Why do 16GB laptops cost so much?

I often complain about my laptop being decrepit. It has so many gotchas that I can’t do anything serious without running into problems or fearing the worst when time is of the essence. Being poor, I keep an eye on the prices and they are usually out of range for me.

Today, I briefly looked at 16GB laptops and to my surprise they were all above $1300CAD (forgot if I added the tax mentally). Well, there are some sub-$1000 but guess what? I see many in the same generation as the laptop I am typing on right now! I could just go and buy myself 2x8GB SODIMMs. Yes, my laptop doesn’t have the silly soldered RAM. Yet, I am running on 4GB LOL.

When I finally get a replacement, it is going to be like magic to me since it will be so much better. But at what cost?

Used thinkpad + more ram + maybe an IPS screen swap? Doable for ~700 USD

Here in the UK, prices have been weirdly high for some years.

Until about 2013, I could replace a machine every 4 to 5 years and for the same price as the previous machine get a significant improvement (50% faster CPU, 2x more memory, 4x more disk). But that has stagnated. Now if I needed to replace my 2013 laptop I would have to pay roughly the same for roughly the same power. Moore’s Law seems to have collapsed.

I don’t know if this is a world-wide issue, or just the UK.

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I paid a bit less than 600 USD for a Dell i5 IceLake laptop with 8 GB (the key is to check their website often to catch it on discount). I bought another 8 GB for $30 more. Not a bad price for a very decent laptop.

I need to do this with mine.

Is it vital that your computer be a laptop? Desktops are typically more friendly to tight budgets. Perhaps you can keep your laptop for light duty mobile tasks and get a desktop with usable specs.

You mean DIY replacement?

Even before 2013, netbooks sold at unreasonable prices long past their prime. I guess their modern equivalent, Chromebooks, are still a thing, except the prices are even more outrageous.

@mbs
Do you have a link? Upgrading anything on the dell.ca site seems to be $150 and above. :roll_of_toilet_paper:

I have made that suggestion to others on this very forum. In actuality, they are only a little bit cheaper. Although I enjoy the hypothetical of being able to build my own desktop, take it apart to clean, repair or upgrade, I don’t think my next system will be one.

I don’t know if you recall my post about carrying my desktop around campus when I was at university. It was fun while it lasted. Interesting for the onlookers but heavy on the back. :crazy_face:

Oh, never upgrade anything on Dell’s site. I bought the RAM on B&H, I think, and installed it myself – it’s not difficult, and you can download a service manual from Dell’s website that explains how to do it.

No way the RAM costs only $30. Maybe $120 (for two sticks). Don’t most of the newer laptops have soldered onboard components? Which model do you have?

Now that you mention it! :smiley:

Yes you can get IPS displays off eBay.

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Easy, get somethings that fits your budget and make sure you can stick more RAM into it.

16Gb laptops often have other more high end parts or simply aim at a more high end market. I for example don’t need a 1Tb SSD, 256Gb is fine, anything big goes on to the external drive.

…and have many more advantages. I mean, using darktable on a 13 or 14" screen simply sux. The right hand menu demands high precision touchpad handling.
BUT, you can add a big screen, mouse and keyboard and get best of both worlds. I have both, but I will probably not buy a desktop again. A 13 or 14" 2-in-1 with good power will do. + plus a 27" screen etc.

Yes, all more “high end” laptops are sold with >= 16 GB RAM, today. Cheaper models are quipped with 8 GB to have better sales arguments for the more expensive models.
So, it’ best not to look for the RAM but for the other components and upgrade the RAM later, as already suggested.

I got this, or something very similar:

It’s USD 34 now, but memory prices tend to fluctuate a bit.

The laptop I got is a Dell Inspiron 5000, which has a usable keyboard, decent build, and a very nice 1920x1080 screen. I bought it with 8 GB RAM and the smallest NVMe disk, and just added my own RAM and a second SSD. I use with a large second monitor, and also have my own mouse and keyboard.

Whatever laptop you decide to get, I suggest that you first download the user’s and service manuals. Verify that you can add your own RAM and disk, and that it supports standard components. Many of the cheaper laptops don’t support anything except what is already built in.

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I see a lot of stagnation in the laptop market as well, especially some technologies seem abandoned only for laptops but not for desktops and servers. E.g., 9.5 mm 2.5 in spinning hard disks ended at 2 TB about 10 years ago, while the technology used in 3.5 in drives (smr, etc.) may easily allow to increase this number. And high volume ssds are still factor 4 more expensive.

I am searching for a new laptop with acceptable compromises for more than 4 years now and do not find reasonable options, not even if the price does not matter.

Good idea; however, most laptops I have seen have soldered down components. Sifting through the specs and the manuals will take a very long time. :man_facepalming::woman_facepalming:

Not so simple because the 16GB laptops I have seen don’t have high end components. One would have to spend more as @Thomas_Do said.

They indeed stretch out the value propositions to catch every kind of customer in terms of wealth and WTP. E.g. I see odd GB values such as 6GB and 12GB next to 8GB. Sub-$2000 16GB laptops certainly won’t have 1TB SSDs, let alone 512GB. Sub-$1300 would have odd sizes 128-256GB.