Old but still decently usable laptops - 2023 Edition

The past couple of months or so I’ve kicked off a new obsession, which involves buying obsolete/out of date laptop hardware that is perfectly decent for my own purposes. Below is a list of my findings - if anyone has any additions or comments then please feel free to contribute.

HP Elitebook 8770w - will run windows 10 - two SATA 2.5" drive bays, memory upgradable to 32GB, quad-core I7, 17-inch HD screen, graphics card upgradable, dockable, not very portable though, and will not run FreeBSD or similar operating systems. BIOS incompatibility. Linux is fine. Can run MacOS allegedly.

HP 8560w - as above but 15inch, still hefty, 16GB RAM maximum. Very cheap though. $80 USD cheap.

Macbook A1342 (Mid-2010 era specifically) - this one has been interesting, the age and the fact it is a Mac felt like the hardware would be limited. These came with 2GB of RAM maximum from the factory. However, if you replace the hard disk with a 2.5" SATA SSD, load onto that High Sierra, and find two 8GB DDR3 SODIMM PC3-8500 (must be this, faster chips will be not recognised by the BIOS) then you can get a maximum of 16GB out of it. The CPU is not the best and the screen resolution is relatively low, but I quite like it!

Lenovo T430s - max 16GB of RAM, low-ish resolution screen, but only 14inch screen and pretty portable. Will run Windows 10 but lacks the CPU requirement for some TLS encryption or something like that, so corporate networks will reject it, hence they are going for relatively affordable prices online.

Apple Macbook Air 11-inch - 4GB of RAM maximum, basically trash, and expensive, not upgradable. Not recommended.


Just out of curiosity, why do you want to do this? What do you intend to do with so many old laptops?

Mostly enjoyment, I like mini-maxing stuff. Getting as much from as little as possible, and taking stuff apart and doing whatever with it. (It’s a very cold and dark winter here)

The newer ones are pretty much all soldered chips onto proprietary boards, therefore not really upgradable, and in effective terms, not much better anyway (probably much more secure though).


If you’re just having a mess around, you can run FreeBSD or Linux. (LMDE 5 should drop straight on)

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The HP’s both run Linux and I use them for software development (I’ve been a relatively advanced Linux user for going on twenty years) - the T430s I bought exclusively for FreeBSD but I’ve kind of topped out what I want to do with FreeBSD for now.

The Macbook 11 inch is really portable but also too small to use for long periods of time, but now I’ve got the older Macbook running faster than it, not sure what to do with it. Maybe stick Windows on it and use it for older games like the original Tomb Raiders. Would be my first Windows machine that isn’t a work computer for… ever?

Or maybe an extemely lightweight Linux install.

I have been using it for about the same amount of time, but I wouldn’t call myself advanced, any problems I just google it and if I can’t figure it out I call the IT department. Some of the industry software used to run on it so it been a necessity for work.

I have the M2 MacBook which I use all the time when out of office I like the small size for portability you get used to it even for adobe or autocad.

I have an even older Mac running as a media server in my office,

That’d be me, then! :smiley:

I have considered a new Macbook but I don’t fancy the expense, the 2011 Macbook mentioned above does everything I need it to for now, buying it and the upgraded parts was about $100 USD in total. That’s not nothing, but it does perform better than the brand new work computer which was forty times that price (that I didn’t pay for).

Sounds good, I don’t have any media to serve, plus we’ve got voluntary electricity blackouts happening at the moment and I don’t think I could afford to keep something running all the time with the way that things are here.

Thanks for the help :wink:

I’m lucky work pay half as its not my work computer, but I do work on it sometimes.

It also works as a secondary back up and file server, to be honest I found work for it to do because I have had it from 2007. I like to get my moneys worth out of these machines.

With yours being a laptop it will have a battery, if you have network storage at home you could use it to detect the power out and safely unmount your storage before shutting down, then bring it all back online when the power comes back.

if you just paying around I have heard good things about Pop! os on old Macs but haven’t tried it myself

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