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what is the most environmentally friendly laptop you can buy?

 
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the short version ...

After rounds and rounds and way, way, way too much research (including environmental paths that sucked), about seven years ago I decided that I wanted to go with a laptop that would last ten years or more.  

That laptop is now seven years old and seems like it easily has another seven years of life in it.

I was talking to Mud yesterday and he was very adamant that I need to make a thread about this.  Mud has a workee-job of mending computers.  He says that most people buy a new computer every two years.  And by "most" he means damn near everybody.  I told him that I know a lot of people getting a lot of stuff done every day on computers that are more than five years old.  He pointed out that most of the people I visit with are permies - so my sample set is skewed.

So here is what i did (the "why" I did this is an explanation that is too long for this post - and if I tried, I might never finish this post):  look at these thinkpad models on wikipedia.  Select the heaviest "workstation".  Then order something with heaps of memory.  Applying my technique would lead to this today.

The first thing I did was install linux mint.  That has probably been one of the smartest things I have ever done.  

I bought this on May 30, 2015.  So it is now seven years and several months.  Talking to mud, it sounds like new thing would run faster than mine in a bunch of different ways, but i would only notice that speed improvement less than 1% of the time.  Further, if I really, really, really want something faster, i would get far more happiness from restarting the computer once a month rather than leaving it running for three or four months at a time.

Maybe six years from now, i will restart my computer once a week and when this computer is 14 years old I will finally buy something new.

Mud insists that i point out:  a new laptop once every two years at $1000 per laptop for 14 years is $7000 plus a lot of headache/hassle.  
 
pollinator
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I finally retired my 13 year old Thinkpad x200 because the dual processor was too darn slow. It was given to me when the first hard drive died and I just kept rebuilding it with cheap parts until it couldn't keep up with windows. If you want a laptop to last get whatever has the best most modern video card and accessory ports you can afford, especially USB ports.
 
pollinator
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One issue I have had with laptops is updating/fixing parts. Saw this on Adam Savage's Tested Youtube. Right now I am using a desktop that is about eight years old and I upgrade the RAM to 16GB. If I was looking for a laptop this one would be on my list.
 
pollinator
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My 10 year old Macbook Pro is still plodding along decently.

With an i5 dual core processor and 8gb of ram, it still holds it's own against most mid range laptops. I did upgrade the 128gb ssd for a 512gb ssd.

The first laptop to make me go "ooh" since getting my mac 5+ years ago is my work laptop. A dell xps 13, i7 6 core, 16gb of ram, 512gb ssd and most importantly a really nice touchscreen. It's also much lighter with a longer battery life than my mac.

My mac will still make an excellent desk based computer for some time to come, but I am jonesing after the portability features of the xps.


At this point, I'm an Operating system agnostic. I have seen, used and fixed, Linux, Mac and Windows and I really don't care which I'm using.



I fear that p15 isn't the same quality as the x200. I've had a couple of t20s, a t42 and an x200 and they were decent. I can't see me going back to a plastic shell, the magnesium shells were cool but aluminium drops better.
 
pollinator
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Have you heard of the Framework computer?  You can repair and upgrade it yourself and it comes with its own screwdriver!!

https://frame.work/fr/en/about
 
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I have a Thinkpad X230 from 2008 that is still going strong. If I was doing something that needed a more powerful computer I'd get a Framework, the "you can fix every part of it" concept is awesome.
 
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well I guess the one you can make last the longest maybe.  if you use apple product might want to make it last as long as possible because Foxconn in china, apples major manufacturer and assembler has shut down indefinitely because of drought, lack of water and empty rivers .seems that  global heat waves and drought  have effects no one could have envisioned..
 
pollinator
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The most environmentally friendly laptop you can buy is probably a used one. About four years ago I picked up a used W530 Thinkpad for about $200 (less than 10% of its original price) because I wanted something with a fast processor so I could emulate wii games on my train commute. Aside from being ridiculously heavy relative to new laptops, the old W530 is still fine for many applications.

I also bought a used gaming computer about 5 years ago to use as my desktop computer. Aside from bogging down when trying to edit 5k 360 video, it also works fine for all my current application. But, I suspect many/most modern computers would also have issues with videos of that kind.

Things certainly have changed from the mid-90s when a three year old computer was nearing the end of its useful life.
 
gardener
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I have bought and inherited quite a few laptops and I also have similar concerns. After my first laptop which was a wonderful Thinkpad when IBM was still making them, I only worked with used computers and Linux. A brief foray into Apple's ecosystem left me... unhappy with all of it.

I then bought a new HP Spectre X360 for work. I bought it in 2017 I think and am still using it. But I find that the everything on-board super slim profile means that it is 0% repairable. When the battery function starts failing every winter because I keep it cold in my office... I realized I needed a backup computer.

This time I remembered how awesomely repairable my Thinkpad was, and did some research again. So far what I've found is that business workstation style laptops are amazingly repairable. So that means Thinkpads, Inspirons, and my new favorite fling - Elitebooks. HP's computers are very very repairable. They label components clearly, the connectors are easy to access, the screws are all standard.

On a budget for typical user - I recommend buying 2-3 generation old used business laptops with a mid-grade processor and at least 4gb of ram, 13 inch screen, and if the performance is poor switching to Linux. Even if you don't get 10 years out of it, your costs are lower and you are increasing the lifespan of an existing machine.

edits: grammar/capitalization/etc
 
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+1 on used business laptops and workstations. Max out the RAM and plunk in an SSD (solid state) hard drive and you get a snappy machine that keeps on truckin'.

There are going to be a ton of cheap/free systems very soon, as Microsoft harangues people into buying new hardware for Windows 11.

Note also that anybody who wants/needs Windows 10 on an older system can download a legal copy directly from Microsoft. All you need is the license number on the original sticker.
 
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James Alun wrote:My 10 year old Macbook Pro is still plodding along decently.

With an i5 dual core processor and 8gb of ram, it still holds it's own against most mid range laptops. I did upgrade the 128gb ssd for a 512gb ssd



I think we're running the same exacty machine, same upgrades and everything.  A1278?  

I got this second-hand a year ago, wiped it and installed ubuntu.  The fan runs hard if I'm taxing it too much, and the heat seemingly weakens the antannae.  Meaning it's starting to ask to be replaced.  But, all-in-all, it's doing great for its age.

I'll probably replace it with something along the lines of what Paul describes, though I've not bought new in 22 years, and I've not bought non-mac, let me see, ever?  I'm now fully comfortable in linux, so the world has opened up to me.  Thinking of looking for a late-model refurb akin to the lenovo in the OP. Price reduction on refurb is nice, but mostly I just love not supporting new manufacturing when possible.  Open to suggestions.  
 
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IMHO, the greatest concern about buying a laptop for the long term is the fact that laptops, in general, cannot upgrade their ports.  As such, the greatest issue is choosing a laptop with the most recent non-proprietary connector standards, and at least as many of those ports as you currently require.  Right now that'd be USB 3, iirc; although USB 4 should be coming very soon.  If you're buying a brand new laptop, it might be worthwhile to require a USB 4 port in your shopping list.

Or you could build your own out of a Raspberry Pi 4 compute module, if you have that skillset or would like to develop it.  The RAspPi4 has USB 3, but does have expansion capabilities that may permit a USB 4 "HAT" (hardware attached top) to be added in the future.

And I agree that GNU/Linux is the way to go with any computing choice intended to be used for more than 4 years, as both Apple & Microsoft have business models that benefit from software "bloat" and requiring newer chipsets on the hardware, in order to encourage an earlier upgrade cycle.  Linux doesn't care how old your hardware actually is.
 
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I'm unfortunately working on a 1 year old MacBook Air at the moment. I had a 10 year old MacBook Pro before that which still ran fine if a little slowly--and a hard drive cleanout and some better computer hygiene would have sped it up and extended its life for sure. But I had a podcast appearance fall through because I could no longer update the operating system and thus couldn't run the necessary podcasting software, and then decided I couldn't afford to have that sort of thing happen again.

So it depends on what you need your computer to be able to do. If, like me, you're in a field where you need to be able to run ever-changing software, that might be the limiting factor on computer lifespan.

Doesn't mean I like it.
 
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Add me to Team "Business Grade Laptops with Linux".  My work laptop policy is every 4-5 years.  I have been using Dell Precision mobile Workstations for the last 5-6 years.  My first unit was the 15" model 5520, which is in the same "family" as the Dell XPS 13 mentioned above.  The XPS 15 looks identical to the 5520, except for the model label.  When I got my new unit at work, I was able to keep the older unit to wipe and load Linux for Development projects.  This unit has 32GB RAM, M.2 SSD and 7th gen i7, as well as a 4GB Nvidia Graphics, and running Ubuntu, it out performs, in my personal testing, my newer, bulkier Precision 7540 with newer but similar specs, running Windows.

The biggest issue that is manageable for laptop longevity, in my opinion, is cooling.  Many people unknowingly damage their laptops by setting them on soft surfaces, like blankets or beds, and leaving them, while they are running.  This will block vents and cause the life of the laptop to shorten, sometime drastically.  I am a big proponent of lapdesks and/or cooling pads for laptops.  My Wife is still running one of my Dell Latitudes that was bought new in 2010, though the RAM has been Maxxed, and it now runs an SSD.  I have not convinced her to move to Linux yet, so she is running Win7 still, SMH.

A slightly used Business Class Laptop, Memory upgrades, SSD Upgrades, and Linux, along with keeping the laptop cool is a pretty good recipe for laptop longevity.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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A surprising amount of bio-gunk gets into the cooling systems of laptops. I suspect that reduces cooling efficiency. I have been know to take a leaf blower to the fan and cooling ports of a used/free machine. A nice little cloud of ick puffs out. Haven't killed a machine yet.
 
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Jimmy Burt wrote:
The biggest issue that is manageable for laptop longevity, in my opinion, is cooling.  Many people unknowingly damage their laptops by setting them on soft surfaces, like blankets or beds, and leaving them, while they are running.  This will block vents and cause the life of the laptop to shorten, sometime drastically.  I am a big proponent of lapdesks and/or cooling pads for laptops.  My Wife is still running one of my Dell Latitudes that was bought new in 2010, though the RAM has been Maxxed, and it now runs an SSD.  I have not convinced her to move to Linux yet, so she is running Win7 still, SMH.

A slightly used Business Class Laptop, Memory upgrades, SSD Upgrades, and Linux, along with keeping the laptop cool is a pretty good recipe for laptop longevity.



Have you considered https://frame.work/ ?

Yes Dell xps or similar high end laptop should last 10 years or more...
Windows 7 I hope is not connected to internet??
 
James Alun
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Beau Davidson wrote:
I think we're running the same exacty machine, same upgrades and everything.  A1278?  

I got this second-hand a year ago, wiped it and installed ubuntu.  The fan runs hard if I'm taxing it too much, and the heat seemingly weakens the antannae.



Close, A1425, I held out for a retina model.

I broke one of the antenna cables, now my choice is bluetooth or wifi. It's on it's second battery and starting to fail. But it's still trucking.

Jae Gruenke wrote:I could no longer update the operating system



This is going to be a problem soon. I'll be moving to linux when some of the apps won't update.


Honestly I'm not too worried about replaceable processors or ram, my questions is can I buy replacement screens, fans and batteries 10 years later?

I've previously found that by the time I'm ready to upgrade the ram, technology has moved on and you can't get the parts.
 
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I've had good luck with secondhand HP laptops running Linux. I found an excellent essay on the how's and why's of doing so. Near me, there is a second-hand store that has used laptops for $250+-. I had one with a 15" display that I nursed along for years. It even survived cat puke on the keyboard. Apparently with older HP laptops, you can swap out the keyboard by pulling a few screws and prying the old keyboard out. Eventually the drive gave out, and when I tried to replace it, I could never get it to boot again. I had to unplug the ribbon cable for the display, and afterwards, I never could get it to work again. When I went to the used computer store, they had a HP gaming laptop with a 17" display for $250.00. It would throw a CMOS error on boot (unpatched Windows 10) , but I figured that I knew how to fix it. The store gave me a discount because of the error message. After installing Debian Linux, it still gave the CMOS error, so I opened the hood and looked for a watch battery. Couldn't find one. I began searching  various online forums, only to find out that newer HP laptops incorporated the CMOS battery into the main laptop battery. So, for thirty bux, a replacement battery made my laptop good as new.
 
Jimmy Burt
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Luke Bryan wrote:

Have you considered https://frame.work/ ?

Yes Dell xps or similar high end laptop should last 10 years or more...
Windows 7 I hope is not connected to internet??




I had not heard of the Framework until today.  I have looked at it today.  That is a very interesting platform.  I am planning to replace my wife's SSD next month, with one loaded with Ubuntu, and just tell her to learn to swim  She is actually expecting it, I wouldn't risk my marriage (or at least where I get to sleep) on a surprise like that.  Her laptop, has 16 GB RAM and an early i5, but all she uses it for is downloading photos from her camera and playing DVD's for the kids.  Her laptop is old enough to still have a DVD drive in it.  Her laptop is also a 17 inch display, and she likes the bigger screen.

My 3 daughters have bought their own used MacBooks over the last few years.  The Oldest now has a MB Pro Retina from about 2015, to finish her College with.  Younger 2 daughters both have purchased MB Airs, and I believe both of those are 2015 model.  Middle Daughter just started College 2 weeks ago, and youngest is in High School.  All of them use these for internet browsing, streamining, and school work.

I will definitely consider the Frame.work in the future, but I will not need a new system for me for several years at least.
 
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My first computer was a TI-99 with a serial drive (tape recorder). Most people barely, if at all, knew what a computer was.  From there, I graduated to a  286, a Packard Bel, then a 386 Cyrix, which ONLY got replaced because, though it was faster than a 486, reported what it was, so critical programs would not load on it (they required machines report being a 486 (programmers are seldom as all wise and knowing as many of them believe).  Obsolescence that isn't, but is.

Sadly, if we were running the equivalent of Windows 3.0, our desk and lap tops would scream, but, instead, we are dealing with bloatware so memory hungry it eats several times the storage our earlier computers had (ah yes, the days when having a 20 meg drive space made you one of the special types).
 
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I just replaced my 2008 MacBook pro last year. It worked perfectly, but I couldn't update my VPN anymore, which was turning into an issue. Otherwise, I'd still be using it.

Is there really much difference between laptops, though, as far as environmentally friendly goes? They all have pretty much the same stuff in them. If you take care of them and don't need the latest shiny thing, most of them will last a long time. I haven't been paying much attention to what's on offer these days, though.
 
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I’ll be rereading this when my 2 evening beers are no longer affecting me😊.


My MacBook Air 2011 quit me about 18 months back, so I have been relying on my “smart” phone for internet.

I did find a site called backmarket that sells and guarantees used and refurbished computers.  That was good, but I have no idea what to buy.  I think if I study this thread as I used to study my text books, I will have some idea how to make the decisions required to get a computer.

Thanks
 
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Jan White wrote:Is there really much difference between laptops, though, as far as environmentally friendly goes? They all have pretty much the same stuff in them. If you take care of them and don't need the latest shiny thing, most of them will last a long time. I haven't been paying much attention to what's on offer these days, though.


One significant difference is the processor and power consumption. About 10 years ago they started making 'Chromebooks', laptops with minimal processors for those who just want to have net access and do very basic tasks. They went through lots of marketing jingo jango, were 'netbooks' at another point, I can't keep track of that stuff. Basically they are like smartphones with big screens and usable keyboards. They only use slightly more power than a phone, mostly because of the larger screen. But much less than laptops and especially desktops.

For many people using a laptop or desktop with a regular Intel or AMD processor is like a single person commuting to work in an SUV that gets 15 MPG. Someone who takes their family camping in the national forest on the weekends or hauls tools and lumber around is making legitamate use of an SUV, just like someone that does video editing, GIS, or somesuch would be suffering without something that runs with more powerful processing cycles. Most people, most of the time are going to be better off and putting less crap in the environment if they drive a Prius, ride a motorcycle, or use an ARM processor to take care of business...
 
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Beau Davidson wrote:Thinking of looking for a late-model refurb akin to the lenovo in the OP. Price reduction on refurb is nice, but mostly I just love not supporting new manufacturing when possible.  Open to suggestions.  



I'm a software engineer, and I love refurbished machines. Here are a couple of places to look, filtered to use AMD processors:

  • Lenova - Most manufacturers have a place on their site where they sell refurbished models: https://www.lenovo.com/us/outletus/en/laptops/?orgRef=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.startpage.com%252F&visibleDatas=766%3ARefurbished%3B696%3AAMD%20Ryzen%E2%84%A2%207%2CAMD%20Ryzen%E2%84%A2%205%20PRO%3B857%3A15%22%20-%2016.9%22%2C17%22%20-%2018.9%22%3B704%3A16%20GB
  • Newegg - Here's a filtered list of higher end refurbished laptops with >16" screens: https://www.newegg.com/p/pl?N=100167732%204016%20601309374%20601286846%20601286864%20600553909%20600553910

  • Why AMD processors? They are a generation ahead of Intel, and tend to be more reliable. Replacing the OS with Mint or one of the other Linux options is a solid choice. Others have mentioned gaming machines, and they can be a good choice, but it's often harder to find refurbished models.

    In terms of longevity, any time you have a fan, you will pull dust into the device, which tends to accumulate inside the case if not cleaned out. I have not tried going down the fanless route for a laptop yet (my PC is fanless, and it's silent and wonderful), but that may be something to consider as well: https://fanlesslaptop.com/.

    Onward!

    Josh
     
    James Alun
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    Coydon Wallham wrote:

    Jan White wrote:Is there really much difference between laptops, though, as far as environmentally friendly goes? They all have pretty much the same stuff in them. If you take care of them and don't need the latest shiny thing, most of them will last a long time. I haven't been paying much attention to what's on offer these days, though.


    One significant difference is the processor and power consumption. About 10 years ago they started making 'Chromebooks', laptops with minimal processors for those who just want to have net access and do very basic tasks. They went through lots of marketing jingo jango, were 'netbooks' at another point, I can't keep track of that stuff. Basically they are like smartphones with big screens and usable keyboards. They only use slightly more power than a phone, mostly because of the larger screen. But much less than laptops and especially desktops.

    For many people using a laptop or desktop with a regular Intel or AMD processor is like a single person commuting to work in an SUV that gets 15 MPG. Someone who takes their family camping in the national forest on the weekends or hauls tools and lumber around is making legitamate use of an SUV, just like someone that does video editing, GIS, or somesuch would be suffering without something that runs with more powerful processing cycles. Most people, most of the time are going to be better off and putting less crap in the environment if they drive a Prius, ride a motorcycle, or use an ARM processor to take care of business...



    I.. umm.. have to step carefully here.

    My experience is very different to this.

    I had a predecessor to a chromebook, a netbook. Specifically an Asus eeepc 901. It was rubbish.
    The build quality in comparison with the laptops we've been talking about was atrocious. Everything was clipped together not screws and the clips were made from the cheapest plastic you've ever seen. I think it lasted 2 years.

    My point is that chromebooks and ultraportables are not comparable due to longevity (or lack thereof!).

    Also the truck analogy doesn't really work. Let's compare an ultrabook, HP Elite Dragonfly G2, with a chromebook, HP Chromebook 14b-na0005na. The processors are both rated for 12-25/28w power draw depending on the load.

    When you use a chromebook, you're sacrificing longevity for cost. You're not decreasing the energy of use but you are increasing the build energy because you end up building more of them as they're not repairable.
     

    If we were talking about rescuing old servers or even worse, gaming pc's, to use as desktops, then your argument would have merit.

    Joshua Peterson wrote:Why AMD processors? They are a generation ahead of Intel, and tend to be more reliable. Replacing the OS with Mint or one of the other Linux options is a solid choice. Others have mentioned gaming machines, and they can be a good choice, but it's often harder to find refurbished models.

    In terms of longevity, any time you have a fan, you will pull dust into the device, which tends to accumulate inside the case if not cleaned out. I have not tried going down the fanless route for a laptop yet (my PC is fanless, and it's silent and wonderful), but that may be something to consider as well: https://fanlesslaptop.com/.



    In the 2 years I've been working in an IT department, I haven't seen or heard of a single processor failing. But I have replaced multiple fans. I'd certainly take a fanless intel machine over a fanned amd.  
     
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    James Alun wrote:
    I.. umm.. have to step carefully here.

    My experience is very different to this.

    I had a predecessor to a chromebook, a netbook. Specifically an Asus eeepc 901. It was rubbish.
    The build quality in comparison with the laptops we've been talking about was atrocious. Everything was clipped together not screws and the clips were made from the cheapest plastic you've ever seen. I think it lasted 2 years.

    My point is that chromebooks and ultraportables are not comparable due to longevity (or lack thereof!).

    Also the truck analogy doesn't really work. Let's compare an ultrabook, HP Elite Dragonfly G2, with a chromebook, HP Chromebook 14b-na0005na. The processors are both rated for 12-25/28w power draw depending on the load.

    When you use a chromebook, you're sacrificing longevity for cost. You're not decreasing the energy of use but you are increasing the build energy because you end up building more of them as they're not repairable.
     

    If we were talking about rescuing old servers or even worse, gaming pc's, to use as desktops, then your argument would have merit.


    I know the power usage thing came up in Paul's original thread about his laptop search, seemed to me there wasn't a clear answer there. He obviously does work that needs better performance though.

    Your comparison doesn't really address the issue for me. I'm talking about machines with ARM chips. That chromebook uses an Athalon. From what I've read every low power chip designed by Intel or AMD has kinda sucked and been driven out of the market by those with the ARM architecture.

    I have a literal stack of old laptops I have been keeping going for the last decade. Half are lower grade, but I've had a couple ThinkPads and a couple higher level Latitudes. They all have developed problems with regular use and transport. I've done my own repairs on a couple, but something else seems to fail soon after. I should probably take them to an expert for repair but other used laptops cost less than repair estimates I've seen. If I trusted a laptop line to hold up after repair I'd go that way, but the one time I bought new it was a ThinkPad and that one gave me the impression that Lenovo was cashing in on IBM's rep without putting in the same quality.

    The  "netbook"concept is still evolving, the point is what's available now. I've ended up with a Pinebook Pro, because of the open source nature of the project and the crazy low pricetag. The battery is about twice the size of my phone battery and lasts much longer than any of my laptops. But a few speedbumps here too. No idea what the laptop batteries would do new or how many Ah they take to charge (though now I will go look Ah up and record it) . Despite the "magnesium" frame I managed to crack the screen. It has some promise but not the longer frame answer I am seeking. You are right to question my statements above as they aren't based on very complete research, just what I've been cobbling together first hand.
     
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    Creighton Samuels wrote:
    Or you could build your own out of a Raspberry Pi 4 compute module, if you have that skillset or would like to develop it.  The RAspPi4 has USB 3, but does have expansion capabilities that may permit a USB 4 "HAT" (hardware attached top) to be added in the future.



    Another really good feature of the Raspberry pi is the low energy use. I found this page suggesting up to 50% lower than Intel processor. This could be very significant for off grid users. The size/technology of the screen is also a significant factor in battery use.

    Although Helmut says he found the Pi got hotter. I use my Raspad all the time with the fan actually switched off and only once got a temperature warning.
     
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    Coydon Wallham wrote:

    Your comparison doesn't really address the issue for me. I'm talking about machines with ARM chips. That chromebook uses an Athalon. From what I've read every low power chip designed by Intel or AMD has kinda sucked and been driven out of the market by those with the ARM architecture.



    Ah, sorry. My of my exposure to ARM has been through raspberry pi's and half the software I was interested in hadn't been ported to arm. How's the situation now?

    Coydon Wallham wrote:I have a literal stack of old laptops I have been keeping going for the last decade. Half are lower grade, but I've had a couple ThinkPads and a couple higher level Latitudes. They all have developed problems with regular use and transport. I've done my own repairs on a couple, but something else seems to fail soon after. I should probably take them to an expert for repair but other used laptops cost less than repair estimates I've seen. If I trusted a laptop line to hold up after repair I'd go that way, but the one time I bought new it was a ThinkPad and that one gave me the impression that Lenovo was cashing in on IBM's rep without putting in the same quality.



    I've had a few IBM Thinkpads and had brief exposure to Lenovo Thinkpads and I agree with you.

    I'm not saying that I expect the whole thing to work perfectly for 10+ years but when I can't get the case open because it's glued or clipped...

    Coydon Wallham wrote:I
    The  "netbook"concept is still evolving, the point is what's available now. I've ended up with a Pinebook Pro, because of the open source nature of the project and the crazy low pricetag. The battery is about twice the size of my phone battery and lasts much longer than any of my laptops. But a few speedbumps here too. No idea what the laptop batteries would do new or how many Ah they take to charge (though now I will go look Ah up and record it) . Despite the "magnesium" frame I managed to crack the screen. It has some promise but not the longer frame answer I am seeking. You are right to question my statements above as they aren't based on very complete research, just what I've been cobbling together first hand.



    Wow that pinebook is cheap! With a touchscreen added for no more than $100 extra and I would be seriously tempted (can I get a 13" 4k screen please?). The empty NVMe slot is a very nice touch.

    Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a power user (occasional video editing and video displays on multiple screens) so I haven't spent much time looking at the ultra efficient end of the market. I tend to compare the 15w of the processor I'm using in my work laptop and the 100w of the desktop equivalent. I also find any easy comparison is to look at the power supply, my work computer is 45w, my macbook 85w.

    The cracked screens is why I like aluminium cases without going to the extreme of the Panasonic toughbooks (massively expensive and underpowered).
     
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    James Alun wrote:Ah, sorry. My of my exposure to ARM has been through raspberry pi's and half the software I was interested in hadn't been ported to arm. How's the situation now?

    Wow that pinebook is cheap! With a touchscreen added for no more than $100 extra and I would be seriously tempted (can I get a 13" 4k screen please?). The empty NVMe slot is a very nice touch.

    Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a power user (occasional video editing and video displays on multiple screens) so I haven't spent much time looking at the ultra efficient end of the market. I tend to compare the 15w of the processor I'm using in my work laptop and the 100w of the desktop equivalent. I also find any easy comparison is to look at the power supply, my work computer is 45w, my macbook 85w.

    The cracked screens is why I like aluminium cases without going to the extreme of the Panasonic toughbooks (massively expensive and underpowered).


    I think ARM OSs have recently crossed the line into daily usability. The PBP comes with Manjaro and has a few other mainstream OS adaptations, seems to work as well as prefabbed distros I've used on PCs. I switched to Arch a decade ago. It forced me to learn some command line stuff and now 'regular' distributions confuse me more than anything where they are dumbed down for end users. Arch on Arm is not as well supported, but I got it working on the PBP (and on the Pinephone, though radio functionality is a whole nother issue) with the exception of sound (a problem other users weren't experiencing). Also relevant is that power management is still a struggle (sleep/suspend), though teams are active on numerous distros and may have this under control elsewhere. Everything else was working perfectly until the screen cracked, couldn't tell it apart from my regular installs. I've just been doing web browsing, Libre Office work, streaming, etc. with it, but seems like software is being ported over as interest grows pretty readily.

    I think they are keeping the designs simple at this stage, so probably no optional touch screen. I think there is a tablet though.

    I wanna say the PBP draws about 3 A at 5 V. I know I've used the battery bank I use for my phone to charge it through the USB port...
     
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    James Alun wrote:Honestly I'm not too worried about replaceable processors or ram, my questions is can I buy replacement screens, fans and batteries 10 years later?

    I've previously found that by the time I'm ready to upgrade the ram, technology has moved on and you can't get the parts.


    Thanks for presenting that point of view. That does seem a key point and I'm curious how the Framework will end up supporting all of it's hardware.

    I've been looking over the Framework and the MNT Reform as open source friendly projects. I was favouring the Reform because I really would like a mechanical keyboard (the one on the PBP is unusable for touch typing) and prefer trackballs. Carrying these extras in my laptop case makes for an awkward operation. From the comment you made, it looks like the Reform is a Toughbook that is even more overpriced and underpowered. But all of the hardware is carefully selected to have the widest availability over the longest period as they can plan for.

    The Framework has a better price with regular processors. They talk about fixability, but the one conversation I had with someone they thought Framework didn't go nearly as far as MNT does in that direction.

    For me, I don't do anything at the moment that would require an x86 so the processor in the MNT should be enough (I read somewhere that, though an ARM chip, it is more powerful than the one in the Pinebook). While the weakest Framework processor would be more than I need for a long time, the upgradeability of the MNT CPU could be a major feature...
     
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    Nancy Reading wrote:

    Creighton Samuels wrote:
    Or you could build your own out of a Raspberry Pi 4 compute module, if you have that skillset or would like to develop it.  The RAspPi4 has USB 3, but does have expansion capabilities that may permit a USB 4 "HAT" (hardware attached top) to be added in the future.



    Another really good feature of the Raspberry pi is the low energy use



    I've used a Raspberry Pi 4 as my primary desktop for over 2 years now, and I can attest that the low power consumption is very real.  The power supply I have is only rated for 10 watts maximum, but I probably average about 3 watts while I'm using it.  It drops down to less than a watt when in full idle.   It's a RISC processor, I believe; quad core.  I also know that when it goes into full idle, it's only using processor zero.  And it has power reduction features that'd you'd expect from a portable or cell phone, when you turn off the wifi or bluetooth radio, it's off.  It can run it's own fan, but I don't use it anymore; as I bought a case machined from aluminum that acts like an oversized heat sink, and that probably saves me about 2 watts.  The RAspPi4 also has underclocking available, if your particular use case doesn't require 1.5 Gigahertz and you desperately need lower consumption; dropping to 1.2 would probably work great for a working laptop, that should be fine for anything less than a Youtube/video development computer.  This doesn't include the monitor or speaker power consumption, however; either of which probably takes more than 10 watts alone.

    Granted, it sucks at any level of gaming more recent than the past decade; but it does make for an excellent desktop otherwise.  Since the chipset is derived from cell phone hardware, the hardware audio processing is excellent; Audacity runs like a champ.  Video processing is a bit lacking, but it can still play video files to 4K without skipping or losing sync, as long as you're not trying to do anything else in the background. (at 1.5 gigahertz)
     
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    I grew tired of wiping out the lettering on the keys in around six months, which required me to replace a lot of keyboards over the decades since my 286. I would have to look away from the board to find keys on those many occasions I only needed to strike a couple keys.  As such, I started looking around for boards like the old ones, with the lettering actually in and not just on the keys. That led me to the mechanicals.

    On that keyboard switch out, every time you switch keyboards, it puts your typing skills back a bit, since keyboards are far from consistent in dimensions, key arrangement and so on.


    My first mechanical was $200.00. It was both wonderful and disappointing.  It glitched and the keys started going south about two or three years in. Swapping keys would solve one problem, but not the glitches.  I grit my teeth and, recently, bought a HYPERX and, six months in, it trumps the $200.00 unit, and at about 1/4th the price.

    Coydon Wallham wrote:

    James Alun wrote:   [I] was favouring the Reform because I really would like a mechanical keyboard (the one on the PBP is unusable for touch typing) and prefer trackballs. Carrying these extras in my laptop case makes for an awkward operation. From the comment you made, it looks like the Reform is a Toughbook that is even more overpriced and underpowered. But all of the hardware is carefully selected to have the widest availability over the longest period as they can plan for.

     
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    James Alun wrote:

    Coydon Wallham wrote:

    Your comparison doesn't really address the issue for me. I'm talking about machines with ARM chips. That chromebook uses an Athalon. From what I've read every low power chip designed by Intel or AMD has kinda sucked and been driven out of the market by those with the ARM architecture.



    Ah, sorry. My of my exposure to ARM has been through raspberry pi's and half the software I was interested in hadn't been ported to arm. How's the situation now?



    I had a similar problem early on with using my RaspPi4 as a desktop.  What I discovered was that the problem wasn't the ARM processors, per se; but the fact that (prior to RaspPi3) the chipsets were 32 bit, while a lot of the software that I wanted to run was written and compiled only for 64 bit processors; so the stable release of 32 bit Raspbian Linux was (quite deliberately) handicapped.  I suffered through this for a time, but eventually got fed up enough to force a complete upgrade to 64 bit Raspbian, since the RaspPi4 could handle it.  The most obvious bit-rot was when some (not all) Youtube videos switched to a newer codex that I couldn't find for the 32 bit Raspbian, all I could do was hear the audio.

    It was like night and day.  It all just worked, as if I had just bought a new iMac.  The feel was the same, but it was obvious after upgrading that the 32 bit version was being ignored by the developers in favor of the 64 bit.  Now there's an "upgrade available" notification that I see on the top bar every few days; I click it to see what's changed, then approve it.  It downloads and installs within 5 minutes and I've never had to screw with looking for missing libraries since.
     
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    I found one...

    https://www.crowpi.cc/products/crowpi-l?ref=hioKxCvwrRuNz
     
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    I had an old Pentium PC that was still working after more than 10 years of use. I gave it to a relative, and installed Debian on it. (When I install Windows, these computers stop working from viruses or other issues in less than a year). I found two years later it didn't work anymore. YouTube had changed, the internet protocol had changed, but the updated web browsers were not offered for the version I had installed. So I tried to install an updated Linux (windows installer just refused to start), but no modern linux core recognized my network card. The old pentium run well on Mint and Manjaro, but I had not network. I'm not an expert, but not a noob either, it was really difficult to find a driver for that card, and since it used a very old socket, a replacement for the network card had no sense. My relative didn't want that computer anymore, since it wasn't able to connect to the internet. Still working, but abandoned by software.

    I think it would really increase resilience of the components if a version of the driver was embedded in the card, and there were a tool that allowed to translate a basic driver to any operating system, instead of forcing consumers to buy a new piece of hardware because the newest OS doesn't provide drivers for old stuff.
     
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    Sometimes I have to use a USB wireless network adapter for Linux installations on old machines. The necessary driver isn't included on the Live CD iso. But while installing, it will look for third party drivers on the 'net, and boom you're in business.
     
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    Abraham Palma wrote:I had an old Pentium PC that was still working after more than 10 years of use. I gave it to a relative, and installed Debian on it. (When I install Windows, these computers stop working from viruses or other issues in less than a year). I found two years later it didn't work anymore. YouTube had changed, the internet protocol had changed, but the updated web browsers were not offered for the version I had installed. So I tried to install an updated Linux (windows installer just refused to start), but no modern linux core recognized my network card. The old pentium run well on Mint and Manjaro, but I had not network. I'm not an expert, but not a noob either, it was really difficult to find a driver for that card, and since it used a very old socket, a replacement for the network card had no sense. My relative didn't want that computer anymore, since it wasn't able to connect to the internet. Still working, but abandoned by software.


    I'm surprised the Linux kernel would drop support for old equipment, thought it was considered part of 'the mission'. I'm pretty sure if the driver exists and was working with Linux previously, you could use a "wrapper" to integrate it now. It's been a decade since I had to go through that with my machines so I don't recall any details. It was hit or miss also, depends on if there is a good support forum for your distro willing to help you out.

    Also, they might have dropped support because it was an obscure card, you May be able to locate another old card for your mobo that is still supported.
     
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    Coydon Wallham wrote:

    Abraham Palma wrote:I had an old Pentium PC that was still working after more than 10 years of use. I gave it to a relative, and installed Debian on it. (When I install Windows, these computers stop working from viruses or other issues in less than a year). I found two years later it didn't work anymore. YouTube had changed, the internet protocol had changed, but the updated web browsers were not offered for the version I had installed. So I tried to install an updated Linux (windows installer just refused to start), but no modern linux core recognized my network card. The old pentium run well on Mint and Manjaro, but I had not network. I'm not an expert, but not a noob either, it was really difficult to find a driver for that card, and since it used a very old socket, a replacement for the network card had no sense. My relative didn't want that computer anymore, since it wasn't able to connect to the internet. Still working, but abandoned by software.


    I'm surprised the Linux kernel would drop support for old equipment, thought it was considered part of 'the mission'. I'm pretty sure if the driver exists and was working with Linux previously, you could use a "wrapper" to integrate it now. It's been a decade since I had to go through that with my machines so I don't recall any details. It was hit or miss also, depends on if there is a good support forum for your distro willing to help you out.

    Also, they might have dropped support because it was an obscure card, you May be able to locate another old card for your mobo that is still supported.


    Maybe. My relative just bought a new laptop and avoided the hussle.
     
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    I don't know how to measure environmental impact other than low power. But the evolve maestro from microcenter is $60, or $47 if you get a refurb. It is a power sipping celeron with 4gb of ram and a battery that lasts 8hrs+. Even watching movies it lasts a long time. It rjns windows 10 education edition which is nice. (Doesn't have the limitations of Home) only has 64gb emmc so you really have to turn off windows updates. I installed ubuntu but it was too clunky. Windows is pretty smooth though.
    For power, it takes 12v. It ks internally regulated so you can feed it anything from 12v to 20v. Which means you can adapt a usb-c power delivery supply to charge it. Or just hook up a cigarette plug for the car or make a wire to go directly to a battery on your solar setup.
    They have a microsd slot for additional storage.
    There are 2 versions and much confusion about which is which. But if you get the version with LTE (has a sim slot on the side) you can either use it for mobile data, or you can remove it and use the slot for an m.2 sata ssd. (Not pci, not nvme!)
    The ones with the lte are getting harder to find.

    I believe this is the non-LTE (no m.2 slot, no LTE)
    https://www.microcenter.com/product/649971/evolve-iii-maestro-116-laptop-computer-dark-grey

    And this should be the LTE with m.2 slot.
    https://www.microcenter.com/product/646649/evolve-iii-maestro-116-laptop-computer-dark-grey

    Don't be surprised if you order the lte version and are given the non lte version because microcenter is confused about the 2 models.
    I got these the first time and returned them. Then they sold them online as refurbs for $47 so my sister bought one. Lol
    I too found some refurbs (recent returns) but with LTE so got one of them for $47.

    It isn't a powerful laptop by any means, but can handle a ton of browser windows open, run office just fine, play video just fine, do vpn and remote desktop just fine. So everything I need it ro do and most of what I want it to do.
     
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    Rob MacMorran wrote:I don't know how to measure environmental impact other than low power.


    I think if you read back through the thread you will find most are concerned about the ability of the machines to provide a long service life. The energy used by a device is usually trivial compared to that used in manufacturing it's various parts, depending on the period of comparison. Computers also contain various parts that will not biodegrade and are more toxic than normal waste.

    The fact that the Evolve will run Windows 10 fine but not an Ubuntu distro would be a flag to me that it probably includes various proprietary parts so will not work well with open source OSes. This means when Windows bloat renders it unuseable in a future release and Microsoft discontinues support for 10, it might as well be discarded, even if the parts hold up to the test of time.

    For someone on a budget in an off grid situation, that sure is one hell of a bargain though...
     
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