What's the best laptop for performance?
I am looking to buy a new laptop soon because of the holiday deals.
I am looking for a laptop with:
high performance (most important)
high battery life (i dont mind carrying a charger around, but I would like not to).
does not overheat too much (not much of a problem since I will be living in basically a tundra for the next few months, but it might be a problem around summer).
My current laptop is a Macbook. I don't mind buying another one but I prefer Windows so I can game. My one problem with Windows is that every time I buy a Windows laptop, it gets slow as fuck for no reason after a month of use, which isn't a problem I've had with my Mac.
Cost isn't much of an issue. And feel free to get into the nerdy details. I don't know much about hardware and would like to learn.
EDIT: If you have any recs for cool accessories, let me know about those as well.
I will always buy Thinkpads. The T series is probably the best (P series workstation machines pretty hefty too though), you can spec up to whenever you run out of budget. Last I looked they were doing 12-core i7-1270p cpus if you have the money, and Nvidia GPU options as well.
When I bought my current machine it was more powerful than the at-the-time best Macbook, for less than half the price. The build quality is great and you can replace or upgrade... well, pretty much the whole thing. Screen, keyboard, all the bits and pieces up to and including the main board - all user-replaceable with nothing more than a screwdriver and a very small amount of clue (clue easily available on the internet if you don't have the required ones already). Sadly they have moved into soldered-on batteries in recent years which is less than ideal, but even after 2+ years of daily use I still make it through most of a day on a single charge, depending a bit what I'm doing.
There is in my experience no better laptop keyboard than the ones Lenovo use on Thinkpads, by some distance. That's a huge factor in why I like them. Excellent quality screens with good colour accuracy and top-notch build quality go a long way too.
This post not brought to you by Lenovo although I'd happily accept freebies if they are reading.
Yeah that's really just a Windows thing. Dual boot with a better OS and only fire up Windows for gaming, that's what I do.
That sounds simple enough but I would rather just buy one that's already spec'd out. I am not comfortable with doing hardware work since I am 90% sure I will fuck it up.
Yeah switching from a Mac, I will have to pay attention to keyboard and trackpad quality. Mac doesn't have the best keyboard but their trackpads are next-level.
Looks like I will have to do that.
Oh, don't get me wrong, they arrive ready to go, no screwdrivering required. It's more that if you want or need to change anything later, it's easy to do.
Yeah, the Lenovo Legions look pretty good. Do you know if the Legion is any different from their ThinkPads? Is it just re-skinned for gaming or are there actual differences?
They don't look like a Thinkpad in terms of shape, quite. There is that lump of battery/speakers/whatever behind the screen hinge (my Thinkpad folds 180 degrees to flat) but I suspect they'll be pretty well made if not quite up to the build quality of the T series. The Legions have those big chunky hinges which are a Lenovo signature, so that's good.
That reassures me about Lenovo's quality. Did you have any problems with hardware, like noise or heat? I don't really mind a chunky design.
Mine runs near-silent probably 95% of the time. Obviously if I'm rendering video or whatever the fan spins up some amount. On particularly hot days it can get a little loud under load but for general web browsing/text editing/console stuff it's almost always noiseless.
Ok that makes me feel more comfortable with Lenovo
Back in the day, the consumer (Ideapad, Legion) and business (Thinkpad) units were two different departments, that's why when that spyware scandal broke out the Thinkpads were not affected. Nowadays I don't know, and I don't know either if they share similar designers/factory/QA.
Lenovo provides service videos for most if not all of their laptops . It's really hard to screw up when following the step by step instructions.
You would be surprised at my incompetence. But thank you for the videos, it's good to know that it's available.
What do you need high performance for? If it’s gaming (sounds like not) then you probably don’t want a MacBook. Otherwise you should get a MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro/Max/Ultra chip depending on your exact performance needs and budget.
Edit: Either I missed it or it was added later - but it sounds like you do want it for gaming :P
I think the most important question then is how much you're looking to spend.
I want to throw in that IMO the only laptops to have acceptable battery life are the MacBooks from the last few years. Everything I've ever heard from other manufacturers about battery life is a lie - even reputable brands with popular products like Lenovo's T-series. For example my T-430 only got about 2.5 hours of battery life even with the extended battery. My System76 Galago Pro gets something like 45 minutes of battery life. Apple's computers genuinely get 10+ hours of use before they need charging. I'm not a big MacOS fan or anything close to an Apple fanboy (currently typing this on a Windows PC I built) but most other laptop manufacturers should be ashamed of what they build.
I do want it for gaming. I was pertty frustrated with not being able to play much on my old macbook. The games I could play were pretty laggy since it was an old laptop.
As for how much, I have a soft cap around $2.5k.
Sounds like you want a high performance machine to counter the anticipated slow down. If you're excited to learn, then consider going down that rabbit hole. I've found search results for
windows github de bloathelped my Windows boxes.
Nice I will look into it!
I hear you on wanting to avoid Windows. I’ve experienced the same issue too.
If your gaming needs are just “some games” rather than specific titles, definitely look into Linux. Valve has done incredible work with their Proton compatibility layer which lets Windows games run in Linux. It’s embedded directly into Steam and requires no tinkering (unless you can’t get a specific game to run).
I bought a Linux gaming laptop from System76 years ago; it’s still snappy as ever; and it has successfully played literally thousands of hours of Windows games on it with zero hassle.
As much I want to, I do not have the patience deal with Linux. Also I am glad to hear that someone knows the struggle with Windows.
Totally understandable. I hope you’re able to find what you’re looking for!
If you just want to game and are okay with the Steam Ecosystem, maybe consider a Steam Deck? Otherwise, far as laptops go, I usually like a cheap Chromebook to try and run it until the wheels fall off, but if you want something to last a while, maybe look into Framework as they are specifically designed to be upgraded and repaired, and you can throw your own OS in them with minimal fuss.
The Framework laptops are very nice, but they do not include a dedicated GPU. Generally I'd recommend them to tinkerers, but probably not for regular users.
There's nothing about Framework's laptop that makes it unsuitable for "regular users". They sell the DIY edition that you put together yourself, install your operating yourself, etc. They also sell assembled and ready-to-go systems though.
If anything, Framework's laptop is more suitable than a lot of other laptops. The documentation and parts Framework has made available makes repairing the device trivial. So if a "regular user" drops their laptop or otherwise fucks it up, then any local repair shop should be able to effortlessly fix the device for them.
I'm very happy with my Framework, and I'd also recommend it for regular users, but it isn't for everyone, and I'd say it's particularly poorly suited for the OP here. They want a high-performance computer suitable for gaming, and aren't concerned about weight. They need a dedicated GPU, and likely would prefer a larger screen, while Framework, at the moment, only makes what might be described as the standard modern business laptop form factor. You can, of course, use an eGPU and an external monitor, but if you need those for your basic usage, it takes away from the whole point of it being a laptop.
Yeah that’s why I didn’t say anything to the OP
Unfortunately your goals are somewhat at odds with each other. If you want a high-performance machine, it's going to burn a lot of battery. When it burns a lot of battery, it's going to get hot.
Realistically speaking, a desktop PC would be a lot more compatible with your stated goals. I know that isn't a particularly useful answer though so let's keep talking.
It's not a traditional computer, but probably the best portable gaming machine right now is the Steam Deck. It's running on modern hardware and seems to be subsidized, so it's likely cheaper than anything you could put together yourself.
Since you mentioned that cost is not a major concern, you might also consider buying two devices instead of one. For example you could build a beefier PC for at-home gaming, and use a thinner laptop or tablet (or hybrid!) for travel. It really just depends on your needs.
A laptop that is meant for gaming but also travel will have a lot of compromises built in. It works for some people, but it's not something I generally recommend.
edit: I realize I mostly just reworded @Greg's answer above.
For travel I have a MacBook from work and a SteamDeck for gaming. As long as you don't need to play games with anti-cheat the SteamDeck should meet most gaming needs.
I think I would rather have something built for gaming and just carry a charger around. I am not going to be gaming on the go, which I should have made clear in my main post. Don't really wanna built a PC since I will have to move again in a year.
Performance and portability tend to pull in opposite directions, so it'd be helpful to know how much size/weight matters: do you need to carry it around with you all day? Take it to the office a few times per week? Work while on extended business trips?
A desktop and an ultraportable could be a good option over a single device to do it all, depending on your specific needs, but there's a whole spectrum of other possibilities as well. Getting an idea of what you're using it for and where you're using it from would both be very helpful to narrow it down.
I will be mostly studying at college and gaming at home. I don't mind carrying a bulky laptop around. I am pretty big guy, so it's not much of an issue. I prefer performance over portability.
I don't really want a desktop, since I will have to move again in a year and I don't wanna deal with it disassembling and reassembling it.
Cards on the table here, I think your best bet is an Apple laptop and a Windows desktop for gaming. It's the exact setup that I have for myself and I'm extremely happy with it, so that's my bias here!
If maximum gaming performance is your goal, you won't get it from a laptop GPU - you just need to look at the size difference between a modern GPU cooler and an entire laptop to see the compromises being made there. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of perfectly good laptop GPUs, but since you've said a few times you want to maximise performance it seems odd to then limit yourself like that.
It also sounds like you don't actually need or want your portable device specifically to be particularly high performance? Assuming your college use is mostly "standard" coursework rather than specialist software like SolidWorks, Blender, or After Effects you'll be far overspecced for normal browser and office type work - but still dealing with a lot of extra bulk, reduced battery life, and thermal compromises for a machine that only actually makes use of its power when it's back on your desk in your room.
Perhaps a more controversial point, but coming from a Mac I also just find Windows for day to day use to be frustrating. Advertising, nag screens, crappy power management, audio issues, and yes, the constant fight against bloat that you mentioned over time. Being able to treat my Windows machine like a games console means I never need to think about any of that, and then having my work machine's OS tailored to the hardware to an extent that it just stays out of my way means I get to focus on actual productivity.
If you still need it semi-portable for moving around once every few months, a small form factor case like the NR200P will let you use a full size CPU, cooler, and GPU while still fitting in a backpack when you need it to. A Macbook (Air or Pro) will be well built, pleasant to use, easy to throw in a bag, and extremely battery efficient for everyday college work. Both will be better for their respective jobs than a single machine that has to make compromises, even within the same combined price range, and you'll have a much easier upgrade path on both sides too.
So, that's my pitch for exactly the opposite of what you asked for! It works for me, I reckon it could potentially work for you too.
It just sounds like a lot of work trying to maintain two computers. I like the unconventional suggestion though, it will be an option for me when I have a permanent home.
Regarding carrying a charger around:
There are plenty of compact 100W GaN chargers available now, and some whose wattage is even higher. You could buy one of those to keep in your bag with your laptop when you’re mobile, and just keep the charger that comes with the laptop at home (or camp, wherever you’re going to be in the tundra).
If you get a very high performance gaming laptop it might not be able to play games and stay charged with just 100W, but it will still charge while idle or turned off.
Of course, most high performance laptops are bulky, and throwing their charger in the bag with them probably won’t add much more bulk.
That's a good point and I didn't know those chargers were compact. Seems like it's best to just buy a high-performance laptop and not play when I don't have a charger around.
I am not in actual tundra though just to be clear. Just a really cold city.
If I get a GAN charger, and I just plug it into an outlet, will that be good enough to power my laptop in an emergency? Like let's say I just need it for regular work stuff and not gaming. Gonna get a Lenovo Legion 7 btw.
I briefly looked over them, and it seems like all the Legion 7 models come with at least a 170 watt charger, and some come with a 300 watt charger.
So, I'd really need to know the exact model and configuration (specifically the exact CPU and GPU) that you're buying, to give a definite answer.
The most important components for power consumption are going to be the CPU and GPU. I have no idea how to do it on Windows, but you should be able to turn off the GPU when you are not gaming, like @FlippantGod suggested. If you do that, then I think a 100 watt GaN charger would be good enough to keep the laptop running indefinitely while plugged in, but without knowing the exact model you're buying, I can't say for sure.
Without turning the GPU off though, the laptop almost certainly will drain battery even while plugged in with a 100 watt GaN charger.
Finally, jut to be clear, when I say "turn the GPU off" I mean turning off the dedicated GPU in the laptop, like the Nvidia GPU. The AMD chips shipped in these laptops have their own integrated GPUs as well, so that's what they'll fall back to using. The performance of the integrated GPUs obviously won't be as good as the dedicated unit, but it will also consume far less power and still be absolutely fine for basic work. When you want to play games, you can just turn the dedicated GPU back on.
I have no idea how to do that in Windows though. I assume you just click a button somewhere, but you're going to have to look online and figure out where that button is in the operating system.
Ended up buying this because I couldn't find the Legion in a store near me and shipping would take too long where I am:
MSI GE76 Raider 17.3" Gaming Laptop - Blue (Intel Core i7-12700H/1TB SSD/32GB RAM/RTX 3070 Ti/Windows 11)
Model Number: GE76 12UGS-268CA
Kinda regretting my purchase already but it what it is. The other option was a m1 max or a high-end m1 pro.
When you were suggested a GAN charger as a compact charging solution, people neglected to mention that it will probably require a compatible USB C charging port (usb power delivery support). Looks like your laptop of choice might only support charging with the included ac power supply.
Maybe there is some sort of adapter but idk. Sorry if this doesn't match your expectations.
If this is an urgent problem I can discuss it with you in more detail.
It's not that urgent. But I will gladly take you up on the offer once I actually get the laptop in hand. Honestly, I should have been more time into deciding what to buy rather following impulse. I am really grateful that you and tilderinos provide so much info though!
There are things like this that will let you adapt USB C to barrel plugs.
Congrats! I've heard good things about MSI gaming laptops. Don't second guess yourself too much: practically every hardware purchase is outdated before it's even reached your hands. Enjoy your new rig, sounds like a beast.
Haha thanks I needed some positive affirmation on my purchase. Can't wait to play Valorant for the first time.
Lenovo Legion 7 is not very specific. But I wouldn't expect a modern laptop cpu to pull much more than ~45w with the discrete gpu idle/off. Someone correct me if I'm off?
Basically, no discrete GPU: 60w + chargers should power+charge (maybe slowly) a laptop.
I think the current crop of Apple Silicon MacBook Pros still generally offer the best performance in their weight class.
There are faster Wintel machines, but they make considerable sacrifices to weight and/or battery life.
That said, it would be really helpful to know what your anticipated workloads look like.
Workload is mostly just coding stuff.
As for gaming, I think I will mostly just be playing FPS games like CSGO, Fortnite, Apex, and Valo. But I guess I could always dual boot and play Windows-only games on a m1 max.
Dual booting is not really an option on Apple Silicon. While Apple does support installing other operating systems, there isn't a version of Windows that will run on it.
None of those games are particularly demanding. It's possible you could run them in a virtual machine. Though since they are eSport titles, their anti-cheat solutions might take issue with that. I'd research your options for playing these games carefully if playing these is important to you.
That's disappointing to hear. I thought at least Parallels would be a good solution but I guess not. But to be fair I mostly play CSGO and indies so that might still work. As much I wanna game, deep down I still don't wanna use Windows lol.
Note macs have a return window. You could try and see if it works. The reality is, though, for nearly any purpose that doesn’t specifically require intel architecture, the macbook is at least an order of magnitude better.
Could you elaborate a bit on this? I don't really understand what you mean.
This really only worked with the x86_64 Macs because they shared processor architecture.
Most games don't run on ARM Windows, even if they did end up compiling Windows for the M1.
Ah that sucks
I'd also suggest a Macbook. Since I bought one, everyone around me actually believes my performance that I'm doing useful work.
(I'll see myself out, thanks.)
Kek. But I really am considering getting an M1 Max and just dual-booting Windows, or getting parallels.
If cost isn't an object, Lamba Labs Tensorbook is capable of having a 3080ti, 64 GB of RAM, and high end CPUs with a nice 240hz display. Can either do linux or windows. They aren't cheap though.
Other high end options are Cyberpowerpc, Razer, and Dell/Alienware. I had a large Alienware laptop that lasted about 10 years and was surprisingly robust. Was a hefty machine and it was a bit to carry around with its huge charger.
I'd be wary of modern Alienware - they're very much not the company they used to be back when your laptop was made. I can't speak for the laptops specifically, but their desktops nowadays have cut price components, notably poor thermal and noise performance, little to no upgradability thanks to proprietary motherboards and PSUs, and still sell for a significant premium.
That said, they do still make some great hardware: arguably the best monitor on the market right now is one of theirs, for example, so it'd be unfair to write them off entirely. I still wouldn't touch their desktops with a barge pole, and on the laptop side I'd be watching a lot of deep-dive reviews, particularly for thermal performance, before considering one.
There were similar concerns about Alienware when I purchased mine back in 2011 as it had been a few years since they had been acquired by Dell but it turned out okay. I would definitely heed to whatever respected, modern hardware reviewers say about their components and hardware these days, but if OP is looking for some of the best gaming laptop options, I wouldn't discount Alienware without a serious look.
Tensorbook looks cool as fuck but I don't think I am ready to drop 5k on a brand I have never heard of before. But I am looking Alienware and I like what they have.
While I haven't seen their Tensorbook, we have some of their Hyperplane server hardware and workstations at work and they are great.
I see. I am sure they're great hardware but $5k is just out of my range for now.
You listed the worst gaming laptop manufacturers.
I have narrowed it down to two choices:
Macbook Pro 16-inch M1 MAX - Cost $3500
Lenovo Legion 7i Gen 7 Intel (16") - Cost $2,290
What do you guys think? I am leaning towards the Macbook but I am paying $1000 more for mostly similar specs. I don't know how the M1 Max compares to the Intel i7 but I can't imagine it's worth $1k more. With Lenovo, I am getting more storage and I can save some cash for accessories. But I am not sure how well the Legion will perform or if there's going to be any hidden problems. At least with Apple, I can guarantee quality right out of the box.
This is kind of the eternal dilemma. The Mac will perform extremely well and with M1, probably actually fine for games if those games can take advantage of Mac hardware well enough. It will be built better (great screen, trackpad, etc), likely quieter, and get pretty decent battery life.
The Lenovo will be better for gaming overall in terms of compatibility, performance (probably), configurability. However, I'm quite certain it will run much louder, get far lower battery life (maybe not, with E-cores and under non-gaming situations??), and so forth. I think the quality at that price level for Lenovo will be fine. I don't always love Lenovo's quality these days but it's still not bad.
For things outside of gaming, both will be more than powerful enough. It might come down to price and if you have a strong preference of OS and/or game compatibility, or if any of those other factors (noise, heat, hardware design) are a big sticking point
Yeah what you said about Lenovo is my worry about everything non-Mac. All that extra hardware stuff that I don't really understand too well and I never really had to since I've always owned a Mac.
I really can't decide if I wanna gamble on windows again or if I should stick to Apple.
Love my Legion 5i for gaming. It's only 1080p but has a 240 Hz refresh rate, which is amazing for games, in particular Apex Legends. It's a few years old so looks like they changed things up, newer models having higher res and lower refresh rate, but 165 Hz is still a major improvement over the 60 Hz you'd get with the MacBook. IIRC Apex caps at 144 Hz. It's anecdotal but my memory tells me I was getting top-3's in Apex way more often, in large part thanks to the faster display. This was around Season 7 or 8.
The fan does get loud. It helps that you can toggle between regular gaming mode and quiet mode, which sets a temperature cap. But even quiet mode can still get somewhat noisy depending on the game.
It handles every game I throw at it at medium-high settings, including VR. Has enough USB ports to plug a gaming keyboard and mouse without a separate dock or adapter. The 230-watt power brick is big, but doesn't matter much in my current setup.
Finally, Nvidia still has the lead when it comes to non-gaming GPU applications (CUDA), like AI and video transcoding. Apple silicon is making headway for sure, but Nvidia has had a huge head start by being the industry standard for quite a while.
Oh nice, this is very detailed, thank you!
Sounds like it will do just fine for gaming, outside of the noise problem. Did you have any problems with overheating? Also do you know what kind of warranty would be best for any unknown out-of-the-blue issues - like something not being screwed right and it somehow bricks the entire thing?
No heating problems with Legion 5i with RTX 2060. The Legion 7i model you posted sports a 3070 Ti though, so I don't know how much worse that would be heat-wise.
Warranty? The standard 1-year that comes with it should cover manufacturing defects. Back in school I got a 4-year warranty since I was carrying my (Dell?) laptop around everywhere, and it ended up being worth it, after some display panel issue senior year. Today, speaking to my own situation, I wouldn't pay for an extended warranty since I just use it at home.
Yeah I think the 3070 Ti might cause some heating issues. I might get a longer warranty too, just in case.
I own the Macbook Pro 16-inch M1 MAX, I have a few thoughts.
My honest review is that while I like the laptop, I'm frustrated with what feel like pretty basic issues. Especially when the price tag is so freaking high. That said, visually it is beautiful. I never thought the screen would matter that much, but yeah, it's unexpectedly a highlight.
That is partially their fault. They are actively hostile to popular graphics APIs that almost every PC game needs to run.
That's honestly par for the course with Apple in my experience and strangely made it feel more home-like.
Those are minor issues for sure, but for $3500 they shouldn't even exist. And yet I still can't stop myself from being tempted by it. Truly sheeple.
What do you guys think about this?
MSI Raider GE77HX 12UHS-082 17.3" QHD - Cost $3299
Given the price, if you can get comfortable with the idea I would recommend buying two computers. A laptop without a powerful GPU and a gaming desktop. That should give you the best longevity.
That said, good GPUs have skyrocketted in price so much that gaming laptops are a much more reasonable tradeoff now.
Really? Last I checked 3XXX series GPUs could be found in store and on sale.
Like, I know the world changed with the rise of crypto, but I bought my GTX 970, an upper-midrange that I'm still using, retail near-release for less than $300. It still handles 1080p for most titles I throw at it with no trouble. The high-end GTX 980 Ti was topping out at $800ish.
All I see now is lower-tier 3060's retailing for between $400 and $550. That still qualifies as "skyrocketed" in my books. Especially since it's not current-gen anymore.
With a $500 graphics card and another $600 minimum to get the other parts you need, plus a monitor....a gaming laptop makes a lot of sense at $1,600 or so.
The 3060 has 3x the raw FLOPS of the 970 and 3x the RAM. It is in range of being a capable 1440p card. And consider that, inflation-adjusted, $300 from 2014 would be $350 today. But NVidia is definitely raising prices faster than inflation. I wouldn't call it a "skyrocket" though.
Thats kinda my point though. Its 7 years later. CPUs from that era are similiarly behind, but their cost gains are much more in line with inflation...better since AMD became competitive again.
When the 970 was released, 1080p gaming was 'King'. The modern equivalent is 4K, so I would expect a 4K capable card at that $350 to $500 price point.
The 3060's older equivalent was the 960. Which was about 70% slower than the 970. It was a 720p ish card at best and dropped below its $200 MSRP fairly quick.
Crypto made things go bonkers in GPU land, and once prices go up, they rarely go back down.
Well, it's not really gotten cheaper for sure, but I do think some of the GPU "inflation" is a bit fallacious because it's comparing GPUs of the same marketing "tier" - e.g tracking the price of **60, or a **70 across generations. But those are, in the end, arbitrary - the only thing that really matters is performance, and relative performance to games at tjat/
And the reality is that newer GPUs still perform quite well generation across generation, and that the floor of GPU performance you need to play all games has absolutely not increased linearly. Especially at 1080p or 1440p, you can get away with way less. The level of performance in games that you might expect from a 1070 at its time is more like a 3060 or lower in its time.
The entire point of having those tiers is expectations of performance within the scope of today's and tomorrow's AAA titles. The 60 tier was the budget card, 70 the midrange, the 80 the high-end.
Intel can't point at its budget offerings today and say 'see its still better than the high end of 7 years ago, we can justify our budget tier at the price of our older midrange chips.
Intel i5-6500 was an upper-midrange chip of the time, retailing about $200. The i5-12500 retails about $250, roughly in line with inflation. It's easily 3x as powerful.
Don't try to weasel companies out of overcharging for their tiers. It's fine that there are reasons those costs went up (increased demand, lower supply)...but at least do so honestly. GPUs, tier for tier, doubled in cost. Processors did not.
That 'level of performance in games' largely came from improved APIs and that games have hit somewhat of a ceiling due to hard production and consolification.
Can the 3060 game at 4k Ultra consistently across the board? Because that is the modern equivalent for that 70 tier.
Yeah I don't know about maintaining two computers, and I don't want a desktop since I will be moving again in a year.
If you must have the best GPU performance and money is no concern, can you wait for upcoming laptops with new GPUs? I don't know when they are expected to launch. Sometime 2023 I guess.
This was my experience about a decade ago. People I work with swear Windows is much better now.
I will counter your colleagues and say that Win10 has slowed down 2 laptops I've helped rehab in the last couple years. If the Win10 systems have HDDs instead of SSDs, the experience will be so painful one may consider replacing the machine entirely. I know spinning drives are less common, but they're still sold in budget-minded machines, so I won't give Microsoft a pass here.
Windows is just utterly incapable of dealing with slow I/O for the primary partition. It's always been true, but SSDs, especially NVMEs, have masked it well.
I installed Windows on USB sticks and SD cards over the years for troubleshooting, and they're utterly incapable as a 'daily driver' in that state. I've done the same with Linux distros for decades and they're nowhere near that level of slow.
I suspect there's just so much random I/O happening in the background of Windows, most of it impossible to mitigate as a user.
That's my experience with Linux as well. I put PopOS on both machines and they were fast and usable again. One machine had the charging port go out and I think the machine was replaced. The other sits as a music server since its owner got a better laptop from work.
I plan to replace the drive on the PopOS server laptop sometime this winter. I swapped in 8 more GB of RAM last winter (16GB total), so I think a new SSD would make this a usable machine for 4-5 more years. It's already 5 years old, so I would be very happy to keep it humming for 10 years. Not a bad deal for a laptop!!