5 Best Upgradeable (Modular) Laptops In 2020

Your standard desktop machine is designed to have parts swapped out over its lifespan as new components are released. Laptops are a different breed of machine entirely, with modularity sacrificed for greater portability.

With so many parts stuffed into such a small space, it’s often difficult to upgrade any one single component. Some notebook computers make this process much easier, and we’ve rounded up the best options from around the web.

Want to start with a computer on the less expensive side that’s more budget friendly? With a smaller investment at the start, there’s more wiggle room to spend on upgrades later for better specs!

Picking The Best Most Upgradeable Laptop (Modular Laptop)

When looking for the best laptop for future upgrades, always plan on starting at a lower hardware threshold. You should be willing to have something less high-end now that can become better later.

None of the five laptops listed below have extremely high end specs, as that would defeat the purpose. Instead, they stick with middle-of-the-road hardware to save on price.

With only a single exception, every laptop in our group of contenders is well below the $1,000 threshold.

Your goal here is to get something acceptable now. It can then be made into a true powerhouse down the line, or at least future-proofed against rising minimum specs.

Besides just the ability to add more memory, stay on alert for devices with M.2 slots for installing or replacing the SSD. Getting more hard drive space can be a critical upgrade if you have plenty of music or images to store.

While choosing a new laptop, keep in mind that ultra thin and super rugged models tend to be the least modular. Due to space constraints, many of those styles of machine have parts that can’t be removed at all.

Touch screen models also tend to be restricted on this front. Many of them allow drive upgrades but not RAM upgrades, or vice versa.

Ready to get started looking for a great laptop that’s easy to upgrade? Let’s dive into the options available!

In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research

Editor’s Choice

ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop

ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop

Why is it better?

  • Fast i7 processor
  • Nvidia GTX graphics
  • Thin profile

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Read Review Details

The Lineup At A Glance

The Contenders For Most Upgradeable Laptops

1. Flagship Premium Newest Acer Nitro 5 – Quality Graphics Card

Flagship Premium Newest Acer Nitro 5

Want graphical power and the ability to easily upgrade RAM and the SSD down the road? This should be your first pick!

  • Extremely easy upgrading
  • Quality graphics card
  • No optical drive
  • Less comfortable keyboard design

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When it comes to picking a modular laptop with upgrades in mind, Acer’s Nitro 5 series perfectly fits the bill.

You can save a whole lot of money by choosing the least powerful configuration available on this model. While these are low end specs to start, swapping out parts here is an absolute snap.

There’s only one single screw to remove for accessing the RAM ports on the bottom. Likewise, the SSD is accessed in its own bottom compartment with only a single screw standing in the way.

With a strong mid-range graphics card, this is an excellent compromise machine. It will keep you playing games or performing work tasks for years to come with a few upgrades.

Buyers love the price and graphics card, but often criticize the “Industrial” design with its sharp angles. While that looks cool, it also means the keyboard and touchpad are less comfortable to use for extended periods of time.

Hardware specifications for Acer Nitro 5
Processor8th Generation Intel Core i5-8300H 
Storage128GB SSD
GraphicsGeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB)
Display15.6-Inch Full HD IPS Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight5.95 lbs

2. Lenovo Flex 6 – Best 2-in-1

Lenovo Flex 6

The Lenovo Flex 6 is a great and affordable 2-in-1 computer. This model is priced right and the two main cons can be erased by simply upgrading the RAM and SSD space in the future.

  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Durable hinge
  • Great price
  • Fast SSD
  • Only 128GB of storage
  • 8GB of RAM is low

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The base model of the Lenovo Flex 6 comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage space. This makes it the perfect candidate for future upgrades, and thus it is the best 2-in-1 on the market if you wish to buy cheap and fix it later.

Key features & details

Great Screen

The 1080p screen on the Flex 6 is really good with bright and vibrant colors. The touchscreen works really well with extremely responsive gestures and touch controls.

360 Hinge

The 360 degree hinge feels robust, and performs well. It doesn’t feel loose or too tight when switching between laptop and tablet mode.

Blazing Fast SSD

The SSD, while small, is extremely fast. You can expect boot times under 6 seconds which is astonishing on a budget device.

Budget Price

While you are getting a decent computer right from the start, the price is great. You are getting a lot of computer for a price that won’t break your budget.

This is a great computer, perfect for a student who is on a budget. If you are looking for a 2-in-1 with great upgrade capabilities, this is the one for you.

Hardware specifications for Lenovo Flex 6
ProcessorIntel i3-8130U (2.2 – 3.4 GHz)
Storage128GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display14-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10
Battery Life7.5 hours
Weight3.68 lbs

3. ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop – Best Gaming Laptop

ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop

The ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop is sporting and i7 processor and a GTX 1050 Ti GPU. Once you upgrade the RAM and SSD, you will have the ultimate gaming machine!

  • Fast i7 processor
  • Great Nvidia GPU
  • Thin for a gaming laptop
  • Small hard drive
  • 8GB of RAM is low

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ASUS makes fantastic gaming laptops, and the TUF series is no exception. This TUF Gaming Laptop has a fast processor and GPU, meaning you have the bare bones to make an epic gaming rig.

Key features & details

Fast Processor

With an 8th gen i7 processor, this laptop is ready for any games you want to run. With 6 cores and a boost speed of 3.9 GHz, your laptop won’t even break a sweat even with the most demanding titles.

Nvidia GPU

The GTX 1050 Ti has 4GB of VRAM, making it a great option to play the latest AAA games. At the 1080p resolution of the screen this GPU is a perfect match.

Thin Profile

Most gaming laptops on the market are big and bulky to accommodate their powerful specs. That isn’t the case here, with the TUF Gaming Laptop being less than an inch thick.

Not Enough Storage

The hard drive in this computer is only 256GB. That is not enough if you plan on installing games on the internal drive, so an upgrade is definitely needed.

Overall, this is a fantastic gaming laptop. If you are looking for a laptop that can play your games right out of the box but can also be upgraded in the future, this is a great choice.

Hardware specifications for ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop
ProcessorIntel i7-8750H (2.2 – 3.9 GHz)
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsNvidia GTX 1050 Ti (4GB)
Display15.6-inch LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10
Battery Life5 hours
Weight5.1 lbs

4. Premium Flagship Dell Inspiron 15 5000 – With Touch Screen

2018 Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Like the idea of a touch screen but aren’t sold on the 2-in-1 design? If you like the clamshell style, Dell’s Inspiron 15 series is our pick of the best upgradeable touch screen laptop currently available.

  • Touch screen
  • Room for two drives
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Very small starting storage capacity

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Key features & details

Form & Function

For home or officer users, the ability to use a touch screen can come in incredibly handy.

A lot of buyers still prefer the old clamshell style over newer 360 degree hinges though, especially if you need a sturdy notebook that’s built to last.

When you want a touch screen in a traditional style and have plenty of ability to upgrade, look no further than the Inspiron.

This little workhorse of a machine can take up to 32GB of RAM if you decide to upgrade later, as well as up to a full 1TB SSD for fast, quiet operation.

Best of all?

This unit actually has slots for two drives inside. That means you can use both an SSD and an HDD if you want maximum speed and storage capacity for the least money.

Hardware specifications for Premium Flagship Dell Inspiron 15 5000
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (6MB Cache, up to 3.4GHz)
Storage128GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD 620 Integrated
Display15.6” Full HD 1080P Touchscreen Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life4.85 lbs
Weight2.48 lbs
Other FeaturesBacklit keyboard

5. Lenovo IdeaPad – Ultra Budget Option

Lenovo IdeaPad

When staying to a tight budget is your main concern, this should be your pick. You get a decent starter system with lots of room to upgrade.

  • Very low starting price
  • Includes optical drive
  • Weak graphics
  • More screws to remove for upgrades

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In terms of starting specs, this Lenovo model is easily at the bottom of the barrel. When you are looking to save money now and upgrade later however, that might be a perfect fit.

You can’t upgrade the graphics card, so this will never be a high end gaming rig. That being said, you can still get a solid machine here by replacing the RAM and throwing in an SSD.

The procedure here is slightly more involved than the other contenders, but still fairly simple. There’s one screw to slide out the optical drive, then eight screws to pop off the bottom cover.

A small silver covering must be removed to reach the RAM, but the hard drive is immediately accessible.

For buyers, the big draw here is the low price that still offers 8GB of RAM to start instead of 4GB. They do often mention that the power cord is quite short however, so you may want to buy a longer aftermarket cord.

Hardware specifications for Lenovo IdeaPad
ProcessorAMD A12-9720P (2.70GHz)
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsAMD Radeon R7
Display15.6-Inch HD Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery Life3 hours
Weight4.85 lbs

Is It Possible To Upgrade A Laptop GPU Or Change The Processor?

In most cases, the answer to this question is a simple and resounding “nope.” Laptops with upgradeable GPUs are quite rare.

In order to give you so much power in such a tight space, major concessions have to be made in a notebook’s design. They simply aren’t intended to have easily swappable primary components.

Laptop motherboards use a different form factor on their processors and graphics cards than a desktop. In many cases, these components may even be soldered directly to the motherboard and can’t even be removed.

There are only a handful of exceptions with a few brands (noted below). In the vast majority of brands and models, however, you just simply can’t replace or upgrade these parts.

For most users, the RAM, hard drive, optical drive, and CPU cooling paste are going to be the primary components to upgrade over time.

What Potential Problems Should I Look Out For?

There are some major pitfalls to be aware of when trying to find a laptop with hardware upgrades in mind.

Pay very careful attention to the system specs, and even try to verify those specs direct with the manufacturer if necessary. Descriptions on reseller sites like Amazon, Newegg, etc. aren’t always 100% accurate.

First and foremost, verify the maximum amount of RAM that the motherboard can handle. Be sure to also find out how many sticks of RAM the current device features out of the box.

For instance, a laptop might have one 16GB stick, or it could have two 8GB sticks. The latter will be twice as expensive to upgrade to 32GB, since you will need to buy two 16GB sticks instead of just one.

Keep in mind you can also upgrade laptops in other ways beyond just internal components. For more functionality, you could also add a USB hub for extra ports, or an external card reader.

Are There Any Laptops Specifically Made To Be Modular?

Most laptops from big name companies are designed to save space by cramming in as many components as possible in a tiny area. Upgradeability is always an afterthought in the design.

There are a handful of manufacturers who specifically build notebooks with upgrades in mind, such as Eurocom. These manufacturers utilize standard desktop socketed processors rather than mobile equivalents.

That means nearly every part can be swapped out, unlike with the typical notebook. Their laptops don’t tend to look as flashy on the outside as brands like HP, Dell, etc. but they have greater upgradeability.

The only downside is these manufacturers don’t often offer products through the usual electronics websites. Amazon, Newegg, TigerDirect and so on will usually only have a handful of models available, and they won’t typically be the newest offerings.

No matter what brand you go with or buying outlet you choose, always head over to the manufacturer’s website before making a decision.

Most manufacturers have manuals online that show the specific method for accessing the RAM or hard drive. You want to make sure the process will be simple and you have the right tools ahead of time.

With some devices this is incredibly easy, only requiring you remove a single screw. Other designs require taking off the entire keyboard and removing several other components first.

Saving Money By Buying A Modular Laptop

These five upgrade-focused laptops will meet any price range for any type of computer user. Whether you are a die hard gamer or just need a portable computer for work or school, one of these options will fit your needs.

What did you think of our picks for the best upgradeable laptop this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if your laptop can be upgraded?

Generally you will need to consult the user manual for the laptop, and it will let you know how to disassemble and upgrade your computer. If not there, a quick online search will garner you instructions and upgradeability.

How much RAM is needed in a computer?

8GB is the minimum we would suggest for a Windows computer, and 4GB for a chromebook. 16GB is what everyone should strive for, if possible.

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7 thoughts on “5 Best Upgradeable (Modular) Laptops In 2020”

    • Hi John, Thanks for your comment. Like our writer mention in opening text, every laptop in our group of contenders is well below the $1,000 threshold. Almost, we are research that the product “Acer Predator Helios 500 PH517-61-R0GX” is over $1,000, as that would defeat the purpose.

  1. Seems like you did a good job, but the market offerings are lacking. Your top choice, according to reviews, has a really bad screen. I wish there were more easy-to-upgrade laptops and they were generally more modular. Thanks.


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