If you don’t need a Mac, the power notebook for you is a Lenovo ThinkPad W520, which was just updated with a 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz or for a whopping $750 extra, a 2.7GHz quad-core Core i7 chip.The w520 also has a 15 inch screen with 1920×1280 resolution and can be configured with up to 16GB of RAM, multiple hard drives and like all Thinkpads, is a reliable, durable beast of a machine. According to John Poole, owner of Primate Labs, which hosts the popular GeekBench benchmarking web platform, it’s the fastest mobile notebook chip around right now. “Nothing else comes close in terms of processor performance,” says Poole, in an e-mail interview. “I think people can safely purchase a laptop based on its processor if performance is their primary concern.”
But John Poole also warns against the top line 2.7GHz chip. He says, “I wouldn’t recommend a laptop with the i7-2960XM processor. While it’s the fastest mobile processor available today, it’s more expensive, it consumes more power, and it generates more heat than Intel’s other quad-core mobile processors. I don’t think the slight bump in performance the i7-2960XM is worth the increased heat and decreased battery life.”
There are currently Dell and HP monster laptops that can be configured comparably, but the Thinkpad also benefits from an astounding battery life. Avram Piltch from Laptop Magazine found it lasted 9 hours. The Thinkpad also ran a cool 88-81 degrees on top and commented on its screen as, “one of the brightest, most colorful displays we’ve ever see.”
But we and most technology writers are fans of Apple’s OS X operating system, so we think it’s worth giving up a little power to get a MacBook Pro. That’s why Brian Westover from PC Magazine calls it, “the desktop replacement laptop to beat and the new Editors’ Choice for the category.”
And you do give some power up.
The Macbook Pro with 15-inch screen can be had with a 2.4 or 2.5GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, but no 2.7GHz chip. It only goes to 8GB of RAM. And you’re limited to less resolution with 1680×1050 pixels. (The Macbook Pro 17-inch has the same resolution as Lenovo’s 15-incher.) The Macbooks have the seldom needed but super high speed thunderbolt port, but only comes with USB 2.0 ports, not the new 3.0 kind. The Macbooks also have the advantage of being extremely solid, machined out of a single piece of aluminum.
But the Mac has the benefit of also being able to run Windows.
We’d go with the Mac, but there’s no denying how powerful the Lenovo is.
*If you’re considering the 13-inch Macbook Pro, avoid it. It doesn’t have much advantage over the Macbook Air other than an optical drive and more storage. It also has a lower resolution screen than the Air. They need to update that little guy!
Apple MacBook Pro (15" Retina, Touch Bar, 2.6GHz 6-Core Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD)
Brilliant Retina display with True Tone technology