Are there Any Good Laptops These Days?

Zarathustra[H]

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So, I generally use my desktop for everything I do, and only rarely reluctantly use my laptop.

I've been holding on to my old Dell Latitude E6430s like someone needs to pry it from my cold dead hands because I love the thing.

I don't care that it is thick, and not sleek looking.

Everything I could possibly want to do, I can either do without removing screws at all, or just releasing one or two and popping up a little door.

It's starting to get old though. Touch pad is starting to flake out. I could replace that, but these days resolutions have been getting crazy high on laptops, and I occasionally have to attend meetings with this thing, and the little 1366x768 screen is not brilliant when trying to look at other peoples 1440p screen shares...

So, I've been thinking about a replacement.

Before I just go try to pick up an old refurbished Dell Latitude E6540 or something like that, is there any hope that anything more modern will meet my requirements?

Here is what it must have:
- Everything "normal" must be upgradeable. Drives, RAM, WLAN card etc. these things may not be soldered to the board.
- Everything must be accessible. If I need to remove more than 4 screws to replace the main drive, or access the RAM or WLAN card, It's not for me
- No chiclet keyboards allowed. I can not stand those things. I'll take rubber dome or some other form of switch, but I will not put up with chiclet keyboards under any condition.
- Battery must be easily removable/swappable from the outside. No internal batteries.
- Must support at least 16GB Ram
- Prefer at least 4 cores (Does not have to be a speed demon, but reasonable desktop responsiveness is a must)
- At least 1080p screen
- Must have a gigabit or better ethernet port. (Preferably intel chip.)
- Must be designed with service in mind
- Must have analog Headphone/audio out port
- Must either come with an SSD or be upgradeable to an SSD (SATA is Fine)
- Hardware must be reasonably standard, and supported by the mainline Linux kernel. No rare or hard to find drivers allowed.
- Must be high quality. Latitudes will last you 10+ years and will still be alive when they are obsolete. This is what I am looking for.

Here is what I don't care about:
- Thickness does not matter (within reason, my baseline are the old Dell Latitude D and E series) I mean, sure, who doesn't like a thinner laptop, but it still must meet everything above.
- Sleekness and Aesthetics does not matter (Again, within reason. Don't care if it is pretty. This is not a pageant)
- Weight does not matter. I prefer something sturdy over something flimsy. (Again, within reason, an adult male must be able to easily carry it in a bag)
- 3D rendering performance. This laptop will never see a game or CAD. It will be a work machine, spending its life in Ms Office, Adobe PDF, etc. etc..
- Don't care about bluetooth.

If it takes 28 tiny screws all around the outsides only to realize that you now have to flip it over., remove the keyboard and its tiny flat ribbon cable, and flip it over again in order to access anything on the inside. I don't care how pretty or how fast it is. Sorry it's not for me.

Is anyone aware of a laptop that meets these criteria today, or is everything just Ultrabook trash now? The last laptops that I have used that meet these criteria were made in 2013. I'm hoping there are newer ones? Otherwise I'll be back to shopping for 7 year old refurbished models.

Appreiciate any input or recommendations.
 
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The chiclet keyboard caveat is what really screws you over, as it's difficult for me to think of any laptop nowadays that hasn't adopted that keycap shape in some form. You can probably thank Apple for that.

Even modern ThinkPads use 'em, and the feel is still pretty good in practice for something using rubber domes and scissor mechanisms like almost every other laptop keyboard, but they're still "chiclet" with rounded bottom edges visually.

With that out of the way, the other big catch is externally removable batteries without popping covers, as even that's largely been abandoned in favor of internal batteries that require popping a hatch. The HP ZBook 15 G2 is the last generation I recall that had an externally accessible battery, as the G3 models onward went internal for batteries, but they're really old by now, with Haswell, DDR3, and an old Thunderbolt 2/miniDP that betray its 2013/2014-ish age

Oh, and if you're unlucky, you might find those old ZBook G2s optioned with the most godawfully washed-out, no-contrast TN panels I've seen in recent memory, like my workplace's fleet units all had. 1080p res be damned, I just can't stand looking at it, especially knowing there were superior IPS panel options available. I've seen old PowerBook G4s with better contrast ratios, and those are low-res TN panels that aged horribly!

They are remarkably serviceable, though, with an access hatch that's easy to pop off and most things exposed. The only catch is that for some stupid reason, you have to pop the keyboard to access two of the four SO-DIMM slots on the other side of the motherboard (something quite common to late-model EliteBook 15/17" models as well), but other than that, they're fairly easy to dismantle. Hell of a lot better than their cheap, plasticky consumer models that forced me to tear down the entire bottom half just to swap a bad hard drive, because IT techs like myself don't put up with that nonsense.

The Fujitsu T904/T935-939 models have removable batteries, but weak ultra-low-voltage CPUs and a SINGLE SO-DIMM slot that screws you over for running dual-channel on top of making 16 GB of RAM affordable, on top of chiclet keyboards. (Crap like this is why I abandoned convertible Tablet PCs in favor of lugging around a separate Cintiq, because until the Acer ConceptD 9 showed up, they were all gutless.)

The MSI GT80/83 Titan models have a Cherry MX keyboard and an access hatch for easy upgrades right above, but are still incredibly pricey for their age second-hand and appear to have internal batteries still. They're also systems I've never had the chance to handle in-person, so I can't evaluate their build quality or if the keyboards really are as good as they look.

If I knew something that satisfied all of your requirements, I'd gladly tell you, but the news is looking grim if you want zero compromises on keyboards and external batteries. It's always something that'll go against your requirements, and what really sucks about laptops is that unless you find some good display units at a local Micro Center (I know, bold of me to assume you've got Micro Center in your area, but their selection does beat the pants off of Walmart-tier trash and Best Buy's consumer-oriented offerings), you won't know for sure how good the keyboards, trackpads, overall build quality and screen quality are.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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The chiclet keyboard caveat is what really screws you over, as it's difficult for me to think of any laptop nowadays that hasn't adopted that keycap shape in some form. You can probably thank Apple for that.

Even modern ThinkPads use 'em, and the feel is still pretty good in practice for something using rubber domes and scissor mechanisms like almost every other laptop keyboard, but they're still "chiclet" with rounded bottom edges visually.

With that out of the way, the other big catch is externally removable batteries without popping covers, as even that's largely been abandoned in favor of internal batteries that require popping a hatch. The HP ZBook 15 G2 is the last generation I recall that had an externally accessible battery, as the G3 models onward went internal for batteries, but they're really old by now, with Haswell, DDR3, and an old Thunderbolt 2/miniDP that betray its 2013/2014-ish age

Oh, and if you're unlucky, you might find those old ZBook G2s optioned with the most godawfully washed-out, no-contrast TN panels I've seen in recent memory, like my workplace's fleet units all had. 1080p res be damned, I just can't stand looking at it, especially knowing there were superior IPS panel options available. I've seen old PowerBook G4s with better contrast ratios, and those are low-res TN panels that aged horribly!

They are remarkably serviceable, though, with an access hatch that's easy to pop off and most things exposed. The only catch is that for some stupid reason, you have to pop the keyboard to access two of the four SO-DIMM slots on the other side of the motherboard (something quite common to late-model EliteBook 15/17" models as well), but other than that, they're fairly easy to dismantle. Hell of a lot better than their cheap, plasticky consumer models that forced me to tear down the entire bottom half just to swap a bad hard drive, because IT techs like myself don't put up with that nonsense.

The Fujitsu T904/T935-939 models have removable batteries, but weak ultra-low-voltage CPUs and a SINGLE SO-DIMM slot that screws you over for running dual-channel on top of making 16 GB of RAM affordable, on top of chiclet keyboards. (Crap like this is why I abandoned convertible Tablet PCs in favor of lugging around a separate Cintiq, because until the Acer ConceptD 9 showed up, they were all gutless.)

The MSI GT80/83 Titan models have a Cherry MX keyboard and an access hatch for easy upgrades right above, but are still incredibly pricey for their age second-hand and appear to have internal batteries still. They're also systems I've never had the chance to handle in-person, so I can't evaluate their build quality or if the keyboards really are as good as they look.

If I knew something that satisfied all of your requirements, I'd gladly tell you, but the news is looking grim if you want zero compromises on keyboards and external batteries. It's always something that'll go against your requirements, and what really sucks about laptops is that unless you find some good display units at a local Micro Center (I know, bold of me to assume you've got Micro Center in your area, but their selection does beat the pants off of Walmart-tier trash and Best Buy's consumer-oriented offerings), you won't know for sure how good the keyboards, trackpads, overall build quality and screen quality are.

Thank you for that. I kind of assumed this was the case, but home springs eternal, I guess?


The chiclet keyboard caveat is what really screws you over, as it's difficult for me to think of any laptop nowadays that hasn't adopted that keycap shape in some form. You can probably thank Apple for that.

Even modern ThinkPads use 'em, and the feel is still pretty good in practice for something using rubber domes and scissor mechanisms like almost every other laptop keyboard, but they're still "chiclet" with rounded bottom edges visually.

Well, Maybe some are better than others, but in my experience chiclet designs spacing is all wrong, causing me to hit the keys off center while typing. This is made worse by the fact that chiclet type designs are notoriously sensitive to not registering properly when hit off center.

I usually hate rubber domes, but I actually really like the keyboard on my old Latitude E6430s. The key spacing is good, it has enough travel to feel right, and it does not suffer from off center keypress problems.

Oh, and if you're unlucky, you might find those old ZBook G2s optioned with the most godawfully washed-out, no-contrast TN panels I've seen in recent memory, like my workplace's fleet units all had. 1080p res be damned, I just can't stand looking at it, especially knowing there were superior IPS panel options available. I've seen old PowerBook G4s with better contrast ratios, and those are low-res TN panels that aged horribly!

Oh yeah, I remember this. The one time I had a HP laptop issued to me at work. the screen was god awful like that.

The MSI GT80/83 Titan models have a Cherry MX keyboard and an access hatch for easy upgrades right above, but are still incredibly pricey for their age second-hand and appear to have internal batteries still. They're also systems I've never had the chance to handle in-person, so I can't evaluate their build quality or if the keyboards really are as good as they look.

Holy crap you weren't kidding...

1605208714688.png
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I did some more googling, and found that Lenovo went through the great trouble of re-engineering the classic Thinkpad keyboard to release the 25th Anniversary Edition in limited quantities in 2017

1605212075103.png


Curiously after spending that effort on designing the excellent keyboard, they decided to never use it again outside of this limited run of laptops.

This seems to have been the last reasonable business laptop made with a decent keyboard.

Under the theory that 2017 hardware would be better than buying old 2013 Dell hardware, I did some searching for this laptop, new old stock, refurbished or used, and came up with nothing.

Seems to be made out of unobtanium.

Heck, with even used 7 year old Dell Latitude E6440's selling for $700 Maybe laptop makers should be taking note. It shows there is some demand there.

Consumers like the flashy thin, and sleek laptops with terrible chiclet keyboards, but those of us who actually use our machines for things other than watching cat videos want something better...
 
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vegeta535

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I did some more googling, and found that Lenovo went through the great trouble of re-engineering the classic Thinkpad keyboard to release the 25th Anniversary Edition in limited quantities in 2017

View attachment 298556

Curiously after spending that effort on designing the excellent keyboard, they decided to never use it again outside of this limited run of laptops.

This seems to have been the last reasonable business laptop made with a decent keyboard.

Under the theory that 2017 hardware would be better than buying old 2013 Dell hardware, I did some searching for this laptop, new old stock, refurbished or used, and came up with nothing.

Seems to be made out of unobtanium.

Heck, with even used 7 year old Dell Latitude E6440's selling for $700 Maybe laptop makers should be taking note. It shows there is some demand there.

Consumers like the flashy thin, and sleek laptops with terrible chiclet keyboards, but those of us who actually use our machines for things other than watching cat videos want something better...
You do realize with your list of demands is a very limited and niche group.
 

mnewxcv

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You do realize with your list of demands is a very limited and niche group.
basically the external battery and ability to replace internals with no more than 4 screws eliminates any laptop made today. Modern laptops last twice as long vs when we had swapable batteries, that's probably why. Not that I can recommend anything, but I've been happy with lenovo laptops. I used the yoga series for a while, various thinkpads, a legion, and felt they were excellent, except they usually seem to come with 768 screens back in the day. Typing this on a thinkpad chromebook with 1080p screen fortunately. I had about 6 dell latitudes over the years back to the d620, but lenovo machines I've used more recently are just as durable IMO. The latest laptop I set up for a client was a legion 15", and while not serviceable to your standard, it was pretty easy to take apart with a couple plastic pry tools for me to upgrade the m.2 SSD and ram to 16GB. Battery life is 5hrs+ with a ryzen 4800h, 144hz 1080p screen. I was as hesitant as you to make the switch to laptops that need to be pried apart to service them, but at this point I've done it to so many that it isn't really an issue. I usually only do it once to put in the RAM and SSD I want and that's it.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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It really doesn't seem like too much to ask when buying a new laptop, that the entire industry hasn't gone to shit in less than 10 years...
 
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It really doesn't seem like too much to ask when buying a new laptop, that the entire industry hasn't gone to shit in less than 10 years...
Replace "laptop" with "car", and you'll be echoing car enthusiasts pretty well with that statement. Ugly styling across the board, no more manual transmissions, rev hang when you do have a manual option, bigger and heavier without the interior space to match, electric power steering with no feel to it compared to older hydraulic power steering, complicated electronics that's much more difficult to mod an aftermarket stereo or ECU into due to all the proprietary CAN bus shenanigans going on...

It's one thing if it's just one manufacturer that does it, but when the entire industry goes with a change that people may not like, the only alternative is to maintain older stuff that still has the features we want, be it a keyboard that doesn't suck, an "analog" driving experience, or even a headphone jack (I can't believe we're losing that of all things on smartphones, USB-C headphones are a bit of a rarity and Bluetooth latency is awful).

That said, if there's one thing I like about the current direction of laptops, it's the fact that my dream laptop actually exists in the form of the Acer ConceptD 9, whereas nothing like that existed at any price point a decade or two ago - but I can't justify the whopping $5,000 for it. Makes the MSI GT83 Titan look cheap, and to put that price into perspective, I've never spent more than $2,000 on a car!
https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/conceptd-series/conceptd9

So yeah, if that's how much it costs to have a neatly integrated digital art workstation that still has the chops for VR, I'll just take the sub-$1,200 OMEN X 2S and a separate Cintiq monitor to get most of the way there at a mere fraction of the cost. At least I won't have to replace the latter every time I upgrade my laptop.

Alas, we both have the dilemma of what we want not existing at any price point, even an astronomically high one that might trickle down on the used market years later, after depreciation takes its toll.
 

mnewxcv

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There might be some sager/clevo laptops that are still serviceable...
 

pendragon1

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latitudes, elitebooks and ideapads are the most serviceable.
i get what you mean though. ive been "refurbing" some of those super easy ones for student use and one of the models was a single screw to get the back off and it has access to everything.
 

jmilcher

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Probably, but the price point these 7 year old models are claiming used suggests there really is demand, which makes me believe there are a lot more people like me than most think.
Or it means the opposite. There are very few units left that are functional let alone in near pristine condition like you are asking. So what you are seeing is extremely expensive.

You’re asking for things that have not been the norm in portable laptops for years now. These aren’t sudden changes. This is how the current environment looks. You may wait forever if you are not willing to make compromises.

I am a Lenovo fan myself. Your Dell Latittude statistically doesn’t even come close to lasting like the Lenovo T series line has in the last 20+ years. Not even a comparison.

That said you found the T480. That’s about as close as you are going to get without more compromise. The t480S was also very well reviewed although it had the internal battery only. Still a very stout machine.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Or it means the opposite. There are very few units left that are functional let alone in near pristine condition like you are asking. So what you are seeing is extremely expensive.

You’re asking for things that have not been the norm in portable laptops for years now. These aren’t sudden changes. This is how the current environment looks. You may wait forever if you are not willing to make compromises.

I am a Lenovo fan myself. Your Dell Latittude statistically doesn’t even come close to lasting like the Lenovo T series line has in the last 20+ years. Not even a comparison.

That said you found the T480. That’s about as close as you are going to get without more compromise. The t480S was also very well reviewed although it had the internal battery only. Still a very stout machine.

Well, I don't know how often most peopleshop for laptops but for me it has been a huge and instant change. Last laptop I bought was my 2012 Latitude 6430S. Haven't paid attention to the laptop market since, because I just consider them boring utility machines nothing I have an interest in.

So, to me I blinked and now I can't buy a normal laptop anymore.

I hear you about the thinkpads. I used to think very highly of them back in the IBM days, but I just don't trust Lenovo at all.

After all they are the only company I'm aware of being caught actually preinstalling spyware on their machines... Twice...
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Yes, yes it is lol. It hasn't gone to shit. It just changed.

I don't know man.

Apart from thickness and weight, which in the grand scheme don't matter, in what way have laptops changed that is not negative?

I mean, faster CPU's more RAM and such, but that's a given because we expect improvement in these regards as time goes on.

In every other way they are worse though. They used to be easy to maintain, easy to upgrade (not quite as much as a desktop, but still) have somewhat decent keyboards, etc.

Every innovation the laptop makers have made in the last 8-10 years has been a negative one.

So, yeah, the industry has gone to shit.
 

Aurelius

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Well, Maybe some are better than others, but in my experience chiclet designs spacing is all wrong, causing me to hit the keys off center while typing. This is made worse by the fact that chiclet type designs are notoriously sensitive to not registering properly when hit off center.

I usually hate rubber domes, but I actually really like the keyboard on my old Latitude E6430s. The key spacing is good, it has enough travel to feel right, and it does not suffer from off center keypress problems.
The funny thing is that Apple's Magic Keyboard addresses precisely that issue with off-center presses. Of course, that doesn't address other objections to Apple design, but the company does make one of the few chiclet keyboards that receives a fair share of praise.

I hate to say it, but it seems like you're going to have to accept some compromises. Your world won't implode, and you don't want to be That Guy who holds on to dying tech waiting for the world to make a change that never comes.
 
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Speaking of laptop serviceability, I had to pop the bottom cover off of my OMEN X 2S to install a second M.2 SSD. Six T6 screws undone and it's off, right?

WRONG! The damn thing's latched on pretty securely, and takes some careful prying with a spudger/used gift card/whatever that won't scratch up the metal casing in order to unlatch it and get to the innards! The ZBook 15 G3 wasn't nearly this bad once you got all the screws loose...

I presume they did this to make the laptop feel more solid in terms of build quality, but the aforementioned ZBook, as well as countless unibody MacBook Pros, can convey that feeling with nothing but screws. Why make people fight with the casing and potentially risk marring and scratching up their nice laptop just so they can upgrade their RAM or SSDs? (Alas, you can't really upgrade the rest without switching out the whole motherboard. Even the Wi-Fi module is soldered for some reason, and it's not even 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6, which is baffling for such a recent model.)

I'm hoping that it'll be much easier on subsequent removals, but it's still an annoyance that slowed me down on what should have been a quick and easy upgrade.

Oh, almost forgot to mention: since there wasn't a second SSD installed from the factory, HP neglected to leave a mounting screw in there, so make sure you have an extra M.2 mounting screw on hand. Not all M.2 drives come with mounting screws, so it comes across as a dick move, especially when I have old Power Macs and Mac Pros where Apple stealthily had mounting holes filled with additional screws in their drive bays in case you wanted to add additional drives down the line, regardless of whether or not it came with them from the factory.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Speaking of laptop serviceability, I had to pop the bottom cover off of my OMEN X 2S to install a second M.2 SSD. Six T6 screws undone and it's off, right?

WRONG! The damn thing's latched on pretty securely, and takes some careful prying with a spudger/used gift card/whatever that won't scratch up the metal casing in order to unlatch it and get to the innards! The ZBook 15 G3 wasn't nearly this bad once you got all the screws loose...

I presume they did this to make the laptop feel more solid in terms of build quality, but the aforementioned ZBook, as well as countless unibody MacBook Pros, can convey that feeling with nothing but screws. Why make people fight with the casing and potentially risk marring and scratching up their nice laptop just so they can upgrade their RAM or SSDs? (Alas, you can't really upgrade the rest without switching out the whole motherboard. Even the Wi-Fi module is soldered for some reason, and it's not even 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6, which is baffling for such a recent model.)

I'm hoping that it'll be much easier on subsequent removals, but it's still an annoyance that slowed me down on what should have been a quick and easy upgrade.

Oh, almost forgot to mention: since there wasn't a second SSD installed from the factory, HP neglected to leave a mounting screw in there, so make sure you have an extra M.2 mounting screw on hand. Not all M.2 drives come with mounting screws, so it comes across as a dick move, especially when I have old Power Macs and Mac Pros where Apple stealthily had mounting holes filled with additional screws in their drive bays in case you wanted to add additional drives down the line, regardless of whether or not it came with them from the factory.

The way things are going, you are lucky they even included the socket for the unused M2 drive.

Modern design philosophies more and more seem to be to solder everything to the board, and remove all unused sockets. Even for RAM.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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The funny thing is that Apple's Magic Keyboard addresses precisely that issue with off-center presses. Of course, that doesn't address other objections to Apple design, but the company does make one of the few chiclet keyboards that receives a fair share of praise.

Well, I hven't used the latest Macbook Pro's, I just kind of avoid Apple products these days, but if the chiclet bluetooth keyboard that came with my Fiance's 2013 era iMac is any indication, then I still don't think highly of them.

I hate to say it, but it seems like you're going to have to accept some compromises. Your world won't implode, and you don't want to be That Guy who holds on to dying tech waiting for the world to make a change that never comes.

I hear what you are saying, but I am really leaning towards the refurbed 2013 Latitude. I mane, from a performance perspective the dual core Ivy Bridge i5-3320M in my current laptop is still holding it's own. For basic desktop/productivity stuff which is all it will ever be used for, I think a mobile quad core Haswell i7-4810QM and 16GB of RAM will likely be OK for another 5-10 years, at which time who knows if that unserviceable modern piece of junk would even still be with us.
 
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The way things are going, you are lucky they even included the socket for the unused M2 drive.

Modern design philosophies more and more seem to be to solder everything to the board, and remove all unused sockets. Even for RAM.
To be fair, I haven't seen many other manufacturers go whole ham on soldering everything to the motherboard... except for Apple, because thinness and they gotta ensure people without hot air BGA rework equipment and a whole lot of patience have to pay up their obscene premiums for RAM and SSD upgrades.

Soldered RAM certainly isn't a new idea even for them; old Performa 6400s, Power Mac 7100s, and white iBook G3/G4s had a modest amount of soldered system RAM that could be further expanded through standard RAM modules (better than nothing, really), and the Fujitsu T904/T935-939 were along similar lines in that there was sometimes a modest amount of soldered RAM under the lone SO-DIMM slot, usually 4 GB. (Then I found out the hard way that not all T904s had this, effectively capping the RAM ceiling to 8 GB rather than 12 GB on top of being crippled with single-channel memory bandwidth.)

That said, I've had enough instances of bad RAM causing nasty system instability and silent file system corruption that I think soldered RAM is a stupid idea, even beyond killing aftermarket upgrade options. It's kinda like throwing out an entire car that would run just fine with a relatively cheap and easy fix because you can't replace a failing fuel pump, since some idiot engineer thought sealing it inside the fuel tank was a great idea. (Guess what happens to any SULEV-compliant E46 with the M56 engine, now that they're all out of warranty?)

Likewise, HDDs and SSDs tend to just die out of the blue, and if they're removable, it makes recovery a hell of a lot easier once you just stick 'em into an enclosure and connect them to a different computer that can attempt to read whatever file system was used, or send 'em to data recovery specialists if it's that important - but good luck doing that on any Mac with the double whammy of soldered NAND and that T2 chip! You're locked out of your own data, and worse, also locked out of the rest of the computer because you can't just swap the drive with a known good one, reinstall the OS/restore a drive backup, and carry on.

So yeah, even though this OMEN X 2S has its quirks, I'll gladly take it over any MacBook Pro on the market at any price, and not just because this thing would curbstomp even a top-of-the-line 16" MBP at anything GPU-related, and show it off on a high-refresh-rate screen to boot.

I'd still love socketed CPUs and slotted GPUs like the days of old, but Intel stopped doing socketed mobile CPUs back with Ivy Bridge (any laptop with a socket released since is usually some ultra-expensive literal desktop replacement using actual desktop CPUs, and almost always made by Clevo), AMD is only just now starting to make inroads into the laptop market again (Turion 64 was how many years ago?), and MXM upgrades are a world of hurt in practice due to a limited and overpriced second-hand market, especially if your laptop wasn't equipped with the larger Type-B slot instead of Type-A and has some pesky firmware whitelist preventing you from booting if you installed something they didn't specifically authorize. (Lenovo is apparently very notorious for this on their ThinkPads, dunno about HP and Dell.)

Considering the limitations, if I have to pay $4,000+ to get those kind of upgrade options in a laptop, I might as well just stick to models under half the price and replace the entire thing a little more frequently (that is, 3-5 years rather than my usual 6-10 years for my desktop builds), especially when the $1,000-1,500 price range actually gets you decent stuff from a variety of manufacturers in this day and age and GPU upgrades on laptops are such a pain otherwise.
 

KarsusTG

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Honestly, the dell XPS line has 16:10 screens which is great if you are using the laptop for actual work. Lenovo has jumped on the Linux train and you can buy many of their machines with fedora pre-installed. I would personally go with lenovo because they have the best keyboards, but those xps screens are very nice. You should be able to swap or add parts to either line really.

A few months ago I picked up an MSI GS66 stealth when it first came out and my biggest complaint is that it came with windows. Also the power, thunderbolt, and hdmi ports are on the side of the machine instead of the rear. I am in love with it's screen, even though it's only 1080p and even though I don't really play games on it.

You should get an AMD mobile cpu if you can, but honestly, the 10750h I have in that laptop did a compile/build of Chromium OS for a project I was working on in about 60 minutes which is pretty respectable and basically desktop level performance.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Honestly, the dell XPS line has 16:10 screens which is great if you are using the laptop for actual work. Lenovo has jumped on the Linux train and you can buy many of their machines with fedora pre-installed. I would personally go with lenovo because they have the best keyboards, but those xps screens are very nice. You should be able to swap or add parts to either line really.

Yeah, the screen is just about the only thin I like about the XPS. It is very nice. Replacing parts on the XPS wasn't quite as easy as on my old Latitudes with doors for everything, but at least it was just one solid bottom shell, so not as annoying as some others.

Biggest issue I had with my XPS was that when I installed an m2 drive the thing flipped out. Something crazy with the firmware, deciding that now it needs to run the fan at crazy speeds all the time.

A few months ago I picked up an MSI GS66 stealth when it first came out and my biggest complaint is that it came with windows. Also the power, thunderbolt, and hdmi ports are on the side of the machine instead of the rear. I am in love with it's screen, even though it's only 1080p and even though I don't really play games on it.

I'll look at that. Sounds like it might be a bit overkill for me though. I have no need for thunderbolt, and one HDMI port is just fine.


You should get an AMD mobile cpu if you can, but honestly, the 10750h I have in that laptop did a compile/build of Chromium OS for a project I was working on in about 60 minutes which is pretty respectable and basically desktop level performance.

I'm sympathetic towards AMD, and would like to buy their products if I can. Always support the financial underdog, right?

Honestly, brute power is not a priority in what I use laptops for. As long as I can get decent performance in Office 365, Outlook, Web Browser and a few other light apps, I'm OK.

Anything that requires any real number crunching will happen on the Threadripper.
 
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kirbyrj

Fully [H]
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
27,124
I did some more googling, and found that Lenovo went through the great trouble of re-engineering the classic Thinkpad keyboard to release the 25th Anniversary Edition in limited quantities in 2017

View attachment 298556

Curiously after spending that effort on designing the excellent keyboard, they decided to never use it again outside of this limited run of laptops.

This seems to have been the last reasonable business laptop made with a decent keyboard.

Under the theory that 2017 hardware would be better than buying old 2013 Dell hardware, I did some searching for this laptop, new old stock, refurbished or used, and came up with nothing.

Seems to be made out of unobtanium.

Heck, with even used 7 year old Dell Latitude E6440's selling for $700 Maybe laptop makers should be taking note. It shows there is some demand there.

Consumers like the flashy thin, and sleek laptops with terrible chiclet keyboards, but those of us who actually use our machines for things other than watching cat videos want something better...

I saw one went on fleabay for $2200 USED. Yikes. I mean, I can deal with a lot of nonsense and not pay $2200 for a laptop.
 

Zangmonkey

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 6, 2005
Messages
3,844
I know somebody always says "wait" but this is a good time to wait.

USB4/TB4 is expected to fix many problems facing the current gen and is just starting to be rolled out by the OEMs
Additionally we're seeing increased support of linux from OEMs.

Personally I'm hoping for a refresher of xps17 after the holidays with native linux and I'll cross my fingers for amd. My biggest issue with most ultrabooks is cooling solutions... I hate it when I get heavily throttled just when I'm trying to do something intensive.

Why are you insisting on ram slots? I ask because I used to feel the same way but realized I could often just put in the biggest ram offering. Sure OEMs overcharge for RAM but you'll also pay a premium for a design that's still offering slots.
Likewise battery. Do you want removable battery because you want to carry extra batteries?
 

vegeta535

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 19, 2013
Messages
5,067
I know somebody always says "wait" but this is a good time to wait.

USB4/TB4 is expected to fix many problems facing the current gen and is just starting to be rolled out by the OEMs
Additionally we're seeing increased support of linux from OEMs.

Personally I'm hoping for a refresher of xps17 after the holidays with native linux and I'll cross my fingers for amd. My biggest issue with most ultrabooks is cooling solutions... I hate it when I get heavily throttled just when I'm trying to do something intensive.

Why are you insisting on ram slots? I ask because I used to feel the same way but realized I could often just put in the biggest ram offering. Sure OEMs overcharge for RAM but you'll also pay a premium for a design that's still offering slots.
Likewise battery. Do you want removable battery because you want to carry extra batteries?
He wants everything changeable so it can last for 10 years. Only get a few years tops out a battery. Even less if under heavy use. He doesn't want something that if something breaks it is either $1000 to fix or throw it away like a Apple product. He might as well get one of them giant desktop replacement laptops. Some even use a desktop socket for cpu replacement. That will be the closest he will get for what he wants. It still won't tick all his boxes.
 
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Zangmonkey

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 6, 2005
Messages
3,844
He wants everything changeable so it can last for 10 years. Only get a few years tops out a battery. Even less if under heavy use. He doesn't want something that if something breaks it is either $1000 to fix or throw it away like a Apple product. He might as well get one of them giant desktop replacement laptops. Some even use a desktop socket for cpu replacement. That will be the closest he will get for what he wants. It still won't tick all his boxes.

The internal battery on an xps is easily replaceable by a competent technician.

This might be a situation where you hit up a boutique vendor like Falcon Northwest and ask them about it. I'm sure they can make it happen but it will cost you.
 

vegeta535

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 19, 2013
Messages
5,067
The internal battery on an xps is easily replaceable by a competent technician.

This might be a situation where you hit up a boutique vendor like Falcon Northwest and ask them about it. I'm sure they can make it happen but it will cost you.
I know. He is being pretty irrational about it all.
 

Zarathustra[H]

Fully [H]
Joined
Oct 29, 2000
Messages
31,249
I know. He is being pretty irrational about it all.

I'll miss all the little special doors for individual components and external batteries I can just pop in and out on demand. Its an annoyance to have to take the entire bottom cover off to do anything at all, but I guess I can live with it.

What I absolutely cannot abide are these awful modern keyboards.

I want more of this:

1605643402110.png


Less of this:

1605643419713.png


I refuse to use chiclet keyboards.
 

UnknownSouljer

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Sep 24, 2001
Messages
6,808
You state that you don’t care about size, thickness, or weight. I don’t see why you choose to not just buy whatever mechanical keyboard you want paired with whatever mouse you want onto your pick of laptop.

Heck, with how you want a laptop to be, with user serviceable everything, you may as well just build an mini ITX computer and stick it into a briefcase and slap a monitor into the lid.
 
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