Recommend me a laptop
November 7, 2017 7:51 AM   Subscribe

It's time to upgrade my eight year-old laptop, since it has a hard time handling any video or photo editing. Snowflake requests inside.

My trusty Lenovo T400 has been chugging along, but its probably time for an upgrade, particularly for editing photos and videos (nothing major, but 3-10 minute compilations like this). I'd like to spend less than $1300.

Based on recommendations from here and the Wirecutter, I purchased a Dell XPS 15, but after dealing with infuriating connectivity problems and sending it back to Dell once already to no avail, I'm done with it, and likely done with Dells.

Given how sturdy my Lenovo has been, I'm interested in going back to them, but I have a hard time sorting through their options; it seems like they have a number of similarly outfitted laptops for nearly the same price. Can anyone give specific recommendations, either there or elsewhere?
posted by craven_morhead to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Apple, Dell, and ASUS are the top reliability brands right now. If it was me I’d throw a base spec MacBook at the problem and be done with it. The NVMe storage is fast as hell for video and photo throughput.
posted by Talez at 8:23 AM on November 7, 2017

If you like your T400 but want better performance, it seems the most straightforward upgrade would be to get a recent 14-inch T-series thinkpad (most recent seems to be the T470, though you could probably get a T450 or T460 for less and it would be fine). The "T4xxp" series comes with dedicated graphics, if that's something you're interested in.
posted by btfreek at 8:31 AM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've found that the cure for infuriating laptop connectivity problems is always an external USB wireless adapter.
posted by Chitownfats at 8:44 AM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fellow ThinkPad fan here. My local craigslist sometimes offers up a supply of T4x0 ThinkPads. I upgraded from an old, very trust T400 to a T420 a few years ago, and am about to pick up a T430 (a choice driven mostly by keyboard layout). Even after replacing the drive with a new SSD and upgrading to 16Gb of RAM, the cost far less than buying new.
posted by dws at 10:08 AM on November 7, 2017

If you want to consider giving Dells another shot, I just bought a refurbished Dell Precision Workstation laptop for around $1100 and it is a real beast for video editing. I am an animator so I mainly use it for Maya/After Effects/ etc. Their workstation line is more solidly built and anecdotally runs into fewer problems than their consumer line. You probably won't get as good specs as the XPS, but you will get higher build quality. For under $1000 in the refurbished store you can get an i7-7700HQ with 16GB of RAM and an SSD.
posted by matcha action at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2017

Thanks for all of your suggestions, but it looks like I'm friends with Dell again. The Killer wireless card in the XPS apparently has a known compatibility issue with the TP-Link Archer C7 Router. Or known to TP-Link, anyway. They released a beta firmware upgrade in January 2017 that, once installed, seems to have resolved the problem, at least based on a few hours of testing. It's obnoxious that Dell didn't know about this, but it looks like I'm out of the market thanks to TP-Link's customer support.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:09 AM on November 9, 2017

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