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What's the most repairable PC laptop released in the last year?

So I know that there is a question on here about the most repairable Mac but noting about PC laptops.

Since Apple seems to be going the way of non-repairable, non-upgradeable laptops; I wanted to broaden my search to PC laptops.

Also, I did a google search of this and most of the results were about Apples least-repairable Retina MBP.

Finally, the goal of this question is not about history, I'm looking for a new laptop that I want to be harmonious with the DIY ethos.

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You know, that's a great question — and we don't have a great answer for you. Historically speaking, PC laptops were much more accessible for upgrades than Macs. But it is 2013 after all, and things may have changed significantly, given how fast technology is pushed out to people.

(Note that upgradability does not equal repairability, as some easily-upgradable laptops are absolute bears to repair/maintain, promoting some users to even write a song about it.)

Here's part of the problem (that we also encounter with Android devices): We can spend $10,000 for various PC laptops from various manufacturers, and not even scratch the surface because there are so many different models. For example, is the Dell Inspiron 15 the same as the 15R in terms of repairability? What about the 14R and the 17R? It gets complicated — and expensive — really fast.

So, aside from the completely non-useful "sorry we can't help you" statement, I'll say this: you can at least look at a manufacturer's website and see if they have a service manual for their machine. This will help you tremendously if one day the machine decides to take a swim in the pool. Dell and HP have been known to publish these manuals, but they may not be the only ones. Running with the example above, here's the Dell Inspiron 15 owner's manual that includes full disassembly information.

That way, you can at least look at the service information and determine how fixable a particular laptop will be. It's not as hand-dandy as a score/summary assigned by us, but it's a step in the right direction.

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Lenovo puts them out too, but I only really see this with the ThinkPad side. I don't know the consumer side since I don't buy consumer grade laptops, so I really don't look. They call them the HMM. Should be self explanatory.

by Nick

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Ok, I totally get that.

I guess it would be nice if you had a top 10 most / least repairable devices for each of your categories. Or a way to categorize teardowns.

Thanks for the quick answer though. Points for you!

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Keep your eye out. :)

by James Pearson

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In my opinion Thinkpads have always been the most repairable series of laptops. I recently tore down my X120e, took apart almost everything. It was really easy because of the maintenance manual that accompanies each Thinkpad model, easily available online.

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I have had to do this to my X61 to repaste it. Outside of the WiFi switch, this thing is dead simple to work on. I don't even need the HMM.

by Nick

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I believe reparaibity is also about availability. In a way, like Miroslav said, having very fragmented brands will make it less likely to find parts.

Take a MacBook Pro. The classic one with DVD reader built-in.

That would be the most repairable in my opinion since almost everything is detachable from the board.

Enters the display cable for that model, or the LCD: break them and you have to remove the glass from the frame to replace them. Very very few PCs will require that.

But since Apple have been using the same form factor for that model since at least 5 years, you can find every single screw, bracket, cable, and part second-hand. And parts manufacturers/suppliers find it economical to manufacture, stock, and supply parts. They may be expensive, but they are available.

Take that L50 Toshiba with touch-screen. My client paid for it circa $1200 and broke the digitizer. The distributor wants $450 wholesale for it. It's just a piece of glass that I can't seem to find in any other place. I have a Toshiba P45t with the sme issue. On the other hand, Sony digitizer for an expensive model is $25-$40, available everywhere on eBay and in China by the piece.

My point is, if models are popular, not fragmented, and their form factor not changing a lot every year, and a bit expensive, it will be easier to source for them parts and find people who fix them for reference. Keep that in mind.

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I agree! A static physical case & a modular parts system that is popular is the ideal system. Sadly, the market pressure of making things smaller is making repairability harder and more costly.

by Dan

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I actually like ThinkPads and latitudes for this. Easy to work on, parts are easy to find and they both have service manuals published for them. They're also designed to be repaired, which consumer grade laptops tend to be designed to be used and thrown out.

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Scott Daniel will be eternally grateful.

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