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Laptop Battery: OEM vs. Compatible Batteries

written by: Trevor Parker•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/29/2010

Ever wondered if compatible laptop batteries are really as good as their expensive counterparts? Or, perhaps you are not even sure what the difference is. Find out the difference between OEM and OEM-compatible laptop batteries.

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    What is OEM?

    The acronym OEM stands for "original equipment manufacturer," and is widely used in the field of technology to describe a manufacturer which produces hardware or software under a licensing agreement. This agreement allows the manufacturer to produce something that is then marketed and sold under a separate brand name.

    Since computer companies do not necessarily produce all of the parts and software in-house, outside companies may be licensed to produce specialized components, such as batteries. OEM laptop batteries are those that have been manufactured by an external company specifically for the laptop computer company. These batteries are labeled with the laptop's own brand, and are usually purchased directly from the laptop manufacturer. As such, even the battery that comes with a newly-purchased laptop is produced by an OEM.

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    Laptop battery: OEM vs. Compatible - How do you decide?

    Most laptop computers are not created equal. Apart from a few components, laptops use parts that have been specifically designed for a specific model. This helps manufacturers create laptop computers that are compact and lightweight. Therefore, laptop components, such as batteries, built-in keyboards, and screens, are usually not interchangeable with other laptops. Even within the same brand, some components are often designed for a single laptop model.

    OEM components, including laptop batteries, are often expensive compared to generic counterparts. These generic options are often referred to as OEM-compatible, or simply compatible. While they are not produced by the OEM, they claim to be produced to the same standards and specifications. Compatible laptop batteries provide a less-expensive alternative to the often-costly OEM replacement parts.

    So what are the advantages and disadvantages between OEM and compatible laptop batteries? Should you pay more for an OEM laptop battery?

    OEM Laptop Battery


    • Often comes with a manufacturer's warranty
    • Is the same or very similar to the original laptop battery
    • Replacement may be free if covered under original laptop warranty
    • Does not void original laptop warranty


    • More expensive than alternatives
    • May have flaws that the original battery had
    • Limited selection and options

    Compatible Laptop Battery


    • Typically less expensive compared to OEM
    • Usually very similar to OEM design and specifications
    • Sometimes offered by multiple manufacturers
    • May have more capacity selection or options


    • Usually voids the laptop's warranty
    • May not have high quality-control standards (subject to premature failure)
    • Inventory may be unreliable or hard-to-find
    • May not include a warranty

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    Bottom Line

    It is always a good idea to check the reputation of the manufacturer offering a battery, if you choose to consider an compatible laptop battery. If you are purchasing online, try to research the reviews that have been offered for the specific battery. This is a good idea even if considering an OEM battery, as they are subject to design flaws as well.

    The biggest considerations for an OEM battery appear to be the price and and warranty. On the other hand, for a compatible laptop battery, the value and the fact that it could void your laptop's warranty is something to keep in mind.