12 Apr 2024

New Work Laptop

Apple launched their own laptop/desktop silicon line, starting with the M1, back in 2021. Of course, Apple isn’t just starting out here. Apple has been designing their own CPU for the iPhone for over a decade, and the M1 is basically an enhanced A14 chip, used on the iPhone 12. Anyway, the point is, this, and Apple’s subsequent ‘M’ chips, are vastly better, both in performance and efficiency, than any Intel chip. With Apple silicon crushing the competition on mobile, tablet, laptop, and desktop, and clouds (including AWS where I work) also moving to ARM, I’m not sure what Intel is going to do.

Amazon’s laptop policy is to replace your laptop every 4 years. I’ve argued against this a LOT, as by around the 3 year mark, a laptop can get really slow, and the battery life has degraded. My work laptop was an 8-core Intel i9 (i9-9880H) 16" Macbook Pro with 16GB RAM. It was probably ok for the first year, but I never really tested the battery, as I got it early into the pandemic, and it was always plugged in at home.

Once I returned to the office, I realized just how utterly awful it was. On a good day it would get 2 hours of battery life. On a bad day, about 45 minutes. Load up 3 browser tabs, and this thing would get hot enough to burn you. It was also extremely loud, with the fans often blowing at 100%. Honestly, this chip should have never been allowed on a laptop. I did my share of complaining at work, but ultimately, I was stuck waiting for the 4-year mark to hit for a replacement.

Well guess what, my laptop just turned 4, and I now have a new Macbook Pro. No, I don’t have an M3 Mac, because, well…..Amazon’s I.T. department had a bunch of M2 laptops still in stock, and want to give those away first. Sure, I could have waited a few months for an M3, but I just couldn’t deal with my Intel machine anymore. Plus, benchmarks show the M3 isn’t too much better than the M2, so I took the 14" Macbook Pro with the M2 Pro chip (12 core) and 32GB RAM.

I won’t share my real feelings on why after waiting 4 years, work gave me a laptop released 14 months ago instead of the new M3, but actually, it is so much better than my garbage old Intel laptop that I’m still thrilled.

Here it is at my desk at home!

I work from home 2 days a week, and I share my work desk with my personal computer, so my home desk setup is super important. Over the last couple of years I’ve made a few improvements.

I have a CalDigit TS4 dock. I bought it to replace a temperamental HP thunderbolt dock which didn’t always wake up from sleep properly, and had Ethernet that would periodically drop. The CalDigit TS4 is expensive, but so far it’s been excellent.

I switched from headphones to a speakerphone. At work we use Amazon Chime, so I wanted a speakerphone that integrated with that. I got the Poly Sync 10. I didn’t get the Sync 20 because I didn’t want Bluetooth. It lights up red when muted, and green when unmuted, and the hardware buttons interact with Chime, making things that much simpler, and reducing “you’re muted” mistakes. I was previously a big fan of using headphones with a dedicated microphone. But wearing over the ear headphones for 8 hours gets tiring. This is much better.

I have an Elgato Facecam. It’s pretty good. I didn’t want one that required special software (as my personal machine runs Linux). It’s 1080p60, which is perfect, as there’s no need for 4k just for video conferencing, and 60fps is noticeable.

I have the TwelveSouth BookArc Flex, mostly because I don’t like clutter, and I have an old (2017) ultrawide Dell monitor. I used to prefer dual monitors, but my laptop and my previous HP dock had so many issues with video output that I just gave up. It’s an IPS monitor, so great for work, but only 60Hz, so not great for gaming. What I do love about it is that it has a built in KVM. I can switch the video input to my laptop or desktop, and all my USB devices switch automatically (keyboard, mouse, webcam, speakerphone). Pretty great for a 2017 device.