Buying a notebook is hard

My beloved Macbook Air I bought in 2011 died last week. It does not turn on anymore, it does not make a sound, all it does is turn on its fan. Farewell, you served me well. ❤️

Now, on the hunt for a replacement, I struggle. I would love to buy and use something that is not a Macbook. Linux would be nice, something to hack on again. What I am looking for in particular:

  • Small (not bigger than 13”)
  • Light (not heavier than my dead Macbook Air)
  • Linux-compatible
  • Less than 1000€

Should not be too hard to find something fitting, I thought. In the end all came down to the following choices:

  • Thinkpad X1 Carbon (used 3rd gen)
    Best when you’re coming from a Macbook Air. The used model if configured with an i7, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD and the QHD (2560x1440) display. Unfortunately, due to its age, the battery lasts for about 2 hours. For around 650€ it is still a good deal.

  • Xiaomi Notebook Air 12
    Only available though one of these chinese sellers. In case of problems you’re on your own. Also I have read that it has problems with the rollover support of the keyboard, might be fixed already.

  • Surface Go
    tl;dr: Too expensive once I want to get hardware good enough for my requirements.

  • Dell XPS 13
    Nice, but also too expensive. A lot of plastic but build quality should be fine. Webcam on the bottom edge of the screen seems strange.

  • Huawei Matebook D 14
    Looks like a Macbook, kind of the same hardware as all of the other notebooks in this list, also available with an AMD Ryzen CPU/GPU combo. Unfortunately not really available on any of the website I’d like to order from, at least not for under 1000€.

  • Huawei Matebook X
    Looks even better than the notebook above, bonus points for the 3:2 aspect ratio. Even more expensive than the Matebook D. Also I cannot get it with an US keyboard layout.

  • Thinkpad L390
    This looked like the perfect deal on first sight. I almost bought it. To keep it short: Good hardware, but not as well built as a T or X series Thinkpad. Also you only get 1 instead of 3 years of warranty.

The missing sturdiness probably nags me more than it should, so I continued looking for other devices and there it was, the Thinkpad X280. Smaller than the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, same weight, same hardware configuration. Just a little bit more expensive than I initially was willing to pay. I ordered it (i5-8250U, FHD display, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD) yesterday.

There will be another update once I had the time to set everything up and use it for some days.