Looking for a modern laptop with upgrade potential


Nov 9, 2016
Hi all, just getting my search started. My beloved ASUS K53e is finally dying after 6 wonderful years. The most important thing about this laptop, to me, is how easy it was to upgrade. I've done the wireless card, RAM, and 2 separate SSDs. I want my next laptop to give me the same freedom (read: ability to be disassembled; reasonably easy access to components).

All that said, I'd like something less heavy with better battery life. Here's my response to the form:

1. What is your budget? Sub $1,000

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 14-15.6" I love my 10-key.

3. What screen resolution do you want? Not that big of a deal. 1080P is fine.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? I mostly work at a nice solid desk, but something not too bulky, pls.

5. How much battery life do you need? Anything over 4 hours would be fine.

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)? Not a gamer.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.) Lots and lots of Illustrator, Photoshop, web design, Huge Excel spreadsheets.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? Would love a 512 GB SSD. Would settle for 256GB (especially if upgradeable).

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. Best Buy/Amazon/NewEgg/Costco.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? At least 4 years.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? Meh. Don't need one.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. Love my ASUS for lasting so long and being a champ. Don't have a brand affinity otherwise, except for the perception that Dell is kinda junky and HP is too pedestrian.

13. What country do you live in? U.S.A.

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed. Backlit keyboard and touchscreen would be nice. I'll settle for a Yoga 710 if it's the best choice (910 pushing the cost envelope, but beautiful), but I like being able to open the thing up and add a few gigs to RAM and HD when needed.

Thanks in advance.

Greetings, Eamus:

With all respect, your requirements seem to be slightly at odds with each other. You're not a gamer, but you do need some GPU power to run photo/editing programs (I'd say at least 2GBs in a dedicated GPU). You like your numeric pad which means at least a 15.6-inch chassis, preferably with a touch-screen, but it can't be too bulky. And most worryingly, you'd like the laptop to last at least 4 years. Hmm.... Take a look at these laptops:

Sager Notebook/Clevo NP7256 15.6"

Lenovo ThinkPad P50s 15.6"

Lenovo 700 Yoga 15.6"

ASUS Zenbook 13.3"

Acer Aspire V 15.6"

The Sager/Clevo offers great overall specifications (you can customize your way into a 512GB SSD and still stay within budget). It's not touchscreen and it is a bit of a dark horse. Its quad-core i7 Skylake CPU and 2GB GPU are optimized for gaming.

The Lenovo P50s is the light-chassis version of Lenovo's top-of-the-range ThinkPad line. The $989 version seems to be best suited for your professional needs (photo/graphical editing and heavy productivity) with its 2GB NVidia Quadro GPU and dual-core i5 Skylake CPU. No touchscreen but it comes with a numeric pad. ThinkPads have traditionally been very upgradable (going back to the IBM days) and compared to most laptops today, ThinkPads are probably still the most upgradable mainstream laptops available. They also still enjoy a reputation for durability and reliability.

The Lenovo Yoga is quite a departure from the P50s. Despite its 15.6" chassis it doesn't have a numeric pad and the GPU is designed for (very) light productivity and web browsing. It does have a touchscreen and being a Yoga it offers increased practical flexibility. The version linked above is maxed out on its specs.

The 13.3" ASUS Zenbook is only included because you're an ASUS user yourself, and you're probably a bit emotionally invested in the brand - even if you don't know it - so chances are you'll find qualities in the Zenbook that elude me. It comes with a touchscreen but also a Yoga-type GPU, i.e. light productivity and standard web browsing only. It is also hands-down the best-looking machine of the lot.

Finally, there's the Acer Aspire V 15. You get 4GBs of (gaming) GPU and a dual-core i7 Skylake CPU. No SSD, but 1TB on a mechanical HDD (I'm guessing at 5400rpm). Touchscreen, numeric pad and 16GBs of RAM. At $850 it's difficult to find any flaws (except for the missing SSD). Perhaps it will allow you to upgrade to an SSD yourself. Acer is variously considered a 'budget' version of ASUS or an under-rated gem.

My recommendation is the Lenovo ThinkPad P50s. You won't get everything you asked for, but it'll stay with you way past the required 4 years.

Best of luck,