Long lasting PC laptop with internal optical drive?
March 25, 2020 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I have been prompted by Windows to upgrade to version 10. The recommendation is to get a new Laptop since mine is over three years old (manufacturer’s date December ‘09) I would like to find one which is modular in case a hard drive needs switching or RAM upgrade. I have a budget up to $4000USD. I have a substantial DVD collection I want to keep using. I don’t care if the laptop is heavy.
posted by ayc200 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What do you use it for? If it's web-browsing, MS Office, you can get a standard business-class laptop from Lenovo, Dell, HP. If you more demanding software like Photoshop, statistical and graphing software, ArcGIS, etc., you need the better processor and more RAM. If you don't care about weight, go for the bigger screen size. I am a big fan of Lenovo Thinkpads for being sturdy workhorses. Swapping drives and RAM is easy on any of these.
posted by theora55 at 8:36 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

My reading skills seem to be sub par today, I am sorry. I did not realize that your computer is from 2009. That is quite old and even upgrading the hard drive to an ssd won't make it snappy enough....

Not totally on topic, but....
Three years is not really an old laptop. If you are still happy with it and if you have a Windows 7 license you can still upgrade to Windows 10 with your Windows 7 license key. Microsoft still allows you to do this for free even though they don't advertise it. Its worth a try and will make your old laptop more useful even if you do get a new one.
I am unable to supply you with a link, since I can only reach the German Microsoft pages, but simply search for the "microsoft media creation tool" to download windows 10. You can then create a bootable DVD or an USB Stick to freshly install Windows 10 or to upgade your existing Windows 7 installation. (Do not forget to backup things beforehand in case something goes wrong.)
It is really easy but some computer knowledge is required.

(It probably will be hard to get a great laptop with an optical drive these days (but not impossible) If it is not to much hassel you can easily attach an external optical drive via USB to any computer.)
posted by mmkhd at 9:17 AM on March 25

Agreed with theora55. Lenovo Thinkpads are well known for ease of repair by the owner. The Used Thinkpad Buyer's Guide may be helpful. The other thing that might be helpful is recommendations of laptops with optical drives.
posted by blob at 9:20 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

I would get the beefiest Thinkpad possible, like one of these - X1 Extreme Gen 2, P73, or P53. Big machines, 4k OLED, i9 chips. See if the ones that appeal to you most can be upgraded to 2x32gb RAM.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:20 AM on March 25

I agree with theora55. As a specific example, I'm responsible for purchasing computers for a small company, and as part of that I've done a lot of investigation of the HP ProBooks. They are highly customizable, e.g. you can easily add a SSD to most models that ship with a spinning-disk HDD installed. I'm not personally interested in optical drives, but I can confirm that some larger (15"+) models come with them, and other models of the same size have an empty bay where you could clearly install an optical drive or second HDD. I'm sure the larger pro models of Dell, Lenovo, Acer, etc., are similar. I would poke around e.g. the HP retail store website, which lets you customize most models in this way, or various NewEgg storefronts that also sell customized laptops. In terms of price, you really shouldn't have to spend more than like $2K to get a very current model with everything you want.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:24 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]

Another option to consider is getting a USB optical drive. They are fairly inexpensive these days. That way you can get whatever laptop fits your needs without the added consideration of an optical drive, which limits your options pretty significantly.
posted by number9dream at 9:54 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]

$4000 is a fantastically large amount of money for a Windows laptop, especially if it's replacing something from 2009. As an alternative to limiting your search to upgradable laptops, you could instead budget for a $1000 laptop now and three more complete upgrades every few years.

You can buy external USB DVD drives for $30. I wouldn't worry about getting a laptop with an internal drive unless the only thing you plan on doing with this is watching DVDs, in which case you might just consider a portable DVD player, which you can get for under $100.

Also, you can build a very decent desktop for well under $1000 and those are as modular as it gets.
posted by bright flowers at 10:00 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]

Dell Precision workstation-class laptop or Panasonic Toughbook for things that might last a decade.
posted by k3ninho at 5:29 PM on March 25

Thanks, theora55. To answer your question, I would like it to run the latest version of AutoCAD for some hobby laser cutting. I want it to be portable since I tend to haunt cafes to during my lunch breaks and want to catch up on movies or television my children can’t watch with me.

Microsoft Office would be nice to have, but I can wait on my spouse’s desktop to use that.
posted by ayc200 at 6:28 AM on March 29

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