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New laptop, focus longevity and reliability, on a budget, and docking stations

Frick

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Hey hey.

So, my brothers are looking to buying new laptops for their business, and as said the focus is definitely longevity and reliability. What they want:

- Budget: €1000, or thereabouts. This should include a docking station of some kind. It doesn't have to be one where you actually dock the computer; it can be a USB based thing. Needs HDMI ports and USB ports. Can modern laptops drive three monitors? They didn't use to be able to do that. EDIT: Only one of them will make use of a docking station. That's the 17 incher one.
- 15.6 inches. One of my brothers actually want a 17 incher ... but some browsing has found that to be a tall ordeal.
- 8GB RAM, because 16GB commands a serious premium, so they'll install the other 8GB afterwards.
- SSD drive. Obviously. As big as possible, but ~250GB is likely where it's at at that budget.
- Quad core CPU, so Ryzen or Coffee Lake.
- Numerical keyboard (hence the size, personally I prefer smaller laptops but my brothers do not, for some bizarre reason I mean I'm the objective one here)
- Preferebly coffee proof (if at all possible, I know there's such a thing a spill resistant laptops but I have no idea how they actually work IRL)
- No gaming whatsoever.
- And again, reliability. They should just work for the coming ... many years (they currently have Sandy/Ivy Bridge based computers). They should be able to take at least small punches (which most laptops can do if equipped with SSDs).
- A battery life. They have no idea what modern computers should do, and neither do I. They will mostly remain stationary, so it's not a priority.

And that's about it. No monitors or anything, just the laptops, and prefebly docking stations.

Based on this, I basically have one question: How good are cheap laptops these days? I mean the HP Pavilions and the Dell Vostros and the Ideabooks and E and V series Lenovos and the Acer Aspires and so on? I've mostly dealt with Elitebooks and Latitudes in the past few years so I'm not exactly up to date on them, but when I was sorta up to date on them ... they ranged from horrible to not-quite horrible. I assume it's the same today, but I have been wrong before (june 6 2013, 13:44:32).

So my short list so far is basically the Lenovo L580, which is a bit above budget, and the Dell Latitude 5590.

Pros L580: NVMe drive. IPS monitor. Proper dock. Backlit keyboard (the Dell might have this too .. but I'm not sure). Probably better keyboard, if you like the Lenovo keyboards. Personally I think they're overrated. Likely not as lout as the Dell.
Pros Latitude 5590: Better case (some MIL spec or somesuch). Larger battery (65Wh vs 45Wh). VGA port (yes, I consider that a pro, still).

The Lenovo looks better TBH, but it's about €150 more than the Dell (the price for a decent dock). So I'm torn. I would have looked at Probooks but I haven't found any I find compelling. and also they are above budget. They used to be like €600 a pop with decent specs, what happened? v0v

Or am I doing it wrong? Does LG have a killer laptop in that price range? Or Fujitsu? Let me know and I'll look at it. Strangely enough I haven't seen any Probooks I liked in that price racket.

Also I find it hilarious that the cheapest Coffee Lake based 17 incher is the MSI GL63. That or a HP Pavilion???? I'd actually take the Transformer laptop.

Poorly constructed and thought out gibberish here, but thanks for looking! Any help is greatly appreciated.

EDIT: No but seriously that MSI would be pretty good if it weren't something you'd be ashamed to used in a professional environment. "I'm sorry, m'am, but we'll have to take your farm. Let me just print the papers real quick. Why yes, this is my laptop, why do you ask? Doesn't the red glow bring out my rosy complexion?"
 
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I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, @Frick but the past few years are really bad for good professional laptops.
Fist of all, almost everything nowadays comes with BGA CPUs which cannot be replaced, and if I learned anything over the past few years is if something breaks in a new laptop, it's usually SoC.
I think I've only had a couple of 6th and 7th gen laptops with non-critical issues. There hasn't been enough time to see how Ryzen and 8th gen core behave, but I'm not really optimistic. What's worse, is that even the high-performance chips like Core H or Core QM are only made in BGA form-factor.

Also, Lenovo has been slacking since Intel's 4th gen. Not just in terms of design and reliability of the electronic components, but also in terms of chassis/plastic quality. Had quite a few thinkpads with broken LCD hinges, and it so happens that I just brought over a T540p from work last night with the exact same issue that I fixed about a year ago.
Most newer Dell laptops also suffer from this issue due to bad/cheap hinge design. Even relatively expensive laptops, like 17" Dell Studio.

What I suggest is something like HP ProBook 650 G4. They've kept the old and reliable chassis design. Alternatively you may look at 7th gen HP Pavilion Power. Those are entry-level gaming laptops, but they will satisfy most of your brother's requirements. I was actually thinking about buying one for myself, cause pricewise it's in the same sub-$1000 ballpark as semi-professional laptops but it's light, durable, and has more performance kick than it's 8th gen counterparts. I'm not sure about spill resistance on Pavilion series, but it's irrelevant cause it's only a paper-spec. Most of the time spill-resistant keyboards don't do shit, cause I had several ProBooks, Thinkpads, Zenbooks etc. with liquid damage, in which the water or coffee simply sipped around the protective film under the keyboard onto the edge of the motherboard and did its bad deed anyways.
 
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22-24" monitor & nuc or mini pc like asrock's deskmini?
 

Frick

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22-24" monitor & nuc or mini pc like asrock's deskmini?
That'd be the beat option but it's a no go. They will occasionally travel with the laptops and frequently be used in couches.
I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, @Frick but the past few years are really bad for good professional laptops.
Fist of all, almost everything nowadays comes with BGA CPUs which cannot be replaced, and if I learned anything over the past few years is if something breaks in a new laptop, it's usually SoC.
I think I've only had a couple of 6th and 7th gen laptops with non-critical issues. There hasn't been enough time to see how Ryzen and 8th gen core behave, but I'm not really optimistic. What's worse, is that even the high-performance chips like Core H or Core QM are only made in BGA form-factor.

Also, Lenovo has been slacking since Intel's 4th gen. Not just in terms of design and reliability of the electronic components, but also in terms of chassis/plastic quality. Had quite a few thinkpads with broken LCD hinges, and it so happens that I just brought over a T540p from work last night with the exact same issue that I fixed about a year ago.
Most newer Dell laptops also suffer from this issue due to bad/cheap hinge design. Even relatively expensive laptops, like 17" Dell Studio.

What I suggest is something like HP ProBook 650 G4. They've kept the old and reliable chassis design. Alternatively you may look at 7th gen HP Pavilion Power. Those are entry-level gaming laptops, but they will satisfy most of your brother's requirements. I was actually thinking about buying one for myself, cause pricewise it's in the same sub-$1000 ballpark as semi-professional laptops but it's light, durable, and has more performance kick than it's 8th gen counterparts. I'm not sure about spill resistance on Pavilion series, but it's irrelevant cause it's only a paper-spec. Most of the time spill-resistant keyboards don't do shit, cause I had several ProBooks, Thinkpads, Zenbooks etc. with liquid damage, in which the water or coffee simply sipped around the protective film under the keyboard onto the edge of the motherboard and did its bad deed anyways.
Thanks!

I was aware of the CPUs being BGA only, but I figured it wouldn't matter much. But now that you mention it you have a good point in them being weak spots. I've seen it meself on a number of occaions.

Sad about the decline of professional laptops, especially Lenovo. I have always found them overrated, but the L series was pretty balanced I think. The L580 is still tempting though because of the supposedly quite good IPS panel..

The Pavilion Power looks very intruiging. I can't find what kind of panel it uses though. The store specs say VA, Notebookcheck says it has three different IPS panels to choose from and a price comparision site says TN. You know which one it is? I'm also a bit worried about the locking mechanism in the hinges (the screen snaps into place), does it mean it'll be wobbly when not in that position? Can you push it further than that? Screen flexibility is pretty important I think. But M2 and SATA is definitely a big plus.


Anyone has any experience with modern docking stations, specifically USB based ones?

EDIT: The Pavilion Power has gotten complaints about it being loud... It won't matter that much, but how loud is loud?

EDIT the second: No idle fans and pretty loud overall. That's dissapointing..
 
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The Pavilion Power looks very intruiging. I can't find what kind of panel it uses though. The store specs say VA, Notebookcheck says it has three different IPS panels to choose from and a price comparision site says TN. You know which one it is?
VA and IPS are pretty much indistinguishable from each other (when it comes to laptops, at least). I think ProBook uses both VA/IPS displays (depending on the variant, touch models have SVA, while non-touch have an IPS), while Pavilion Power is probably VA due to better refresh rates. Either way, you probably won't notice the difference during daily use (except viewing angles).

EDIT: The Pavilion Power has gotten complaints about it being loud... It won't matter that much, but how loud is loud?
It's mostly due to more power-hungry CPU and a decent discrete GPU. There's no way to keep up good temps with a fan disabled. Probooks usually don't have this issue (especially the UMA variant w/o discrete graphics). Even my 4th gen 640 is purring like a kitten w/ new TIM and clean heatsink.
The only thing I don't like about new Probooks is that they no longer have a dedicated docking port. HP have transitioned to a "modern" type-C dock, and all that's left of the old days of glory is the latching mechanism on their crappy ultraslim dock.
 
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Frick

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Lenovo has definitely gone downhill, at least in the ranges that used to be high end. High end for lenovo now is their X class laptops, such as the X1 Extreme, and the Thinkpad P series, these are generally much closer to the level of pre 4th gen IBM/Thinkpad quality.
I highly suggest looking at the notebookcheck top 10 lists.
https://www.notebookcheck.net/Notebookcheck-s-Top-10-Workstation-Laptops.65537.0.html
Those are workstations, which is not what they're after.
 
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If you reread my post I specified *lists* with an S, there are other lists, ones perhaps more appropriate.
 
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As much flack as I might get for this suggestion, Dell has a few good options for the specs and price range you stated. It might be worth looking into. Below is the US page, but I'm sure the EU page is very similar;
https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/scc/sc/laptops?~ck=mn&appliedRefinements=4
High quality, good performance and good pricing. The only down side is the SSD options, which come at a premium. It would be easier to buy the systems needed, make recovery discs/images, swap the HDD's for SSD's and then do a recovery with the restore discs. Really wouldn't take much effort, just a bit of time.

Then there is the Precision line which is higher price, but has the option for a docking station;
https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/laptops/7530/spd/precision-15-7530-laptop
 
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Frick

Fishfaced Nincompoop
Joined
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Messages
15,961 (3.18/day)
Location
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System Name Black MC in Tokyo
Processor Ryzen 3 1200
Motherboard Asrock B450M-HDV
Cooling AMD Wraith Stealth
Memory 2 x 8GB G-skill Aegis 3000 or somesuch
Video Card(s) Asus GTX 760 DCU2OC 2GB
Storage Kingston A400 240GB | WD Blue 1TB x 2
Display(s) BenQ GL2450HT
Case Some old Antec
Audio Device(s) Line6 UX1 + slightly modded Sony DR-ZX302
Power Supply Fractal Design Effekt 400W
Mouse Logitech G602
Keyboard Cherry MX-Board 3.0
Software Windows 10 Pro
Benchmark Scores I once had +100 dorfs in DF, so yeah pretty great
As much flack as I might get for this suggestion, Dell has a few good options for the specs and price range you stated. It might be worth looking into. Below is the US page, but I'm sure the EU page is very similar;
https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/scc/sc/laptops?~ck=mn&appliedRefinements=4
High quality, good performance and good pricing. The only down side is the SSD options, which come at a premium. It would be easier to buy the systems needed, make recovery discs/images, swap the HDD's for SSD's and then do a recovery with the restore discs. Really wouldn't take much effort, just a bit of time.

Then there is the Precision line which is higher price, but has the option for a docking station;
https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/laptops/7530/spd/precision-15-7530-laptop
One of the options is the Latitude 5590, so Dell's definitely on the table. Here the Precision line is definitely out of budget, and I don't fancy the Inspirons.


Anyway, I just sent them a bunch of options. We'll see what they decide. The HP 17 with the AMD 2500u looks quite decent to be honest, at €800. The other options are:

Budget:
HP 15-whatever
Asus Vivobook 15X542UN
HP Envy x360 AMD tablet!

Pro:
HP Probook 650 G4
Dell Latitude 5590
Lenovo Thinkpad L580
HP Probook 450 G5
HP Probook 470 G5

Premium:
HP Elitebook 850 G5
Thinkpad T580
 
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