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The Secret Truth about...Who Makes Laptops

Computer Tips Index

This money-saving article brought to you by PowerNotebooks.com

Virtually none of the namebrands manufacture their own laptops. The few notable exceptions are IBM, Acer, Toshiba, Twinhead and Apple. Yet, even Toshiba and Apple do not make all of their own.

All of the rest buy their laptops from what is called an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM). Then, they install the hard drive (usually an IBM, Hitachi, or Toshiba), processor (Pentium x, Celeron, or AMD) and system memory (SDRAM). Installing these last three components is very easy to do, and leaving these for "the last minute" allows for a wide range of custom configurations.

Once these companies add in these three components, they have a complete laptop. They then put their label on it and market it.

Each ODM sells its computers to several different OEMs.

For example:

  • An ODM named Clevo makes the Sager NP5670 and the Alienware Area 51-M, the Voodoo MClass M550, the Hypersonic Sonic Aviator, and they are all the same computer. Clevo also makes the Sager NP8882 and NP8887 and the Voodoo MClass M600 and they are also the same computer. Of course, the Sager models have a much sweeter price tag!
  • An ODM named Compal (not to be confused with Compaq) makes some of the the DELL, Hewlett Packard and Compaq line of laptops--plus some others.
  • Quanta makes many of the Dell Latitude, IBM, and Sony Vaio laptops.
  • GVC makes the Micron Transport Treck and Treck 2.
  • Inventec makes many of the Compaq brands.
  • Clevo and Kapok make certain models of the Sager Computer. Clevo and Kapok are different divisions of the same company and are among the largest and best in the world.
  • Other ODM names are Mitech, Kapok, Clevo, FIC, Twinhead, and Uniwil--just to name a few.

Some call this the "Dirty little secret of the Laptop Industry."

So, what does this mean to you? It means don't get hung up on the brand name when looking to buy, because the company who owns that name probably didn't build your dream-machine laptop. Instead, focus on these three things:

  • The warranty: Compare warranties among different vendors.
  • Features: Does it do all you need? Don't go overboard, but don't sacrifice.
  • Price: Are you paying for a name, or for features and warranty? Remember, the name does not differentiate the machine from any other.


Here's an update, late 2009 (thanks, Jon, for this item):

It is about Apple computers. All of their hardware is totally made by ODPs. As they have different product lines, the Powerbooks, Iphones, etc are made by Communist Chinese ODPs and NOT at all in the U.S. They are no different than the low quality Dells, HPs, etc.

Apple is absolutely paranoid with keeping the truth about their company staying within Apple. They want nothing whatsoever to go out to the public.

However, the truth is that Apple uses Communist Chinese ODPs for their Power Macs, absolutely nothing is manufactured in California or anywhere else in the U.S.

With the Ipods and Iphones, they were the largest user of Communist Chinese ODP's on record, but that was from 2006 and I am not aware if that is still true today.

They are cheap, low quality trash, just like the other vendors and have a horrific record of failure, as they fight like heck to keep quiet. The only thing that guarantees a Apple employee to get fired, is to talk about anything to do with work to people outside of Apple. I am sure you must be aware of that and seen all the publicity about that.

To bet it better than I can, this is from a post on a Apple forum from a long time Apple user:

"I wish someone could explain to me how Apple managed to sell $1500 PowerMacs back at the turn of the century that were made in the USA? How did they produce those quality machines and pay people here at least minimum wages? How is it now when they're more popular that they've RAISED prices AFTER moving to slave labor Communist China. Shouldn't they be saving money now? Why aren't prices lower now that they're making computers on the backs of people in bad working conditions making pennies on the dollar??? Maybe that $34+ Billion in cash reserves they have might have something to do with it all? "

I am sure you are aware that as time goes on, the large companies (Dell, Apple, HP, Toshiba, IBM, etc), have been putting enormous pressure on their Communist Chinese ODPs to reduce prices and will have Compal manufacture some of their line and have Quanta handle other parts of their lines. The pressure on these Chinese ODPs has also resulted in a lowering of quality of all of the major portable computer companies. But none are made in the U.S.

Theer are some companies that DO manufacturer and sell their own portable computers (as well as act as a ODP for others). Companies like MSI and ACER do manufacture their own products.

I just got an incredible custom made notebook, where the core shell was made by MSI, and is a one of kind, made only for a particular firm, and everything else is totally custom, as per my choice by this U.S. company.

I just hope you can update the excellent article, because people should understand the truth, for several reasons. I have to laugh when I see fomr posts on forums where some people "swear" by a particular company and put down another company, when in essence, they are both made by the same company and are virtually the same.

Certiainly which Communist Chinese ODP is a moving target, but the fact is the Apple and the other largest portable computer companies are NOT made in the U.S. and are all ODP made.



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