In August of 2007 I was itching for a new laptop. I was using a Dell Inspiron 700M that was near the end of its life. This was in ancient times before Apple Messages, Facebook Messenger, or unlimited text messages, so I wrote to my friend Benson over email, “convince me not to get one”, code for “I’m going to get one”.

I had my eye on a very specific Macbook, one I somewhat regret selling now. The amazing and wonderful MacBook Core 2 Duo in Black. 2 months later my hard drive crashed. It was bitter sweet, but way way more sweet and I hopped on eBay and bought the glorious black MacBook. I credit that MacBook with kickstarting my web development career, and about 3 years later when I left the financial industry, I set sail for a long Windows-less journey.

That is maybe… until now. I have always had top of the line hardware provided by my employers. From cinema displays, to iMacs, to MacBook Pros, I have always had a trusty rig to work on. I have also always had a reasonable and sensible personal laptop, until some time last year when I handed over my max-spec’ed MacBook Air over to my wife while I have done most of my work on our 27” iMac.

Why don’t you just use your work laptop?

Well, it’s complicated. I have always been a fan of compartmentalizing business from pleasure. At my last job at LOYAL3, I rarely had time to write or work on side projects, so I didn’t really mind just plopping down in front of the desktop computer. In my current position, I rarely work in the evenings. There is literally a sign on the wall that says “Work Hard and Go Home!”. There is also the little technicality of our use policies for company property, and the fact that I often hack on projects that consume my company’s public API, it behooves me and the company to use separate machines completely.

So why don’t you just get a MacBook?

You ask great questions. The truth is that I am spoiled by the retina display on my work rig and it has WAY more computing power than I need to do my job. At the end of the day, I truly believe that the best UNIX-based laptop you can buy is a MacBook Pro. A new Space Gray MacBook Pro would be an excellent machine for me for personal use, but I am a tinkerer, someone who loves a change of pace, and someone who doesn’t feel right about shelling out $2,000 for something that is mostly used for nights, weekends, and vacations.

The Search Begins

And so begins my search for a new laptop. Here are my criteria:

  • not a Dell
  • something reasonably lightweight
  • with a screen that I won’t hate
  • that can support a ton of RAM
  • (that optionally has an SSD, a tiny one is fine as I can keep files elsewhere)
  • that doesn’t break the bank

Systems I have started researching are:

Stay tuned!