Author Topic: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.  (Read 8042 times)

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Offline edy

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Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« on: March 09, 2016, 04:06:56 am »
Hi everyone,

I'd like some opinions on a good modern laptop to replace my current daily beater shown here (circa 2008):



When I got this ASUS M51A laptop, it had Windows Vista Business on it. I have since replaced it with Windows 7 Pro (I was entitled to free upgrade from ASUS as it came out shortly after) and have refused to upgrade to Windows 10. I just want a clean Win 7 machine, or if not possible, a clean Win 10 and to use it without touch/Metro interface.

- I don't want a touchscreen.
- I'd prefer a 15.4" or larger screen, doesn't have to be high resolution
- I don't need a fingerprint reader either
- I would like a built-in camera/mic for video conferencing
- I assume no more internal DVD/Blu-Ray drives exist? I'd like to have it if available.
- Lots of USB ports, eSATA, Mic/Phono, HDMI, VGA ports

Where do I start looking? I haven't bought a laptop in almost 8 years. I have no idea what kind of reliability and quality and value trends the brands have had. Any thoughts regarding DELL, ASUS, ACER, HP, Lenovo, or other brands? I'm in Canada so they should be available here. Cost wise and value wise, what is the best place to start checking? I heard Lenovo is filled with bloat-ware and has security issues. My wife's HP has terrible mouse-tracking issues... like the whole case is sensitive to touch. ASUS has served me well but I already broke a hinge and had to replace it, my DVD drive is on the fritz... then again my laptop is 8 years old so it's been through a lot and it's heavy as hell.

I just want to install all my old software on it and keep on trucking.... although faster. I'm using mostly open source software, but I also have old MS Office, Adobe and other apps which are more than capable of serving all my needs, and they all run fine on Windows 7 (hopefully if I am forced to go Win10 they will be ok).

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Offline XOIIO

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2016, 04:16:00 am »
I think a thinkpad might be a pretty good option, I'm not sure if new ones still have ESATA ports, but I have a T410s which does (it's a combination esata/usb), and they are great machines, at least the ones which still use magnesium for the chassis and laptop lid.

It has a core i5 and is pretty capable, though not for gaming. It's also just been sitting since I got a new gaming laptop through an educational grant, man I should find a use for it lol.

One thing is that it uses an MSATA hard drive, but I was too broke for that (the thing had a busted screen, no battery, no ram, no cd drive) so I grabbed a cd drive adapter, and stuck a terabyte in there. I hardly use CD drives anyways so it was well worth it.

My experience comes from that and below (the t10s or possibly t20 was a long time computer of mine), not sure how the new ones are bloatware wise but you can easily wipe and reinstall to get rid of that stuff. The thinkpads used to be made by IBM anyways, so if they kept the quality up as I've seen from mine, you won't have to worry.

The t410s can be had for less than $200 on ebay which is pretty darn good. It was a $1400 machine originally. Depending on how you are budget wise you could buy one, try it out, and resell it locally if you didn't like it.


My new machine is an Asus ROG g751jt, it's ludicrously powerfull, at least compared to what I'm used to, and honestly is pretty beast as far as gaming laptops go in general, and it has blu ray built into it. I doubt you need that much though, and probably don't want to spend that much for an overpowered video conference machine.



Anyways, from my experience fixing things, stay away from gateway, I also have seen quite a few acer machines as well.


edit: T60 is the one I used for years, found it sitting in some spare parts lol
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 07:22:01 am by XOIIO »
 

Offline Armxnian

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2016, 06:21:38 am »
I wouldn't let something like a touchscreen or bloatware keep me from purchasing a laptop I liked. You can disable the touchscreen and just format the disk and reinstall Windows or install a different OS when you get it.

Personally I was going to buy the new thinkpad x260. But I'm waiting for the 1080p IPS panel which is said to be available on the 15th. The stock HD panel is pathetic for 2016. It's sad that 1080p is considered an upgrade. You can also save money by installing your own ssd. Everything else looks good to me at the relatively low price.

For a desktop replacement laptop however, I would get something a bit more powerful. The Dell XPS 15 9550 is a popular choice. But there are some drawbacks. The key travel distance is low. The touchpad gets greasy and the 4k screen is 100% AdobeRGB for some reason, so I would get the FHD model.

I've never had a laptop, and after being in the market for a few weeks, I quickly realized I would never get everything I want like I could with a self built desktop. So get what most closely matches your requirements.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2016, 07:02:10 am »
Can I just ask what your budget is? Are you after something cheap and cheerful or would you prefer to spend a bit more for a decent quality system?

If the cost is less of a priority, I'd recommend some of the higher-end Dell systems (XPS or Precision series). I'd avoid the Inspiron series and anything with an AMD processor.
I'd also look at the Lenovo or HP business range of machines (not those aimed at home users). I'm typing this on a HP 6710b which was a "business" notebook released around 2006-2007, still works perfectly fine and actually runs faster than the machine I have on my desk at work.

If you're limited to a specific budget, my first choice would probably be Dell again (but avoiding the Latitude series if possible). I've seen too many of those die and develop stupid problems that make no sense and ultimately end up getting tossed in the bin.

One brand which I would avoid at all costs is Acer. Absolute bargain basement machines and perform like shit.

Regardless of what brand you buy, the first thing I do is format the drive and re-install a clean version of Windows without all the bloat and added trial-ware. While you're at it, download latest drivers from the internet. If you're after Windows 7, you can still buy it in some stores (there is a chain in Australia that still have OEM copies in-stock and will be happy to sell them to you even without purchasing hardware).

There are some very detailed reviews at http://www.notebookcheck.net/
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 07:08:42 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline strangersound

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2016, 08:11:05 am »
I won't bore you with the details, but I use to buy and recommend Dell. Until the last machine I bought from them, which wasn't much better than a paperweight. It persistently blue screened from the day I got it and they gave me the run around for almost two years until I gave up. I wasn't the only one. Entire sites were set up by people going through exactly what I did.
Needless to say, I'll never buy another Dell machine again. If they gave me one, I'd sell it and buy a machine that didn't have their name on it. They rank on the top of my list of worst costumer experiences in my entire life. Supposedly, they've addressed some of these issues, but they'll never get another dime from me, or any positive comments.
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Offline Armxnian

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2016, 08:22:28 am »
Yeah Dell has been having QC problems lately. I bought two high end monitors. One had a red hexagonal pattern on the panel making it unusable, and the other had 20 dead and bright pixels and messed up color space emulation modes. Many on notebook review forums have problems as well. I bet if you get a non defective product then it's great, but it doesn't seem like there's a lot of them. Unacceptable for high end and pro products.

Notebookcheck is great. Nearly all the other sites just repost specs and call it review... but notebook check has fairly technical reviews.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 08:36:27 am »
That's disappointing to hear about Dell. I have a Dell UltraSharp monitor which I absolutely love. Best purchase ever, albeit it's an older model.

Don't forget you also have consumer law on your side, I don't know about other countries, but in Australia the law stipulates that a product must be of reasonable quality and durability. This is regardless of warranty terms and conditions. If a product exhibits a major fault (either in or out of warranty) but that product fails to meet a reasonable standard, then the consumer is entitled to a replacement or refund (as stipulated by the consumer, not the manufacturer/reseller). It's actually quite powerful and renders almost all extended warranties (including those offered by Apple etc...) as useless and a waste of money.

Same goes for claims made either verbally or in writing, if a product doesn't perform "as advertised" then the consumer can seek a full refund.

I've had cause to use Australian Consumer Law recently with respect to the "durability" of a mobile handset and it actually works. All contracts were deemed null and void and was no more out of pocket than to begin with. Best of all, you don't even need original packaging or invoice/receipt, just proof of purchase (i.e.: a verifiable reference number or bank statement).
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 08:40:00 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline Armxnian

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 09:04:16 am »
I usually just buy from retailers. Bought 4 monitors in the past 4 months, returned them all because bad QC. RMA at a major retailer is painless, you can get exchanges for the same product or just a refund. You can get free return shipping as well.

I don't think you would need to pursue any legal action against a giant company like Dell. They should just refund you if the product doesn't work as advertised. If you choose an exchange though using the premium panel guarantee and things of that sort, they send you a refurb. Same thing with extended warranties and insurance. It's like you have one chance to get a perfect product, but if you don't, you get sent a refurb. But you paid for a new one... that's a pretty hardcore scam.

Money always talks. If you don't get what you paid for, send that crap back. Buying a product shouldn't be a lottery, I think you're entitled to a fully functioning product if it's advertised as one.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2016, 09:29:49 am »
I don't think you would need to pursue any legal action against a giant company like Dell. They should just refund you if the product doesn't work as advertised.

In AU, it's not that they "should", they must. There are no lawsuits, courts, lawyers or any of that involved when it comes to Consumer Law. If the companies don't comply, they get fined. All it takes is a complaint to the Dept. of Fair Trading (which can be lodged online) if a company still refuses to comply after your request. That said "the customer isn't always right", you can't just make an ACL claim for incorrect choice etc...
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 09:31:24 am by Halcyon »
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2016, 12:25:31 pm »
Lenovo P50, you got DVD recorder, you got the best screen for video editing, you got configurable SSD and RAM and rock solid ThinkPad quality. P series is recently announced to replace W series.

It's gotta be expensive, though. My roommate has one, $1300, plus he spent another $200 on an NVMe SSD.
 

Offline strangersound

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2016, 04:29:23 pm »
That's disappointing to hear about Dell. I have a Dell UltraSharp monitor which I absolutely love. Best purchase ever, albeit it's an older model.

Yeah, it's sad. I still have my older Dells and they still run great. I even get stoked when I find an older Dimension series put to the curb or whatever, because I can always get them back in working order. Back in the day, they made the best machine, imo. HP was my first computer and they used to make great machines. The P2/400mhz I have still runs fine...if a bit slow. ;)

Related ranting:
It seems like these companies build a reputation making quality gear and then at some point they always go downhill and you end up paying fro a name that's slapped on some junk. Unrelated to computers, but if you play guitar you might have been hearing about Gibson. Long known as a company that not only stands alone with Fender as being a major component of "rock and roll", they were always known as a company that made high quality instruments. When you paid a premium for that name, you were getting what you paid for. Over the last few years, they have managed to do serious damage to their name and reputation by having abysmal QC and letting their company wander in too many directions and have lost the point. They were in the news the other day because their credit rating got downgraded due to sales projections falling way short in 2015. And it's because nobody trusts them anymore. People far and wide will tell you an imported Epiphone for a fraction of the price is better quality.
Plus, they wandered down the "suit and tie guy" inspired road of investments and followed some diversification model to become a "musical lifestyle company" acquiring various vaguely related entities and strayed from their core purpose, which was setting and maintaining the bar for quality guitars. Yahoo did the same type scenario, wandering from their core business into all sorts of nonsense because they wanted to be a "media something-or-other" and their stock has been dropping like a rock.
And I can only imagine how some fancy pants marketing/investment/finance guys get rich selling these companies these hair-brained ideas.
But I digressed...the main point is this thing where a brand name used to mean something and then later gets turned into an empty marketing slogan is really annoying. Dave even touches on it in his vids. RCA, anyone? Kenmore is another one that gets my knickers in a bunch...they used to be synonymous with quality. You bought a Kenmore appliance back in the day and that thing would outlive you. Got shafted on that deal as well. Bought a Kenmore washer and dryer combo that had issues fro the day they got delivered. It's even hard to get decent appliances anymore, regardless of the name. I think planned obsolescence is playing a major role in the appliance business.
One main issue I've seen, and it was applicable when I was working with my buddy in HVAC is any device that was an electro-mechanical device for decades, such as furnaces and AC units, washers and dryers, and ovens/stoves as well...when you see that they have stuffed a computer in it for "features" or fancy-pants displays, you can plan on having problems.
Anyway, I could rant about this sort of thing for a while, if you can't tell.

As for computers, I think build your own is the way to go. But with laptops, that's not really as easy as building a desktop system. I'd just read as much as you can and research as many product reviews as you can for the options you consider.
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Offline Back2Volts

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2016, 06:02:05 pm »
I have used Thinkpads for 15-20 years with very few problems.   One T40 video died over ten years ago.   In another instance I replaced myself the fan.    My employer used to upgrade mine every two years or so.   When I retired a few years back, I turned in a W500 and got myself a W520, with a QUAD 2.4GHz i7 and the best video option at the time.    I am very happy with it and gets quite a bit of use.   
 

Offline XOIIO

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2016, 10:07:12 pm »
I wonder if the QC problems affect Dell monitors, I have three 22 inch ones which are all second hand and work fantastically, and they look good too (although the resolution is a little bit odd, (1680 x 1050) they are still great.

Online blueskull

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2016, 10:46:09 pm »
I wonder if the QC problems affect Dell monitors, I have three 22 inch ones which are all second hand and work fantastically, and they look good too (although the resolution is a little bit odd, (1680 x 1050) they are still great.

HP, on the other hand, is not that good, or its just I got the bad RNG. One of my 2 HP 22bw 22'' IPS LCD has broken signal switching firmware -- it will lock to one signal source and can not be switched to another even doing it manually or set proper priority. The only way to switch source is to remove the previous one.

The other 22bw has watermark on its left bottom corner, caused by manufacturing defect of light spreading film of the panel. Also, the 2 screen have quite some color difference, despite being the same model, and I bought them from the same BestBuy store. All the shit happens within 1 year of purchase, and none of the screen got any physical damage.

Keep in mind that these are not dirt cheap. For that price, I can easily get 2 24'' or even 27'' display, the reason I chose them is because they come from a big brand, which obviously failed my trust.
 

Offline Tinkerer

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2016, 12:07:15 am »
Dont think I will ever go for off the shelf anymore. My current computer is a custom built MSI.
Really the best way to make sure you get exactly what you want is to have one custom built. I got mine from xoticpc.com. Bang for the buck, I found this to be the best deal.
 

Offline Stonent

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2016, 02:31:33 am »
I would recommend looking up an off-lease Dell from Ebay.  If you want a 15" screen the E65xx series have that. An E6520 is really good value being a few years old, but it's not really much slower than most of the new laptops since Intel seems to be more focused on power consumption than performance. The processors range from 2nd Gen i3 to i7.  The E6530 will be 3rd Gen Core i3 to i7.

You can find them with a 1080P screen too.  Check the specs when you look because Dell offers them with Intel and Nvidia Quadro video.  The Precision M series are pretty nice also (used).

I've got a Dell E6440 that's pretty nice, it has a 14" 1080p display with a lower end 4th Generation i5 processor but I like the screen much better than my 15.6" i7 Toshiba (720p display)
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Offline RiverTown

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2016, 10:14:55 am »
+1 to Stonent post. Refurbished Dell could be way to go, I bought my Precision that way.
They are much cheaper than new, and when they have 2 or 3 year on the site warranty reliability isn't that bad issue.
 

Offline Armxnian

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2016, 10:14:20 pm »
The 4th gen Thinkpad carbon was released today. Looks pretty nice.
 

Offline Kohanbash

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2016, 01:15:09 am »
I value a real serial port as a valuable feature. When working with random devices or connecting to serial ports on embedded systems it is nice to have a real serial port where I do not need to  worry about the reliability of USB to serial converters.

While I am in general not a fan of HP they are currently the only vendor I know that has a real serial port on a laptop (not including toughbooks), the HP ProBook 650 G1.

While I mention that laptop I will also give 2 notes.
1. The wifi on the laptop is very weak relative to my other laptops.
2. I ordered the version with Ubuntu (and not windows). When the laptop arrived it had an Ubuntu sticker on it, however SUSE was installed.

If anyone knows of other laptops with a real serial port feel free to list them below.
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Offline XOIIO

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2016, 01:23:29 am »
God, that x1 carbon is seeeeexy, I totally want it.

I mean my laptop would blow it out of the water and it's no bad looker itself but damn.
 Would be a bitch to service though.

Offline Robomeds

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2016, 03:18:34 am »
It sounds like size isn't a big deal.  If you want a good engineering machine get a Dell Precision laptop.  3 year warranty, great hardward and built like a tank.  My M4400 is still going strong though it was replaced with an M3800.  The numbering scheme changed so I don't recall the new, power 15 model but it's really hard to go wrong with one of Dell's high end business machines. 
 

Offline edy

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2016, 03:43:47 am »
Hi folks,

Thanks so much for the suggestions! I had a look around and based on my budget and intended use (and abuse) I settled on a Levono T410, as has been mentioned in this thread. They seem to be reliable and have really dropped in price now that they are 5-6 years old. They look tough and meant for business. I think they were $1000+ back in the day, now they can be had for around $200. I purchased mine off a corporate lease from a refurbisher. They are fairly cheap and quite abundant I see, and they look like they are built to last.

The specs of the machine I bought: 4GB with 320 GB HDD, Intel GMA, Webcam, Fingerprint, Intel Core i5 (either 520 or 540), DisplayPort 2 HDMI dongle thrown in, Win 7 Pro.... about $240 CAD/AUS (or $180 US) total all in (including tax, shipping, etc). Not sure if it's the best deal out there, but it seems in the ball-park for other comparable machines and was from a local shop with many positive reviews and great service that deal with these all the time. Assuming the shipping is $20, and if I had to pay taxes or import another $20, the actual laptop would have been $200 CAD/AUS or about $150 US before that from another seller. So not too bad for my needs.

Either way, it's basically as much as 1 year cost of what I already paid for my ASUS over the past 7 years! My ASUS cost me $1350 new back in July 2009.... And that was already a 2008 model. The machine has served me well the past almost 7 years (in a few more months). That's around $200 per year that it cost me so far if I spread it out. It still has a lot of life left in it, but it's good to have another machine to run around with just in case. But I realized that I can't cough up that kind of money anymore. That's maybe why I milked the ASUS for as long as I have... to get my money's worth out of it.  ;)

Compared to my main ASUS laptop, this T410 will be a good secondary one to lug around. It has double the RAM at 4gb as my ASUS (2gb) and the OS is 64-bit (my ASUS uses a 32-bit OS). Also the CPUMark on my ASUS (Intel Core2 Duo P8400) is 1471, whereas the T410 with either Intel Core i5-520 or i5-540 marks in at 2200-2400, which is at least 50% faster as well. So while it's not a giant step in performance, for the cost of basically 1 year of what I paid for my ASUS thus far, it's good to have a backup I can take around when I do presentations and not be afraid of the computer choking (like almost happened at my last meeting).  :scared:

Now I know it's nothing special compared to the latest Core i7 laptops out there with SSD's, but I'll keep doing my research and if I find something of good value I might just gift the T410 to my kids and get myself another machine. Or I may throw an SSD into the T410. I'd love to emotionally left-brain splurge on some giant-screened monster $3000 gaming machine but my logical right-brained practical side pulls in the reins.  ;D

« Last Edit: March 12, 2016, 03:46:32 am by edy »
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Offline Iwanushka

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2016, 05:27:20 pm »
At home I'm using thinkpad w530 i7, 24gb of ram and quadro gpu, that beast handles everything from altium 3d rendering/soldworks/autocad to running 10+ windows server VMS

While I'm on site I always bring my thinkpad x230 i7, 16gb ram, handles everything I trow at it

P.S I had a buch of hps/dells/toshibas but non of them are that robust, occasionally I trow my backpack with thinkpad x201/230 across a room and there is no sign of any damage :)

Edit: misstypes...
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 05:29:15 pm by Iwanushka »
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Offline edy

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2016, 06:13:38 am »
At home I'm using thinkpad w530 i7, 24gb of ram and quadro gpu, that beast handles everything from altium 3d rendering/soldworks/autocad to running 10+ windows server VMS

Wow! That is a solid and fast beast of a machine! I'll definitely be keeping my eyes out for one in the future. So far it sounds like Lenovo corporate-class laptops still have somewhat of a reputation although I wonder if they ever had the Superfish scandal. Certainly, the refurb's or out-of-lease clean Win installations perhaps will not have the bloatware associated with Superfish but who knows. I will find out in a few days to see what is running on my used T410 purchased from a refurb.
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Offline eecaorel

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Re: Best laptop for engineer, video editing... etc.
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2019, 06:31:36 am »
So, you are looking a laptop for engineering as well as video editing. So, there are two things you will need, lightweight and powerful. Lightweight for carrying it at college and powerful for video editing. You can check out the Apple MacBook Pro, New Dell XPS 15 7590, MSI Stealth series laptops, etc...

Reference: https://mylaptopguide.com/best-laptop-for-video-editing/ | https://mylaptopguide.com/best-laptops-for-college-students/
 


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