David’s Tech Talk: The Return

David Lin

Staff Writer

Modern day laptops provide the performance of a personal computer (PC) and the portability of a notebook. The Chromebook X2, 2018 Apple Macbook Pro (with Touchbar), and the 2018 Dell XPS 13 all come under 3 pounds.

To all the tech savvy enthusiasts who are looking to upgrade or buy a new laptop, Mane Street Mirror’s got you covered with the return of Tech Talk. Although we have covered laptops in previous installments of Tech Talk, never had we had the chance to delve into laptops specifically. First, let’s examine some of the problems that laptops come across before we explore the best laptops to clear up any misconceptions that may occur. Generally, buyers will favor the price, performance and portability that comes with a laptop, but the tradeoff of portability comes with price and a decrease in performance compared to desktops which aren’t as portable but generally have better components. The major problem that comes with a laptop is that all of the components need to be fit into such a small form factor which gives disadvantages to the larger parts of the computer that may be hard to fit in such a small space. Components such as a processor or improved/modernized components such as an M.2 Solid State Drive are easier to fit but come at a higher price. For example, a processor is the same size regardless of the system you put it into but because they need to make profit on the building process on laptops they will oftentimes resort to offering you the best processors which may seem appealing but takes away from the rest of the laptop. Because laptops do not need to have many of the components that appeal to gamers such as gaming oriented keyboard layouts, and expensive pascal style graphics cards, they need to increase the price primarily in the processing power because storage and ram sizes decrease as laptops move away from the gaming category. Each year the processors become increasingly fast and reliable but the bar raises to a certain point where the line between professional use and casual use blur and become irrelevant.  My personal recommendation will always be to build your own PC (personal computer) but the price reduction comes with the major trade off of zero portability and the misconception that building your own computer is an overly difficult task. With all this being said, laptops are still the best option for on-the-go performance that you can rely on. Here are 3 laptops that cover the needs of many users whether you are exclusively looking to do schoolwork and media streaming, to more productivity and video editing capabilities.

#3 HP Chromebook x2

The Hp Chromebook x2 is the first laptop on this list because it seeks to bring a premium form factor to a laptop that combines the low price and efficiency to provide anyone looking for a less expensive build. With the main disadvantage being the addition of ChromeOS (Google’s operating system) which only allows you to use google’s applications and limits your freedom in terms of customizability. Although there are ways to get open source operating systems such as Linux, it can be a tedious process that can be hard to setup and requires a decent understanding of how to manage these operating systems. The laptop has an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor with clock speeds of up to 1 GHz (with Intel Turbo-Boost up to 2.6GHz), a 4 MB cache, and 2 cores. This processor is less powerful compared to other mainstream laptops, it is built to support a small workload. Any kind of video editing will be fairly demanding but schoolwork or media streaming should be perfectly fine. One of the best selling points is the battery life, which goes up to 12 hours off charge. The chromebook comes in a Ceramic White Cover and an Oxford Blue keyboard frame which will certainly feel sturdier than chromebooks in the same price range. Overall, this laptop is great for anyone who is looking to get a cheaper alternative to a high end laptop that might have a price to performance that is too high.

#2 Macbook Pro 13

The Macbook Pro series has been a classic for people looking for the high performance and compact design of that apple lineup. Generally, the price point for a 13 inch laptop that is the same variant of a 15 inch model of the same laptop will have a drop in price with the same performance with the exception of a larger screen. The Macbook pro starts at around 1,800 dollars (with touchbar) but will most likely decrease in price around the wintertime giving you a great opportunity to pick up this all around laptop for 1,600 and sometimes 1,500 dollars. This model comes  8 GB of DDR3 memory, a quad core 8th generation CPU with clock speeds of up to 3.8 GHZ, and 256 GB of SSD Storage. The laptop comes with four thunderbolt 3 ports and a retina display with above average color accuracy. According to TechRadar’s Alan Stonebridge’s article detailing the pros and cons of the Macbook Pro, “Not everything about the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is perfect. Some don’t like the new Touch Bar, and the fact that the computer only has USB-C ports, and having no USB-A ports is frustrating for those who have older peripherals. Still, many argue that USB-C is the future, and as more peripherals start sporting USB-C connectors, it should become less of an issue”(TechRadar). The only major downsides to this laptop include, low storage and Ram but this has been a pre existing trend with Apple. Buying Apple means you’re also buying the brand and although compromises like low storage and Ram space can seem to trend across all of the laptop industry,  Apple makes up for it in build quality and quality assurance. If you are using older external devices or tools to assist you, there is also the problem of USB-C exclusivity which can severely limit their use on this laptop. Many people don’t think that the touch bar is necessary and simply exists to hinder the experience but that is a purely aesthetic problem that can be easily overlooked. The high pricing for these Apple laptops should be expected to be priced high up to 2 grand for more well off laptops. Aside from these problems, I would recommend this laptop for anyone who is looking to buy a high end laptop who enjoys the aesthetic of Apple laptops and favor quality for a safe and secure investment.

#1 Dell XPS 13

The number 1 spot laptop that you can buy currently is the Dell Xps 13, which has made it onto the top of the lists of many laptop articles for the 2018 recap. Despite the release of many laptops throughout the course of the year that could rival the Dell Xps line, which is certainly not foreign to the Dell lineup, the Xps still provides the best experience. According to Joe Osborne’s TechRadar article article on the Dell XPS 13 review, “The 2018 Dell XPS 13 is a slimmer, more powerful version of the award-winning laptop with a stunning 4K display and a gorgeous Rose Gold on Alpine White color option. The Dell XPS 13 rocks an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, this Dell XPS 13 continues to be the most popular Windows laptop in the world. What’s more, there’s a wide range of customization options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best laptop for your needs”(TechRadar). The 2018 XPS 13 boasts an 8th-gen CPU and a 13.3 inch Infinity Edge display, that is virtually Bezelless and provides a premium experience to a laptop starting at a price point as low as 900 dollars. The only downside of the laptop is the Widescreen HD (720p) webcam with dual array digital microphones which is more than optimal for practical use. The speeds of the Dell XPS is exceptional with the most recent processors to hit the market. The storage options for the Dell XPS 13 goes up to 256 Gigabytes of SSD storage and 8 Gigabytes of DDR3 memory. This is rather generous for a laptop and external storage options are always capable of being used with your laptop. The XPS ports comes with a Noble Lock slot, 2 USB 3.0 slots, a headset jack, ethernet port and surprisingly also supports thunderbolt 3 connection. VGA and HDMI are the only video ports but this is the standard for most laptops. Overall, the slim form factor and premium functionalities of the XPS especially the Infinity-edge display provides for an award winning design that has survived and continues to impress for years to come.


Alan Stonebridge’s “MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13 inch, mid-2018) review”


Joe Osborne’s “Dell XPS 13 Review”