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Find Me A Macbook Pro 13-in Alternative


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Is it possible?

I'll preface this by stating that I used to be an ardent Apple hater. What did (kinda) change my mind was my wife begging for months to get a Macbook Pro. I convinced her I wouldn't blow that money on it, while secretly I schemed to make it her Christmas present and bought one, had it delivered to a co-worker's house, then, while she was gone for a week or two, proceeded to Boot Camp it with Win7 and install some nice Adobe apps for her amateur photography pleasure. I could never get her to use Ubuntu or Mint...but by God, I could get her to use a highly-modified BSD, lol.

I then began to understand see why fanbois loved their Macs so damn much. Don't get me wrong, Steve Jobs is still Satan...but goddamn if the man and his employees don't know how to make a fine computer! Great display, awesome battery life that's almost as good as my netbook (we're talking 6-8 hours), solid build yet very light, love the multitouch touchpads (really hoping Ubuntu finally gets this functionality squared away in the upcoming 11.04 so I can have the same experience in Linux)...I could gush on. For me, the 13.3 inch model is a perfect size. I hate huge, bonkin' laptops that really do take up my whole lap...this one has a screen bigger than my netbook but is still lightweight and super-portable.

Anyway, it's really tempting me to pay the hardware tax and get a MBP too, though I'll probably wait for the rumored upgrade everyone is expecting to come in the following months.

Taking specs like the Macbook Pro, I've combed CNet and other review sites, plus New Egg, Tiger Direct, Best Buy, and numerous other online stores, in search of a computer that could match the Macbook Pro. I figured it would be easy enough to find a thin-and-light or ultraportable with better specs and might take a little more effort to find one that looked as good as the MBP......but it is with much chagrin that I have to admit that I have yet to find a serious competitor. Maybe the HP Envy, but it's even more expensive, plus I've heard bad things about the touchpad being really shitty and the laptop getting burning hot. Typical HP, lol, love the company, but every notebook I've bought from them could melt lead after running anything with 3D graphics for more than twenty minutes.

So maybe you intrepid Hak5ers could help a bruddah out! Help me find a laptop to seriously match or exceed the Macbook Pro...else I may be forced to fall past the event horizon of the Jobsian Reality Distortion Field. And that would suck, because then I'd have to start wearing a knit cap in the summer, buy skinny jeans, and become more of a condescending douche than I already am.

It's not hard to find better specs for cheaper........the real challenge seems to be putting into that smaller, more portable package.

My main uses will be casual gaming, internet, may watch videos on it, and other multimedia uses. Also will be dual-booted with Win7 and Ubuntu.

See here's the metrics for you...

Processor and RAM: Would prefer a newer Core i Sandy Bridge series one , but the MBP 13-inch gets away pretty well by having the discrete nVidia card pick-up the slack, so I might compromise here. I just prefer the Core i series for "future-proofing" purposes. As far as RAM, 4 GB and up, again for future-proofing.

Display/Size: HAS TO BE between 14 inches or less in screen size and less than 5 lbs. Generally in what is considered the "thin-and-light" or "ultraportable" class. And of course I'd like the screen to be nice and purty with high resolution. The specs to beat on the MBP are 1280 x 800 res with a 16:10 aspect ratio. An LED screen would be cool, but I'm flexible.

Hard Drive: 250GB and up, since I'd like to dual boot. 500GB would be awesome. Prefer a normal old hard drive, solid-state is just too damn expensive.

Graphics Card" Would like to have an ATI or NVidia integrated one, since the Intel integrated ones are mostly sh*t. The MBP boasts a NVidia GeForce 320M with 256MB of DDR3. I'm flexible on this one. I don't play the latest games, but I'd like to know that if I did purchase a game for the Windows side that's already a few years old, like Civ4, that it could handle it.

Battery: An MBP can boast anywhere between 4 to 8 hours depending on usage. Would like one that could last 4 hours off the plug with just normal use.

Ports and Slots: USB is just fine with me, 3.0 is even better. Don't really care if it has HDMI or SD slots. I doesn't even really have to have a DVD or BluRay built-in either.

Keyboard and Touchpad: Backlit keyboard would be nice, but isn't a deal-breaker. Would prefer an integrated-button "clickpad", since I'm already used to it with my HP netbook. I'm still on Ubuntu 10.04 because I finally tweaked it to work well enough on with my clickpad (10.10 was a step backwards in touchpad support), but I'm optimistic it will improve in 11.04 and fully support multi-finger gestures and such.

Design: Obviously, this is the hardest one, since it's incredibly subjective. I want a laptop that looks nice. A solid build is also desirable. Don't need some Toughbook that could stop a bullet...but don't need a chintzy, loose, and clanky slab of cheap plastic either. I really like the look of MBP and some other ones, like the HP Envy, that are using aluminum and magnesium in the case. As tried and true as they are, this rules out most Lenovo laptops that still look like their old IBM ancestors from ten years ago, though I understand there are some more classy-looking Lenovos being built nowadays.

Networking: Ethernet and 802.11n wireless.

OS: Don't give a rat's ass, it's getting Ubuntu. Windows will only be on the HDD for what won't work in VMWare/VirtualBox or Wine.

Miscellaneous: I want something reliable, obviously, and also one that won't make my lap sweat from ridiculous heat coming off of it. Which might rule HP out entirely, lol. Webcams are pretty standard anymore, and I'm not super-particular about them, so I probably don't even have to request that. Serious brownie points for a build known to work very well with Linux and minimize the time I have to spend in /usr/lib, /etc, and scouring around for restricted drivers.

I know it's a tall order, but maybe you know a great laptop that fits this bill to a tee and is less than the $1200 asking price for a Mac. Save me from Apple's evil clutches!

Edited by chikpee
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You could check out the ASUS U43JC-B1. 14", Core i5 @ 2.53ghz, 4GB RAM, 640GB HDD, nVidia GeForce 310M (w/ 1GB) and Integrated Intel. The only thing you might not like is it has the kind of annoying 1366 x 768 resolution. Will run you about $1000 before tax.

Edited by dr0p
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That one's a serious contender. I've heard some people love and some hate ASUS's keyboards and touchpads. I need to go to Best Buy or somewhere else and play with some ASUS laptops and see which side I fall on. Very nice laptop!

Can't find any reviews for this model. Any personal experience with this one?

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