Monday, September 29, 2014

Clevo / Sager Laptops vs Mainstream Brands

So a long time ago when laptops were first becoming more abundant, I researched into getting one of these grey market laptops where a company in Taiwan would manufacture a certain model and many other 3rd party vendors would buy, rebrand, and support them. At the time I only researched and never purchased because there really wasn't a reason to go left when I always went right with a regular Asus or Lenovo brand, but fast forward 10 years later.

I first looked at these Sager / Clevo laptops because of the stats on one particular model. It had a very fast GPU...faster than all of my past desktop gaming rigs, it had a desktop-class i7 CPU, it had an 1080p IPS LCD, and it all came in a 13" package. There was no other laptop with those stats so I made the jump.

In a nutshell I won't ever be doing that again and the following reasons pretty much sum it up.
  1. Many of the 3rd party resellers try to market the laptops as being cheaper if you pay cash. I tried this out and it was a total fiasco. You pretty much have to wait close to 1 month from the day you snail mail them a check to when you get the laptop in your hands. This is because they don't actually have the laptops in stock, they themselves have to order it from the source manufacturer with your specialized configurations, and then they have to wait for your check to clear. The whole "cash only" payment method seemed nice when comparing it to paying tax if you order direct, but in the end nobody is going to wait a month for a laptop to arrive. 
  2. Throughout a whole year of ownership, the laptop's drivers were never updated...ever. I'm one who thinks that drivers and software should always be tweaked and retweaked until they rarely ever crash or have problems. Without the backing of any central company, the drivers for this laptop remained v1.0 and some components remained buggy until the bitter end.
  3. Any manufacturer defects were just that, a defect. Nothing would fix it and nobody would care. On this particular model, the hardware engineering was very screwy with the fan speeds such that it would jump from silent to a friggin' jet taking off in half-a-second. It reminds me of when a Dell PowerEdge server will make its fans go at 100% if a component went bad. So yeah this super loud fan issue was such a hassle and it really never made sense as to why it would spike up.
  4. Quality was very consumer-level. Everything was plasticy and quite reminiscent of an early 2000 Dell or HP.
  5. Resale value I knew would be a problem, but I didn't think it was going to be as bad as it was. For the stats the laptop had, it shoulda gone for a whole lot more money, but it didn't because it wasn't on anybody's radar screen. The eventual depreciation loss was not proportional to what it should've been, not by a long shot.
So what did I learn from all of this? Either buy something so cheap that you don't care about the depreciation at a sub $300 system. Or just use your better judgement and get a regular Lenovo, use it like crazy, and then sell it for a pretty good price many years later. There is and will always be a market for a used Lenovo Thinkpad...that and an Apple. I'm glad that I experimented so now I know what the deal is with these laptops, but yeah totally not worth it.