Best laptop for business/excel/travel madness?


Apr 11, 2015
I'm a management consultant that does some moderate lifting in excel from time to time. Typically includes power pivot with data in the millions of rows and some VBA. I'm switching jobs and most of my coworkers have some flavor of the Lenovo T series, which seems like a good choice. I'm weighing my options between the Lenovo T series, the Lenovo X series, the 13" Macbook Pro, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I've got some initial pros/cons of each, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Lenovo T series - The Standard choice, is user serviceable so that I can upgrade for a better machine at a lower cost. I like that I can buy a dock for it so I'm not fumbling with a million cords.

Lenovo X series - Seems to have the exact same performance as the T series, but is better for travel for not much more money. Is this correct? I'm willing to pay more for more portability.

Macbook Pro 13" Retina - I would run windows on this, but the Mac side would be nice because the rest of my ecosystem is Apple and I'm happy to continue drinking the Kool Aid. Having a physical location for tech support is also very nice IMO. The lack of a dock kind of sucks.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - I actually had one of these and returned it for an iPad because whenever I needed to to work I turned to my existing work laptop and the surface isn't the most cost-effective tablet. I loved the metro interface in tablet mode (sans keyboard) and I would like to consolidate my devices given the opportunity of making the surface my primary device. That said, I'm worried that it will be underpowered compared to the alternatives (although it's geekbench scores are similar, is that indicative of similar performance?) and the fact that it's really bad as a full laptop on a plane table. When I did have it, I really liked being able to having it during takeoff and landing and typing on the screen was very easy for me when I had to bang out emails (unlike any other tablet including the iPad). There is also a dock.

I would stick with either the lenovo t series or the mac. The lenovo has the advantage of it being up-gradable in the future. It also has more experience in dealing with business customers than the mac.

But the mac has the advantage of style and build quality as they use premium materials rather than plastic.

I would go with the first option as I don't really care too much about style and as it will be used for office use rather than multimedia use the lenovo is better in my opinion.
I would go with the ThinkPad T series over a Mac. ThinkPad T laptops are known for their durability since they are designed to meet or exceed "MIL-Spec" which are military specifications to ensure electronic devices can withstand shock and extreme environments. More or less designed to withstand a direct 35MPH impact so that important data can be retrieved from the laptop. It also has holes which can drain liquids out of the laptop in the event to accidentally spill liquid on the keyboard (hopefully it will only be water).


Dec 27, 2006
Thinkpad x220 is really popular amongst my peers. Very good laptop for programming and supports Linux out of the box. Refurbished models are typically under $300 as well. BTW if you are dealing with millions of data entries maybe you should consider using R/SAS instead of archaic Excel.