight wariations on an ultra-portable, but what I don't want is the full-weight 15" or 17" options. I seem to have acquired one of those anyway, and it's the desktop replacement bit I mentioned. I want something to move about or lay in hed and use.
    Well I had to put in there,as it does come up when you look around the internet. Well it appears you get 3 rough classes of ultralight laptops
    1.)The 13"~14" 1KG class which are very thin(cost more) - Acer Swift and LG Gram
    2.)The 13"~14" 1.25KG~1.4KG class which is made of aluminium alloys - Dell XPS13,MacBook Air,Huawei MateBook X Pro and MateBook 13
    3.)The 13"~14" 1.25KG~1.4KG class which is made of magnesium alloys or carbon fibre,and are drop and shocked tested(costs more) - HP Elite Dragonfly and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

    All of these come with a 4C/8T Whiskey Lake or Ice Lake CPU. The only really different option in terms of processing power is the AMD 4000 series APUs which are upto 8C/16T,so if you can wait over the next few months we should see options with the AMD Renoir CPUs.

    I did want to make one suggestion,but in your OP you said you had already got another laptop to replace your desktop. There is actually one laptop which would have bridged your desktop replacement and lightweight laptop needs in one system:
    https://www.tomshardware.com/uk/revi...g-zephyrus-g14
    https://www.laptopmag.com/uk/reviews...g-zephyrus-g14

    It uses a 14" panel,and a magnesium-aluminium alloy chassis,and weighs 1.6KG,but its not a thin and light laptop like the others,ie,its thicker,but thin for the specifications. However,for that increase in thickness and another 350G you get a Ryzen 9 4900HS 8C/16T CPU and an RTX2060 dGPU. This is desktop class performance in a light laptop. The max specification version is under £1900,and lower specification versions with a 6C CPU are around £1000.

    In that sense,the premium ultraportable laptops are quite expensive IMHO,but you pay mostly for that extra thinness.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 03-05-2020 at 11:09 PM.

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Saracen, I have a 19" Dell XPS9300 going spare. It's great. Pentium M, Geforce 5600x - will run Far Cry at max, and BF2. 80GB PATA HDD - 80GB man!! But the best? 1920x1200 WUXGA screen. Hmm hmm. Only weighs 4.5kg, but you can run autocad to your heart's content. Provided you still have an XP compatible licence

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    4.5Kg?

    Does it come with a free crane?
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    No specific recommendations but I personally strongly dislike the keyboards on the last few Mac book pros. I am not sure what the air is like. I like the keyboards on the Lenovo ThinkPads for example old ones like x250 x260, I haven't seen me ones. They are not ultra portable.l though. Maybe there ultra portable ones are nice as well.

    Windows 10 wise you could look at getting the LTSC version which has cortana and the store removed and some of the spying. It is harder to get and more expensive. You need to mess around with buying 5 licences or something but it doesn't have to be all LTSC, you can buy one and then some other Microsoft products which are cheaper so I have read. Bit of a faff but maybe worth looking into.

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    I like the idea of a de-Cortana'd (etc) version, but if I get W10 it'll only be because my chosen laptop comes with it, and because I have a few programs that don't seem to like Linux, like my genealogy software, which eliminates the Ubuntu version of, for instance, the Dell I mentioned.
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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    Saracen, I have a 19" Dell XPS9300 going spare. It's great. Pentium M, Geforce 5600x - will run Far Cry at max, and BF2. 80GB PATA HDD - 80GB man!! But the best? 1920x1200 WUXGA screen. Hmm hmm. Only weighs 4.5kg, but you can run autocad to your heart's content. Provided you still have an XP compatible licence
    Sounds like that needs a Raspberry Pi 4 conversion to bring it up to date

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    The main criteria is to do pretty much anything, except video editing or heavy gaming, on one decently powerful lightweight machine.
    Hard to beat the MS surfaces then: 770g.

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    ....

    I did want to make one suggestion,but in your OP you said you had already got another laptop to replace your desktop. There is actually one laptop which would have

    .....

    In that sense,the premium ultraportable laptops are quite expensive IMHO,but you pay mostly for that extra thinness.
    I do, yeah. I helped set up a mwchine one friend sold to another, who then decided it wssn't needed and I ended up with it at a good price. A Dell 5000-series Inspiron, 6200U. 8GB, 1TB HD, and for the desktop function, a 17" screen. But it's more luggable than portable.

    This machine is more about sitting in bed, or out in the garden, or .... well, wherever.

    Besides, I've always gone for utilitarian, value for money, suitable for need, etc. This time, it's more of a self-treat and I fancy a decently powerful but slim and sexy device that's more indulgent than sheer pragmatism.

    I also intend to thin down my collection of scanners, printers, etc and the dozen or so misc. PC's which are used less and less, if at all. i.e. get about half my home office space back.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Nobody seems very keen on the Dell XPS13 (the new one) but nobody's said why? Is it the machine, or bad experiences with Dell?
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    Nobody seems very keen on the Dell XPS13 (the new one) but nobody's said why? Is it the machine, or bad experiences with Dell?
    I don't have any personal experience with it. It looks fine, but I'm not very keen on the specification options - to get 16GB (for Windows, Mac can do with less) you have to get an i7 processor which is a waste of money/power/heat/weight for your usage. Display-wise you have to go for either 1080p, which is fine, but if using it close you will notice the difference between it and something higher, or 4K, which is overkill and again costs performance/battery - plus windows is still a bit poop for 4k - I ran a 4k Dell laptop just over a year ago and it wasn't great. The XPS seems to be more expensive than other options too.

    Ideally I'd want an i5 processor over i7, and a display somewhere between 1080p and 4K.

    Note: Windows has to ask you before enabling Cortana now (thank you, EU) so you will get a chance to say no thanks to that and all the data collection stuff on first boot.

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    Re: Which ultra-portable?

    Interesting. It was partly the i7 and 4k that attracted me. And 16GB. It put me in the £1600-1700-ish range.

    Gotta go out now, but you've made me think about that.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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