Need a new laptop and it's not 2004 anymore
October 2, 2020 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I've been a 100% mac user for the past 10+ years but now need to buy a Windows laptop for my teacher training course, and I feel like I'm about a million years old trying to figure out what to buy. Please help! Snowflake details inside

The last Windows machine I owned was a Thinkpad something-or-other which was pretty solid but I have zero idea what's best these days. Budget is £500ish and I can get a student discount on some brands directly (15% off Acer, 10% off Dell, 15% off Thinkpad). I use an iMac at home for photo editing, watching movies etc so I only need the laptop to be able to run Office without crashing every 5 minutes, but also would like a sold build quality and decent keyboard. What are my best options?
posted by hibbersk to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get a Thinkpad at your preferred price point. Your variables there are going to be hard drive size (500gb will likely hold you a very long time if you are just using Office and browser), RAM (32 is average at the moment, go to 64 if you can to future-proof it a bit), and chipset (you're not a gamer, you're not editing films, it *does not matter* in any real way if it's a new or fairly fresh refurb with 32-64gb RAM). I have an older T570 that's either an i5 or i7 and new T590 that's an i7. I am running SQL server on them, and for work use they often had/have three different browsers with 10-15 tabs open plus Outlook, five Excel sheets, one or two Word documents, OneNote, and Teams with no real obvious degradation in performance.

Your other choice is size, but I think almost all TPs are full-keyboard 15" and that is fine. Resolution and dpi are decent. I think both of mine are Displayport video out but I use a USB docking station to connect two monitors so I don't care.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:51 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]


Perhaps look at a current MacBook Air and run Bootcamp on it to run Windows 10 occasionally. As you use an iMac already, a portable Mac could be useful in the larger picture, and current models are solidly built and have a good keyboard.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:19 PM on October 2, 2020 [1 favorite]


I agree with Lyn Never. Thinkpad is solid and reliable. The Wirecutter agrees.
posted by blob at 3:34 PM on October 2, 2020 [1 favorite]


Thinkpad owner here. I got one off lease for a good price.
posted by kathrynm at 3:36 PM on October 2, 2020 [2 favorites]


A Huawei Matebook should also be considered.

It meets your price point, seems to have stellar build quality and gets some excellent reviews.
posted by jacobean at 4:29 PM on October 2, 2020


Office on Mac shouldn't be "crashing every 5 minutes". Do you really need windows? Does it have to be an actual laptop?

If you do need windows, consider running it in a Virtual Machine: Parallels or VMWare Fusion. In many cases, this is actually better than a physical windows laptop, since you can do things like copy from your Windows VM to the clipboard and paste on the Mac side. File sharing is trivial, etc.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 4:32 PM on October 2, 2020 [1 favorite]


Lots of companies lease Thinkpads for 2 - 3 years, return them, and they get bought by ebay sellers, refreshed, and sold at decent prices. There's a ton of different Thinkpad models, narrow down what you need/want, and you should be able to get it on ebay or newegg pretty easily.
posted by theora55 at 5:09 PM on October 2, 2020


Second the ThinkPad. I am on my second one and find it perfect for my basic needs
posted by konaStFr at 7:29 AM on October 3, 2020


Thanks everyone! I did consider running windows on my iMac for working from home but as a student teacher it makes sense to get a laptop that I can tote around if necessary.. If money were no object I would have gotten a macbook and installed Parallels on there but as I already have a mac desktop and hubby has a Macbook Pro I couldn't really justify the cost. Thanks for all the pro-Lenovo advice. I think I've settled on an Ideapad Flex which has the advantage of a touchscreen, not something I'd previously considered but it will be helpful for drawing diagrams and such in my powerpoints. Thanks again!
posted by hibbersk at 8:04 AM on October 3, 2020


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