High-End Linux Laptop For CS PhD, Distributed Computing Focus

May 31, 2009
I'm going to grad school for a PhD in CS and I need a laptop for software development. Linux compatibility is the most important issue. I need a very large amount of RAM (~20-~30 GB) as my research is on distributed computing and I'll often need to simultaneously run a mini compute cluster, an IDE, and a lot of chrome tabs.

My preferred choice currently is the Dell Precision 5520. The Precision seems great from a hardware perspective. There are three things about the 5520 I'd like to focus on:

    ■ Is it a big loss in performance to get the core i5-7440HQ CPU instead of the Intel Core i7-7820HQ core or the xeon e3-1505m v6? I'd like to avoid optimus graphics in linux as I've had many problems with it in the past. If I get the integrated graphics, I need to get the i5-7440HQ according to Dell's website.
    ■ Does the Precision 5520 require a custom install of Ubuntu from Dell to work? When i upgrade to a new version of Ubuntu, will everything break because Dell hasn't provided updated drivers?
    ■ If I go with the Precision 5520, I'd like to buy in the next 24 hours as it is 35% off until 7/6 at 8 AM. Sorry to rush you all and thank you for your help!

My answers to the standard questions are below. I'm open to laptops other than the Precision 5520 if you think something else is better (like the lenovo t470s).

1. What is your budget?
I would prefer to spend $2000-$2500. I can go up to $3000 if necessary.

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
14inch and about 4 lbs. I know the Precision 5520 is 15 inches, but it's in a 14inch case.

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1920 x 1080

There are 4k laptops on the market. However, I have a 4k monitor now for my desktop and I've had lots of trouble with linux and high DPI. Additionally, at 14 inches, I don't think the additional pixels will be really helpful. I barely notice the difference now with a 27 inch monitor. I'm fairly confident that 1920x1080 is what I want.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

I will be carrying this around in my backpack all day for the next several years.

5. How much battery life do you need?
Ideally 10 hours. I don't really know. The longer the better.

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)

Programming. Virtual Machines. Math PSets in Latex. Surfing the web.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

512 GB. It must be an SSD.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
I'd buy from the manufacturers unless someone has another suggestion.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

4-5 years. My last laptop, a Lenovo t420s with Debian, lasted me all of college.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?


12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
I had a great experience with my Lenovo t420s. Other than that, no brand preference.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
See the top of the post.