Do you know what separates the best upgradeable laptops from the more so-so picks? Portability and upgradeability.
While the technology is not yet perfect, manufacturers have found ways to satisfy this demand for upgradeable laptops. The best upgradeable laptops today, like that of Dell, have even gone as far as to offer laptops with fully user-replaceable components.
However, it’s not the only laptop claiming to be the best, making it difficult to weed the best ones from the pretenders.
Lucky for you, we’re here to help.
We’ve done the research and hard work, so you don’t have to. In doing so, we’ve come up with a list of the best upgradeable laptops available today.
So, without further delay, let’s get started.
Best Upgradeable Laptops In 2021
1. Alienware Area 51m
Top-Rated Upgradeable Laptop
One of the longest-running issues with laptops is the lack of upgradeability. Storage and RAM upgrades are a given. However, the processor and graphics card are both usually locked or, to be more specific, soldered into the laptop’s motherboard.
In addition to RAM and storage upgrades, you can upgrade the processor and graphics card of this laptop as well.
Naturally, there are some drawbacks. Like, for example, the laptop only supports a custom-designed GPU. But, then again, this is a small compromise to pay. After all, your laptop is fitted with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 right out of the box. We don’t think you’ll be in any hurry to upgrade your graphics card anytime soon.
All in all, this is the best upgradeable laptop in the market today.
Is it expensive? Yes. Then again, that’s the price you to pay to be an early adaptor of a technology that could very well upend the laptop market.
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10700K (Upgradeable to i9 10900) | RAM: 16GB (Upgradeable Up to 64GB) | Storage: 1TB SSD (Support for up to 4x SSD) | Display: 17.3” 300Hz 3ms FHD Display | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB GDDR6
If you thought laptops were restrictive, wait until you get a hold of a tablet or a 2-in-1 PC.
The latter, especially, is designed to pretty much stay what it was out of the box. However, that is exactly what the Microsoft Surface Pro X is trying to change. Although you can’t exactly upgrade much of this 2-in-1 Windows 10 tablet and laptop, you can at least change the SSD, and it’s quite easy to do.
The only issue? This 2-in-1 uses an M.2 2230 SSD, which isn’t exactly easy to find.
If you’re okay with that and you need a tablet and a laptop in one, the Surface Pro X won’t disappoint.
The display is nothing short of amazing and the trademark kickstand is as reliable as ever. The keyboard also detaches and this 2-in-1 supports pens as well. Also, since it’s running on an ARM-based processor, it manages to retain performance without sacrificing temperatures, noise, nor battery life.
Usually, with Chromebooks, your options are even more limited than usual. It’s only in rarer cases that you can upgrade the storage or the RAM.
With the Samsung Chromebook 3, you can do both.
In addition to having an upgradeable 16 GB eMMC storage (support for up to 64GB), the Chromebook 3 supports up to 4GB of RAM as well. This, along with its Intel Atom X5-E8000 processor gives it plenty of upgradeable performance for a low, low price.
CPU: Intel Atom x5-E8000 RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Display: 11.6” diagonal HD SVA BrightView WLED-backlit | GPU: Intel HD graphics card
The enterprise laptop market doesn’t cater to enthusiasts nor to the general public. They’re for people who know what they want. This includes, among others, multiple connectivity ports, a stable battery life, a tough and durable build, as well as a comfortable keyboard.
These are all things that the ThinkPad line does well. This is why these laptops have become so popular in the enterprise laptop market.
Unfortunately, they’re not usually cheap, which is why, even though they’re good, most casual users don’t really consider getting one for themselves. But, we say usually because, unlike others, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 actually starts at a relatively affordable price point that makes it affordable for all laptop users.
Also, it’s a laptop where you can upgrade both the storage and the RAM, so you can enjoy faster NVMe drive speeds, along with up to 32GB dual-channel DDR4 RAM for optimal multi-tasking performance.
Usually, with ultrabooks and thin laptops, you have limited upgrade options if non-existent. However, for those willing to pay the price, the Dell XPS 15 comes with upgradeable RAM, SSD storage, and a wireless card. This is in addition to its beautiful 15.6” edge-to-edge display with DisplayHDR400 and Dolby Vision.
The fact that the new XPS 15 comes with a quad-speaker designed with Waves NX audio, as well as smooth and polished diamond-cut sidewalls, only adds to the premium design of the laptop.
While it’s certainly not the most upgradeable laptop, the fact that you can swap out certain components is just a bonus.
If you’re looking for upgradeable gaming laptops, the Acer Nitro 5 should be your first stop.
The older model of the Nitro 5, which is equipped with a 9th generation Intel Core i5 at its cheapest configuration, enjoys the same features as the more expensive trims. This includes upgradeable RAM and SSD, which you can access by simply removing a single screw. This means that you won’t need professional help in making your laptop faster.
What makes the Nitro 5 even better of a buy is the fact that it comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card.
Sure, a GTX 1650 isn’t the fastest. However, at its price point, it’s a lot faster than what you get from the similarly-priced competition. Not to mention, with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD out of the box, the Nitro 5 should last you a while as is.
Then, once it starts to slow down, you can upgrade the RAM and enjoy better performance from it for not a whole lot more.
The HP Omen 17t is another upgradeable gaming laptop, albeit one that’s a better fit for those with larger budgets.
The 17t is easily one of the most expensive laptops on our list. However, as is usually the case, you do get what you pay for, and in fact, you get a bit more as well. This is because the 17t is fitted with the latest Intel Core i7-10750H six-core processor, as well as a full-sized RGB backlit keyboard with a 17.3-inch display and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070.
Basically, what we’re trying to say here is that the 17t has got all the bells and whistles.
Even the display is not too shabby. In addition to being an IPS display at 17.3 inches, it supports refresh rates up to 300Hz and it has anti-glare compatibility. Plus, it has 300 nits of brightness as well.
Lastly, just in case the storage or RAM performance is no longer enough, you can upgrade it to have 32GB of DDR4 RAM or have more storage.
Screw upgradeability. The MSI GE66 Raider is the best gaming laptop around. It just screams “gaming” by design, and it more than backs up its “noise” with fairly powerful internals that won’t require any upgrading soon. But, if you really want, you can add in a better Wi-Fi card, or an additional M.2 SSD, or even more RAM as it supports up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM.
Now, just how powerful is the GE66 Raider?
At its most powerful configuration, it sports an Intel Core i9-10980HK processor with an RTX 2080 Super for its graphics card.
This is pretty much desktop-class performance on a relatively portable package. Not that you can easily lug the GE66 raider around though, what with it being 5 pounds and all. But, if it’s any consolation, it’s relatively compact with just a 15.6-inch screen, so it’s not as hard to bring around with you nor as conspicuous as other larger gaming laptops.
Unapologetically powerful and “gamer-ish” in its aesthetic, the GE66 Raider is a divisive choice that caters best to those who both like how it performs and looks.
What the sleek and stylish design hides is a powerful laptop with up to an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, as well as options to have a 300Hz display. Although it uses Intel’s 10th Gen H-series processors instead of a Ryzen chip, the Razer Blade 15 doesn’t really compromise performance nor efficiency as much.
Also, because it’s a gaming laptop, it has support for a wide selection of ports for all of your I/O devices.
The one we’re recommending “only” has 16GB of DDR4 RAM, but it is upgradeable. All you have to do is to open the underside, unscrew the 10 Torx screws, and you’ll get easy access to the upgradeable Wi-Fi card, RAM, and SSD.
In terms of gaming technology, a laptop with a processor that’s over a year or two old is considered ancient. However, the Lenovo Legion Y740 remains a good buy, especially if you want a gaming laptop with an upgradeable, as well as accessible, SSD and RAM.
Combining the Intel Core i7-9750H and the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti in an aluminum-housed package, complete with a surprisingly comfortable keyboard, and a relatively fast 144Hz Nvidia G-Sync display, the Y740 is more than just a good buy.
As a bonus, you can even make use of its 2.5-inch drive bay for added storage. This means that, in addition to switching to an NVMe SSD with larger capacity, you can add more storage (for a lower price) by utilizing the 2.5-inch drive bay.
The Y740 might not be the best upgradeable laptop today overall, but it does bring a lot of value to the table.
How Do I Know If My Laptop Processor Is Upgradeable?
Laptops with upgradeable CPU are hard if not downright impossible to find. However, there are certain models that you can replace the processor on. But, this requires professional help, which can help add up to the costs of having to source a more powerful processor. Not to mention, because a laptop is not built for a more powerful processor, it might not run as efficiently.
The best way to know if a laptop processor is upgradeable is to contact the manufacturer and ask them directly.
Most are happy to answer such queries and will even provide a list of compatible processors if applicable.
Although, if we’re being honest, upgrading the laptop seems overkill. At least, right now.
Out of the box, the laptop is fitted with top-of-the-line components that will put some gaming desktops to shame.
There are other laptops known for being upgradeable as well. Some models of the ThinkPad line of laptops from Lenovo are known for being easy to upgrade. The same goes for theLG Gram line of laptops.
What Laptops Have Upgradeable Graphics Cards?
There are actually laptops that have upgradeable graphics cards. These are usually fitted with non-proprietary MXM 3.0 slots with graphics cards that can be upgraded when necessary. However, these graphics cards are usually used mainly only for graphics-intensive 3D modeling purposes and not for gaming.
So, in a way, these are the best upgradeable laptops today. At least, as far as productivity and non-gaming purposes is concerned.
Unfortunately, these laptops are very expensive and the cards are hard to source. Them being good is also very niche. They’re only good for workstation type laptops and not for gaming, as well as other uses.
What is the Easiest Laptop to Upgrade?
This depends on what kind of upgrade it is that you are looking for.
In general, many laptops are easy to upgrade. All you have to do is to remove some screws on the underside to gain access to either the storage or memory ports. However, if you’re looking for a laptop with an upgradeable processor or graphics cards, you’re stuck with what Alienware has to offer.
The Alienware Area-51m R2 is the easiest laptop to upgrade available today, and the only modular laptop that actually supports processor and graphics card upgrades made by the user without professional help.
We’re still far away from having desktop-like upgradeable laptops. However, if it’s any consolation, the best upgradeable laptops today offer plenty of performance at their most powerful configurations.
Designed with years of performance in mind, many laptops today can last for years without ever needing an upgrade. Also, when that day comes, it’s usually either just a memory or a storage upgrade that’s necessary. This is why we filled our list with laptops whose memory and storage slots are easy to access and upgrade.
With that said, when it comes to laptops, you’re usually better off spending more right now and not worrying about upgradeability (outside of memory and storage upgrades) as much.