A new laptop for someone who likes to hang on to their devices forever

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by pg90, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. pg90

    pg90 Newbie

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    I like to keep my technology as long as possible and repair it myself, so serviceability, build quality, and widespread long-term availability of parts are very important. Futureproofing/upgradability is a plus.

    I've been using an awful Dell Studio 1555 since 2009. Almost none of the components are original anymore, and some have been replaced multiple times. The biggest headache has been the cheap plastic chassis; I'm tired of pieces of brittle plastic snapping off on what seems like a weekly basis. My power button is missing and I have to short two wires together to start the computer. Sometimes the wires get stuck together and the computer shuts off while I'm using it.

    Sinking money into upgrading components in a flimsy chassis isn't worthwhile and I'm also limited by the mobo and integrated graphics no matter what I do. I have developed the patience of a god waiting for my machine to complete difficult tasks like booting, starting Firefox, and loading media-rich web pages. I know it's time for a new laptop because I am questioning my sanity.

    Any new machine will probably blow me away, but I'm under the impression that business laptops might best suit my needs because they are designed to be (relatively) durable and serviceable. I'm aware of the Thinkpad vs Latitude vs EliteBook debate but I haven't figured out where I stand on it. I've heard that Thinkpads are on the decline and might be overhyped. I've heard good things about Clevo. I'm open to wildcard/lesser known brands that compete in the same market segment.

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    $2,000 USD, perhaps more. My concern is less budgetary and more value for $. I'm willing to pay for something that will last commensurately long or save me a lot of trouble.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    No strong preference. I like my 15" but I'm not tied to that.

    3) Which country will you buying this notebook?
    US

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    Nope.

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    Yep. Will probably shop eBay, too.

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Mostly boring office tasks and browsing the internet but also some low-end gaming.

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Travels around the house with me as well as on any trips I take.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?)
    Yep, but nothing demanding. The only specific game I can think I right now is Zwift (cycling training/simulation game).

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    Will usually be plugged into the wall so this isn't a major consideration.

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    Don't need to see.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.
    Currently dual-booting Windows and Lubuntu, will probably do something similar.

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    No strong preference.

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.)
    No strong preference.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    No.

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need?
    500GB minimum

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity

    16) When are you buying this laptop?
    Hopefully in the next month or two.

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop?
    As long as possible.

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail?
    Can afford to wait.

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage?
    Only want a basic warranty for defective hardware.
     
  2. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Yes, I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    @pg90 if you want it to last as long as possible, I'd recommend some Thinkpad (because they are easiest and cheapest among business machines to service past warranty), although other business machines e.g. Elitebooks and Latitudes are worth a look as well. I'd definitely suggest staying far away from anything consumer, even premium models.

    In particular, Thinkpad T14 AMD is a good option. Make sure you get a model with 16GB soldered RAM if you decide to go for it, though - some come with 8GB soldered, and you want as much RAM as possible to keep up with times. These laptops also have a RAM slot which can accept up to 32GB RAM sticks, so you'll looking at 48GB total when maxed out.

    Overall, though, I would recommend waiting one more generation and picking up a laptop with Ryzen 5000 APU. Those will come with USB4 which is great for longevity, particularly they will allow plugging an eGPU via USB4 should you ever need one, instead of taking off the back cover and using one of the internal PCIe ports, which is far from practical. Intel sadly had a lot of setbacks past few years, I wouldn't recommend purchasing a laptop with their CPU at the moment, especially if you want it to last long without becoming obsolete.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  3. pg90

    pg90 Newbie

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    @Starlight5 Thanks, this is the sort of info I was looking for.

    Waiting for the Ryzen 5000 seems like the best case scenario for longevity, but I'm also aware that buying bleeding edge tech comes at a premium. If I can save, say, 40% in cost by buying a 2018-19 model instead of the absolute newest at the expense of getting 12 instead of 14 years of longevity (complete hypotheticals), I'll probably go for the older model. It's a case of diminishing returns, for sure.
     
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  4. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Yes, I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    @pg90 AMD made a great breakthrough with Ryzen 4000 APUs, while earlier than Tiger Lake Intel CPUs have too many security flaws, some of them unfixable, to be worth considered in a machine for years to come, as the situation with them can only further deteriorate over time.

    If you want best bang for the buck, entry business Thinkpad E14 gen 2 AMD is a great option, but it is a cheaper machine in all senses, and while some of its deficiencies can be addressed (e.g. display can be replaced with a brighter one), others may prove disappointing over time. Thus, I would recommend going only for the highest tier business models, and that goes for other brands as well. If you decide to look into it anyway, search for configurations with 8gb soldered RAM (+slot for 32gb), aluminum lower case and display lid.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  5. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    The best value for new(ish), so that means with a warranty from the manufacturer, typically resides in the manufacturer outlets. Perhaps a ThinkPad T15(or T590 if you don't mind last years models) might be with a look. I'd look in the Lenovo Outlet for better pricing. The Dell XPS 15 offers great screens. Dell has an outlet too. Good luck and welcome to NBR.
     
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  6. saturnotaku

    saturnotaku Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    You're correct in your assessment of a business-class laptop being the way to go if you want something that even has a hint of longevity. Unfortunately, even in that segment of the market, expecting a machine to last as long as your previous one is a very tall ask. You would honestly be better off spending 50-75% of your current budget on a less-powerful new or refurbished laptop, using it for 3-5 years, then upgrading again.
     
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  7. Ed. Yang

    Ed. Yang Notebook Evangelist

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    Kudos to an enthusiast like ya!
    However should you had noticed in recent years of development, it's not going to be easy for u to source the parts in the future as OEMs are churning out more and more "non-self upgrade friendly" device where the latest trend goes to soldered WiFi module into the system, which was after Battery Integration and RAM Integration.
    Should u also hv noticed, RAM types with different clock speeds had also evolved since 6th Gen Intel/1st Gen Ryzen. M.2 SSD had also gone from SATA, to PCIE to NVME and now we're going towards PCIE 4.0.
    How is it going to be future proof ready, or surviving, it's not easy to determine. As both CPU makers AMD and Intel are pushing the bars up every single year that it also affects the rest of the specs of other components.
    Family targeted makes, forget about it.
    Corporate/Workplace Office makes such as Lenovo ThinkPads, HP Precision/ZBooks, DELL Latitudes or Precision, are the most suggested as most of the corporate procurement will not be that often. Hence when a corporation changes a certain percentage of their office gears to new one annually, usually those are the ones that had been used for more than 3yrs or more. U may have a good chance to find recycled parts then.
     
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  8. pg90

    pg90 Newbie

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    @ZaZ Thanks, I do plan on trolling the outlets of the big three (HP, Dell, Lenovo). Curious if you recommend the XPS over Latitude.
     
  9. pg90

    pg90 Newbie

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    That's something that was worrying me. That sweet spot of longevity-per-dollar seems to be trending towards cheaper and more frequent as production costs decrease and tech becomes more disposable. My practice of repairing forever is becoming more of an exercise than a sensible strategy. On the other hand, I have a lot of patience and a willingness to fall behind the tech times for periods of years at a time as my hardware becomes dated, at which point getting new hardware is a monumental experience. Most people would probably tell me by current laptop only "lasted" 3-5 years and "limped" for the remainder.

    In any case, it's looking more likely that I'll spend somewhere in the $1000-$1300 range, now.
     
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  10. Ed. Yang

    Ed. Yang Notebook Evangelist

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    YES! Keep your budget low such that the laptop u buy, with moderate specifications, can last u a good 3~4yrs of usage days ahead. If it beats that 4yrs barrier, that will be ur added bonus.
    Roughly @ the 2nd yr or 3yr period, the integrated battery will start to degrade and lost it's charge capacity. Hence it is suggestible that u shall start to look around for replacement battery after 1st year of usage or so...depending on ur charging frequency.
     
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