I think that Thinkpad is still good, so keep it unless the battery is a serious issue for you.
Otherwise get a PinebookPro for travelling (it is somewhat slower than your Thinkpad, but has near unlimited battery-life and charges through USB-C). That can do all you want. However it is currently out of stock, so either look for a reseller/second hand one, or wait until (likely) March 2021.
As for gaming, why a laptop? Just get a small desktop with last generation or so components. You can build a really good gaming PC for around 500€ if you buy older components.
I thought the Pinebook Pro just charges through USB-C from the dock port.
No, you can use any regular usb-c charger with it. It also has a barrel jack port and comes with a (tiny) charger for it, and apparently it charges slightly faster through the latter, but I don’t notice much difference. Neither option supports something like quick-charge, so once your battery is empty, it will take half a day or so to recharge. Using it while recharging is possible, but if you run any CPU heavy workloads during that time you battery will basically not charge much.
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The PinebookPro comes with Manjaro preinstalled, but Armbian is also supported (Debian/Ubuntu). You can’t run Steam or so on a ARM laptop, but nearly all open-source games work fine. For example I can run Xonotic on it in low to medium settings on 1080p.
Wouldn’t you actually save desk space compared to a laptop? Much less stuff on top of the desk, and desktops have also gotten quite small with mITX specs.
“I do not want to stick and learn Windows work flow.” No idea what you mean with that. Just install Linux on the desktop PC? Edit: ah, you mean for gaming? Proton works great these days, I even use it for VR gaming on Linux. The only problem is incompatible anti-cheat malware in some multiplayer games.
Get a docking station and use it like a KVM with your desktop? That way you can use the same mouse/keyboard/Screen with both systems. This has gotten really easy with USB-C, although I never tried it with a desktop PC tbh.
I really don’t get why you insist on some difficult to manage Windows version, air gapped or in a VM (which is a total mess to set up with GPU support). Just use Linux and separate your work user from your gaming user. That will prevent Steam from doing hypothetical bad stuff (which is doesn’t, but that’s a different discussion) with your work user’s files.
My current laptop and phone upgrades are being driven by the batteries completely giving up the ghost despite the hardware being fine. Thanks, Google and Microsoft for gluing the device closed and gluing the battery to the chassis. The biggest thing I’m looking for in new devices are screwed-on cases and batteries that can be replaced for cheaper than an entirely new device, and it’s surprising how few modern devices, especially phones, fit these requirements.
On the other hand, my about nine year old desktop PC that I bought second hand almost three years ago from a nonprofit electronics refurbishing/recycling shop is running Linux like a dream with a few choice component upgrades.
When is it time to upgrade? When efficiency and portability matters… My Ryzen5 laptop has enough power and battery to last the day. The previous laptop was a corei7 gaming laptop with sub 5 hour battery and weighed 4kg while the new one will get 8+ hours and is < 2kg.
USB-C charging - THIS… I can plug in a spare 20AH battery and recharge if I’m away from power for even longer or quick charge using my 65W USB-C charger, both of which can also charge my phone, tablet, etc…
Bandwidth - newer devices will have 802.11ac dual band dual antenna, up to 860Mbps or even WiFi6. They will have super fast NVME storage. Even old school 600MB/sec SSDs do not stack up against 2GB/sec NVME storage. They will have USB 3.2 Gen2 for 10Gbps bandwidth - I recently got a NVME to USB3.2 external drive, so I can transfer between old USB2 (40MB/sec), USB3 (480MB/sec) and new Gen2 devices at 980MB/sec. Unless you prefer watching progress bars…
Graphics - I was using a (very) old-but-beefy Radeon 7990 GPU from 2013 for home gaming on a PC, but when it came to encoding x265 video it could not do it. My Ryzen5 laptop with it’s built in Vega8 GPU, not a beefy GPU by any means could do hardware encoding of X265 when editing and transcoding video from my action camera.
Gaming - I even dual-boot to an M$ os so I can take my gaming to friend’s LAN parties. Sure, when in a Zerg rush it starts to get choppy… but it’s Vega8 gfx handles the games I want to play good enough.
My laptop is a Huawei Magicbook and cost me about $1k, but there are other Ryzen laptops around for reasonable $ such as Lenovo, which I recently got suggested for a friend who is also super happy with her purchase
You might want to look into a Pinebook pro, but if what you have is working, I don’t see a reason to move on.
Personally, I’m still using my librebooted T400 for my private matters and using an Arch desktop with proprietary Nvidia drivers for gaming.
As long as I keep my worlds separate, I’m happy.
There are System76 laptops that ship with Linux out of the Box with their own Pop! OS LInux distribution, and I’ve pretty much only heard positive feedback about it.
They also ship them with Coreboot as the Bios and remove the Intel management engine, so on the firmware level I don’t know where it’s at. However, when it comes to Graphics cards, I don’t think they ship anything with Radeon cards, so you’ll likely have to use proprietary drivers. And their laptop have some decent and recent hardware.
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