Laptops that Last

Folks are probably aware that I swear by refub laptops, mostly bought off Newegg or TigerDirect(Back when TigerDirect was its own site!), every three to six years. What I want in a laptop is a luggable desktop that can act as a glorified typewriter.

Obviously, this is all done online, so I can’t feel how hefty it is. I look at things like if they seem to have designed for appearance, rather than “this is the big area where hot air comes out” and “this is a REALLY BIG battery.” I am a klutz with six kids, I don’t want something pretty I want something that survives being repeatedly knocked over on to a cement floor.
(That was my C-grade refurbished HP Probook 6570b; survived that over at least two years and only died when “it wasn’t me” dumped a cup of water on to the keyboard, tried to turn it on, and then hid it. C-Grade will have visible damage like visible exterior corruption and cosmetic damage, A-Grade looks like new unless you know current computer fashions, B-Grade is between them.)

I know that I like HP, and some Dell, and my objections to Lenovo are entirely related to not trusting China– but I hadn’t really gotten any deeper than that.

This gentledragon did a nice little blog post identifying the common theme for “yeah, I had that laptop, it was a workhorse that refused to quit” in laptops, with a list of names.
How to get a durable laptop

Laptop makers produce two very different kinds of laptops. They have lines of laptops intended for consumers, which are made to look pretty and cost as little as possible. Consumer laptops are *not durable* – they’re made to outlive a one year warranty, and no longer. They have tons of promotional crapware preloaded on them – software that the manufacturer is paid to put on the computer (not the other way round), which is poor quality and makes money for the developer through ads, popups demanding that you upgrade, or actual user tracking and spying. And they are *not* designed to be easy to repair or upgrade.

And then there are lines of laptops intended for businesses and corporations. Which are usually not loaded with crapware (or not as much), which are designed to outlive a three or four year corporate replacement schedule, and which are often quite durable. And they can be easily repaired, because the corporate buyer gets them with a multi-year maintenance contract on them. They cost more, often significantly more. But they are worth it – a good corporate-grade laptop will last until it becomes obsolete, and will be more likely to survive accidents.

So please click on through to get the list of business class laptops.

A note on refurb:
Three hundred bucks is my cap.

And there’s usually less demand for the business refurbs, although demand is all over the place right now, higher demand but all those guys who did it as a side-hustle were working over-time during house arrest.

Here’s an example of a search. Sign up for the Newegg spam emails and watch for sales. I usually put in at least $30 worth of RAM and swap out a bigger hard-drive, but I play stuff like Final Fantasy 14 on them, too. For normal use you’ll be fine.

Author: Foxfier

Former sailor, current geek, conservative, mother and practicing Catholic. Refugee from the Seattle blob. (No, we DIDN'T vote for those taxes!) Elf is my husband, our kids are Princess, Duchess, Baron, Empress, Chief, and Contessa.

11 thoughts on “Laptops that Last”

  1. I’m not in the market for a “new” laptop but I still remember the phone call that I got from Newegg.

    Some unknown person apparently got ahold of my credit card info and attempted to purchase stuff from Newegg.

    They noticed the difference between the address associated with my card and the address that they were to deliver the items.

    So they called me to make sure that I had actually purchased the items from them.

    I thought this story is worth repeating.

  2. Excellent tips…we keep on having battery issues with the laptops (which are really in the desktop replacement category). One of them (an ASUS) finally, finally died and we haven’t decided whether to replace it/introduce a new device into the mix. Now I know where to look if/when we do decide to do so.

    I also almost always put Linux Mint on them.

  3. Ooh.

    I started using Apple for compatibility with lab stuff back in grad school and replaced with the same because I could keep using the software I’d gotten on academic discount. WAY more expensive than $300, of course — though the first one came out of a computer-specific chunk of grant money — and I got several years of use apiece but it involved some repair expenses.

    The last required OS upgrade eliminated compatibility with the old software I was hanging on to, so I’ll probably be consulting this list for the next replacement. I’m debating if I ought to get on with it, actually. I can borrow one for work in the event of a breakdown, but I want one I own for personal stuff and also don’t like all their feature selections.

    1. This sounds silly, but have you considered a micro-tower instead? If you don’t NEED the ability to use it absolutely anywhere, say that you’ll be using it in a hotel room and can HDMI it to the TV, there are much better prices.

      1. Not silly at all, and the (I assume?) ability to get in there for repair/upgrade would be an advantage — and people keep telling me a designated separate place for work would be a good idea for both my mindset and teaching Sweetpea when to limit interruptions — but being able to use the laptop all over the house and sometimes other people’s houses (hi Mom) has been an option I hesitate to give up/introduce heavier gear to.

        1. Easier to fix, easier to upgrade, and if you are the sort that is going to have a really good mouse, a mousepad and a nice, keyboard anyways, snag a basic monitor and you can fit it all in the tiny carry-on roller suitcases (the ones that are slightly smaller than a backpack) and have room for your notepad and a few pens.

          1. That makes sense, but I’m afraid I would really miss having a one-piece laptop that allows me to change rooms (or houses) without packing and assembly.

            Ideally with something as close to the responsiveness of this one as I can get — instead of the weird sluggishness of the one I did borrow from work at one point, which taught me why my colleagues kept suggesting ways to avoid the trackpad. I suppose that’s a tricky aspect of shopping ones I can’t try out.

            1. The point of getting a machine is that it works *for you*. :D <3

              For the keypad thing– IF they don't lock it down, there's a setting to disable the trackpad when an external pointing device is attached, and some of them you can turn it off by tapping the top left corner repeatedly. My ProBooks had that, turns on an orange light if it works.

  4. I want one with a 17″ screen that will run Adobe Creative Suite without fuss. That usually puts me in the gamer laptop realm even though I don’t game. My old one was a brute, a 9# job from ASUS. We called it the Lambo as in Lamborghini. It lasted about five years and I took it all over the country.

    1. Yeah, graphic processing is incredible! At least you can use older gaming machines…but dang, has the “make sure it will die in a year” stuff gotten strong. I don’t even know what places would be issuing graphic processing laptops.

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