Back to school: how to choose a PC that is both portable and durable?

Ensuring that your new laptop lasts over time necessarily requires careful selection before purchase. Which criteria should be paid attention to? Follow the leader.

At a time when it is more necessary than ever to consume in a sensible and sustainable way, and where the start of school is sometimes synonymous with computer equipment, we thought it relevant to summarize the good questions to ask yourself before choosing a PC. portable, in order to be able to use it as long as possible. A problem that revolves around a by now familiar triptych: upgrade options, repair options, maintenance.

Take a look at scalability

Whether it’s rejuvenating an old laptop—always a better option for the planet—or buying a new one, being aware of its upgrade options is paramount. For our tests, we systematically open the computers that go to the laboratory. In particular, we check whether the RAM and storage can be updated in the future, and whether the battery is easily accessible so that it can one day be replaced.

Unfortunately, with the exception of a few models designed for scalability (such as the amazing Framework), laptops do not allow processor changes. Nevertheless, models released 6 or 7 years ago – or even more – can still run Windows and perform a myriad of modern office tasks, especially if you can add some RAM to them or change their storage system. There is therefore a real interest in checking these points before choosing your future machine. Too bad office automation / multimedia computers are generally not the best students in this field. The more spacious chassis and design of PCs intended for gaming (with a dedicated graphics card) make them more scalable computers most of the time, but they are also more expensive and more massive (therefore less suitable for mobile use). ).

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One last point that must not be overlooked: context. Ensuring that a computer has numerous, varied and modern ports (e.g. USB-C) is also a guarantee of durability over time.

Learn about repairability (and reliability)

On the repair side, the consumer has received more guidance since the establishment of the repair index, which has been mandatory since January 1, 2021. A criterion taken into account in the laptop tests published by Digital, and which represents 20% of the final grade assigned to each product. Although imperfect (it is only declarative and the scoring grid opens the door to some abuse), this index still has the advantage of providing effective information about the level of repair of a computer thanks to a score out of 10.

The ease of disassembly and access to parts, the duration of the manufacturer’s availability of spare parts, as well as their price or the provision of technical manuals are taken into account in this note. Being aware of that when choosing your computer, or even making it a justice of the peace in case you can’t choose between a handful of models, is therefore a good reflex to take. Note also that all retailers are supposed to display it, while manufacturers – in complete transparency – are supposed to provide access to detailed rating sheets for each product.

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Finally, note that some major retailers from time to time publish statistics on their after-sales service, which can give some clues about the reliability of a particular brand (an essential point when you want to make your laptop last as long as possible) . According to Fnac-Darty, the three laptop brands that provided the least after-sales service in 2021 are, in order: Apple, HP and Lenovo. In a less formal way, looking for information on user forums or consultant reviews about a given model can inform to some extent about the reliability of a machine in the long term.

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Maintain to make it last longer

Charge your laptop before leaving it turned off for an extended period of time, protect it properly when you move it, take care of its charger and cables, check that its ventilation system is not clogged with dust… there’s a lot obvious recommendations of this style, which, however, it is never useless to recall. You should also know that more than half of the passages of laptops in after-sales service are related to software problems. Keep your operating system and applications up to date (which is also a big plus from a security point of view), perform maintenance checks from time to time with reputable software, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a loved one who is more comfortable with computers to maintain his machine, here is also some common sense advice.

The day a crash occurs, before you plan to change the computer in a hurry, it is probably better to turn to a specialist repairer (when the warranty period has expired). Those who are not afraid of a motherboard can even find many tutorials and tips on the web to solve the problem themselves. This is, for example, the specialty of the iFixit site, which has disassembled hundreds of computers, sells tool kits, and offers documentation for making certain repairs available yourself.

And if your computer unfortunately has to be thrown away, do it with an organization that you are sure will take care of the recycling properly. An important point, insofar as 70% of waste hazardous to health and the environment is of electrical or electronic origin.

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Some clues

In closing, let’s encourage you, in addition to this article, to read this excellent file from our IT department on things to know and consider before buying a laptop.

It should also be noted that although Apple’s MacBook M1 and M2 are very attractive and have made their mark on the market in recent years, they are particularly closed computers from a hardware point of view. Everything is welded there, up to the SSD, and to change their battery, it is necessary to replace a complete block that also includes the keyboard and speakers, sold for $500. In terms of scalability and repairability, we’ve seen better.

Conversely, the Framework – slightly larger and more expensive than a similar lambda PC – exemplifies what should be done in terms of scalability and repairability. Without going too far, HP’s EliteBook models also have a good reputation in this area. No need for Windows, the Asus Chromebook C202 is designed with maintenance and repair in mind, in addition to being a “hardened” model suitable for the classroom.

The turn of the market towards eco-designed and environmentally responsible products, renovation, circular economy and repairability is irreparable, it is a safe bet that other references will bet on this bet in the coming months (we call it in every respect with our dear wishes) . Our experts will of course be there to examine them.

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