I love laptops, and I love finding laptops that can be made to run Linux successfully (meaning sound, WiFi, video, function keys, hibernate/resume work).

Every 18-24 months, I get the urge to replace a perfectly functional, not-that-old laptop with a newer model. Given my specific requirements, I don’t usually have too many models to choose from.

This time around, I decided to go with the Lenovo Thinkpad t450s, because it seemed like the best fit given all my requirements.

  • A minimum screen resolution of 1600x900. 136x768 is an immediate disqualification. The t450s I ordered came with a resolution of 1920x1080.

  • A replaceable hard drive. I want the ability to swap out the stock drive with my own SSD, which, in addition to driving down the cost of the laptop itself, frees me from having to transfer hundreds of gigs of VM guests, etc. Since I’m using Linux, it’s also usually not necessary to re-install the OS. Just swap the drives and go.

  • A 13” or 14” non-touchscreen display. The t450s gave me the choice between a touchscreen and non-touchscreen 14” display.

  • An Intel WiFi module. I try to avoid those terrible Broadcom chipsets if I can, primarily due to poor Linux drivers (and poor support). A decent Intel WiFi module is always about $20 away on Amazon.

  • Minimum 12 GB of RAM. This is a hard requirement. I don’t want to have to think about memory contention while running docker containers, postgres, redis, apache, ruby/puma, VM guests, and the usual dozen-or-more-tab Firefox and Chrome sessions (with JS debuggers). I had initially looked at the Dell XPS developer edition laptop, but it is limited to a maximum of 8 GB of RAM.

  • A battery that can last for at least 5 hours. This is a recent one; it is honestly the only gripe I have with my previous “daily driver” laptop. I think this is where the t450s really shines. It comes with 2x 3 cell batteries (one internal, one removable), and I was able to also buy an additional 6 cell battery.

  • A docking station (more of a “nice to have” than a hard requirement).

The t450s has a core i7 Broadwell processor, 12 gigs of ram, a beautiful screen, a very nice keyboard, a long battery life, and of course, it runs Linux, although the Linux setup was not without its share of challenges. (More on that in another post).