Jun 13, 2013
Hello everyone!

I'm a "Data Management Specialist" (glorified computer geek with a typing speed over 130wpm, macro-writing knowledge and MOS specialist certs) by day, a Computer Science student by night, and a gamer by really late at night. (A little background app called Dimmer is my friend, forcing my screen brightness so low that I don't hurt my sleep cycle so much with my late night habits.)

My gaming addiction and any work I can throw at it are well-handled by my desktop that cost me right out of high school about what I probably should've spent on my first car instead. So in a laptop, I'm not looking for gaming power. But as a programmer, and a new one currently unsure what I want to learn or where I'll go, there are some potentially expensive/exclusive features I'd be interested in, and unlike desktop parts, which are easy for me to do my own research on... laptops are hard.

Some things I KNOW I need:

  • The best of the best in a laptop keyboard. Please note: I put this at the top for a reason. It doesn't need to be backlit - I touch-type at 130+ on a good day - but backlighting (especially customizable) is cool for the fun aspect and finding function keys. I'm used to Cherry mechanical switches, especially brown, but I can also blaze fairly accurately across the chiclet keys of my mom's HP pavilion notebook. (I'm not sure why many people claim to hate chiclet keys.) 10-key might be cool to have, but I'll buy a wireless Razer Naga Epic for numerical entry and keep it in the backpack with the laptop if I want a numberpad that badly.

    Windows 8.1, because of the "free" upgradeability to Windows 10 later. That or a Mac... see below.

    Hyper-threading. So, i5/i7. I'm sure 8 logical cores will come in handy some day. 8GB of RAM is probably the sweet spot, but I wouldn't complain paying another $50-60 for 16GB optionally.

    A fast SSD, or alternatively a lower price that reflects the lack of an SSD and room to upgrade with an SSD immediately after taking it out of the box.

    IEEE 802.11ac... This laptop is to be a counterpart to a desktop with 3TB of storage. There will be networking, and there will be a lot of data transfering, and since I already have the router to pump out in the range of a gigabit of real-world wireless connectivity over a massive basement with a lot of metal, this laptop should be able to receive it.

    15.6" or smaller... Just a preference. If I were to get a 17", I'd probably also be in the market for something greater than 1080p for the extra screen real-estate, but otherwise, 15.6" or smaller is preferable.
Some things I want:

  • A price tag under $1000.

    A nice touch display, because I've seen what Windows 8 is like on a laptop with nothing but a touchpad for input.

    Dedicated graphics... I've seen the GT 940 squeezed in without hiking the price too much. I did promise myself that I wouldn't install a bunch of games on this strictly-work device, but hey... I'll probably end up doing it anyway before a long trip.

    A slick look and feel to the chassis. But, on the other hand, I don't want the kind of show-off-y theme that MSi, Asus, and Alienware are infamous for that just screams to everyone around me: "STEAL ME!"

Some things I'm unsure of:

  • If I want to delve into mobile app development, is it viable to work with iOS through a virtual machine running on the laptop? Would that be much slower than a theoretical OSx laptop with the same hardware?

    Are there any features that I have missed that are high on the list of what programmers and engineers look for in their devices?

I'm looking for a <~$1000, 15.6" laptop with a 4-8 logical core CPU, 8+GB RAM, a top-of-the-line keyboard that will keep up with my ego, a good SSD, 802.11ac, optionally including a touch display, integrated graphics, and a slick design.

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