5 minutes read

A tale of buying new computer, Dell XPS 13

It all started a year ago or so, when I decided that I need to change my laptop.

HP 8560w laptop.
This is my current machine: HP 8560w

It's an HP EliteBook 8560w. Good machine, after using it every day for developing for almost five years now it still works great. The only thing I changed was battery about a year ago. It also works good on Ubuntu, which is my choice of OS.

But the size and weight of this laptop is just too much to handle. If I would just be using it as a workstation (which in fact, it is), than this would probably not be a problem. But I need a laptop. I need to move it around. And I got little tired of moving this heavy-weight champion.

As I said, I'm using Ubuntu and so when I was looking for a replacement I wanted it to be good at it. What I wanted the most was having a laptop that would come pre-installed with linux. One reason is because I wanted all the drivers working and the other just because I don't want to pay extra 100,00€ (or so) for an OS that I would delete immediately. I've been using it in the past, than jumped to the Ubuntu train and paying for it again would be the same as going to the cinema, watching a movie you don't like and than next week buy another ticket and throw it away immediately.

The search begins

To be honest, I'm not the kind a guy that would follow the trends, watch all releases of every computer and know every second what is the computer of my choice. So I started googling, searching and bookmarking the interesting computers. I wanted a 15" or maybe even 13" laptop. It must be a heavy worker. I like my environment to work smooth when building and testing websites locally.

Out of couple of options I stopped at Dell. I like Dell. Not just because they have good displays (which I owe one for daily use) but because they have history with Linux. They were the first big company to have an alternative to Windows on their entire range of computers on the break of the century. Also their CEO Michael Dell was always keen to have linux based computer in their line (or at least he was saying so). And at the time I started looking for a new computer I found Dell's internal project, which is run by Barton George, called Sputnik. The title on the page says: "Systems Developed by and for Developers".

At that time, they had two laptops in the offering: Dell XPS 13 developer edition and Dell Precision M3800. As I wanted a slim, light-weight computer I preferred the XPS. It was good option, but I wasn't quite sure if I'm ready to go on 13" computer. And since my HP was still working I waited a little bit.

Than came out XPS 15. It's a bigger brother of XPS13, sexy and slim, with more power and bigger screen. But that computer wasn't part of the Sputnik project, so I was worried of how would it work on Ubuntu. I read couple of blog posts of people who bought it and installed linux and there were some tweaks needed for it to work. They also had problems with touchpad, some with graphic card. And I was waiting for this computer to show up on project Sputnik page.

Then came the refreshed Sputnik page

And on it, there was another competitor - Dell Precision 5510. Visually it was the same machine as the XPS 15, so I'm not totally sure why they created another machine. My guess is that the XPS 15 was meant to be sold with Windows only, since the Developer edition of XPS 15 was never available.

I was almost sold. Everything looked great. Reviews were amazing as well. But since my HP was still breathing very well and this choosing expanded to more than a year, one thing happened during that time. It was my role at Agiledrop, where I'm working. We expanded pretty much, hired new people, and from a days when I was developing all day, my days are now doing mentoring, leading a team of developers, on-boarding new people etc.

At the end, it was XPS 13

So I started to think - do I really still need 15" computer, which might be a little faster, but bigger and heavier than 13". Don't get me wrong, whichever computer I would choose it would be way smaller than my HP. But when sitting at my desk in the office, I always use external displays and keyboard and since I was reading good reviews of the new XPS 13 computers with Kaby Lake processor (especially performance-wise), I decided that this is my new computer.

It's the one with i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. And of course, a beautiful Dell touch display with 3200x1800px. I just got it today and haven't got time to play with it much, but the last part of this blog was written on it (I've written the first part while waiting for delivery). I can say that so far I'm amazed. Everything works out of the box - and it's Linux. Really, no kidding. But I need to work on it more to get full insight, so I'll probably write another blog about this in the future.