Do you want to buy a new and shiny laptop but don’t have more than $200? Well you’ll most likely end up on sites like reddit, where most people do actually have budgets and care about price-to-performance. Most YouTube videos, especially ones from big channels, tend to focus only on performance and aesthetics rather than the price. This forces many consumers to buy the cheapest laptop they see, and replace it when it becomes e-waste(~1 year). The best new laptop you can get for $200 will probably have a plastic chassis, terrible specs, terrible build quality & port selection, and most importantly will not be upgradable. This is where you start to realize that nearly all cheap laptops compromise on most aspects to hit the target price point and creates e-waste.

On the other hand, the second hand market helps reduce e-waste and give you a better price-to-performance ratio, and is better for the environment, and one of the best old-but-gold laptops out there (after ThinkPads) might be the Dell XPS 15 L502x. It was released in 2011, targeted for heavy multimedia or gaming users, has a very good display & speakers, nice build quality, pretty good specs, and most importantly, is upgradable in pretty much every aspect, including the CPU(limited to 2nd Gen mobile CPUs). This helps with the longevity of the device. When paired with light/optimized software, it really shows what it’s capable of.

Utilizing the GT 540M GPU, it can play most indie & non-demanding games:

• Minecraft 1.16.5 with 8 chunks using performance mods at 1080p – Avg FPS 50

• Borderlands 2 Low Preset at 1080p – Avg FPS 57

• Portal 2 Max Settings at 1080p – Avg FPS 53

• Rocket League Low-Medium at 1080p – Avg FPS 58

• all 2D games I tested ran buttery smooth at 60FPS

as always, your mileage may vary, so don’t take these values as 100% accurate.

The excellent 1080p screen paired with it’s 30W JBL speakers turns this thing into a home cinema, the keyboard is also excellent for typing and gaming. It also supports connections up to Bluetooth 3.0 and WiFi 4. out of the box (can be upgraded via USB or MPCIe).

In conclusion, you don’t have to compromise a lot in order to fit a computer into your budget. You just have to take a few steps back in time, and ask yourself: Do I really need the newest? Thank you for reading, long live right-to-repair!

Software I use on my L502x:

Windows 10 LTSC – Windows 10 without all the bloatware, less updates, official ISO from Microsoft

Armcord – Lightweight Discord client, reduces CPU, GPU and RAM usage while being snappier than the official client.

Heroic Games Launcher – Lightweight Epic Games and Amazon Games client

Spotube – Lightweight music streaming client

MultiMC – Minecraft Launcher that simplifies installing mods and managing multiple versions

MSI Afterburner
w/ RTSS – Allows you to see FPS, temps, usage and many more metrics

Microsoft PowerToys – QoL improvements for Windows, official from Microsoft

Thiblizz’s Modded BIOS – Adds UEFI boot support and many more quirks

Hardware I use with my L502x

KIOXIA EXCERIA SATA SSD – Have multiple of these, really helps with overall snappiness

TP-Link Bluetooth 5.0 Nano USB Adapter
– speeds up Bluetooth File Transfers and lowers input latency

SATA Second HDD Caddy 12.7mm – Allows you to add another hard drive at the expense of your Blu-ray drive

16GB (2×8) DDR3 1333MHz Memory – Overall speedup, mainly virtual machines and browsers tabs will be smoother

Other Useful Links
Refer to the lowendgaming subreddit for games to play

Dell L502x Drivers Page

iFixit L502x Guides

reddit and YouTube for other guides and more

By Nix

3 thoughts on “New doesn’t always mean better – The Dell XPS 15 L502x in 2024”
  1. Hello,I have a question.I have
    ASUS D509DA (R3 3200U-Vega 3-Ram 1X4 Gb-Ssd 128 Gb) and it is not enough for me,can you recommend me a Gaming Pc (I have 500$)

    1. According to your needs, building(or buying) a PC rather than a laptop may be better for your needs. I’d recommend going onto sites like PCPartPicker or asking for help on reddit, as people are very helpful there. Final decision is yours, though. (just don’t get a Mac if you plan on gaming)

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