Complicated hardware situation, what is my next notebook?

Hello Everyone!
I am a security consultant. I usually work with 3 notebooks as one is my work device and two others are client based devices that are a must have because of security policies and hardware separation. As such, RDP is not allowed on the devices. Even if it were, I have to present and presenting through RDP would be problematic.

One of my laptops just had a firmware bug that bricked it, similar to Framework’s notebook. So please no recommendations for framework.

I am looking for something that has a good ifixit score as I’d like to keep it for an extended period of time and even make some upgrades (SSD, RAM, Battery change) as needed.

I am looking for an ultra portable sub 13" notebook as my office has external monitors. The requirements are rather simple.

  • Not a terrible CPU, nothing like a celeron, AMD preferred, but not a must. I will load linux and do browsing, some video uploads and recordings (with external cameras), sometimes play Nexiuz, but mostly use a browser and excel spreadsheets.
  • 16 GB of ram or at least 1 slot for RAM. If needed, I will swap out 8GB RAM for a larger module.
  • Ideally at least a single USB-C and USB slot
  • Can be charged by USB-C …this should be standard these days. Self explanatory…
  • Willing to put up with thicker models
  • No obscure hardware from small or unusual companies. Must be easy to maintain and update.
  • Ideally an 810 certification of some sort.

Or, let me know how else I can have access to 3 devices remotely without RDP and without a cloud solution. Traveling with 3 devices is really a pain. One of the notebooks is not chargable with USB-C which requires me to carry around a separate bag just because of the size of the additional charger…

I am looking to greatly downsize my footprint.

Could you explain the problem with Framework laptops?

From what I read, there is a bug in the BIOS and from my experience with this bug (not the laptop), it is a pain in the ass. I have seen this in the firmware of other laptops and it seems to be quite difficult to fix and is somehow time related to either the deployment of the firmware or the uptime of the machine.

The issue is this bug allows a laptop to discharge fully and then not recharge. No matter what you do, including disconnecting the main battery and the BIOS battery this will not reset anything, including the firmware in question. It seems to be persistent. So even after all of this, if your notebook is suffering from this bug, it will not recognize a charger, be it a USB-C charger or a barrel charger, even if your notebook has multiple chargers. This is not limited to the Framework laptop.

I read about this while considering the framework notebook and doing some research before I buy. This is the exact bug that caused my most recent notebook from Purism to be essentially bricked. If you were to catch your notebook in time and were to diagnose it fast enough, you could deploy a hotfix for it. Although, I have not seen hotfix instructions where it can be deployed to a BIOS or in Windows. I have only seen instructions on how to apply the fix for Linux based laptops. If it were not for this, I would have bought the Framework notebook already. But after reading this, it seems I will wait and pass it up until I need another notebook later on down the line.

The concept and deployment of everything else related to the laptop is fine. I would like to see longer battery life, but that is not a show stopper. This bug is a bitch to deal with…The concern is that I have seen attempts to deploy fixes against it that seemed to work initially, but then do not. I have read about guys who have 3 separate devices bricked, within 3 months of use.

It is not for lack of trying to resolve.

I see now.

I understand your point, but I think the sad reality is, if you really want a repairable device, there is not much to choose from. As far as I know, you either choose one of those not too stable Framework or Purism or whatever repairable device option or you choose a proprietary monster, not even allowing you to swtich the battery or the SSD, not to mention RAM, CPU, etc… And then Linux might not even run at all on these machines. :face_with_head_bandage:

1 Like

HP has some pretty good devices, even now. If you look on ifixit, almost all of the top scores go to HP devices. They are nowhere near the reparability of Framework, but they are pretty much as good as it gets for one of the offerings.

The other issue I deal with is that I live in a small European nation. I can order from other EU countries, but I have to know what models to look for…

The problem with such closed-off devices like laptops and smartphones is that there are a million versions of one model and there are also a million models and hundreds of brands having so many models, each.

I’ve seen also too many times, how the first version of a specific model was hyped, then the second was hated for whatever reason, etc.

It really depends on your use-case and it’s a matter of finding a device that has bearable negatives.

Finding it is very hard, because even if you would find customers with several years of experience telling their story about the device, it still might not apply to your situation.

For example, I am currently using a specific mouse, which was discontinued about a year or two ago. It didn’t have the best reviews and I’ve read a lot of complaints. It also wasn’t very popular in the first place, anyway.

However, if you would ask me about this device, I would, without hesitating a second, tell you that this is literally the best mouse I ever used in my life. It’s excellent. I never want to switch and if I find a seller offering me this discontinued mouse again, then I will immediately buy it as a backup, for when the first one gives up after years.

Same goes for laptops, smartphones, etc. I’ve heard a lot of people using Samsung smartphones love such devices. I had different experiences with Samsung smartphones in my life, in different scenarios.
Literally all those experiences were terrible. Ranging from bad usability and not being able to root the phone without voiding the warranty up to burning batteries, etc. (No, not only the Samsung Note had battery “problems”…)

Long story short, I think you just have to make the best educated guess you can achieve and then go for it. There is no good/sufficient solution to your problem, except you are lucky enough to find a true laptop expert, who knows which laptop fits certain demands best and where he has actual experience with those devices and didn’t just read the spec for a minute.

That said, I know a bit of iFixit, have used their tutorials a couple of times, but I don’t know how their score works.

I’ve seen a lot of devices, which may be manually repaired, but it’s a pain in the ass. They also have iFixit tutorials. For example, glued in batteries is one of the old stories of utter pain. Sure, you can repair it and sometimes it’s not even that hard. But, for example, I do not like the concept in the first place. Even if it is easy, I just am disgusted by the whole glue situation. So, it depends on the personal view there, as well.


Ok, asking from another direction…given my needs, is there a viable possibility to carry less hardware and still maintain the functionality I need while on business trips?

“Viable”'s definition relies in your hands.

I just can tell you, that your demands for the laptop specification are absolutely sane and possible. There are plenty of models fullfilling these requests. So, at least, you shouldn’t worry about being to find such a device, at all.

This is the only thing that already cuts off 80% of the devices out there. Laptop manufacturers are assholes. They don’t care. They glue in batteries, they solder in SSDs and RAM, etc. Even supposedly “high-end” products like MacBooks do this lower lifeform crap in their devices.

That’s also a funny thing. I have the same reasoning. I am also willing to put up with thicker models for the sake of improving the hardware quality and repairability. Well, guess what, they don’t give a damn. They just make the thinnest devices, because that’s what the Average Joe, who barely knows how to turn on that damn thing, wants, without knowing that it would probably be more reasonable to have a slightly thicker device, for the sake of having better hardware quality and repairability.

1 Like