My ancient Core 2 Thinkpad finally bit the dust, and I am looking for a replacement. I have a very specific set of criteria, which is making selecting a worthy replacement difficult.
I am in the used or refurbished category, I am a computer tech so I have no problem buying used barebones machines and installing my own RAM, HDD, OS, etc. I have cheap access to Windows licenses through work so the preinstalled OS is of no concern. My absolute maximum budget is $500, but I am really trying to stay more around the $400 price range.
My required criteria is as follows -
No bigger than 15-inch form factor - weight and thickness is of no concern.
Support for at least 16GB of RAM
Decent screen, preferably at least 1600x900
True 3rd generation + quad-core i5 or i7 (or socketed CPU allowing ability to upgrade to quad-core at later date)
Decent 2GB dedicated graphics (Nvidia Quadro K2000M, K2100M, AMD 8790M, etc.)
Durable and long-lasting. Ability to take bumps and some abuse.
I use both Windows 10 Pro and Linux Mint 18. I also run virtual machines.
For a frame of reference, I have been eyeing the Lenovo ThinkPad W530, W540, and Dell Latitude E6540 on eBay. I have found some really great priced used units from reputable sellers, the only problem is that each laptop has a major problem or deficiency that is prompting me to look for other options.
For example, the W530 is my first choice at the moment, but I am concerned about the performance of the older K2000M graphics chip. Researching the W540, I have found that the trackpad is almost universally despised and prone to mis-clicks, and that the build quality is not up to par compared to older Thinkpads. The Dell Latitude E6540 looked really compelling, especially given the relatively strong AMD 8790M graphics, until I did some research and found that the one-fan thermal system was completely inadequate, and that heavy CPU/GPU throttling and premature motherboard failure was extremely common on this model.
My goal is to get into something that can run VM’s with relative ease, that I can use at work for cloning/ imaging disks, downloading drivers, burning discs, backup customer data etc. I also wanted to get something that can actually play some of my slightly older game library (2013 to 2014 games) at medium to low settings when I am away from home or at a friends house and don’t have access to my desktop.
I know it’s probably a lot to ask, anything that has the performance of the Dell E6540 system minus the throttling issues and motherboard failure would be optimal.
PS - I apologize for the wall of text!