Rugged laptop options?

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victw
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Rugged laptop options?

Post by victw »

EDIT for update:

The hinge was not broken. It was disconnected from the plastic backing. I found a few youtube videos that used JB Weld to glue down the piece that is held in by the screws that had stripped.

We glued it last night. Hopefully, it holds.

Vic


I have a broken hinge on an otherwise perfectly good laptop. It's 3 years old, has extra memory, and a large SSD drive.
The hinge mechanism is broken. I've been quoted 165 for the part and 100 to fix. Doesn't seem worth the price.

The problem is - this is my second hinge failure. The previous laptop lasted about the same - 3 years. Is it possible to buy a laptop that will not have hinge failure? It seems to be a common problem. What do I look for?

I'd like to stay in the 600 range. I don't need the beefed-up memory - but I do need a large drive - or have to go with an extra external hard drive.

Any thoughts on specs to look for?

Vic
Last edited by victw on Tue May 25, 2021 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sleepless
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by Sleepless »

ThinkPads have a good reputation. I am still using my excellent 10-year ThinkPad X220, runs like a charm, no mechanical or electrical issues whatsoever (I did replace the HD with SSD for speed).
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Normchad
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by Normchad »

For something truly rugged, there is the Panasonic Toughbook.
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sunny_socal
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by sunny_socal »

Lenovo Thinkpad. Stay away from consumer grade laptops.

My Macbook pro has lasted for 8 years without mechanical problems. Still runs like the day I bought it so the software is good, too. But - way above your budget. Probably works out to be about the same considering I would have gone through at least 2 windows laptops during that time.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by RickBoglehead »

Several observations:

1) Buy laptops from Costco. 2 year warranty plus 2 more years with Costco Visa.

2) Learn how to replace a hinge yourself. Depending what it's connected to, it may, or may not, be fairly easy.

3) I have never had a hinge break. I used my IBM Thinkpad T400 for over a decade with no issue, opening and closing it daily. I now have a Lenovo laptop, but don't use it regularly.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by ClevrChico »

The Thinkpad T-series has been the gold standard for decades.
kleiner
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by kleiner »

In my opinion, the biggest problem is dust - pick a fanless model to minimize the effect of dust.
surfinagin
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by surfinagin »

My Dell Inspiron 17R is almost 10yrs old -no problems, hinges or otherwise.
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anon_investor
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by anon_investor »

ClevrChico wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 7:22 am The Thinkpad T-series has been the gold standard for decades.
+1.
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galawdawg
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by galawdawg »

I echo the recommendations for a Thinkpad. Stick with the X or T series which are the higher-end corporate/business models. Built like a tank. I'm still using the Thinkpad X300 I purchased in 2008, running Windows 10 better than many new consumer grade laptops. Not a single problem with it in thirteen years. Easy to replace keyboards, hard drives and disassemble for cleaning if desired.
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hand
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by hand »

It is often not worth it to extend the life (or insure) of electronics - If it were me, I would consider going cheaper, using cloud storage, and planning to replace more frequently.

Or just buy a similar non-working laptop, and harvest the hinge.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by radiowave »

Normchad wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 1:38 am For something truly rugged, there is the Panasonic Toughbook.
+1
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wolf359
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by wolf359 »

The problem is that you're buying $600 laptops. The higher quality laptops being mentioned in this thread cost around $1,500-$3,000.

You could stay on the cheap side and just plan to buy a laptop every 3 years, or buy a high quality laptop that costs 2X-5X as much.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by tibbitts »

wolf359 wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 8:35 am The problem is that you're buying $600 laptops. The higher quality laptops being mentioned in this thread cost around $1,500-$3,000.

You could stay on the cheap side and just plan to buy a laptop every 3 years, or buy a high quality laptop that costs 2X-5X as much.
Well, in fairness, I used to buy refurb laptops all the time, which were all the business-class lines (for example Latitude for Dell), and had hinges fail. The OP doesn't say how the hinge failed. Certainly hinges can fail on business-class laptops.

Normally by this point in a thread somebody would have said that they would have manufactured their own hinges (better design of course) and installed them. I actually have replaced hinges on my business-class laptops. However the "new" hinges were donated to me from someone who had some of the same broken models in the "fleet" of computers at his work, so that was just luck. Some hinges are easy to replace and some extremely difficult. The ones I replaced I'd rate as only moderately difficult. Similarly, I've replaced keyboards on several laptops now, and might need to do that on the one I'm using now, but probably won't: it's literally the last part to come out when completely stripping down the computer. The keyboards I've replaced required only removing maybe 1/3rd of the laptops' components. When working on laptops there's usually some delicate pushing and prying to do and I've broken parts before. Of course if you have a donor computer that helps a lot - you get to feel out working on something you can break without any real damage being done.
Topic Author
victw
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by victw »

I paid more for the last laptop. It was a grand. But I was paying for a larger monitor - 17, a better chip and more memory.

I'm not coding for a living anymore so I don't need any of those things.

I will take a second look at the ThinkPads.

Appreciate any other thoughts. I'm curious about the 2 in 1s and 365s. Seems like they would have a different hinge mechanism. But possibly not better since they seem designed for a different crowd.

We are not Costco members. I do have family members that are.

Vic
onourway
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by onourway »

Thinkpad hinges are a proven design although newer models have mostly eliminated the old two stainless hinges for a single large center unit that seems sturdy but is not long-term tested yet.

Basically you need to buy from a business line like the Thinkpad T series, Dell Latitude, or a MacBook. Any of those will last most of a decade if not handled too roughly.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by tibbitts »

onourway wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 9:10 am Thinkpad hinges are a proven design although newer models have mostly eliminated the old two stainless hinges for a single large center unit that seems sturdy but is not long-term tested yet.

Basically you need to buy from a business line like the Thinkpad T series, Dell Latitude, or a MacBook. Any of those will last most of a decade if not handled too roughly.
My Latitude was not nearly a decade old when the hinges failed. Overall all the dozen or so laptops I've had have been pretty durable. Most were business-class and some weren't. My newest non-business-class laptop has definitely not been durable.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by LilyFleur »

sunny_socal wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 6:49 am Lenovo Thinkpad. Stay away from consumer grade laptops.

My Macbook pro has lasted for 8 years without mechanical problems. Still runs like the day I bought it so the software is good, too. But - way above your budget. Probably works out to be about the same considering I would have gone through at least 2 windows laptops during that time.
My best friend is a teacher, and the Macs last for years in the classroom, which is a brutal environment.

I'm thankful my Macbook Pro is still chugging along at 8 years old. And the Macs are safer from viruses as well. Not totally safe, though. I was a graphic designer, so I have a need for extra memory and storage. It is an expensive computer.

I am on my third protective cover on my Macbook Pro, and one of the USB slots no longer works. The writing is on the wall. The slow technology on the USB means that my backups don't completely back up my data, which is a problem. A recent install of ESET may also be part of the backup problem, but I am going to have to make sure I have a good backup before I do the next update or buy a new Mac.
runninginvestor
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by runninginvestor »

Quality ThinkPad is way to go in my opinion. I've dropped several work computers that keep on kicking. I even dropped my personal computer on the hinge while it was closed and it is still fine 6 years later.

Disclaimer: not recommending anyone drop their computer though :P
02nz
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by 02nz »

onourway wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 9:10 am Thinkpad hinges are a proven design although newer models have mostly eliminated the old two stainless hinges for a single large center unit that seems sturdy but is not long-term tested yet.
I don't think this is correct. The E series (the cheapest series in the ThinkPad family) use a barrel-type hinge, but every other model I could find, including the just-released X1 Carbon Gen 9, uses the two metal hinges.

(I agree ThinkPad is a good choice for durability - T series is a good all-arounder, I recommend getting it with AMD Ryzen 4000 series over Intel.)
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by tibbitts »

LilyFleur wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 3:49 pm
sunny_socal wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 6:49 am Lenovo Thinkpad. Stay away from consumer grade laptops.

My Macbook pro has lasted for 8 years without mechanical problems. Still runs like the day I bought it so the software is good, too. But - way above your budget. Probably works out to be about the same considering I would have gone through at least 2 windows laptops during that time.
My best friend is a teacher, and the Macs last for years in the classroom, which is a brutal environment.

I'm thankful my Macbook Pro is still chugging along at 8 years old. And the Macs are safer from viruses as well. Not totally safe, though. I was a graphic designer, so I have a need for extra memory and storage. It is an expensive computer.

I am on my third protective cover on my Macbook Pro, and one of the USB slots no longer works. The writing is on the wall. The slow technology on the USB means that my backups don't completely back up my data, which is a problem. A recent install of ESET may also be part of the backup problem, but I am going to have to make sure I have a good backup before I do the next update or buy a new Mac.
I would say that after having several experiences with MacBook Pros, the power cords are a complete disaster and certainly the least durable of any of my laptop power cords (although the connectors themselves are excellent.) Yes you can ShoeGoo them, but really, it looks a little silly to have your significantly expensive laptop held together with ShoeGoo.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by LilyFleur »

tibbitts wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 4:25 pm
LilyFleur wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 3:49 pm
sunny_socal wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 6:49 am Lenovo Thinkpad. Stay away from consumer grade laptops.

My Macbook pro has lasted for 8 years without mechanical problems. Still runs like the day I bought it so the software is good, too. But - way above your budget. Probably works out to be about the same considering I would have gone through at least 2 windows laptops during that time.
My best friend is a teacher, and the Macs last for years in the classroom, which is a brutal environment.

I'm thankful my Macbook Pro is still chugging along at 8 years old. And the Macs are safer from viruses as well. Not totally safe, though. I was a graphic designer, so I have a need for extra memory and storage. It is an expensive computer.

I am on my third protective cover on my Macbook Pro, and one of the USB slots no longer works. The writing is on the wall. The slow technology on the USB means that my backups don't completely back up my data, which is a problem. A recent install of ESET may also be part of the backup problem, but I am going to have to make sure I have a good backup before I do the next update or buy a new Mac.
I would say that after having several experiences with MacBook Pros, the power cords are a complete disaster and certainly the least durable of any of my laptop power cords (although the connectors themselves are excellent.) Yes you can ShoeGoo them, but really, it looks a little silly to have your significantly expensive laptop held together with ShoeGoo.
Hahahaha, thankfully I have not had to use ShoeGoo on my power cord, but now I know what works, thank you :mrgreen: :sharebeer
sdrilling
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by sdrilling »

Another vote for Lenovo Thinkpad.

The only brand we use in our consulting practice. We trade up every 3 - 4 years.

I am currently using the P51. Built like a tank.
rich126
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by rich126 »

Normchad wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 1:38 am For something truly rugged, there is the Panasonic Toughbook.
Didn't realize these things were still around. When I worked with the military we used these and they managed to survive in the mideast heat/desert. This was back pre 2000.

A bit costly for the average person.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by trevorshhh »

Another vote for the Lenovo Thinkpad X- or T- series. I am typing this now on my X series. These laptops are not only very durable but also easy to repair.

I went through a lot of laptop hinges myself back in the day. The first Thinkpad I bought I got used on eBay and more recently bought a new one. I have been very happy with both. Just stay away from Lenovo's other products as they are not as high of quality.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by galawdawg »

victw wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 9:00 am I paid more for the last laptop. It was a grand. But I was paying for a larger monitor - 17, a better chip and more memory.

I'm not coding for a living anymore so I don't need any of those things.

I will take a second look at the ThinkPads.

Appreciate any other thoughts. I'm curious about the 2 in 1s and 365s. Seems like they would have a different hinge mechanism. But possibly not better since they seem designed for a different crowd.

We are not Costco members. I do have family members that are.

Vic
Take a look at the Lenovo Outlet. https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/outletus/laptops/c/LAPTOPS

You should be able to find a nice X or T series in the $600-$700 range. Some are new but most are refurbished with a full one-year warranty. I've purchased several of them in the past and they've all looked and worked like they were fresh off the factory floor. The ThinkPad Yoga is a convertible, I have one and it is very rugged and durable but I find myself primarily as a traditional laptop as I find it too heavy to really use as a tablet (it is close to three pounds). Unless you have a particular need for a convertible, I'd recommend you stick with a T or X series. You could pick up an ThinkPad X1 tablet but that will set you back over $1,000 and even those are over two pounds.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by onourway »

02nz wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 3:55 pm
onourway wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 9:10 am Thinkpad hinges are a proven design although newer models have mostly eliminated the old two stainless hinges for a single large center unit that seems sturdy but is not long-term tested yet.
I don't think this is correct. The E series (the cheapest series in the ThinkPad family) use a barrel-type hinge, but every other model I could find, including the just-released X1 Carbon Gen 9, uses the two metal hinges.

(I agree ThinkPad is a good choice for durability - T series is a good all-arounder, I recommend getting it with AMD Ryzen 4000 series over Intel.)
Fair enough. I was going by the brand new X1 Extreme I have sitting in front of me with the new design. :sharebeer
hi_there
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by hi_there »

I used to buy only IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads, and build quality was one of the primary reasons. Nowadays though, I think other brands can be just as good. I also feel that Thinkpads have become more fragile as their designs focus on weight and compact dimensions. Thinkpad is still a good choice, but most other brands offer compelling products as well.

Besides that though, your laptop hinges seem to be breaking at quite an abnormal rate. Are you sure this is not a function of user habit, rather than design problems with the computers?
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by texasdiver »

The Dell Latitude business laptops that my school district issues to staff are tough as nails. Way more solid feeling than my person laptop which is an Asus Zenbook.

I would think any good business-class laptop will serve. If you want it to be under $600 then look for older discontinued models with last generation processors.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by lazydavid »

Stop picking your laptop up by the display. :P

Seriously though, the business-line laptops are just built better than most consumer-grade ones (excluding some of the higher end consumer units), and will survive many years of normal use or even modest abuse. Downside is they tend to be a lot more than $600. However, since they tend to have a much longer useful life than what businesses tend to keep them for, refurbished or off-lease units are typically extremely plentiful and reasonably priced. Primary models would be Dell Latitude 7xxx, HP EliteBook, Lenovo Thinkpad T Series. You should be able to get a well-specced 2-3 year old unit for well under a grand that you can use for another 7-8 years easily.
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by sunny_socal »

hi_there wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 8:42 pm I used to buy only IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads, and build quality was one of the primary reasons. Nowadays though, I think other brands can be just as good. I also feel that Thinkpads have become more fragile as their designs focus on weight and compact dimensions. Thinkpad is still a good choice, but most other brands offer compelling products as well.

Besides that though, your laptop hinges seem to be breaking at quite an abnormal rate. Are you sure this is not a function of user habit, rather than design problems with the computers?
You statement is true if you wander outside the T-series or X-series. These days Lenovo makes a host of 'consumer' grade laptops that are intended to compete with the HPs and Acers you'll find at Walmart. Get T or X, they still come with internal cage structures and are drop tested.
hi_there
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Re: Rugged laptop options?

Post by hi_there »

sunny_socal wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 7:18 am
hi_there wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 8:42 pm I used to buy only IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads, and build quality was one of the primary reasons. Nowadays though, I think other brands can be just as good. I also feel that Thinkpads have become more fragile as their designs focus on weight and compact dimensions. Thinkpad is still a good choice, but most other brands offer compelling products as well.

Besides that though, your laptop hinges seem to be breaking at quite an abnormal rate. Are you sure this is not a function of user habit, rather than design problems with the computers?
You statement is true if you wander outside the T-series or X-series. These days Lenovo makes a host of 'consumer' grade laptops that are intended to compete with the HPs and Acers you'll find at Walmart. Get T or X, they still come with internal cage structures and are drop tested.
Good point. Maybe because the laptops have gotten lighter, there is simply a feeling of lower solidity, since heavier things seem more durable by touch. On the other hand, a laptop with lower mass will also not experience the same impact force when dropped compared to a larger and older laptop. So, I wonder if this affects testing standards and how drop test relate to non-dropping forces.

If it adds informative value: my own anecdotal experience is two work-issued Thinkpads with broken power ports, since they switched to USB-C. This design decision seems linked directly to compact cases. The older ancient Thinkpads had larger and more rugged power cable connectors. So, this does indicate to me that the designs prioritize form over durability to a greater extent than before.

With all this being said, I suspect that laptop hinge failure could be mitigated if OP stops carrying the laptops by their screens, which I speculate he is doing. This might sound weird, but I have seen people do it.
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