Eurocom is now accepting orders for its Sky Z7 R2, a 'mobile supercomputer' (read: laptop) with modular components that allow for DIY upgrades that extend beyond the usual suspects. That's to say, in addition to the RAM and storage, you can swap out the CPU and GPU, and even the LCD panel. Just don't expect to stuff next-generation hardware into this thing.
"As newer and improved technologies emerge within the same chipset, the Eurocom Sky Z7 R2's hardware components such as the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, LCD, to name a few, can all be upgraded and replaced relatively easy in order to acquire more power as desired," Eurocom says.
"Having modular components greatly increases the laptop's lifespan for many years and prevents the cycle of having to buy new laptops every few years, which can be the case with most laptops that have non-upgradeable components," the company adds.
The Sky Z7 R2 is based on Intel's Z590 chipset for Rocket Lake, with support for desktop-class processors. Eurocom's disclaimer about the chipset really boils down to the socket—LGA 1200 in this case. When Alder Lake arrives later this year, it will be accompanied by a new LGA 1700 socket, so it will be impossible to upgrade to a next-gen CPU.
So in essence, if you start off with the top CPU option, a Core i9 11900K, the CPU upgrade path vanishes. That is, unless Intel releases a higher end Rocket Lake SKU, which isn't likely.
Try as companies might, laptops just don't afford the same level of upgradeability as a desktop PC, because a wholesale motherboard swap is typically out of the question. Hence the disclaimer about upgrades having to be "within the same chipset."
This is part of what got Dell hit with a class-action lawsuit (opens in new tab) over its Alienware Area-51M R1, which was built around a Z390 motherboard and Intel's 9th Gen CPUs. Dell touted "unprecedented upgradeability," but when Intel came out with its 10th Gen CPUs, it changed the socket. The lawsuit alleges Dell misled customers about just how upgradeable the Alienware really was. It remains to be seen what, if anything, will come of the lawsuit.
As for the Sky Z7 R2, it's also not certain if next-gen GPUs will be supported, whenever they arrive. Eurocom says the laptop features upgradeable MXM 3.1 V2.0 GPUs up to the GeForce RTX 3080, so that might be the end of the line.
All that said, it's at least nice that most of the parts are modular. Buyers who opt for lower end components out of the gate could bump up to a faster CPU or GPU down the line, if and when the need arises, or swap out parts that fail rather than replacing the entire notebook.
Such luxury comes at a premium, though. The Sky Z7 R2 starts at $3,199 and includes a 17.3-inch display with a 300Hz refresh rate, a Core i7 10700KF processor (Comet Lake, which uses the same LGA 1200 socket as Rocket Lake), a GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 16GB of DDR4-2666 RAM, and a 250GB Samsung 980 Pro SSD. Add another $141 if you want it to come with Windows 10 Home installed.