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Time to Upgrade

You may have seen my laptop at various UK hackathons and conferences. It's a bit of a monster. It's got a full sized 17" screen (none of this widescreen malarkey), contains a desktop motherboard and processor (a fast quad core one at that), has 16GB of RAM, and can hold up to 3 hard drives (it's currently sportins 1.5TB worth of SSD and spinners). It's the most powerful machine I've ever owned, there's nothing on it that can't be replaced or upgraded (indeed it's had several life prolonging upgrades in the 5+ years I've had it) and it's by far and away one of the best laptops I've owned in the last decade.

That's the good stuff. Here's the downside, it's big. Think of the biggest 17" laptop you've owned, then double it, in both size, and weight. It's bulky, it weighs nearly 10KG including the power brick (which is actually the size of a house brick, if not slightly larger), and the battery life is a comical joke. Brand new, I got a mighty 1 hour and 15 minutes unplugged, and these days I'm lucky if I get 5 minutes. I cycle to work a lot now, and it's got to the point where I have a power brick at home and one in my client's office, just so I don't have to carry the extra weight. Taking it to events like Codegarden or other European events isn't practical, the machine accounts for pretty much my entire carry on allowance all by itself (plus carry it around for three days would be a nightmare).

Now that the battery is on it's way out, I'm starting to think about upgrading to something new, and this time, rather than just going for something that's a powerhouse, I'm going to try and balance power and practicality.

My criteria are that it must be powerful enough to do serious dev work on, enough grunt for some light RTS gaming would be a bonus, but not essential. Light enough that I can chuck it in a bag with other stuff, rather than it's own dedicted bag of doom. I'd quite like it to last at least 4 years as well.

I'm currently mulling over one of three options:

1) Bite the bullet, and get a Macbook Pro, a lot of web devs I know use them now, and I can run all the Windows stuff I need in either a VM or Bootcamp (probably a VM though). Pros: it weighs fuck all, it's well built, they hold their value well, the retina screen is nice, and hipsters will think I'm one of them. Cons: it's expensive, the specs aren't great for the money, it's not user upgradeable/repairable, I have to buy a load of additional adaptors for things like Ethernet/DVI/VGI that most real businesses use, oh and the freaky keyboard layout. This one is tempting on the weight alone though and the amount of good things I've heard from the folks I know who've made the jump.

2) Get something with plenty of grunt, that's big, but not as berzerk as my current rig. I'm thinking Alienware M17, or one of the 17" Clevo laptops that isn't a full desktop in a box like my current one. Pros: much better bang for my buck, bigger screen, easily repairable/upgradeable, all the ports I'll need are actually built in. Cons: still quite big and heavy (albeit almost half of what my current setup weighs in at).

3) Something halfway inbetween, like a Lenovo or something. Not really sure what's out there on this front, as I normally tend towards the more powerful end of laptops. Pros: cheaper! mosty upgradeable. Cons: probably won't last quite as long as my current rig.

I'd be interested to hear what other web dev types are using laptop wise. Are you one of the hip Macbook kids? How do you find it? Is it all sunshine and roses, or are there downsides too? Do you have a workhorse Windows laptop that's a good balance of performance and practicality that you'd recommend? Anything to avoid like the plague (back in the day I remember there being some terrible build issues with Vaios for example).

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments! I'm genuinely interested to find out what folks are using!