Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

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K4sum1
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Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

Unread post by K4sum1 »

I originally posted this on Reddit forever ago, but Reddit spam filters suck so nobody saw it.

Something I've been thinking about for a while is what are the best Windows 7/8 laptops? After doing a bit of research, I think I have some categories, and the criteria for each.

Some things to note are:

1: Modern AMD APUs (Zen 2 and later) don't have drivers for the integrated Vega GPU. The win-raid driver just doesn't work for whatever reason, but I think this might need more testing or perhaps modding.

2: Some laptops don't have CSM and are only UEFI Class 3. I would prefer a laptop with the option for CSM so installing isn't a pain.

3: For a laptop to be considered the best by me, it should have at least one RAM slot, preferably two, and a replaceable SSD. When it reaches the workstation category, it should have at least two RAM slots, preferably four, and two replaceable SSDs. Bonus points for not being a pain to disassemble.

4: Whatever gets chosen will need to be tested before it gets considered the best, it may have weird issues with some component, or things might not work just right. It could also overheat and thermal throttle. This will need to be tested.

Basic ground rules:

Laptop will likely need to be Intel 8th or 9th gen. 10th gen may work if it has a classic iGPU, but unlikely. The weirdly named low power chips with Xe iGPUs will not work. There is no 9th gen u series.

If the laptop has a dGPU and Optimus (or similar) can be disabled, then any CPU could work as long as the dGPU works under Windows 7/8. This requires a mux switch, and an option in the BIOS. This leaves mostly business laptops. Disabling Optmius makes graphics and display run exclusively on the dGPU instead of running mostly on iGPU and leaving the dGPU for gaming or compute. Maybe someone could make a basic driver to satisfy Optimus enough to make it work, but I find that unlikely to happen.

GPUs would need to be Nvidia pre-Ada. This is untested and requires driver modifications for 3000 series, but I believe something can be done even if inf modding does not work. Nvidia MX series GPUs seem to be officially supported all throughout the stack, even the latest MX550/570.

The ideas:

13 inch or smaller: My guess would be something using a 8th or 10th gen Intel U series CPU. If one exists with a Nvidia MX series GPU and Optimus can be disabled, any CPU could work then. However, finding anything that meets number 3 might be a bit hard.

14/15 inch ultrabook: Intel 8th/10th gen U series CPU with an MXx50 series GPU. Later CPUs if able to disable Optimus.

15/17 inch laptop: Intel 8/9/10th gen H/HK series CPU with an Nvidia GPU, preferably MX350 or more powerful. Later CPUs if able to disable Optimus.

15/17 inch gaming/workstation laptop: Intel 8/9/10th gen H/HK series CPU with an Nvidia GPU, preferably 2060 or more powerful. Later CPUs if able to disable Optimus.

So far I have found laptops that should satisfy two categories, but I'm not entirely sure about them. I don't own any of these or know anyone with any of these that are willing to test 7/8.

For 14/15 inch ultrabook, I think the Thinkpad T480 (MX150) or MSI Modern 14 B10RBS/Prestige 14 A10RB (MX350) would be the best fit. Both should have CSM, but I'm not 100% sure about the Modern 14. The Thinkpad T580 has a MX150 model as well, and there's a MX350 MSI Modern 15 A10RBS. The Prestige 15 A10SC gets a 1650, which should also work, but that kinda puts it between categories. A possible AMD alternative is the Thinkpad E495/E595. With the 3700U's Vega 10, it should be close to the MX150, but not too sure how it does exactly.

For 15/17 inch gaming/workstation laptop, I think the Thinkpad P15 Gen 2 or the P17 Gen 2 would be the best pick. The Quadro series supposedly has native 7/8 drivers that don't need any modding. However they don't appear to have CSM, but maybe a BIOS mod is possible. There's no iGPU driver for the 11th gen chips, but the P15/P17 should have a mux switch allowing the use of only the Nvidia card. The Thinkpad P53/P73 is similar, has CSM, but is reported to run really hot and overheat. Another runner up is the Precision 7540/7740, however they also don't have CSM and likely have the funky trackpad and ACPI problems of the 7x30 series. The P16 Gen 1 could also work, but that is missing basic features like a network jack, and is downgraded in other ways too compared to the P15/P17 Gen 2.
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CalmCreeper360
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Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

Unread post by CalmCreeper360 »

The laptop i bought and discussed here is a pretty good Windows 7 gaming laptop id say.
For new games not so much, but for games for lets say 2007-2016 its very good.

Its the MSI GE726QF Apache Pro.

It meets the requirements of 1,3 and 4.

The original specifications were:

CPU: Intel Core i7 6700HQ
GPU: Nvidia GTX 970m
RAM: 8 GB DDR4
DVD Drive

However the laptop i have has a drive caddy instead of the DVD drive, though you can basically hot swap between those two, you just have to unscrew the screw holding the caddy in place, i use that all the time.
My laptop also has its memory upgraded to 16 GB and im sure you can upgrade it as high as 32GB.
The laptop also has secureboot and UEFI with CSM but also Legacy boot.
The Display is 17" and has good color grades.

Regarding the internals almost everything is replaceable.
The CPU can be upgraded, there are 2 DDR4 RAM slots and the GPU is removable and has an MXM-B port, meaning that you could technically upgrade the GPU to a 1000 and possibly a 2000 series GPU, as long as its the same size of 82mmx105mm.
I think the most powerful GPU you can put in there is an Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000
The Motherboard has technically also space for 2 SSDs, one SATA port and one m2 NVME slot.
The laptop is also very easy to take apart and clean.
Regarding the price, its also fairly okay as i got mine used in good condition for about 390EUR and that was during the chip crysis 2 years ago.

The downside of this laptop is fatal:
1. You dont have many configuration options in the BIOS regarding CPU or GPU stuff
2. NVIDIA OPTIMUS


All in all a fairly solid choice, though unfortunately Nvidia Optimus really bottlenecks the CPU performance in many games a lot and at the same time prevents you from installing unsupported operating systems, like Windows Vista.
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Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

Unread post by K4sum1 »

MSI laptops do have forced Optimus. From what I can tell Thinkpads allow for disabling Optimus, and any laptop with G-Sync allows for disabling it too. Going too old you run into odd issues like the 8770W not able to use 1000+ series cards without the rare Dreamcolor display. For newer stuff, you can't really upgrade the core components, but you also can't really upgrade and maintain 7 compatibility.
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Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

Unread post by CalmCreeper360 »

K4sum1 wrote: 15 Feb 2023, 16:45 MSI laptops do have forced Optimus. From what I can tell Thinkpads allow for disabling Optimus, and any laptop with G-Sync allows for disabling it too. Going too old you run into odd issues like the 8770W not able to use 1000+ series cards without the rare Dreamcolor display. For newer stuff, you can't really upgrade the core components, but you also can't really upgrade and maintain 7 compatibility.
Every single laptop with an nvidia GPU would have been 10x more awesome if you could disable optimus.
I wish there was a custom bios for my laptop to disable it, unfortunately MSI fucks up in that point.
And thats a big shame, because their laptops are very nice.
Good build quality, not too much LED ect.
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Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

Unread post by luk3Z »

All Intel i7 5th & 6th gen that support W7.
Moreover terminals:
HP T620 or T630
Dell Wyse 3030 or 5060

mini PC:
HP 600/705/800 G1/G2
Seneca mini PC / Intel NUC

https://www.parkytowers.me.uk/thin/hware/hardware.shtml

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Looking for the best Windows 7/8 laptops

Unread post by K4sum1 »

I expanded upon what I found for the 14/15in ultrabook category, meaning there's more 14in's listed, and there's actually 15in options now.
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