2002 HP Pavilion 752n. Was given me by a friend without a hard drive, and I bought a 10GB one from Goodwill for it. Back when all hard drive capacities were all the same to me. It gave me good service for a long time until I got the Core 2 Duo machines, obsoleting it. I used to play Minecraft on it, because unlike the Dell, it could actually run it, albeit at around 6 FPS - I got used to it. It's one of the computers the Dell made look good. 2GHz P4, 512MB RAM, Intel Gfx. I tried to sell it for about a year, but it never sold, and eventually I gave it away.
Enter the 2007 Dell Latitude D620 with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, a computer that changed my computer-related-direction as much as my first computer. I saw this laptop laying around the office I worked at the time and asked about it, and learned it had a broken screen and wasn't worth fixing, but I could have it. It was missing HDD and A/C adapter, and needed new screen, touchpad, and battery. I saw an 80GB HDD laying around the office and asked for it, and it worked with it. Anyway, I replaced the CCFL bulb in the screen for like $8 and it worked great. I used it for quite a while, then dropped it on the floor an busted the HDD. I upgraded to a 120GB, then upgraded the RAM to 4GB and the resolution to 1440x900, parting with the scratched screen I had repaired. This laptop is a brick, I love it! It's cheap, and with it's specs making it run Windows 7 Pro reasonably well, it's easy to maintain and reliable, and I can edit videos, run Minecraft, or whatever. I know from experience though, it's Nvidia gfx chip will die like them all - it's a glorious chip, 64MB VRAM, much nicer than the 8MB Intel one, but apparently poorly designed. I love it's solid metal case and now would never want to use a plastic laptop. In June 2016 I replaced it with a desktop computer.
2006 Dell Inspiron E1405. Sold to me by a friend of mine in California for $30, free shipping. Basically he mentioned he had an extra computer, and I thought it sounded cool, so I bought it. It is an excellent machine, fairly stylish, beautiful screen, great sound, well built like most Dell laptops, and runs like a top, even for CAD or 3D gaming. But it couldn't really compete with my D620 - which had a better battery and that metal case etc - so I sold it to my brother for about $38. 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 80GB HDD, Intel gfx, Win 7 Pro.
2003 Dell Inspiron 5100. Got this for the cost of shipping from my friend in California. It's very similar to the 1100, but with specs that make it run (the 1100 doesn't really run). 512MB RAM upgraded to 1 GB - pretty impressive for a DDR SDRAM laptop I think - a Pentium 4 CPU, ATi gfx instead of those wretched Intel 8xx ones, 30GB HDD instead of 20GB. Still, very thick, very plasticy, small touchpad, loud mouse buttons, very heavy, and low res screen - and it still runs XP. But! It has WiFi, so that in itself gives it a LOT more usability than a laptop without! But since it also can't compare to the almighty Core 2 Duo, and also is heavy and has inferior battery life, I don't use it much.
5 more Dell D620s! I sold 3, then the screen of one leaving a base, and so I have one extra D620 left. This lot cost me only $35, and every single one worked well, one was even fully complete. It was a lot of the same model of laptop. Well actually one was a D630. I'm very familiar with this model now, and could diagnose and repair any hardware issue very fast. I had a great time. While I was at it I familiarized myself with a couple comparable models - the IBM ThinkPad T60 mainly, but also the Dell Latitude and Inspiron E series. Anymore though, I'm trying to make money flipping newer laptops than these, like the XPS M1530 was.
2010 Lenovo ThinkPad W510. Bought only as an investment, an a lot of 4 Lenovo laptops. 1st gen i7 CPU, 4GB DDR3 RAM, some nice graphics, don't remember what, no HDD, and the 1080p screen res was really nice for the time. 15.6" though, fairly bulky, though it doesn't touch the dv7 in size. I got it to boot with an old 80GB HDD and a ThinkPad T60 charger, but the results were uninspiring - it got about the same FPS in MC as the 2007 T60. I found this to be resolved with a 130W power supply. I was favorably impressed with the hinges, keyboard, and touchpad for quality and feel. Eventually upgraded to 8GB RAM and 500GB HDD. Personally I'm not a fan of laptops bigger than 14", but it's res is pretty, and it's got plenty of features and ports like SD, webcam, DisplayPort - and the coolest feature of all, to me, this laptop has four RAM slots! Not that I'd use that feature, I don't need 16GB RAM in a laptop.
2007 IBM (Lenovo) ThinkPad T60 (and T60p). Are very old and ugly. I'm not used to the 4:3 screen, but actually, it's not bad seeing more vertical stuff! I was favorably impressed with the performance of the T60, especially for only having a T2400 Core Duo CPU, and 1GB RAM - the ATi Radeon X1300 graphics were pretty nice, and knowing they aren't affected by the Nvidia BGA underfill issue is real nice. Compared to the D620, the ThinkLight is a really nice feature, as is the center mouse button, and while they have a taller screen, they are actually noticeably thinner than the D620! The plain black box look is inferior though, and I can't say the case is sturdier. As always, the hinges, keyboard, lack of screen flex, and touchpad are very good. But a couple key design flaws turned me off, which make me know Dells are better: #1, the battery couldn't charge, and without a battery diagnostic in the BIOS, it was difficult to find out the source of the problem, I'd be groping in the dark buying a new motherboard, and #2, taking it apart was much harder and less intuitive, especially how it had 3 different types of screws where the Dell had 1. So, I sold both on eBay - the T60 for $65 as fully functional but unable to charge battery, and the T60p I sold for $60 with broken CPU fan, broken HDD, and unable to charge battery. The T60p's ATi FireGL graphics and high-res screen were the only really nice things about it, though they were very nice. I'd be willing to buy another one if I didn't have to work on it.
2007 Dell Latitude D630C. Nothing to say about this really - dude on eBay was asking $20+$15 shipping, and I offered him $5, and he accepted! :D No turning down a $5 computer. However, it was uninspiring. This particular one, someone poured something gross into it, and the keyboard was totally dead, the screen had medium damage though was quite usable, and the motherboard worked only intermittently. You often do get what you pay for though. And the D630C didn't differ from the D620 in any way that affects most people. It was nice of the seller to include a Windows XP Pro CD though. I sold the screen for a few bucks, then the base I sold with all the others I had, mainly from that lot of 7.
2011 Toshiba Satellite C655D. I bought this laptop from an acquaintance for $30 because the hard drive didn't work. It also was unable to charge the battery - happily I discovered the problem was merely a bad port which I replaced. A new hard drive later, it works pretty well. The screen is a big plus, it's large, bright, and sufficient resolution, and the keyboard and general design, while not outstanding, are quite adequate. Chinsy and flimsy, but for the price range it's okay. Had 3GB RAM, 320GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 6130 gfx, 1.5GHz E-240 CPU. The CPU was an awful one - single core, runs slow, boots slow, doesn't run multiple programs all that gracefully, doesn't run more intense applications like loading a complex webpage all that well. It's like a Celeron! But for the price range, it's enough. Like most low-end consumer-oriented laptops of the time it had a broken hinge - the hinge was fine, but the plastic base where it was attached broke. However, it was missing a screw screwing the hinge to the palmrest; attaching that seemed to secure it well enough. It sold on eBay for $125.
2008 Dell Latitude E6400. This model is very similar to the E6410, but with a Core 2 Duo CPU. I bought it for only $30, added a 320GB HDD and a charger, and sold it for $100. This model had a 1280x800 LCD, 2.4GHz C2D (800MHz FSB), and 4GB RAM.
2013 Dell Latitude E6430. It's an amazing laptop, its only weak points are one, it's huge but that's also a benefit, and also it has no high-resolution screen option, only WXGA and WXGA+. Mine was WXGA, so lower resolution than the 2007 D630 which was sad. However, it was built like a tank, metal from top to bottom, and it's large size meant it was super easy to repair/upgrade and ran coolly and reliably. Backlit keyboard, fingerprint reader, stereo mic, responsive touchpad, lots of ports, all added to it's appeal. It's CPU had been downgraded from a 3rd-gen i5 to 2nd-gen, but even so, with 8GB RAM and 500GB HDD, it could handle anything I threw at it while still running quietly and coolly. Could up the CPU to 3rd-gen i7 and get the Nvidia option, but you'd get less battery, more heat, and more noise. I used this as my main computer for a good while, but I sold it when I switched to using a desktop.
2016 custom computer. This is the first custom computer I ever built being able to actually choose all the parts. Loved geeking out getting my own components. I'm quite happy with the base build I chose: Asus Z97-E mobo, 3.2GHz Pentium G3258 CPU, 16GB 2400MHz Corsair Vengeance RAM, 120GB OCZ/Toshiba SSD, cheap PSU from local junk shop, and the old case from computer #10 in this list. The Pentium is an excellent processor, providing more than enough power for what I do at a fraction of the price. Cost $65 new, but a mate in Australia I know online sold me a used one for only $16! Also got the mobo on sale for $85 which was awesome. Picked up a monitor for $20 on craigslist, that plus one I had makes a great dual-monitor setup. I run Windows 7 Ultimate, and it runs awesome, takes anything I throw at it. I've since upgraded it with an Asus ROG 1060 GTX, a new PSU, 4790k CPU, and 1tb HDD, all of which was very expensive and a little unnecessary, but fun.
1997 Powerbook 1400CS. It came with a password in OS 8.1, which I was able to edit out with Norton Disk Utilities using these instructions: http://bslabs.net/2016/01/30/disabling-powerbook-password-security/
I didn't really do anything else with this laptop before selling it, but I wanted to record that hack.
I got the case from a friend - the mobo didn't work - and then took a compatible motherboard I had around and put it in here. Then it worked nicely. But it only had a Celeron and 512MB RAM, so we sold it, for $30.
2003 Dell Inspiron 1100. Given to me by a friend nonworking - lacked an A/C adapter, and the keyboard and touchpad had soda all over them. Well I took the keyboard and touchpad out and washed them in the kitchen, found an A/C adapter for $4, and it worked! It originally had a horrifying 256MB RAM, which I upgraded to 512MB, also 20GB HDD, P4-based Celeron, and Intel gfx, all very bad, really. I eventually replaced the keyboard cause some keys stopped working after the washing. Then I sold it for around $40, cause I had no use for it - it had a 4:3 screen and was very thick, giving me the impression of a cube compared to other board-like widescreen laptops.
2009 HP Pavilion dv7-1264nr. Given by a friend for free which was amazing. Something about it's original motherboard blew up soon after I got it, so I switched it, changing it to a dv7-1245dx... and sadly making it unable to charge the battery, I'm not sure why. It seems the power supply circuitry on the motherboard was damaged. It was very nice and new, however, it recently came down with the GPU error that always plagues HP Pavilion dv7 laptop, and no longer boots. 2.1GHz AMD Turion X2, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, ATi Radeon HD gfx. Had lots of cool features like a Blu-ray drive and very very good speakers, but it's 17" size - I call it slabtop - and lack of portability made it fairly useless to me. Great specs, but legendary Vista and plasticy unreliability. I could easily twist and bend the screen, same as the Toshiba C655D and Lenovo G505s.
Lot of 7 2006/07 Dell D620 bases. From this point on, I entered the refurbishment business, and this lot was a rough but very useful lesson in what worked and what didn't in the market. I paid an amazing $70 for these, and 1 was totally dead, 1 worked fine, and the other 5 all had blown GPUs. I'm counting the whole lot as 1 since only one really did anything. So, I had imagined I'd buy allllllll the parts these needed - a lot considering they're just bases and motherboards - and then sell them, but since that was financially impossible, I skipped it. Still, they were the beginning of a D620 craze (I won't mention all the D620s I went through, but it was around 9)...
2006 Gateway with no model name. We got it when it was the cheapest laptop you could buy at Best Buy, and it's been horrible ever since, but never died! 2 years after it was bought, the screen went out and it overheated very badly, and sort of hung out at our house for a while, but then I took it all apart (this before I knew hardly anything about computers) and put it back together, and it the backlight started working again! It's performance was horrible due to 512MB RAM, 1.5GHz Celeron CPU, and IDE HDD, but we upgraded it to 1GB RAM - still lame for DDR2 but tolerable sometimes - and I put a 1.6GHz Core Duo in it - a lot worse than my own 2GHz Core 2 Duo, but a lot better than a Celeron! And it had 64MB VRAM ATi Radeon gfx - could play Minecraft (my universal benchmark) at around 12 FPS. While I replaced the CPU I pulled a ton of dust out, and that solved the heat issues. It was of very poor construction anyway, and it's end was I sold it for $75.
2010 Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3 netbook. Bought in the same lot as the W510. In this picture, you can see me booting ArchLinux off a USB flash drive.It was troubled with dysfunctional Wi-fi, it had a card (and I tried a couple different ones too), but if the BIOS had wireless enabled, it suddenly couldn't boot the OS, no clue why! Disable it, and it could boot fine. I updated the BIOS and it never booted again - the power lights light, but nothing on the screen, which is odd since it said the BIOS update succeeded. Tried new RAM but it didn't help. Bought a new motherboard for it... it was a failed investment. The design was pleasant but generic, though really lacked a keyboard backlight. Touchpad took some getting used to - small, but the "buttons" were touch sensitive which helped but I moved the cursor accidentally a lot. I attempted for a while to use it as my own device, but half the screen died, and I was fed up with fixing it so sold it. I always ran Antergos Linux on it. I had a fun time writing some bash code to map the function keys to change the brightness - in the end that worked very well by the way, I was very proud of myself.
2008 Dell XPS M1530. Bought it on eBay for $30. It had a broken GPU, the aluminum was peeling off, and no hard drive. But it did come with 4GB DDR2 RAM and a good battery, so that was nice. I took the RAM out and put it in my own D620, and then sold the rest for parts on eBay for $70. I applied some Gorilla Glue to the aluminum palmrest and stacked some encyclopedias on it overnight, and it made it look fine in the regard. Now, the GPU I reflowed which made it boot, but sadly it was affected by the BGA underfill issue, so I'd give it a max of 4 months to work before it needs a new motherboard. Aside from that, the M1530 was the most beautiful C2D machine I've ever seen by a long shot! I'd keep it for myself if I wasn't getting an i5, and didn't have a dependency on the pointing stick. The M1530 has a slot-loading optical drive which is awesome for reasons, an all-metal case, silicone treated lid, brushed aluminum palmrest, and thick, sturdy metal base. The media buttons are touch controlled, it has an excellent selection of ports, vibrant 1080p 15.6" screen, 800MHz FSB, enabling use of C2D CPUs like the T9800, and Nvidia gfx that are swell when they work. Obviously I never got past live-booting Ubuntu before selling it, but I wanna say, it was one of the best designed machines I've ever handled; too bad it's aging!
2010 Dell Latitude E6410. After shopping around a while on eBay (and wikipedia), I chose the E6410 as my official upgrade from the D620. I got it "Not working" for only $86 because the seller thought it's HDD might not work right, but it worked fine. It had a first-gen 2.5GHz Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, Intel graphics, and a 160GB hard drive. I upgraded the keyboard to be backlit, upgraded to Nvidia graphics, and I got a brand new 500GB hard drive which is very nice. The battery life was very nice at about 5 hours medium usage, though Nvidia graphics drop that noticeably. The screen res was the main disappointment - the D620 can use WXGA (1280x800) or WXGA+(1440x900), but this E6410 can only use WXGA, so I've lowered my res. It runs very smoothly. Mine also came with a Windows 7 Ultimate COA which was nice. The build quality is very good - including a metal base - and it's easy to service for the most part. Except the Bluetooth card for some bizarre reason is buried under the motherboard. I chose the E6410 cause it's a business laptop, and business laptops tend to be cheaper and easier to service than consumer laptops, and the build quality is good and reliable - and it's the first successor to the Latitude with a Core i series CPU. I sold it when I switched to using my desktop.
2013 Lenovo G505s. Bought it on eBay for $46, quite the steal. It was listed as having a dysfunctional LCD and being unable to boot, but I bought it (And it included 6GB of DDR3 so I couldn't lose anyway). Turned out the LCD was perfectly fine, as was everything else, just the power cable had broken a wire and it wasn't getting power anymore. I resoldered it together and it worked fine. Only issue was, the corner was crushed, so it flexed when you opened or closed it and didn't look as cool, but it still held together. It had an AMD A10 2.5GHz quadcore CPU, 6GB RAM, integrated ATi Radeon HD 8650G graphics, 1366x768 15.6" LCD, and originally shipped with a 1TB HDD. The seller took that so I replaced it with a 500GB one. The build quality was this thing's biggest detraction: like the HP Pavilion dv7 series, this model was all about kool specs, for low prices. So while it was real snappy and could play 3D games (for example) well, the keyboard was mushy, the touchpad buttons clicked loudly, the huge flat plastic case flexed all over, felt cheap and tacky, and collected grime/fingerprints, and the hinge design was cheap and fragile. The 3-cell battery was uninspiring too. And Windows 8.1 still really needs a touchscreen to be worth using.
2014 HP Pavilion X2. Got it at the same time as an Asus Transformer, but ended up liking this one better. It's very thin, has a full USB port, and a very long battery life. Dropped it and cracked the digitizer once, but was able to replace it. It has 2GB RAM, 16GB flash memory, 720p LCD, Atom CPU. It's performance is good as a tablet for browsing the web and playing phone games, and I've never used it for anything else. They keyboard cover, unfortunately, tends to lose it's connection, that plus the fact it cannot stand on it's own makes it pretty impractical to use as a laptop. It's keyboard base is held on magnetically and looks like a piece of cloth wrapping partway around the tablet, it's pretty attractive. And all things considered, the internal layout was very nice to repair too! I like it a lot, the only detraction is the connection to the keyboard is weak.
2007 Dell D630. Still at it, got it for $33 in poor condition, added in new hinges, 160GB HDD, and touchpad and it was pretty decent! It has apparent impact to one corner, some cracks and broken out plastic there, and a line of deadness on the screen. But it included the charger and 4GB RAM so that was cool.
2014 Lenovo Thinkpad L440. It's been too long, I don't remember what I did to repair this one, but I can say the L series Thinkpad is of much lower quality than the T series. That's what the L stands for, Low-quality.