Apparently it’s been a few years since I last yelled into the void about what laptop I use. Well, in that time, a lot has changed.

First off, I gave my prized collection of x230 ThinkPads (and a few others) to my sisters, nieces, and nephews. Apparently they’re all broken at this point and I’m not allowed to have them back for repairs. Because of this, I got myself an x250, which was my main laptop for about two years before I gave it to my mother-in-law. I had modded USB C onto it for charging, and ran Linux Mint on it. I miss it dearly.

For a while after I just used my NYU issued MacBook Pro. I wasn’t doing much personal work on a laptop for bit so this was fine. Somewhat more recently I had been using a Razer Blade 15 2020, by far the most recent non-work laptop I’ve ever owned. It’s primarily for gaming, and I find it doesn’t really meet my requirements for a personal work laptop.

Personally, I think work laptops should not be bigger than 13 inches, if that wasn’t clear by the fact that I pretty much only ever choose 12 or 13” laptops. Almost none of their drawbacks seem within-scope to me - battery life is unimportant because I’m usually near a charger (especially with USB C), or a battery bank (I own several that can provide 45W charging to laptops), and performance is not a concern because if I need computational power I would use my desktop or a server. I think a 12-13” screen is the ideal size for working on a couch or in bed. This narrows things down condsiderably when picking out a machine.

Another major limiting factor is keyboard. Personally, I find it really hard to beat a ThinkPad keyboard. An Apple silicon MacBook would be perfect if not for the keyboard sucking* (and the pricetag). Screens should also be bright. Finally, I really like cheap laptops. I just don’t use them in a way where an expensive new laptop makes sense.

Then there’s a bunch of nice-to-haves. Loud speakers for if I’m using the laptop to play videos while cooking. A trackpoint. A good touchpad. Relatively modern hardware. Lots of ports. Quiet operation.

With all that being said, my newest daily driver is a Lattitude 7370. It has some major pros and cons.
- 13” display in what was at the time a 12” chassis
- 1920x1080 display at minimum
- Loud speakers
- USB C - Good keyboard
- Thin and light
- Fanless, so super quiet
- NVMe drive
- Low powered 6th gen m-series intel CPU
- Poor battery life despite the above
- USB C port is reportedly finecky
- No full HDMI port
- Trackpad was good for the era but bad by modern standards
- No trackpoint, a necessity on a machine of this size - Buttons below the trackpad instead of above - The camera placement is so bad removing it would have probably been better
- Keyboard backlight at half-power has some awful PWM flicker

One weird thing though is the fanless design. It is deeply unsettling. I’ve never used a computer that was just… silent… before. I keep expecting it to ramp up while typing this, or when building in godot, or ever at all. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but for now it’s just completely jarring.

That said, I’m pretty happy with it. The performance actually doesn’t suck nearly as much as one might expect a 4.5W, dual-core, 8-year-old CPU to. As a quick benchmark, I compiled some random rust projects, and while it was a fair bit slower than my Ryzen 7 3700X or M1 Max, it got the job done just fine. I’ve been working on a game in godot as well, and the editor is perfectly responsive. I paid about $60 for it, and figure it’ll last me a few years as my “take with me all the time and use for quick ideas” machine. And at a power requirement in the single digits of watts, when it retires it’ll make a good low-power server addition.

* I use a 16” M1 Max MacBook Pro every day for work, and am pretty used to its keyboard. I just think it is the only hardware flaw in what would otherwise be a perfect machine. That, and the fact that it’s bigger than 13”.

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Part of a series on Goofing off.

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