Intel i7 CPU

Intel i7 CPU

As a software developer looking mainly for performance when building a new tower system or buying a new laptop, I am not a big fan of the very popular ultrabooks that have taken a lot of market shares in the past few years. I don’t want to sacrifice power over extreme portability or 10 hours of battery life: I’ll be working at a desk with power plugged-in most the time.

To learn more about my previous laptop list software developers and personal requirements, please read my other post on this topic. Thanks!

My spec preferences for a great laptop

First, let me make a little wrap-up of what I am looking for in terms of specs for a new laptop (I went a bit deeper into details in my previous post):

  • Quadcore CPU
  • 15″ display (can’t be smaller if you want to go quadcore, see why here)
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • Discrete GPU
  • Solid state drive (SSD)

Don’t forget about the WiFi adapter!

One thing I had previously forgotten to keep in mind is the WiFi adapter. We tend to forget about those, but they are not all created equal! My first advice (and it is even more true if you plan to install Linux on your machine) is to go with an Intel WiFi adapter. Its hardware and drivers are rock solid, and so will be your wireless connection. I also read here and there that Killer™ WiFi adapters are very great.

A crucial point worth checking is the number of antennas, indicated 1×1, 2×2, etc. This shows the number of sending and receiving antennas. Rule of thumb here: the more antennas, the more bandwidth, the better. Obviously, you’ll be wanting an adapter that supports the 801.11ac standard.

My new favorite laptop

Please note: like I did in my previous article, some of the links in this page point to Amazon products. By following them (and actually buying something from Amazon), you may be helping me make a little bit of money to pay for my family’s needs without paying a dime of your own. So thanks!

GIGABYTE P55Wv5-SL3

GIGABYTE P55Wv5-SL3

GIGABYTE P55Wv5-SL3

To be honest, I am at the point where this laptop, the GIGABYTE P55Wv5-SL3, has become my only option. I have went through dozens of lists and reviews looking for a single notebook that met my requirements, and also did it under $2000 CAD (just under $1600 USD as of today). This is the only one I could find.

Technical specs

  • 6th generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
  • 16GB DDR4 2133 RAM memory
  • 128 GB M.2 SSD
  • 1TB HDD
  • Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 8260 (2×2)
  • 15.6″ Full HD 1920×1080 Wide viewing angle(IPS) anti-glare display LCD

I must admit I haven’t tried this model yet, but on paper, I really like it. Being pretty recent, there aren’t a lot of online reviews available, the ones you can find are all very positive, especially for a computer in this price range.

If you are interested in full technical specs and a partial (but kinda complete) review of the P55Wv5 (but it’s a preview version with only 8GB of RAM), I suggest you to visit Tom’s Hardware for their review.

Discarded contenders

Here are laptop models very similar to the P55Wv5-SL3 in terms of core specs that I couldn’t keep on my list, both because of the weakness of their WiFi adapter. But they might be a good fit for you, who knows?!

ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74

ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74

ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74

The ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74 (and other ASUS Republic of Gamers variants) are on many gamer laptop lists. It really is a great computer for its price, but it has a major problem: its WiFi adapter is probably the one adapter Intel has totally screwed up, the Wireless AC Intel 7265. You’ll find hundreds of complaints about it, on every geek forum out there. I have experienced it myself in another laptop, and ended up replacing it. Before I forget: it is strongly recommended to go for the metal construction version if you plan on buying this one.

MSI GE62 6QD Apache Pro

MSI GE62 2QD Apache Pro

MSI GE62 2QD Apache Pro

Another great contender, the MSI GE62 6QD Apache Pro, has similar core specs. Its main problem, for me, is again its WiFi adapter. It’s not that bad, but it’s a 1×1, meaning its bandwidth is limited to a theoretical 433 Mb/sec. When you have to transfer, for example, virtual machine images over WiFi, a 2×2 adapter (866 Mb/sec) is always appreciated. Other than that, it seems to be an excellent laptop choice for both software developers and gamers. If you don’t mind it’s very average WiFi adapter, this is a great choice.