I was looking for something powerful to stream some games on, but also light enough that it was not going to feel like a brick next to my Chromebook. Since Linux is my OS of choice, having reasonable Linux support is also on my list of desires. Because of this I wanted to stay away from ATI graphics cards and nVidia cards with optimus.
The winner you ask? After a good deal of research it ended up being the Sager NP2740:
The NP2740 ended up being one of the few pieces of hardware out there that met all my specifications. At 4.2 pounds the NP2740 is just a small bit heavier than my HP14 Chromebook. When ordering from PowerNotebooks.com the hardware also came with a no-OS option.
One of the things that draws me to Sager laptops is how customizable they tend to be compared to other laptops. The few pieces of hardware on the NP2740 that have to stay as is are:
- Processor: i7-4750HQ
- GPU: Intel Iris 5200
- Screen: 1920x1080 IPS Display with Matte Finish
Storage space is the one place where the NP2740 really comes out ahead of other laptops in this form factor. In addition to have a standard 2.5" mobile drive, the NP2740 also has an mSATA slot that you can add an SSD to. Personally I have a 240gig, Intel 530 SSD in my unit.
On a system this powerful I never expect a reasonable battery life, so I was fairly surprised with the NP2740. When under a constant heavy load (virtual machines running, code compiling, audio going) the battery in the NP2740 lasts for just under three hours. While doing light office work that life extends to around five hours.
In terms graphics performance I must say I have been thoroughly impressed with the Intel Iris 5200. For specifics on performance you should see the benchmarks here, but I will say this little card has handled everything I have thrown at it - including streaming some of those games using OBS.
Most importantly - the cooling on the laptop is excellent. I can use the device on my lap for hours without any discomfort from heat discharge.
The Linux Support
Starting with Ubuntu 14.04.1, all of the hardware on the Sager NP2740 is functional by default. If you are using an older Linux distro the RTL8723BE wireless chipset might give you some trouble, but there are workarounds. Because the graphics chip is Intel based you should have full 3D support with the open source drivers present on most Linux distros.
Best of all is that I was able to get the hardware with no OS pre-loaded, so I did not have to pay a premium to get a copy of Windows with my new laptop.
The Wrap Up and Price Point
I always do a lot of research before making a large purchase and I must say that even after days of research the NP2740 blows all the other competition away. Even with my wife's company discounts, other brands such as Dell, Toshiba, and Lenovo could not come close to the $1,300 I ended up paying for the NP2740. You can configure your own starting just under $1,000.
All in all I have been very happy with my Sager NP2740. If you are in the market for a Linux PC that is portable, but does not sacrifice performance - this might just be the laptop for you.