ThriftyToAFaultFilter: Is it time for a new laptop?
July 16, 2017 11:25 AM   Subscribe

The right mouse button on my almost 6-year-old Lenovo just quit working. The part is NLA except as salvaged/used. Should I be shopping for a new computer?

This is a V570, bought new in late 2011. Core i5, 6GB ram. Original HD died a couple of years ago, so it has a 1000gb hybrid drive which is much more storage than I need. I broke the original screen and replaced that too.

When fully functional this should be plenty of computer for me; I don't do anything particularly demanding with it -- no serious gaming or heavy graphics work. However I use it enough that I've worn the texture off most of the keys and half the touchpad, and it has had some persistent problems ever since I took the free Windows 10 upgrade: a couple or more times a week the taskbar icons disappear, the desktop icons and start menu become unresponsive, and I have to restart the computer to get it working again. Since the last big W10 update it also seems to randomly freeze for a few seconds at a time.

I've swapped the mouse button functions to make the left button substitute for the right one, but that isn't a long-term solution. I can pick up a used palmrest assembly for $30 give or take, but swapping it out looks a bit involved, and with the other issues I'm starting to think it might not be worth the trouble to keep nursing this thing along.

Given my very basic requirements, is a new computer likely to delight me with its speed and reliability for longer than the first 2 weeks of ownership, or would I be dropping several hundred bucks for a very similar experience? If it's time to go shopping, do you have a particular recommendation for a not-tiny machine? I like my 15.6" screen and separate numeric keypad.
posted by jon1270 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If this is a machine you use every day, having one that Just Works will be delightful.

Take the upgrade to 4K display. Also if you are ok with 256 GB storage you can go full SSD. These two features will be delightful. I am on MacBook Pro so can't recommend a specific device, sorry.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:03 PM on July 16

Did you wipe it and do a clean install of Win 10? Is the "right mouse button" the one on your trackpad? Is using a wireless mouse possible? (I hate trackpads)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:29 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I use this laptop at a low and cluttered coffee table, so the trackpad beats a real mouse for this situation. At my desk at work, I'd agree with you.

No, I didn't do the wipe and clean install. Having made a trip to Best Buy this afternoon and been put off by the specs and build quality of the more affordable models, it seems prudent to try that along with a used palmrest assembly from eBay or something. *Sigh.* Nothing new and shiny for me today.
posted by jon1270 at 4:20 PM on July 16

(The 4K apple displays were lovely, but wayyy out of my price range).
posted by jon1270 at 4:21 PM on July 16

There's an electronics thrift store in my city that accepts donated computers and laptops. They wipe the operating systems and install Linux Mint, which is a Windows knockoff that's not half-bad these days.

If you're thinking of getting a new computer anyway, it wouldn't hurt to give that a try and see if installing Linux Mint adds some life to your existing computer.
posted by aniola at 4:25 PM on July 16

I replaced my 2011 laptop a couple of months ago and I'm still in awe of how much better it is. I had gotten so used to the old computer's many problems that I forgot what was like to not jump through hoops and wait forever just for basic functionality. Definitely get a new one.

No specific recommendations (I have a Macbook Air) but Costco has some great deals and it looks like you don't need a membership to buy most of their computers.
posted by fox problems at 4:53 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Lenovo outlet site, get the most modest thinkpad that includes a high res screen and an SSD. I love the X1 personally, but there might be a T series cheaper than that with the 3k screen.

You will be impressed on both fronts if you previously had a hybrid drive and a standard res(ie 1080p or less) display.

Performance wise computers haven't improved all that much since 2011-12, except for gaming or really intense stuff. They kinda hit "good enough" then. But SSDs are a gigantic upgrade, and have become ubiqitous. Similarly, "retina" displays are a huge immediately noticeable improvement.

I took the plunge on both those options at the same time around when you got your machine, and I'm riding it into the ground because nothing new has wowed me. If I hadn't, I'd definitely wanna go for both of those.

A thinkpad will also outlast most consumer grade machines, if it's a _real_ thinkpad (t, x, w, or p series from memory). They're some of the only computers I'll recommend right alongside MacBooks(which... aren't quite what they used to be either)
posted by emptythought at 5:10 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Given my very basic requirements, is a new computer likely to delight me with its speed and reliability for longer than the first 2 weeks of ownership, or would I be dropping several hundred bucks for a very similar experience?

Similar experience. The mouse buttons are fixable. Things like lockups and taskbar crashes may be driver issues, and can be fixed. But they might also signal motherboard issues, which means "new computer." I think you'd have to put some time and effort into this one (fix trackpad, clean install Windows) to see if the issues are fixable or not.
posted by cnc at 6:26 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

If you can afford a laptop with SSD, going from a 6 lb machine to something that weighs about 3 lb, is really worth it. Carrying it around becomes a pleasure instead of a penance! Plus, a brand new machine will just work without tedious remapping of mouse buttons etc.
posted by monotreme at 10:31 PM on July 16

Everyone's saying replace. I'll be the obligatory voice for repair. (Or even if you get a new computer, you could repair your old one before you donate it.)

I can pick up a used palmrest assembly for $30 give or take, but swapping it out looks a bit involved

I don't know if you already know this, but Lenovo puts online full field service manuals for all their computers: I think this is the one for your V570. (FRU stands for Field Replaceable Unit.)

If you can use a screwdriver and follow meticulously detailed instructions, you can carry out a replacement, though you may need to also pick up some precision screwdrivers such as these. I've replaced screens and keyboards on various Lenovo laptops, and it's not hard.
posted by Alioth at 8:20 AM on July 17

Yeah, I've got the screwdrivers and I've done a fair number of laptop repairs. I'm not thrilled about using salvaged parts, but I'm also not ready to drop $800+ on a replacement if I don't have to, even for a nicer screen and ssd. We'll see how it goes.
posted by jon1270 at 2:19 PM on July 17

I picked up the husk of parted-out V570 on eBay for less than $25. Yesterday evening I swapped out the palmrest assembly and did the clean install of W10. The buttons work as they should again, and so far the system seems stable. So, a new lease on life for the 6-year-old machine! Maybe in I'll splurge on an SSD before it reaches 12...
posted by jon1270 at 4:24 PM on July 20

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