More laptops need to have their ports on the rear, not the sides

Surface Laptop 5
(Image credit: Future)

Recently I've started using my laptop way more than my desktop gaming PC for work, but I've hit a pretty irritating issue. All the ports are on the side, not the back, so my desk is a constant mess of cables. 

Even using a dock where possible to hook up to peripherals and external displays, it's still a mess. Made worse by the fact I have a corporate laptop that I also need to incorporate into my everyday operations for some essential tasks. 

I forget specifically which laptop it was, but some time ago I reviewed a gaming laptop that had ports on the rear, below the display, and between the rear exhausts. And that got me thinking. Why can't we have this be more of a thing again? Life would be so much simpler for those of us using a laptop in a desktop environment if everything came out of the back. 

The thickest part of a laptop is at the display hinge

Razer Book 13

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino | Windows Central)

Whether it's the best Ultrabooks or a gaming laptop, you can always guarantee that the area of the laptop where it hinges for the display is the thickest part. Looking at my current daily driver, the Acer Swift X 16, that's certainly the case.

It wouldn't be possible on this design because the display is designed to sit on the surface and raise the keyboard portion for airflow. But I'm also not necessarily saying that every laptop should be designed in such a way as to have ports that are rear-facing. 

Laptops are either thinner towards the wrist rest area or they're the same thickness throughout. And if a port will fit on the side then it will fit along the rear edge.

Just so much easier to organise yourself

Alienware X15 R2 showing the ports on the rear

(Image credit: Alienware)

At this point, I'd settle for just having a solitary Thunderbolt 4 port on the rear, since that would at least allow for easy access to charging or a dock. But honestly, the more the better.

Right now I feel like to use my laptop on my desk I need to have it closed, and that defeats the object of a laptop in my eyes. I have two external monitors, but why wouldn't I also want to use the built-in display as well? 

Some of the Lenovo and Alienware gaming laptops are exactly what I want more portables to be designed like. The Alienware X15 R2 (opens in new tab) is a perfect example, on the rear, it has a display output, its power connector, a Thunderbolt port, and even a microSD card slot. It's not the laptop for me, but it has exactly what I want. 

And think about it. Gamers with a gaming laptop are incredibly likely to want to hook up to at least an external display, but also a keyboard, mouse, and headset, and having as many ports on the back as possible just keeps the mess out of the way. 

It may sound silly to some, but I wish there were more laptops designed like this, particularly in the Ultrabook/thin and light class. Perhaps it's just down to the way I have my desktop set up, but all I know is that my biggest hope for laptops going forward isn't bigger displays or more power, those are a given. It's to help me organize better. 

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine