I recently decided that after 3 years with my current Notebook, it’s time to get a new one. (No, not one like in the image above) NB: The decision-criteria are based from around Christmas 2017, so newly announced Laptops on the CES have not been considered.
My criteria where as follows:
- 14’’ or smaller
- Ultrabook-style (1.6 kg or lower)
- decent (8+) hour battery life
- out of the box Linux support for most components
- 8th generation Intel CPU i5 or i7 (this has proven to be the most complicated
- 16 G of Ram
- Matte Display, non-Touch
Competitors and quick details
For a long time, I had the following candidates on my list:
- Lenovo X1 Carbon 2017
- Asus Zenbook UX3430UA-GV376T
- Dell XPS13 9360R
Lenovo X1 Carbon 2017
Lenovo did disqualify as it did not have the 8th Gen CPU announced yet. They did announce this refresh at CES 2018 - however too late for me. While i did expect this announcement, I had other reasons to go with what i got (you’ll see below why).
Asus Zenbook UX3430UA-GV376T
Asus has the UX3430UA (Matte Display, 14’’ Display in the body of the 13’’ UX330UA, i7-8550U, 16G Ram). While this looks like a great Laptop, most concerns where with Linux support as well as Coil Whine (not on all Devices apparently, so it’s like playing Lottery). The exterior of Zenbooks looks great, however is a fingerprint magnet according to many Reviews of earlier models. As the Case did not really change, this is to be expected from this device. Also, this model was brandnew in December, so not many reviews were available at that time.
Dell XPS13 9360R
I always wanted a XPS 13 since they first announced at CES 2012. However, early models only had very slow CPU’s so they were no option last time around. However, this has changed greatly. With Intel’s release of the Kaby Lake Refresh CPU’s (4 cores in Ultrabook CPU’s), this seemed like the best bet. The only other competitor with an 8thgen CPU and Matte Screen the XPS 13 had in December the Asus Zenbook mentioned above, all other competitors have either a older CPU model (Lenovo X1 Carbon) or a glossy screen (Swift 3, Lenovo Yoga, Huawei X). I did not jump to this Laptop because I already liked the 2012 version (other Manufacturers have nice Laptops too), but thought and researched for about a Month before proceeding with the purchase.
Knowing that Lenovo would (probably) announce a refreshed version of the X1 Carbon at CES 2018, all 3 had equal chances. Both the Zenbook and the XPS ranged in approximately the same price range (including shipping, with the specs i wanted), however the X1 Carbon (in my desired configuration) would have been ~200$ more expensive. Expecting the refresh in a similar price-range, i was one step closer to taking a decision.
Mid to end-December, the first reviews of Zenbooks with 8th Gen CPU’s appeared. These are important as they showed that battery-life dropped by ~half to the older CPU. Looking at similar reviews about the XPS, these only mention a ~15% drop on battery life compared to the previous model. Charging of the XPS 13 is possible using both the included charger or a USB-C charger (Though only special Charger models which have enough power output). I did not find a clear indication if this is also possible for the Zenbook (which did also influence my decision - as it might mean one fewer charger when traveling). Also, having a 60W Battery compared to a 50W Battery in the Zenbook helped the decision.
I took the Dell XPS 13 9360R (Refreshed with 8th gen Intel CPU) I think my decision was thoroughly researched based on choosing the longer lasting, more linux-proven Notebook (Dell does offer a Developer-edition with Ubuntu for of most XPS models).
I received the XPS 13 a week ago, first thing i did was setting up Arch-Linux (my distribution of choice). Almost everything worked out of the box with only few problems (some of which will deserve their own Blog-post).
Dell announced a refreshed version of the Dell XPS 13 (the Verge) with some improvements (smaller Case, different colors, different location for the Webcam). However - i don’t expect to be using the Webcam at all - and the new version (Model 9370) only has a 50W Battery, which will reduce the runtime by some.
So far, I did not regret my decision even though a new Model (9370) was announced before i received my Notebook. The Dell XPS 13 was an affordable (even though not cheap) decision and is running smoothly, silently, and (so far) reliably.
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