grayman ,

Dell Optiplex... You can buy them used all over still. Find one with a decent processor and upgrade everything else. The fans are easy to find and replace. I've got a Linux based MCPC that's about a decade old that's still going strong. I've got one for my kids with Linux on it. I've bought several for elderly relatives and upgraded the ram and drive to ssd. They really just seem to go forever.

Zeon , (edited )

If you're interested, the Dell T1650 is currently supported by Libreboot. I use it for everything; it has a Xeon E3 1275 V2, 32GB DDR3L ECC RAM, NVIDIA 2080 SUPER, 2x4TB HDD (RAID 1), 1TB NVMe M.2 (PCIe x4 adapter needed), and a 700W PSU (EVGA 700BR). It handles all my games, and I use Proxmox VE as my host, allowing me to create virtual machines where I can passthrough my GPU and use anything proprietary in the VM. Even the GPU drivers can be passed through (no need to install on the host), so essentially, I'm running 100% free software on my host.

Obviously, nothing can be 100% FOSS in the hardware (proprietary ECs, proprietary CPU microcode, proprietary storage firmware, etc.), BUT you can free the BIOS. There is currently a blob needed for the PCIe x16 slot, but it can be reverse-engineered in the future – not sure if there is anything else; I'll have to ask. There is one board coming soon that I know can be made blobless in the BIOS, and that is the Dell Optiplex 9020 MT. It's a Haswell board capable of using an i7 4790K with AVX2 instructions. I'm actually the first person to use this board, as I'm the one who made the port along with some help from the Libreboot team. The board is currently in its testing phase still, but soon in the next couple weeks we will make it freely availble.

This is super cheap hardware; you can find the whole PC on eBay for like $50-$60, or you can just buy the motherboard for like $15-$25. I bought only the motherboard because I'm using it in my gaming computer case. Also, you don't even need any fancy flashing equipment, all you need is a insulated screwdriver to short one of the SERVICE_MODE pins on the motherboard to unlock the BIOS chip, which then allows you to flash Libreboot through your OS. Libreboot is more secure than any non-free BIOS/UEFI. At least with Libreboot, you can have transparency, and you get new updates with better features coming out.

For example, Libreboot supported Argon2 encryption in GRUB for fully encrypting your storage drive. This allows you to encrypt the /boot partition and fully encrypt your disk with ease when installing a fresh operating system. Also, you can run Windows on the host with Libreboot, it is supported but not officially. I highly recommend Libreboot, as you can tell.

LemmyHead ,


thayer ,

Honestly, any enterprise OEM will be similar, such as Dell or Lenovo. Yes, their mainboards are proprietary, but you can easily source them from legitimate parts vendors. That's why there are so many refurbished Optiplexes and ThinkCentres on Amazon. They're trivial to repair and most don't even require tools.

You cannot easily upgrade to a dedicated GPU unless replacing an existing unit, which is standard for laptops as well.

Crack0n7uesday ,

I see core 2 dou optiplex computers in offices to this day, they run pretty good for a computer that had Windows XP out of the box at one point.

Blue_Morpho ,

I don't have a recommendation but I can point you to Gamers Nexus YouTube channel / website and filter on prebuilts to see reviews.

Big names like Dell HP and Lenovo are bad for ability to repair/upgrade. Although I do love buying their old servers because there are so many cheap ones on eBay.

Titou , avatar

have you ever tried using an vintage Tinkpad ?

Blue_Morpho ,

I've used them but not personally owned one going back 30 years since before they were sold to Lenovo.

Titou , avatar

Thinkpad owner here, it's kinda easy to upgrade and fix them, the motherboard is not welded to the case

Blue_Morpho , (edited )

The OP asked about desktops, not laptops. Why are you bringing up laptops?

He wants a Desktop that's durable and as easy to repair as a Thinkpad.

Lenovo desktops are filled proprietary parts just like Dell and HP. (Power supply, custom atx motherboard, non standard motherboard mounting)

TheAnonymouseJoker Mod , avatar

Not a very educated opinion on Lenovo ThinkPads.

Someology , avatar

Nowhere did OP say anything about a desktop. I thought they meant "what's the current laptop equivalent to a Thinkpad back in the day?" If they meant a desktop, they should have used the word desktop. "PC" is not exactly specific.

Blue_Morpho ,

He is very clear from the context that he means desktop PC.

"I was wondering, what PC, if any, is similar in this regard? Aside from building your own PC ofc. "

You don't "build your own" laptop.

BeardedGingerWonder ,

All respect to Steve, but in this regard he's wrong - the parts might be proprietary in a lot of regards, but these machines are repairable af, they're just not aimed at the average consumer. Local site support will rock up to your desk and stick a new display adapter in for some extra monitors or take them away and swap out broken parts and have the same PC on your desk next day. Big enterprises buy these machines precisely because they're repairable and upgradable and getting stock typically isn't an issue.

Blue_Morpho , (edited )

That only applies to a large corporation with contracts.

and upgradable

If it's not something that can go in a slot for Dell HP and Lenovo there is no upgrade. They aren't going to swap an upgraded CPU because Dell doesn't do official bios patches to upgrade old PC's to cpus that come out later. Nor can you get a new motherboard dropped in an old Dell/HP/Lenovo chassis because of the power supply requirements/changes.

Edit: I couldn't even put a modern GPU in my old Dell Xeon because the power supply didn't put out the watts. I had to find a weird Dell to ATX converter cable off of eBay and Dremel the Dell case a little so the regular ATX would fit.

The name is Gamers Nexus, not Corporate IT Nexus.

Pantherina , avatar

System76. also sells corebooted Desktops which are using MSI motherboards, brobably well repairable too.

Pantherina , avatar

Lol how the most liked comments are literally anticomments

TheAnonymouseJoker Mod , avatar

Custom PCs are one, but if you want to get mainstream off the shelf, Lenovo is where it's at. Lenovo has the best aftersales, best customer support, you do not pay the proprietary Apple/Dell tax, and you can considerably modify your PC hardware. M Though beware, your PC will have a hard time getting onsite customer service after 10ish years. Anything under 7-8 and it will stay easy, mostly because new generation of PC components make old ones hard to procure.

This Lenovo AIO we have is 13 years old, last month dualboot installed Debian 12 alongside Windows 7. 7 is untouched due to legacy hardware and peripherals, made an image backup, installed Kaspersky Free and an anti-executable and it chugs well. Debian 12 GNOME runs really well on 4 GB RAM, though just another 4 GB would really improve things. Not even SSD is needed, just a HDD replacement after 13 years.

Gooey0210 ,

This tread is full of random comments about framework, when the op clearly asked about PCs

BombOmOm , avatar

Framework absolutely makes PCs. Most notably in the laptop form factor.

Ilandar ,


But if you are really opposed to that option for whatever reason, you can maybe take a look at iFixit's repair scores.

Gooey0210 ,

Since when framework makes PCs? 🫠 very sketchy comment

Ilandar ,

Are you under the impression that PCs and laptops are different? Because they're not. The word you are actually looking for is "desktop", but OP didn't use that word.

hangonasecond ,

Easy enough to imply it from all of the other comments in the thread, and the fact that the op referred to the ThinkPad in the title. You're correct, and it's not your fault the op used the wrong word, but context indicates that they were talking about desktop PCs.

Ilandar ,

Half the comments in the thread are about Framework - a laptop manufacturer. Are you illiterate?

Gooey0210 ,

Are those half of the comments illiterate? Bots? Ads?

Ilandar ,

No, just people that understand the definition of "PC".

Gooey0210 ,

So, you can recommend smartphones too then

Or just read the context of the post

const_void , (edited )

Framework is the best option these days for upgrades and repairs

JackGreenEarth , avatar

Aren't they really expensive? Sure if you have the money, but what do you recommend as a budget option?

fidodo ,

I got my PC built for me by a local computer shop for $100. Worth it to me for the time it saved plus they did a 24 hour stress test on it to make sure all the components worked.

const_void ,

Pay now or pay later.

JackGreenEarth , avatar

Many people just don't have £2000 to spend on a laptop, no matter how much it could save them in the log run.


The most recycling friendly laptop is the one you already on, isn't it? In addition, if somebody dropped a quarter of that price on a laptop, then used It's in exchange for a different laptop every couple years, couldn't they have a half decent system for around a decade without having to worry about a laptop that's expensive up front but easy to upgrade?

I'm not very good with hardware replacement myself, but based on some of the comments here, if I needed a laptop I might consider a used ThinkPad

TheAnonymouseJoker Mod , avatar

A new ThinkPad could be bought for $800, and a refurbished one for lesser. No, ThinkPads do not get replaced every 2 years (my L470 is almost in 7th year), and the third party and official parts availability is better for Lenovo ThinkPads than Framework.

utopiah ,

Well ThinkPad back in the days weren't cheap either but then even a 2nd hand one could still last a while and one could still get them fixed.

Ilandar ,

There is no "budget option" if you value repairability, nor has there ever been. The best you can do is buy a secondhand ThinkPad or other workstation laptop. If you don't like that option, make more money.

Extrasvhx9he , (edited )

By PC do you mean a desktop? Guess any desktop you build yourself. Are there features you want like the best Linux support or something?

just_another_person ,


ohlaph ,


hperrin , (edited )

Idk, but I’ll tell you Dell and HP desktops are the opposite of the Thinkpad. Every part they can make proprietary, they do make proprietary.

  • Case
  • Motherboard
  • Power Supply
  • CPU Cooler

Cannot be upgraded or replaced with off the shelf parts.

If your system dies, you’re expected to just buy a new one and chuck the old one in the bin.

Facebones ,

I haven't been in a Dell in a long time but I can confirm HP is still the WORST.

FutileRecipe ,

I can confirm HP is still the WORST.

Well, I haven't been in an HP in a long time, but them forcing proprietary ink in their printers or bricking it is enough for me to not buy their computers as well (laptops or desktops).

Samueru ,

I have had several used dell / hp motherboards, the only thing proprietary was that some were 12V only and needed a 6 usd adapter to work with regular atx psus.

And also the power button connector, you have to figure out which pins are the ones that turn the PC on.

hperrin , (edited )

New models integrate all the front IO into the motherboard, so they really only work with the case from the manufacturer. Like this and this.

Samueru ,

I'm pretty sure the second one will work on any case, just that you might be missing the I/O plate.

hperrin ,

Look closely at the opposite edge of the board. All the front IO (including the power button) is on that little protrusion.

Samueru ,

Oh, sorry I thought you were talking about the I/O plate.

TIme to use an open frame case then lol.

Blue_Morpho ,

the opposite of the Thinkpad.

To be fair, everything about a Thinkpad is proprietary too. It's accepted because it's a laptop.

hperrin ,

A lot of things, yes, but not everything.

This is from iFixit:

Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 3


Most repairs are very straightforward and require only basic tools.
The keyboard replacement procedure is best in class.
Partially soldered memory and I/O ports hinder certain repairs.

It scores 7/10 on their repairability meter. Definitely not the best, but far from the worst.

Blue_Morpho ,

You didn't say repairability. You were critical of the proprietary parts.

Dell and HP desktops are even easier to repair than home built because of the no-tool clips for parts and custom sized cables. (But in my opinion that ease of repair doesn't offset the proprietary parts they use.)

hperrin ,

In laptops, there aren’t a whole lot of parts that can be standardized. Thinkpads have standard storage (NVMe drives) and half standard RAM (some have soldered or partially soldered RAM). So yeah, they’re fairly standardized. In terms of laptops, so are Dell and HP. But in terms of desktops, where everything can be standard, Dell and HP use a lot of proprietary parts, hence they are the opposite of a Thinkpad in terms of desktop.

BeardedGingerWonder ,

You can absolutely repair with off the shelf parts, dell will sell you just about anything and will probably have it in stock for years, that's literally what they do. What they typically don't do is conform to consumer form factors/standards.

hperrin ,

What I mean by “off the shelf” is the shelf at your local computer store, not Dell’s shelf.

admin ,

Dell enterprise series of desktops (Optiplex and Precision) are upgradeable with off the shelf parts. The CPU, RAM, SSD, GPU, Network cards, etc. The same way a regular motherboard from any manufacturer does.

For example an Intel Core 8th gen system would POST with any 8th Gen CPU, any type of DDR4 ram and would boot from any disk. You cannot upgrade an 8th gen to a 12th or 14th gen from any brand, the only proprietary properties of these systems are the case or motherboard form factor and the power connectors.

hperrin ,

Yes, as I said in my original comment. Anything that’s cheaper for them to make proprietary, they do. It hurts consumers, and it gets them an extra few cents for every machine they ship. It fills up landfills and costs resources that could have been used more wisely. It’s corporate greed, plain and simple.

Zeon ,

I own a Dell T1650 and Dell Optiplex 9020, and yes you are correct about them making everything proprietary, but the motherboard can still be used as long as you have the adapters for it. You will need to DIY, or buy a custom cable from a vendor that makes them for the motherboard. I use a Dell Optiplex 9020 MT motherboard in my NZXT case, I use a EVGA 700BR, a custom 24 pin to 8 pin connector, and a molex to fan adapter cable for my other fans, and everything works great! Also, I added Libreboot support for it as well :D






Mango ,


just_another_person ,


ohlaph ,


pirat , (edited )

How much frame would a Framework work, if a Framework could work frame?

velox_vulnus , avatar

Mini-PCs from brands like Minisforum? RAM and SSD are easily replaceable. You will get the best CPU+iGPU combo. No need to worry about PSU, as it comes in a brick form-factor. That, or Framework.

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