Table of Contents
An Overview of the Best Upgradeable Laptops
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Don’t feel like reading the entire buying guide? That’s okay! We’d like you to know that after a close analysis, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Acer Aspire 5 is the best upgradeable laptop because of its versatility, awesome specs and upgradeable options!
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6" Full HD IPS Display, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, Vega 8 Graphics, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 Home, A515-43-R5RE, Silver
ASUS TUF VR Ready Gaming Laptop, 15.6" IPS FHD, AMD Ryzen 7-4800H Octa-Core up to 4.20 GHz, NVIDIA RTX 2060, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, RGB Backlit KB, RJ-45 Ethernet, Win 10
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen 14.0" WQHD (2560 x 1440) Touchscreen 2-in-1 Business Laptop Computer/ Intel Quad-Core i7 8650U up to 4.2GHz/ 16GB RAM/ 1TB PCIe SSD/ Win10 Pro/ SPMOR Mouse Pad
When purchasing a new laptop, the thought process most people have is to look at the core specifications that it provides. We tend to purchase laptops which provide the best performance and features in their price range. However, what a lot of people overlook is the longevity of a device.
In a perfect world, we all would like to get new laptops every year or two, but sadly that’s not financially viable. Laptops are an expensive investment and it’s necessary that to get your money’s worth, by using them for as long as possible. Using a laptop for a long time is a really good way to save money as well as save the environment from getting polluted since we will be using the product that would otherwise end up in landfills.
At a certain point, we realize that our devices are slower and not able to provide the same experience they used to. In those times, having the option to upgrade the RAM and storage is really useful as it breathes a new life into your device and extends its life. You may also be able to buy cheaper RAM chips from a different supplier (see Can You Mix RAM Brands? for more information) which will lower the price.
Along with upgradability, there is one more thing that you should consider which is just as important. We’re talking about performance. While having an easily upgradeable laptop helps extend the life of the machine you are using, once it starts slowing down and is unable to perform regular tasks, it becomes useless. Now upgrading the RAM is part of fixing the problem, but having a faster and future-proof processor is just as important if not more. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy the most expensive laptop out there, but rather buy one that’s well-performing for its price when compared to the competition. If the primary use of the laptop is for gaming, then you may also want to check out that the CPU and GPU are a good match for each other and can handle gaming at 1440p or even 4k.
Top 3 Upgradeable Laptops [Reviews]
Acer Aspire 5
The first laptop on our list is the Acer Aspire 5. This is a really competitive price for an entry-level laptop that can pack a serious punch. Acer is making great strides in providing laptops that have the best features for the price. The Acer Aspire 5 is the best representation of this as it provides you with better specifications than laptops that are way above its price bracket. That’s also the reason why it is rated as Amazon’s best-selling laptop.
The value proposition of this laptop is best seen in the processor options. You get either an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U with Vega 3 Graphics or the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U with Vega 8 Graphics or even the AMD Ryzen 7 3700U with RX Vega 10 Graphics. Your choice will mainly depend on your budget and usage. We would recommend getting the one with the 3200U if you only plan to do basic tasks, like web browsing, media consumption, using a word processor, etc. If you plan on doing heavier tasks like some light gaming or multitasking, then feel free to upgrade to the higher models. You’ll be happy with either of the processors since each one of them is better than the highest-end processor from a few years back. Moreover, the Ryzen 5 and 7 are especially powerful since they are made to compete with and even outperform their Intel counterparts. It’s the general opinion of the tech community that Ryzen processors are better than Intel processors for budget laptops and the Aspire 5 proves this.
The storage will depend on what processor variant you get. With the 3200U, you get a 128 GB SSD, with the 3500U, you get a 256 GB SSD and with the 3700U, you get 512 GB SSD. This choice will be completely dependent on your processor as well, but if you were to take our opinion then we would recommend going for the 3500 U as it’s the best value proposition considering the storage capacity.128 GB may be a bit less unless you don’t download a lot of files and 512 GB may be a bit excessive unless you’re really into gaming or have a lot of high capacity files stored. Whatever your decision is, you won’t have to fret over it too much since the entire reason this laptop is on the list is because of the upgradeable storage in the form of the empty 2.5-inch drive.
Just like the storage, the memory will also depend on your processor configuration. With the 3200U, you get 4 GB of DDR4 memory and with the other two you get 8 GB. Normally 4 GB should be considered outdated for the current era, but fortunately, you get the option to upgrade the memory. If you ever feel that your laptop is getting slow, then a quick RAM upgrade will make it feel much snappier. It’s highly likely that you will have to upgrade your RAM in the next 2 or 3 years since modern programs have become much more demanding. Luckily, the upgrade process is pretty simple as it only requires the removal of a few screws. Alternatively, resetting your Acer laptop back to factory settings may speed it up as well.
The display is a 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS Display. This is the weakest part of the laptop, despite which it’s still more than useable. It easily matches the quality of other displays in this price range, but the viewing angles aren’t that great. The sharpness is really good and it produces pretty decent colors. Most users won’t have a problem with it, but if you really value a fantastic display, then we would suggest getting an external one with all the money you save.
The port selection on this laptop is amazing, as you get 1 USB 3.1 (Type-C) port (Gen 1 up to 5 Gbps), 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port (One with Power-off Charging), 1 USB 2.0 Port, 1 HDMI Port, and 1 Gigabit Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port). There are many other features that make this laptop a much better deal. Some of these include True Harmony Technology Two Built-in Stereo Speakers which take your media consumption experience to the next level, Acer Purified Voice Technology with Two Built-in Microphones, Fingerprint Reader supporting Windows Hello, a pretty nice Back-lit Keyboard, a decent HD Webcam (1280 x 720), and a pretty attractive and well-built design.
The dimensions of the Aspire 5 are 14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches and it weighs 3.97 pounds. While not being as light as an ultra-book, it’s still pretty light and portable. The size is also really good as it’s the perfect balance between a large screen and portability. The battery life is rated at 9.5 hours, while in real-world usage it will provide you a respectable 6 to 8 hours, depending on your usage. This easily makes it a full day laptop.
ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, that’s also upgradeable, then we would recommend getting the ASUS TUF Gaming laptop. It’s possible to game on the other laptops on this list as well, but they’re not dedicated for gaming. Hardcore gamers will love the features offered like high-end components and high-speed RAM.
The performance that a gaming laptop offers is really important since no one likes low frames that ruin your games. The CPU you get is the AMD Ryzen 7-4800H Octa-Core up to 4.20 GHz, which is an 8 core and 16 thread processor. Over the years AMD has really upped their game evident by the fact that this processor is comparable to the i7 10th Generation in gaming and actually surpasses it in other tasks like video editing and rendering. That’s why if you use this laptop for gaming and productivity tasks, then it will probably provide you with the best performance in this price range. Moreover, you get a dedicated GPU in the form of the RTX 2060 with 8 GB of DDR6 dedicated RAM, which is pretty much one of the best performing GPU for laptops. Along with having top of the line performance, you also get a lot of RTX specific features like Ray Tracing. This setup will easily be able to play top of the line titles at 60 FPS with no problems.
You get a ton of options for the storage configuration ranging from 512 GB to 2.5 TB. Moreover, there are hybrid options as well, that gives you both a mechanical hard drive and a Solid State Drive. You would have to check each one of them out and choose the one which is best for you. As a general recommendation, we think you should get the one with a 512 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD since it’s the best value for your money. But you can choose any other of the options depending on your usage as well. The storage is obviously upgradeable if you want to do so in the future. But it’s more for your peace of mind since the amount already provided should be more than enough for most users.
Just like storage, there are multiple memory options as well. These include 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB of RAM. We would recommend getting 16 GB as it will future proof your laptop, while not being too overkill. You will also have the luxury to upgrade it if performance ever becomes an issue in the future. Another bonus you get with a gaming laptop like this is that the RAM is a faster DDR4 variant clocked at 3200 MHz which is slightly faster than the 2666 MHz found in most other laptops, thus resulting in slightly better performance. This is also another benefit of using an AMD CPU as they perform better with faster memory than Intel. Overall, this would mean that loading times are essentially non-existent and you’ll have pretty much the fastest laptop out there.
Like Acer Aspire, we think that the display is the weakest part of this laptop. It’s not bad by any standards, but it just leaves a bit more to be desired. You get a pretty decent 15.6-inch IPS Full HD 1920 x 1080 60 Hz Refresh Rate. It still holds its own against other laptop displays, but we would’ve liked to see some extra perks like a higher refresh rate or resolution. The Asus TUF is definitely one of those laptops that can benefit from a better external monitor. Although to be completely fair, this is such a minor flaw considering the price that we can’t really complain.
The ports on this laptop are perfect considering Asus didn’t have to worry about the thinness of the laptop when designing. The provided ports include 1 x USB 3.1 / USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Supports DisplayPort), 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 2 x USB Type-A (USB 3.1 / USB 3.2 Gen 1), 1x RJ45 Ethernet LAN, 1x HDMI 4K Outputs, 1x Headphone jack and a charging port. That’s not all; this laptop is filled with other features that just make it an amazing deal. Some of these include a very eye-catching design which some might enjoy and others might find a bit too in-your-face. You also get a webcam, a pretty nice RGB keyboard, really aggressive cooling making sure your laptop doesn’t thermal throttle, and support for VR gaming.
This laptop is a bit bulkier than your traditional laptop as its dimensions are 14.20 x 10.10 x 1.00 inches and it weighs a bit more than 5 pounds. You can carry it in a backpack since it’s not that heavy, but you don’t have the perks of a thin and light laptop which is a given considering the performance you get. The battery life isn’t that impressive, but it’s pretty much expected from a gaming laptop. The battery provided is a 48 WHr cell that’s rated to provide 8 hours, but in real-world usage provides about 4 to 5 hours. We would highly recommend having a power brick with you at all times to make sure you don’t run out of charge at an unexpected moment.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop, then we would recommend getting the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It offers a lot of the traditional ThinkPad qualities like excellent built quality and a good keyboard. These laptops have a reputation of lasting for a really long time, sometimes even over a decade. Moreover, having a 2-in-1 design gives added versatility like using it in any orientation you want as well as being able to jot down notes or make paintings and drawings.
Since the focus of this device is not on performance, we think that the processor provided is a bit underpowered. It’s still not slow by any means, but we would’ve liked to see a bit newer and more powerful CPU, to ensure that you get maximum performance. The processor in question is the Intel 10th Generation Quad-Core i7 8650U (1.9GHz, up to 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 8 MB Cache). It’s significantly weaker than the previous option, but you won’t really notice in daily tasks, but if your productivity workload involves high-performance tasks like video editing then we would highly recommend going for the previous option.
There are two main storage options, one with a 256 GB PCIe SSD and another one with a 1 TB PCIe SSD. We recommend going for the latter configuration considering how much storage modern programs require. You can go for the 256 GB model as well if you are certain your usage won’t cross that much or if you plan on upgrading the storage right after buying your laptop to save some money. Although, we don’t recommend upgrading right after purchase since it voids the warranty. Keep this feature to future proof your laptop rather than to spec up your laptop right after purchase.
With both of the configurations, you get 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz. It’s not the high-speed RAM we saw in the ASUS, but it’s still not slow considering this is an Intel unit. While we would’ve loved to see a DDR4 variant, but this particular RAM type is a low power consumption variant that provides good battery life and also allows for other components to use the energy for slightly higher performance, although with a bit slower load times. Moreover, this type of RAM isn’t available in DDR4 so we understand why Lenovo went for it.
The screen on this laptop is absolutely stunning considering it’s a 14.0″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, touchscreen, 300 nits. Besides providing the obvious functionality of being a 2-in-1, it also is really sharp and extremely color accurate as it covers 100% of the color gamut. It’s still not as accurate as a MacBook’s screen, but still pretty impressive. Video and photo editors, as well as graphic designers, will enjoy this. If you are interested, we have an article that compares WQHD VS. QHD.
ThinkPads have been designed thinking about practicality in mind over flashy features that’s why the port selection they offer is amazing. You get 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt 3 (Power Delivery, DisplayPort, Data transfer), 1 x HDMI, 1 x Headphone / microphone combo jack, 1 x MicroSD card reader and a charging port. ThinkPads have a ton of other features that make them amazing for productivity and just generally good laptops. Some of these include a Finger Print scanner, the infamous red TrackPoint, a 720p webcam, Dolby Audio Premium, Noise-cancelling microphones, Dolby Atmos for headphones, Windows 10 Pro included, and much more.
The ThinkPad is pretty thin and light as its dimensions are 13.11 x 9.01 x 0.67 inches and it weighs a little over 3 pounds. It’s quite portable for those who carry around their laptop everywhere. Moreover, it also has an excellent battery life of about 8 to 10 hours depending on your usage.
We looked at some pretty impressive laptops, each of them offering a unique prospect that would appeal to a wide range of audience. Almost everyone would be happy with either three of these laptops since they offer some of the best value for money in their respective price ranges. We are going to discuss the good and bad of each of these laptops as well as which of them is our favorite. You can choose any laptop; we are just here to comprehensively talk about each laptop so you can make an informed decision.
The first laptop we reviewed was the Acer Aspire 5. It’s undoubtedly the best value prospect out of all the options here. It has some pretty powerful hardware, which is even really good for really intensive tasks like gaming. Moreover, it doesn’t cut down on other features like a good keyboard and a fingerprint scanner. It’s definitely a worthy choice for anyone shopping in this price range.
The next laptop on this list is the Asus TUF Gaming laptop. It has some seriously powerful components at a reasonable price. The mixture of a Ryzen CPU, NVidia RTX GPU, and high-speed memory makes this laptop extremely fast. It can probably outperform a lot of laptops that are in a higher price bracket. If you’re someone who uses their laptops to their utmost limits then this is definitely the one for you.
Lastly comes the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga. ThinkPads are great as it is and this one just has some amazing features that all users can appreciate. The highlight is the 2-in-1 form factor which is really versatile. Finding 2-in-1 laptops that have a good upgrade path is already really difficult, but luckily, Lenovo doesn’t disappoint.
It’s finally time to decide which of these laptops is the best for its given price range. Our pick is definitely the Acer Aspire 5. A few years back no one could’ve thought that you would get a high-performing laptop in this price range and now Acer has done it. No other brand new laptop can compare to the value that the Aspire 5 offers which is why it deserves all this praise!
However, we know not everyone is shopping in this price range, and as powerful as the Acer is, sometimes you still need a bit more performance. That’s why we also highly recommend the Asus TUF gaming laptop as the more expensive option. It offers really good specifications and features for the price and the amount of storage and memory options is a bonus. We wouldn’t recommend the ThinkPad unless you absolutely need a 2-in-1 laptop or want a color-accurate display for work. The slower processor is a bit of a letdown, despite the other amazing features. Even for those wanting a color-accurate display, we would recommend getting the TUF and then buy an external monitor from the money you save since it will still be better than anything you can get on a different laptop.