Six things that were a mistake and should never be used again in laptops

The world of portable computers has undergone an enormous evolution over the last four decades, and this has occurred both qualitatively and quantitatively. Some may say that I am exaggerating, but nothing could be further from the truth, and let�s look at a simple example. The Osborne 1 was the first commercially successful ⤽portable⤠computer, it arrived on the market in 1981, had a Z80 CPU at 4 MHz, 64 KB of RAM and weighed a whopping 11 kilograms. The integrated screen was dwarf, and transporting it was not easy.

Today, 41 years later, we can find laptops like the ASUS ExpertBook B9, which integrates a 14-inch full-color display, can mount an Intel Core i7-1255U processor with two 3,500 MHz-4,700 MHz P-cores and eight E-cores, supports up to 32 GB of RAM, and has a starting weight, in its base configuration, of 880 grams. This equipment is very powerful, and so light that we can move it with one hand without making great efforts.

I wanted to compare two extremes because I think it is the easiest and quickest way to understand how big has been this great evolution that the laptop sector has experienced. We come from an era in which miniaturization, mobility and autonomy did not fit well with the concept of the notebook computer, but little by little we have been able to turn them into fundamental values that today are present in most notebooks.

Throughout these 41 years of evolution we have also encountered numerous technologies that, for better or worse, were implemented with greater or lesser success in this type of computer. Not all of them marked a turning point or left their particular mark on history, but many of those that did succeed were eventually eliminated, and would have no place in any current computer.

In this article I want to share with you six of those things that at one time could have had a certain importance in portable computers, but that in the end were abandoned and that, for one reason or another, should never be used on a laptop again. As always, I invite you to expand this article with your opinion, and to tell us in the comments about other technologies or keys that you think no longer have a place in today’s laptops.

1.-Two dedicated GPUs in one laptop

dual gpu notebook

Let’s face it, the era of SLI and CrossFire has long since come to an endand for many reasons. In the professional sector combining multiple GPUs makes sense, but in the general consumer market the opposite is true because:

  • Performance scaling was not good at all.
  • The lack of optimization and support was so clear that many games did not even use two GPUs, they only ran on one.
  • The increase in power consumption and heat generated were very high.
  • Games prioritize the use of a GPU.

With this in mind, it is logical that in the end the use of two or more GPUs in the PC world will eventually be abandoned, and if we move it to the portable sector it makes even more sense. Mounting two dedicated graphics cores in a notebook was, in the end, a major source of problems because:

  • The cost was enormous for the consumer and did not pay off in terms of performance.
  • It forced major sacrifices in design, size and mobility. Laptops were larger and heavier, and had to be fitted with bulkier, noisier and more expensive cooling systems.
  • They generated a lot of heat, which could end up causing problems in the medium and long term.
  • They greatly reduced the autonomy of the equipment.

2.-Low resolution and low quality screens

I want to make clear that I am not referring to a specific type of panel, since in the end I understand that each technology (TN, VA and IPS) have their audience and their space in the market, I focus rather on those panels that have a very low quality both in terms of peak brightness and color reproductionand, on top of that, they adopt a very small screen resolution, which greatly limits the working space available to us.

Low-quality screens have long been present in the portable sector, and although they have fallen into disuse, it is true that they are still have not been totally abandoned. There is an explanation for this, and it lies in the importance that laptops under 300 euros still have, but it is something that we have to overcome as soon as possible, and frankly I do not think there is any excuse for continuing to mount 15-inch panels with 720p or 768p resolution.

Some may tell me that this reduces the selling price, but I think this is nothing more than a bad excuse, especially after seeing equipment like the ASUS Chromebook Z1500CN, which costs just over 218 euroscomes with a 15.6 inch panel whose resolution is 1080p. I am not saying that all laptops should have a VA or IPS panel, I understand that it is not possible due to cost reasons, but I am saying that we should complete the transition away from low resolution and low quality displays.

3.-Proprietary chargers


Proprietary chargers are those that can only be used with a particular product, and for many years they became a constant problem within the portable sector. Fortunately, over the years, we have seen a clear trend towards standardizing chargersthis means that we can use the same charger to recharge the battery of different devices, and if we lose it or if it breaks down we can buy a generic one, or directly use the charger of another laptop.

In the end, it is clear that proprietary chargers are not good for the user, and neither for the environment, since their lifespan is usually shorter, and when we stop using the laptop to which they were linked, they become a piece of electronic waste. In this sense, the USB Type-C port has played a very important roleso much so that we can even use smartphone chargers to recharge the battery of ultra-light equipment, although the truth is that there is still a long way to go.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of gaming laptops, especially those heavier and bulkier ones that use fast charging technologies, continue to use chargers with proprietary connectors, which makes this issue still a pending account. All in all, it is clear that eventually standardization around a single connector for charging devices, including laptops, will be completed, and this is good for all of us.

4.-Hard drives as primary storage

Hard disks are a real drag on the portable sector, and for many reasons. The first lies in their size, and that is that even 2.5 inch models use valuable internal space which could be used to integrate other components and reduce the size of the equipment. The second lies in their own construction, since they have mechanical partswhich makes them noisier and more vulnerable to shocks, jolts and vibrations.

On the other hand, hard drives are also are slower and can degrade performance considerably of the equipment if a minimum maintenance is not performed with some frequency, mainly due to the classic problem of fragmentation. I know that some will tell me that they have in their favor the advantage of offering a larger amount of space at a lower price, but this does not compensate for all of the above when we are talking about a laptop.

If we think about how it influences the selling price, we must keep in mind that the rise of eMMC memory and low-cost SSD drives have so encircled HDDs in the portable sector that, frankly, they no longer make sense even in low-cost computers, where eMMC solutions or SATA III SSDs offer much better value. If we need more space we can expand with a second storage unit, or resort to an external drive.

I know that for some users the capacity of the storage drive may be important, but even in those cases forgoing the benefits of an SSD in a laptop doesn’t make sense, it is better to look for computers that mount an SSD as a primary drive and an HDD as a secondary drive, or to resort directly to external drives if we have to store a lot of data and heavy files.

5.-Optical drive readers

Lenovo optical drive

The truth is that I have never liked optical drives in a laptop. I understand that there was a time when it was essential to have floppy drives and drives to read CDs and DVDs, but with the democratization of USB drives and the development of streaming services, both paid (Netflix, Amazon Prime and others) and free (Youtube as the main exponent), I have never liked optical drives in a laptop these have lost all meaningand in the end they are nothing more than a hindrance.

Mounting an optical drive in a notebook requires the use of valuable space, as is the case with hard disks. This makes the equipment that integrates this type of drives very expensive thicker and heavierand this also affects the internal structure of the computer, the component layout and the cooling system. If you need to have this type of drive because you still use CDs and DVDs with some frequency, it is better to use an external drive, as they are very inexpensive and work without any problems.

In case you have a relatively old laptop with an optical drive and you no longer use it, you can remove the optical drive and take advantage of the available space to mount a 2.5-inch SSD. That’s what I did to give a second life to a Lenovo IdeaPad Z500T laptop I bought in 2015, which is still running smoothly. Thanks to the jump I made to an SSD it still delivers very good performance.

6.-Extreme design and configurations

ASUS notebook

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for innovation and the adoption of new designs and form factors in the notebook sector, but as long as these are executed from a reasonable perspective, otherwise it’s easy to find yourself with excesses that in the end make no sense at alleven within the market niches they are aimed at.

By this I mean laptops that adopted extreme configurations seeking to offer  “identical” performance to their PC equivalent, and also those that used a huge form factor and had an inordinate weight (over 5 kilograms). I could give many examples, but one of the most famous was the ASUS ROG GX800, a laptop that weighed 5.3 kilograms and could be connected to an external cooling system that weighed 4.7 kilograms. Do the math, in total this ⤽dynamic duo⤠totaled a weight of 10 kilograms.

Luckily those kinds of designs and configurations have been almost totally abandoned. Today it is rare to find a laptop that weighs more than 3 kilograms, even in those cases in which they come configured with high-performance components, and both AMD and NVIDIA and Intel have opted for specialization, that is, for the development of high-performance components, and also high efficiency, adapted to the particularities of laptops.

Thus, today it is possible to find such powerful graphics cards as the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Mobile configured with different TGP profiles, and capable of running without problem in laptops weighing less than three kilograms. Nor can we forget the Ryzen 6000 Mobile series APUs, which feature 8-core, 16-thread CPUs and are accompanied by integrated GPUs that are also quite powerful and efficient. Intel has also marked an important turning point in this respect with the Core i9-12900HX, the first 16-core (8 high-performance and 8 high-efficiency), 24-thread processor for notebooks.

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