Proprietary hardware used in which brands?

Hi guys,

Looking to establish some standards in my workplace for laptop purchases. One issue I feel strongly about avoiding is using proprietary hardware. I've seen this cause problems many times and ordering replacement parts is (deliberately) restricted to the manufacturer, rainsing costs.

I know in the past HP was notorious for using proprietary non standard hardware, such as RAM, and from a quick investigation it appears Sony and maybe even Dell now do the same thing.

Can anyone tell me if this info is (in)accurate? I'm leaning towards Asus and Toshiba for laptops. Lenovo have always been extremely well regarded for their
quality, but are expensive.

6 answers Last reply
More about proprietary hardware brands
  1. You're right about Sony. Probably true of Toshiba.

    Is true of some Dell laptops -- some restrict replacement of the power supply cube, some won't allow other brands or spec of optical drives. Dell buy from various sources so it's unlikely to be a problem across the brand.

    It's always a risk with laptops due to their integrated design.

    I would speak to a favoured supplier and make purchase conditional upon declaration of which commonly replaced parts can only be replaced with like.

    If more people did that it would discourage some of this nonsense.
  2. The vast majority of laptops on the market are manufactured by a small handful of Original Design Manufacturers (ODM).

    Major relationships include:

    * Quanta sells to (among others) HP/Compaq, Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Fujitsu, Acer, NEC, Gateway and Lenovo/IBM
    * Compal sells to Toshiba, HP/Compaq, Acer, and Dell.
    * Wistron (former manufacturing & design division of Acer) sells to HP/Compaq, Dell, IBM, NEC, Acer, and Lenovo/IBM.
    * Flextronics (former Arima Computer Corporation notebook division) sells to HP/Compaq, NEC, and Dell.
    * ECS sells to IBM, Fujitsu, and Dell.
    * Asus sells to Apple (iBook), Sony, and Samsung.
    * Inventec sells to HP/Compaq, Toshiba, and BenQ.
    * Uniwill sells to Lenovo/IBM and Fujitsu.

    Since even they have limited control of what goes in what, I prefer to buy from boutique vendors who will build to spec (within reasonable limitations). A large percentage of these vendors get a large portion of the base chassis from Clevo:

    You can find a list of Clevo distributors on the above site. I use this one:
  3. Guys,

    Thanks for your responses, much appreciated. Hadn't previously heard of Clevo - is their aftermarket support well regarded, or do their distributors do a good job of this?

    Our IT consultants lean towards Dell, as they get a preferred customer discount and we get decent warranty deals. My personal Dell laptop has been decent for the past 3 years, but is starting to really suffer, HD is failing, left mouse button is busted, weird minutes long driver/OS load times, networking is bollocks, etc.

  4. You're pretty much guaranteed that optical drives, memory, hard disks, and wireless cards will all NOT be proprietary; no company wants to invent its own bus.
    What they get you on, though, is connections. Most optical drives and hard disks have adapters that will change the connector layout so that you're forced to buy a new part from the manufacturer if you don't save the old connector. Getting an optical drive aftermarket is a crapshoot for machines anyway because of chassis differences. However, most of the other parts on notebooks are pretty standardized.

    I'm afraid you're stuck with some other parts, though - keyboards, LCDs, motherboards, batteries, AC adapters, etc, generally all use proprietary connectors based off brand. There are some sites out there that sell this or that part, but I haven't ever found a major store that sells most parts for most brands at decent prices. Notebooks are expensive, and so are their parts.
  5. I wish you were right frozenlead.

    My experience with Dell was that even if you extract the bare optical drive from their adapter and replace with a functionally identical drive, the BIOS may object.

    With HP, reports of virtually identical mini-PCI wireless adapters being rejected.
  6. I've never done the connector switcharoo on a Dell, but when I replace an HP's optical drive with a drive from a different manufacturer while keeping the HP's original proprietary connector, it worked fine.

    But, like I said, it's a crapshoot. Notebook designs are all over the place even within manufacturers...I don't think any of them realize how much money they could save by standardizing their parts, even if it was only standardizing parts for their notebook models only.
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