My ideal laptop hardware requirements

Here’s generally what I look for in a laptop:

Keyboard backplate and layout

Must be user-replaceable; must be removable without removing more than the bottom lid of the laptop. Machines that require the motherboard to be removed first are difficult to service. Standard ANSI layout; avoid any touch interfaces for keys, and avoid anything with fewer than 7 rows of keys. Ideally waterproof; should be easy to clean/wipe and keep junk out from the keys.

Keyboard keys

Good key action, ideally 1.8mm travel, and lettering should not wear out. Backlit keys are the easiest way to accomplish this; this should ensure the lettering is not printed on the keys as the backlight will be expected to shine thru the keys, largely forcing sublimimation that will be much more difficult to wear out.


Must be Windows Precision capable. Must have hardware buttons driving the eraserhead. Ideally physical buttons for touchpad too. Ideally has driver support in other OSes. Palmrest is ideally not plastic, but some kind of alloy/metal that wears nicely and doesn’t go shiny over time.


A fan must not be running under normal conditions. The system should run quiet. Ideally over-engineered for a discrete GPU option; get the system without the GPU with the intent of having a system that generally runs without the cooling fan running most of the time. The fan should only run under extreme CPU load.


Must have 2560x1440 (or higher) on 14” display. Vertical pixels are the most valuable so the more the better. Must have great viewing angles, at least 300 nits brightness, ideally more. Power efficient.


HDD must be replaceable by simply removing the bottom lid, and at most 4 screws. 1TB of storage, ideally supports more, to be upgraded later.

USB ports

At least 2 fullsized USB, and PCIe x 2 (or more) Thunderbolt, to connect more devices and possibly an external GPU.

SD card

Fullsized sdcard slot. At least ~80-90MB/s transfer throughput, ideally more. Ideally with UHS-II support.

Ethernet port

It should have a gigabit one. No dongles.


8 hours or more of actual usage; advertised battery life will therefore probably have to be greater :) Bonus points if there are tools/utilities to control charge levels, so the battery can be configured to charge only after it drops below a certain amount.


Frequent updates. If there aren’t updates every ~4-6 months, with security fixes, or major feature delivery, avoid the vendor. If the vendor has stopped updating the firmware, it’s probably time to consider a new machine.