10 Best Upgradeable (Modular) Laptops in 2021

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At some point, your level of needs may increase, and as such, you may need extra space to accommodate all your applications. You probably don’t want to experience storage issues, do you?

And because the laptop is fitted with so many small parts, upgrading any part can be a hassle. The good news, though, is that some notebooks give users the freedom to upgrade the components. And in this post, we are going to provide you with a list of options for the best upgradeable laptops.

Sure, you have the freedom to swap your desktop’s parts quite often during its lifetime when new components are released. On the contrary, laptops are different. Laptops’ modularity is usually renounced for better portability. 

If you are here to find an affordable computer before you can settle for an upgradeable one, there’s still no issue. This post will help you a ton because, at one point, you will want an expandable personal computer. That said, let’s dive in. 

Best Upgradeable Laptops

1. Alienware Area 51m

– best fully modular laptop

Alienware Area 51m

  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10700K 5.1 GHz
  • RAM: 16GB (Up to 64GB)
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Display: 17.3 300hz 3ms FHD Display
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB GDDR6

Upgradeability is nothing less than pure bliss for avid gamers with this machine. That’s why we have here the Alienware Area 51M modular laptop.

With this laptop, Alienware has enclosed a robust 9th gen Intel Core i9 Octa-core processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, whopping 64GB DDR4 memory, and a huge 1TB hard drive.

Still, you can make this laptop huger by upgrading the RAM, SSD, and just about everything. You name it, and the Area 51m laptop will support its upgradeability.

The only thing that you can’t upgrade here is the display. Though, since it boasts a huge 17.3-inch anti-glare display with NVIDIA G-SYNC + Tobii eye-tracking technology, you won’t even desire to upgrade it at any time.

2. Dell XPS 15 9500

Dell XPS 15 9500

  • CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i9-8950HK Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.8 GHz, 6 cores)
  • RAM: 32GB Dual Channel DDR4-2666MHz
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Display: 15.6” 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Touch
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB GDDR5

If you’re willing to pay a little extra for the best display with feature upgradeability, then the Dell XPS 15 laptop is what you need.

The most attractive feature of this laptop is its 15.6-inch anti-reflective OLED display. Together with a great sound system, this laptop exhibits an ultimate cinema experience with superior quality audio and video.

Whereas, the specifications also make this laptop stand out from others. Powered by a 9th gen Intel Core i7 processor, the laptop delivers impressive performance.

Besides, it bears 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD. Yet, you can easily upgrade both these features for even faster and smoother performance.

In all, the Dell XPS 15 is the best workstation with modularity for long-term use.

3. Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5

  • CPU: 9th Generation Intel Core i5-9300H Processor (Up to 4.1 GHz)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory
  • Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD (2 x PCIe M.2 slots - 1 slot open for easy upgrades)
  • Display: 15-inch Full HD Widescreen IPS LED-backlit display
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM

Acer’s Nitro 5 series is a gaming laptop that allows upgrades. This laptop has a better value for money, especially if you opt for one with the least specifications, which you may later upgrade according to your needs.

Assembling and disabling the parts of this computer is more straightforward. It comes in handy with a single screw that allows easy access to the RAM ports below. The same applies to the SSD, which is also accessed on its own using a single screw.

If you are a game enthusiast or a designer, this might be your cup of tea. It includes a robust graphics card that enhances efficiency for years with minimum upgrades.

While buyers seem to love the pricing and graphics of this laptop, they find the design unpleasant. It might be cool to some individuals; however, operating on the keyboard and touchpad can be a daunting prospect.

4. Lenovo ThinkPad T490

Lenovo ThinkPad T490

  • CPU: Intel Quad Core i5-8365U (1.6GHz - 4.1GHz, 6MB Cache)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe
  • Display: 14 FHD Anti-glare (1920x1080) IPS
  • GPU: Intel UHD 620

The first in our list of best upgradeable laptops is the Lenovo ThinkPad T490. Certainly, its ThinkPad lineage suffices to convince about its endurance and performance.

It has got great specifications that include Intel Core i7 Quad-core processors, 14-inch anti-glare display, and a plethora of ports to satisfy your connectivity needs.

But, what’s best with this laptop is its modularity. While the laptop already bears 16GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB PCIe-NVMe SSD, it still allows you to upgrade the RAM and hard drive. For instance, you can add an NVMe drive and upgrade the memory up to 32GB it to achieve lightning-fast speeds.

Perhaps, if you’re looking for a decent laptop with an ergonomic and contemporary design and durable construction, then ThinkPad T490 is an ideal choice.

5. Lenovo Legion Y740

Lenovo Legion Y740

  • CPU: 9th Generation Intel Hexa-Core i7-9750H Processor @ 2. 60GHz(6 Cores, 12M Cache, up to 4. 50 GHz)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 2400 SDRAM
  • Storage: 1TB HDD + 512GB PCIE SSD
  • Display: 15. 6 FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare display
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 dedicated graphics

The Lenovo Legion Y740 is another upgradeable laptop for a personalized gaming experience.

This laptop already come with impressive specifications for all gamers. These include Corsair iCUE ambient system lighting and a backlit keyboard to fit in your chosen ambiance. Plus, its thin design, amazing display, and ergonomic, water-repellent keyboard make the laptop more convenient.

On top of everything, the Intel Core i7-9750H Processor ensures blazing-fast performance for the best gaming.

Yet, what makes it reach our list of best modular laptops is its support for upgrading RAM and drive. The laptop comes with 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB NVMe SSD already. Yet, if you wish an even more jazz-up experience, you can upgrade these components.

This laptop comes in two different display sizes – 15-inch and 17-inch. Hence, you can choose the one that best fits your display needs. Though, the larger form factor offers more upgradeability.

6. Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Dell Inspiron 15 5000

  • CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 Processor (6MB Cache, up to 3.6 GHz)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920x1080) Anti-Glare LED-Backlit
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics

If you love working from the home office or travel a lot, the Dell Inspiron fits the bill. It includes a touch screen display, which enhances a smooth operation. While this laptop has an elegant design, buyers seem to prefer the initial version due to its sturdiness.

The Inspiron laptop provides you with tons of upgradable options, so you can customize it anytime if need be.

In case you want to upgrade, this laptop can hold up to 32GB of RAM along with a full 1TB SSD for super-fast speeds.

And the best of all is that the Inspiron laptop includes a unit slot for two drives, which means you can use both SSD and HDD at once if you want to improve the speeds.

7. Lenovo IdeaPad

– Ultra budget upgradeable laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1 1.00 GHz up to 3.60 GHz
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Display: 15.6 in Full HD IPS touchscreen (1920 x 1080)
  • GPU: Intel UHD graphics

Let’s face it. If you’re running on a shoestring budget, and you’re in dire need of a laptop with excellent specifications. You are, however, planning to buy a PC that offers better value for money with the least configuration and upgrade later.

If that’s the case, Lenovo IdeaPad perfectly suits the bill. Even though it doesn’t allow upgrading of the graphics card, you can still enhance the RAM and include an SSD to provide enough space for all your applications.

This process isn’t as straightforward as it sounds – you need to involve your mind into deeper thinking.

There’s only a single screw for accessing the optical disc drive, after which eight screws will pop up from the covering on the bottom. You’ll be prompted to remove the silver covering to access the RAM, but you can access the hard disk instantly.

If you want to save more on buying a laptop, then we’d recommend that you buy one with a starting configuration of 8GB instead of 4GB. For transparency reasons, they do mention the unreliable battery life, which may prompt you to purchase one with longer battery life.

8. Microsoft Surface Pro X

Microsoft Surface Pro X

  • CPU: Microsoft SQ1
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Display: 13 Touchscreen with pen input
  • GPU: Microsoft SQ1 Adreno 685 GPU

Modularity doesn’t come with a huge price every time. Microsoft has taken care of your budget with the amazing Microsoft Surface Pro X that comes with an affordable price tag.

The first attraction with this laptop (besides upgradeability, of course), is the built-in WiFi and LTE Advanced Pro connectivity.

Besides, it has a sleek design and an impressive edge-to-edge touchscreen display. Moreover, this one is a pro machine that you can convert into a tablet or a laptop as required. It means this laptop not only boasts modularity but also support portability.

Prominent specifications of this machine include a 128GB flash memory and an upgradeable SSD that resides right beneath the kickstand. So, whenever you desire, you can upgrade it to achieve the desired performance.

Factors to Consider Before Upgrading Your Laptop

Choosing whether or not you will be upgrading or replacing the laptop that has served you is a critical decision and can be complicated at times. First, you need to determine if the labor will be worth it – carefully examine if it would cost you less to replace or upgrade and whether you need to do it. 

Sure, it’s not a ride in the park to replace different parts of a laptop as compared to a desktop, but you can upgrade your computer if you have the right tools and are serious about the upgrade. 

That said, let’s dive into some of the instances when you might call for the upgrade of your laptop and what you should do. If you like, call this section the factors to consider before upgrading your computer or reasons why you should improve your computer. 

My Laptop Is Super Slow

Let’s break it down: the hardware that determines the speed of your laptop is the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Random Access Memory (RAM). Sure, you can always upgrade these components, but we have to confirm that it’s a hassle to do so on a laptop. In some cases, if you realize that either of them is faulty or not just what you want, you may better consider replacing the computer than upgrading the parts. 

However, there is some good news. Out of the two components, the memory is quite straightforward to deal with. For example, assuming that you need more RAM, you’ll open the bottom of your laptop and top up your RAM, then close again. 

But before you make a hasty decision of tearing your laptop down apart or deciding that you need to get a new laptop, you need to critically review the issue to see if you can spend less with a few different alternatives. Sure, you may think that a super slow laptop needs an upgrade, but in reality, this laptop may need a little TLC. 

Need More Laptop Storage

Maybe you need enough space to enable you to store your large files, including videos. In this case, you will need to use an external hard drive to have more laptop storage. By doing this, you will have more space to store and back up your files. 

The advantage of having an external device is that it doesn’t have to fit inside the laptop. Instead, you’ll connect it to your computer using a USB. Additionally, these devices will serve you just like the internal HDD would help you. Perhaps the only difference is that you cannot install the external device inside your laptop. You can store music, videos, software, and any other thing on this device. 

Hard Drive is Faulty

Generally, it would make a lot more sense to replace a faulty hard drive than to buy a new laptop. However, you need to make sure that you make such a decision after you have confirmed that the hard drive can’t be replaced. If you think that you need to buy a new laptop hard drive, it will help if you first ran a hard drive test to affirm yourself that the hard drive to confirm the issue. 

In some cases, you will realize that your hard drive gives off an error that causes some issues to the booting process. You might think that your hard drive needs a replacement, but that’s not usually the case. That is why you need to make sure that you are aware of the problem before making any decision. This will prevent you from making any hasty decisions that you may come to regret later. 

Finally, we still agree that some hard drives could be faulty and need a replacement. That said, you should replace your hard drive if you have confirmed that it needs replacement. 

My Laptop Screen Is Bad

Let’s face it: you won’t be able to do anything with your laptop if the screen is not in perfect condition. And one thing for sure is that you can repair or replace your screen at an affordable price instead of buying a brand new laptop. 

My Laptop Does Not Charge

There’s no need to buy a brand new laptop just because your computer doesn’t charge. It could be a problem with the power cable, the charging system, the battery, or even the power source. So you need to carefully check and identify the issue because the chances are that one of those is the issue. 

If the problem is originating from the battery or the charging cable, good news because those can be easily replaceable, however, it will help if you plug the laptop to see if the battery is the problem. If the computer can power on, then it means that your battery has issues. 

Once you have confirmed the battery to be the issue, remove it from the back of your laptop and confirm the type of the cell. This information will help you look for a replacement.

Also, you can test different cables before you decide to buy a new battery as the cable could also be the issue. Ideally, you are taking all these measures to ensure that you are not making the wrong decisions.

What Is A Modular Laptop?

A modular or upgradeable laptop is one that supports upgrades. With these laptops, you can not only upgrade the software (which is a common feature of the majority of laptops). Rather, you can also upgrade the hardware to a greater extent (a feature not supported by many).

It means you can upgrade the RAM, Graphics Card, or SSD as you like.

With these laptops, the biggest plus is that you can use them for long without restricting yourself to older software. While most other laptops fail to accept new software due to old GPU or RAM limitations, with modular laptops, this won’t be the case anymore. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What to look for in a Modular Laptop?

If you are serious about getting the best upgradeable laptop, you should plan to start with a lower hardware threshold. In other words, you should accept to have something less high-end at the moment but has the potential to get better later. 

In this post, the list of eight laptops aren’t high-end because our main aim is to get a machine that we can later upgrade. Instead, we have summarized the middle-level to save costs and also give room for future upgrades— some of the laptops discussed in this post fall below $1,000 mark. 

We are assuming that your objective is to get the minimum now and then upgrade later when you settle. When you are ready, you can turn the machine into a real powerhouse and get the specs you need. 

Apart from just topping up your memory, you need to stay up to date in case there are M.2 slots, which can allow you to install or replace your SSD. Topping up your hard drive may be one of your top priorities if you have large files, music, and videos that you need to store. 

You should know that laptops with ultra-thin and rugged are the least modular ones. In most cases, these laptops have parts that can never be upgraded or replaced. That’s why you need to pay attention to the design when choosing a computer you want to purchase. 

Also, you need to know that most laptops with touchscreen functionalities will give you nightmares when it comes to upgrades. And sure, you can always top up the hard drives, but you will not upgrade the RAM. 

Can You Upgrade the GPU Or Change The Processor?

Honestly, the simple and straight answer is a NO! You see, getting laptops that you can upgrade their GPUs are very rare. 

If you need that much power in a tight space, some considerations have to be made regarding the notebook design. This is because notebooks aren’t designed to have slots where you can easily swap components.

Also, the motherboards in a laptop leverage a different factor on their graphics, as well as their processors. In most cases, these will be soldered on the motherboard, and removing them can be a hassle. 

To conclude this and answer your question fully, we can confirm to you that the only components of a laptop that you’d upgrade easily are the RAM, hard drive, the CPU, and optical drive. 

How do I pick an upgradeable laptop? 

Configuring whether or not your laptop is upgradeable can be a daunting prospect. Therefore, to overcome this hassle, you need to consult your software developer or check the user manual. The user manual, to be precise, will help you disassemble the parts and let you know if your laptop can upgrade. 

If you cannot access the manual guide, please do an in-depth search about your laptop upgradeability. Most importantly, get your facts rights to avoid additional costs and damages to your computer.

What is the recommended specifications for my computer?

The most common computers in the market operate efficiently on 4GB RAM. However, that’s the minimum we’d suggest for a notebook, but not a Windows computer. For Windows users, a minimum of 8GB is a sweet spot. Meanwhile, to be on the safer side, work with 16GB to avoid storage issues in the future.

What is the life-span of my laptop?

Typically, a laptop with excellent specifications, along with features, can last up to 10 years. Moreover, this isn’t essential for temporary applications because you only install them when necessary. 

For a heavy-tasker, it means you’ll be working on demanding projects, and as such, you need a sturdy computer that can withstand hefty tasks. This will also mean high demands on your CPU, RAM, and graphics card as well for efficiency. An older laptop, in this case, won’t be of help. 

Is a modular laptop worth the price?

As much as pricing takes an integral part when purchasing a laptop, you should consider buying one with upgradeable features. Depending on your level of needs, the prices of these laptops vary. As such, you need to get your facts right. 

Choose one that perfectly suits your needs – whether you’re a game enthusiast or a designer. All the above laptops are upgradeable, so why not choose one for yourself?


Did you know that buying a laptop is also a form of investment? You bought your computer for a specific reason, which is why it is an investment! That isn’t to imply that you should go for any laptop – consider having one with upgradeable features to save you money. 

Buying a computer from a broker can be a good bet as manufacturers tend to charge more on RAM and storage upgrades, especially for the starters. 

And yes, you want a laptop that will serve you for decades without any buffer and one that allows upgrades. Tons of laptops will enable updates along with longevity features. Dell XPS, for example, guarantees all that, including elegant designs. It is one of the top-notch laptops in the marketing industry and perfectly suits the bill. 

It is worth noting that your laptop is exposed to damages when disassembling the parts for upgrades, so it would help if you consult your software developer or the user manual for help. 

Alex Berg

Founder, writer, editor-in-chief at LaptopTalks. Starting LaptopTalks is like a dream come true, combining two of his passions – writing and technology. Even in his free time, you can often find him by his gaming laptop playing the latest video games.

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