Ok, so looking for specific and serious answers on this topic only:
I need to replace my laptop.
I want something like a high-range Dell Inspiron.
What make/models are similar to _high_ range inspirons?
I will be dual-booting a small Win 10 partition to use some very niche stuff like expensive quilting software I already own and Linux Mint for most of my use.
I want decent processing, etc.
No, not a Mac. Yes I need Windows 10 a wee bit.
Please boost, please reply in good faith thanks!
(I am looking at Inspirons but it's been a while since I went computer shopping and I'm not sure what the parity is between brands/makes any more!)
Ah yes sorry, people asking re: budget. My brain knows what a higher-end Inspiron costs so wasn't thinking... topping out around $1000, $700 would be comfortable.
oh gosh replies to this are making me realize that I have some past Thinkpad trauma... I think? One really bad Thinkpad. I think if you managed to convince me it wasn't one?
Ok so update: I ended up getting a Thinkpad 480. Thanks to everyone who pitched in. The old computer was one of the last generations to run Windows 7. It was a Dell Inspiron. It developed some wiring messes, never ran Win10 well (but I mean I needed it for like 3 things). Wiring was more a concern?
So... while I've had some decent Dells in the past I felt a lot like stretching & trying something else.
Thinkpads aren't quite as bricky & I think I'm distant enough from the old one.
Man that old Thinkpad was a long-lasting brick but it also just... wow.
The part of actually making a call on what to get left me all jittery and I did something I never do on purchases for me -- called my husband. I mean he told me to do what I want, but like he listened about alllll the things I am thinking about and needed to talk myself through.
Fortunately I've only got one really important thing left to do at work.
@platypus I'm about to get my fifth work laptop, and it will be my fourth Thinkpad. They're definitely getting less bulky, and they have all been more reliable than the one Dell we had that one replacement cycle.
It will also be a move to Windows 10 and Office whatever it is now, and I'm more concerned about that than the machine. Win7/Office2013 have been fine for my needs.
@platypus budgetary range you're looking for?
@platypus I picked up a last-gen Inspiron 7559 on Amazon a few months ago with 4k touch display, 16gb ram, core i7, 128gb ssd + 1tb hd for just under $1k - it has a linux variant so all the hardware has been supported under (k)ubuntu. They also have non-4k configurations to save a few bucks.
My brain knows what a higher-end Inspiron costs so wasn't thinking... topping out around $1000, $700 would be comfortable.
Use case--mostly writing, but also some light script dev work, data wrangling, probably managing a zillion tabs.
resolution: better than retro
battery life: very good.
@platypus hmmm... how about this?
ASUS VivoBook S
128GB SSD +1TB HDD
about 5-7hrs battery life
You can also drop down to $649 and get it with an i5-8250U (not noticeably slower for your use case?) and instead of getting 128GB+1TB of storage, you get 256GB SSD. So, more fast storage but less overall.
@trwnh @platypus I've had an earlier model of that (i7-7500) with the dual drives for about 6 months, I dual boot Win10 and Ubuntu, and I've been happy with it. But the battery may not be as good as you might get on other laptops in the same price range (according to reviews). For me, anything over 5 hours is good enough most of the time.
@platypus I recently bought a used thinkpad t450s and I am super happy with it
@platypus I did some research last fall for a laptop replacement. Took a long look at the Dell Inspiron before settling on the Asus Vivobook F510 with 8th generation Intel CPU. I run Ubuntu and windows 10 on it without any problems, except the screen isn't all that great outside in the sunlight.
@platypus I've had decent results looking at clearanced HP laptops off of their website.
Last three laptops I've bought for personal use (not including the ChromeBook) have all been HP purchased below cost.
Even the clearanced models allow you to customize them, so you can get the power you need.
Current laptop is a refurbished HP Pavilion from woot.com. Came with Win10 though put Debian on it. Needed 2 non-free drivers that Debian provided on their website and works great.
@platypus I have a Dell XPS 15 that might fit the bill.
8 CPUs, 16gb RAM, 128gb SSD and a 1tb conventional hard drive. Cost about a third of the MacBook $dayjob issued me. Touchscreen even works in Linux. When I bought it I opted for Win7 but promptly wiped the drives, you can get it with Win10 though.
If you don't need a lot of graphics power (for, games or accelerating creative software like for 3d/video) then a machine like a Dell Latitude 5xx0 may be a good choice. Less availability at retail (some were in Microsoft stores IIRC) but they're likely to be a bit better built than an inspiron.
xx80 is 7th gen intel and xx90 is 8th gen.
http://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/dell-laptops-and-notebooks/latitude-5590/spd/latitude-15-5590-laptop for example. A bit more spendy but also a bit more flexible.
The other suggestion is ThinkPad but in some circles ThinkPads are Over(TM) so it kind of depends on what your tastes are. I can't really speak to modern ThinkPad build quality, and I can only very indirectly speak to modern Latitude build quality, but what I've heard about Latitudes is very good.
There are also EliteBooks but I'm less familiar with that line.
I have a Surface Laptop myself, but probably not ideal if you plan to run Linux primarily.
The thinkpad T4xx series are in this range, as well as the T2xx if you're looking for something more portable. I've owned a lifetime of T-series thinkpads and love them dearly. Have always run Linux on them, but they are windows machines by default, and since they're business-line I understand they're light on shovelware in the default install. Good luck on your search!
Ok first response and I'll hit up the end of my thread below -- thanks for all the feedback, I used my lunch to compare best options, picked and ordered, feel good about it!
@platypus Have you thought about imaging your Windows 7 box with sysinternals' disk2vhd and just running your windows 7 in kvm instead of dual booting? Since it sounds like your time in Windows would be for a specific task only. You could avoid win10 all together that way. :)
Good luck with your new Thinkapad!
@ron so my policy around home computers is to only court stress when it's fun. And I find virtual environments rarely to be fun (which is weird because I'll happily ssh into a server and splash around). So dual-boot is bleh but also straightforward? Same reason I use Mint.
@platypus I've been pretty happy with my MSI laptop that I've had for a couple of years now. They're relatively thin and light for being powerful (gaming) laptops. I do a lot of software dev and stuff on mine.
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834154734 for example, but they have lots of different configs.