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 Post subject: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:23 am
Posts: 98
Hey guys,

A friend asked me for a budget notebook recommendation and one of her main concerns was durability (longevity): my friend wants the laptop to last for five years (given normal use). And to be honest I have no idea how to compare laptops on that metric. I know laptop batteries do not usually last that long, but if they are easily replaceable that should be okay. Can you share your thoughts?

In case anyone would care to give specific recommendations, here's what my friend is looking for:

Must have:
  • Lifespan >5 years
  • Portable (13-14")
  • <$900
Should have:
  • Matte screen
  • Capability of running Windows
  • <$700
Would be nice to have:
  • SSD
  • Fold-over for note-taking (laptop-tablet hybrid)


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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:27 am 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 726
Location: Germany
Lifespan is difficult to judge, it all boils down to how careful your friend handles this laptop.

Generally speaking you should look into the business line models from Lenovo and Dell. Before picking one i'd look around for some videos showing how to disassemble those models, at least how to clean the fans inside from dust.

I have learned to stay away from any newer HP models, just because those are a PITA to open and mostly need some plastic hooks to be unsnapped und special tools to do so.

Lenovo business models (haven't had any Dells in my personal experience) often have the fan assembly accessible after unscrewing the maintenance openings, but you have to make sure before buying.

Most of the modern flat laptop designs are not easy to open, so fan cleaning by yourself is hard to do. A 3 year warranty is recommended.

As to budget, i have no knowledge of US prices, so i'm afraid i can't comment on that.


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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:32 am 
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Posts: 98
Pappnaas wrote:
As to budget, i have no knowledge of US prices, so i'm afraid i can't comment on that.

Well, the laptop will probably be purchased somewhere in Europe. And the exchange rate is almost 1 at the moment, so conversion is easy... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:09 am 
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Location: Guatemala
Budget and durable dont go that well together.

If you want durable look into HP Elitebooks, Lenovo Thinkpads, and Dell Latitude and cheaper alternative Vostro.

Now if you want a budget laptop, there are plently to go, Acer and Asus make some really nice cheap laptops, but these are consumer level, not meant for heavy travel, but with proper care by the user the can last.

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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:18 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
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Location: Ottawa
While I agree with Pappnaas on the business Lenovo/Dell recommendation, I've been very impressed with the durability of the two ASUS latops I have picked up recently.

My wife has an ASUS TP300LA, which is a 13" fold over screen laptop. It was about $700 CAD + $100 for an SSD, but there are versions that come with an SSD stock. It's bulky as a tablet, but usable. While it is only 9 months old, it has survived being regularly manhandled by a toddler which is pretty much the ultimate durability test. It is regularly dropped, pulled off tables, stepped on and has been vomited on at least once. It's a bit scuffed but otherwise continues to work fine. Definitely recommend it from a durability perspective.

I also have an ASUS T100. It has also survived some toddler abuse, but it is probably too small and low end for the requirements stated.


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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:59 am 
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
washu wrote:
..and has been vomited on at least once

It's suprising we don't see this in a standard review. :)

You didn't mention her use cases..assuming it's just the normal tasks and you aren't going to add "...and it'll be used to edit 4k vdeos while playing poorly ported games"..

The Asus Zenbook UX305 looks pretty and reviews well. Decent run times, fanless with Core M CPU and well done thermal management. Downside is the integrated battery.

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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Posts: 571
Location: Ottawa
CA_Steve wrote:
You didn't mention her use cases..assuming it's just the normal tasks and you aren't going to add "...and it'll be used to edit 4k vdeos while playing poorly ported games"..

No 4K, her use cases are pretty light. The only "heavy" thing that she does is keep far too many tabs open, which meant the 2 GB RAM Atom based machines were out. Her only other requirements were size (13" max) and durability. Her laptops have a rough life even without the toddler, often getting food eaten over it or used in the kitchen (despite a dedicated throwaway machine for that purpose). Her previous Lenovo X120e went through a few keyboards, not all toddler damage. It also still works other than a broken lid switch.

My work provided laptop is a big brick of a Dell Vostro which recently survived (in a very thin bag) having a hammer dropped on it from table height. The same laptop and bag combo has also been used as a stepping stool several times. Maybe I'm just lucky with laptops.


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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:05 pm
Posts: 36
Location: USA
CA_Steve wrote:
The Asus Zenbook UX305 looks pretty and reviews well. Decent run times, fanless with Core M CPU and well done thermal management. Downside is the integrated battery.


That's a major showstopper, I would just not spend more than $500 on something with sealed battery (I have yet to see a teardown of UX305) and non-upgradable RAM. Generally speaking this type of design can be expected to last 2~3 years at most. By the time you need to replace battery the cost would just be too high to worth it and a lots of people would just throw it away. That would single-handedly eliminate it from 'durable' class.

Update: actually from the looks of it, UX305 isn't that bad for serviceability. The battery is not user removable but a lot of users are capable of replacing it on their own so long as the battery can be sourced with reasonable cost. With 2 year warranty by Asus, I would expect the serviceable life to be at least 3~4 years. So UX305 does appear to be a good value among the latest ultrabooks. It is also FANLESS.


Last edited by shaoyu on Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: durable laptop on a budget?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:05 pm
Posts: 36
Location: USA
washu wrote:
No 4K, her use cases are pretty light. The only "heavy" thing that she does is keep far too many tabs open, which meant the 2 GB RAM Atom based machines were out. Her only other requirements were size (13" max) and durability. Her laptops have a rough life even without the toddler, often getting food eaten over it or used in the kitchen (despite a dedicated throwaway machine for that purpose). Her previous Lenovo X120e went through a few keyboards, not all toddler damage. It also still works other than a broken lid switch.


Lenovo X120e is a very good one, I have reviewed its successor X130e before, the latest I think is X140e which is still excellent. X140e can be upgraded to 16GB RAM (confirmed by users) maybe even 32GB in the future since AMD does not have known bug with 16GB RAM modules as Intel does. I know this is probably overkill, but I like not to be designed into artificial limitations.

If one can find a low cost durable ultraportable these days, X140e is probably among the very few. Also you probably could get a good deal on Latitude E7240 somewhere as it's last generation.


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