I've owned basically every brand of laptop imaginable, and time and again, they have 2 year lives. I'm a power user, in that I primarily use a laptop for work. I probably average 8+ hours a day on the laptop. Eventually, I experience battery issues, overheating, and the dreaded power cord issues.
Can anyone recommend a Windows laptop that is noted for being built like a tank and will last more than 2 years (ideally, 4 years). Budget really isn't an issue. Probably the most important thing is a power cord/interface that will last. I like the magnetic power cord connection that Macbook Pros use, but I can't go macbook. I'm wondering if a gaming machine (e.g., Alienware) makes sense, because I assume they are built for heavy use. I'm even considering laptops marketed for construction workers. I'm primarily using it for MS Office use...lots of typing, so the keyboard must be reliable.
I should also mention that I multi-task quite a bit, so memory and speed is an issue. It is quite common for me to have 10+ documents and spreadsheets up, with email and a few instant messaging clients up. Quick start-up is also a must. Won't be gaming on it however.
And again, reliable power cord and battery a must. At least 3 of my past laptops had serious issues with the power cord connection. It takes me 10 minutes each day to move my cord on my Sony Vaio to just the right spot so it powers that laptop. Drives me crazy.
I have an IBM ThinkPad T40 from 2003 (before they sold the division to Lenovo), it still works to this day, but the battery life did get cut in half back around 2007/2008.
Generally speaking a dual core i5 CPU with Hyper Threading should be good enough of office related multi-tasking. If you are running financial modelling and/or using a large relational database in the background then you might want to consider a quad core i7 CPU with the "QM" designation. All Intel CPUs with the "M" designation are dual core CPUs.
8GB of RAM should be enough for multi-tasking, but I would recommend 16GB for financial modelling and or working with large relational databases.
Laptops can generally boot to the log in screen within 30 - 60 seconds. At least that's how long it typically takes for my Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 to boot with a 7200RPM hard drive. If you want faster boot times then you might want to consider a solid state drive (SSD), but they are expensive and they have smaller capacity. For example, upgrading a ThinPad T520 from a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive to a 160GB SSD will cost $170 which is a discounted price. It normally cost $320.
I recommend going with at least 1600x900 resolution over 1366x768 resolution since it allows you to be more productive because you'll see more info on the screen w/o having to scroll around.