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Best upgradeable laptop 2022

Replacing hardware in an upgradeable laptop.
(Image credit: Windows Central)

The best type of laptop you can get is usually the one you can make use of for many years, helping to get the best value from it. After all, a laptop you can upgrade down the line is a sound investment to increase your device's longevity and usefulness. Generally speaking, we're referring to both RAM and solid-state drive (SSD) upgrades, and a laptop like the excellent Dell XPS 15, which tops our list of best upgradeable laptops, is perfectly suited for this sort of plan.

The Dell XPS 15 9500.

(Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Dell XPS 15

The best overall upgradeable laptop

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent design and construction
+
Gorgeous display
+
Replaceable RAM and SSD
+
Options for NVIDIA dedicated GPU
+
Second SSD slot

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be expensive

The Dell XPS 15 shares a lot with its smaller XPS 13 sibling. But the extra space you get from making it a bit bigger pays dividends — especially if you're interested in adding your own upgrades down the line. Dell doesn't cut corners, and the spec sheet boasts Intel's latest 12th Gen H-Series processors, discrete NVIDIA graphics cards like the RTX 3050 Ti, and a 4K display as options.

If you flip it over, you'll find more than you might expect that you can change out. RAM and the SSD storage can be upgraded, as can the wireless card, so there are several ways you can make this fantastic portable PC even more exceptional.

Dell's stock parts in the XPS 15 are high quality; of that, there's no doubt. In the newest versions, there's space for an additional M.2 NVMe SSD leaving all the space for storage you could possibly want. Ultimately, the XPS 15 remains one of the best laptops on the market today, and being able to upgrade it is a definite bonus.

The Lenovo ThinkBook 15p.

(Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Lenovo ThinkBook 15p

The best mid-range upgradeable laptop

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding keyboard
+
Upgradeable RAM and SSD
+
Dedicated NVIDIA GPU option
+
Nice display
+
Second SSD slot

Reasons to avoid

-
Average battery life
-
No Thunderbolt

Lenovo's ThinkBook lineup is great if you're looking for a work-focused laptop. You always know what to expect when you buy a Lenovo laptop, too: a high-quality, durable laptop with a brilliant and comfortable keyboard, decent battery life, and enough ports to cover all your connectivity needs.

They don't have to be expensive, either, as the ThinkBook 15p proves. The latest refresh of this 15-inch Ultrabook packs in 11th Gen Intel CPUs, an NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU for those who need a little extra grunt, a good display, and importantly, upgradeable internals.

The storage and RAM in the ThinkBook 15p can be upgraded as you desire. The standard PCIe SSD at 512GB is fairly generous, but not only can you upgrade this drive, but there's also a second vacant slot ready to accept another M.2 SSD out of the box. RAM upgrades are also straightforward as it uses standard SODIMM LPDDR4 memory sticks, and there are two slots to make use of.

The Lenovo Legion 5i 15.

(Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Lenovo Legion 5i 15

The best upgradeable gaming laptop

Reasons to buy

+
No thermal throttling under load
+
Upgradeable SSD, RAM, and 2.5-inch drive
+
120Hz display
+
Powerful RTX GPU
+
Dolby Vision

Reasons to avoid

-
No high-resolution display options
-
Fairly small battery
-
No NVIDIA G-Sync

Gaming laptops are generally more likely to be upgradeable than, say, an Ultrabook, purely based on their increased size. When it comes to the versatility of upgrades combined with features and performance, the Lenovo Legion 5i 15 is about as good as it gets right now.

For one, it packs Intel 11th Gen processors and up to an NVIDIA RTX 3070 GPU. It's all housed in a stylish aluminum chassis, comes with a suitably good keyboard (after all, it's a Lenovo), and a fast 120Hz display with NVIDIA G-Sync for tear-free gaming.

Flip it over and pop the bottom off, though, and you're in for a treat. Not only is the SSD slot accessible to upgrade to a larger capacity NVMe SSD, but you can upgrade the RAM too thanks to the use of standard SODIMM DDR4 memory sticks, and make use of the 2.5-inch drive bay for all the storage you need for games.

Surface Pro X

(Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Surface Pro X

The best upgradeable 2-in-1

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding hardware design
+
Unlocked 4G LTE SIM + eSIM
+
Upgradable SSD
+
10-hour battery life (ARM64)
+
New Wi-Fi-only option is cheaper

Reasons to avoid

-
ARM64 can be confusing
-
Uncommon SSD type
-
No Dolby Vision or anti-glare display

Traditionally, tablets and 2-in-1 PCs aren't particularly upgradeable due to their very design, but the Surface Pro X bucks that trend. Not only is it a sleek, high-quality Windows 11 tablet and laptop, but it's one with an upgradeable SSD. Beneath the kickstand, there's a little trapdoor, and behind it lies the SSD.

The only real downer is that it uses an M.2 2230 SSD, which isn't the easiest type to get hold of, but assuming you can get one, you can upgrade the storage as you see fit.

Otherwise, the Surface Pro X is a remarkable machine. You get a gorgeous display, the trademark kickstand, detachable keyboard, and pen support, and because it's ARM-based, it's super thin, very quiet, and it has excellent battery life, too. There's even an LTE connection, so you're never away from everything important even when you're away from Wi-Fi (you can opt out of having LTE to save some money).

The Acer Aspire 5 A515-56.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Acer Aspire 5

The best budget upgradeable laptop

Reasons to buy

+
Solid Core i3 CPU
+
Great ports
+
Excellent audio
+
Nice camera
+
Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as performant as other options
-
Display is disappointing
-
Touchpad feels loose

If you're looking for something as affordable as possible, the Acer Aspire 5 is a fantastic option. Though it isn't as performant as the other devices on this list, the laptop still delivers solid performance thanks to its capable 10th or 11th Gen Core i3 CPU and Intel UHD Graphics. The display could be better, and the touchpad feels a little loose, but those are caveats worth dealing with at the Acer Aspire 5's rock bottom price.  

Compared to other budget laptops, the Aspire features surprisingly high quality stereo speakers as well as a grain-free 720p webcam, too. You also get a USB-C slot and a trio of USB-A ports, which is an impressive amount of connectivity for something this affordable.

By default, the device comes with a 4 or 8GB of soldered memory, though there's an extra SODIMM slot for upgrades if you'd like more RAM. Also, you can augment the 128GB or 256GB SSD with hard drive storage thanks to the extra space for a 2.5-inch HDD upgrade.

If we had to choose ...

Buying a laptop is a serious investment, and one way to ensure you get as much life from it as possible is by purchasing one you can upgrade down the line. For starters, manufacturers will always charge more for RAM and storage upgrades than you could spend at a third-party retailer. There's also the fact that your use case may change over time, or you want the freedom for your laptop to grow as you do to prolong its life as much as possible.

You don't have to compromise either, with the Dell XPS 15 being living proof you can own a high-end, slim and light laptop that has upgradeable storage and RAM. It's also one of the best laptops you can buy, period. Alternatives, such as the powerful gaming-focused Lenovo Legion 5i 15 or the budget-friendly Acer Aspire 5, are also fantastic options if you'd like to take advantage of upgradeability.

While upgrading your laptop parts can be relatively simple, it's still worth noting that you can damage your device if you don't know what you're doing. Make sure you refer to our guide on how to upgrade RAM in a laptop if you're not sure what to do (the process of upgrading storage is generally very similar).

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

With contributions from