How to get your old laptop back in shape!
You bought yourself a new laptop a few years ago and were really proud to own such a fabulously powerful laptop that finally allows you to play your favorite games. When you’re on the road today you always take your games along. Your laptop’s performance has nevertheless decreased significantly of late. You should actually buy a new laptop now – at least that’s how the manufacturers see it, who always recommend replacing your laptop after than two or three years at the latest. But three years is nothing for a laptop! This recommendation should at most be followed by passionate gamers who are on their laptop gaming all day long. Otherwise it suffices to give your laptop a boost with a few new components. This guide explains how to make your laptop faster and what you should keep in mind.
- When does it make sense to upgrade your laptop?
- What’s the advantage of upgrading a laptop?
- How expensive is it to upgrade your laptop?
- What should I consider when upgrading my laptop?
- Is it possible to increase a laptop’s RAM?
- Can the laptop processor be upgraded?
- When should I upgrade or replace a processor?
- Is it possible to upgrade the laptop’s graphics card?
- Is it possible to connect an external graphics card to a laptop?
- Can a laptop’s hard drive be upgraded?
- Does upgrading the drive boost performance?
- Can gaming laptops be upgraded?
- Can I replace the laptop keyboard?
- Is upgrading an old laptop worthwhile?
- How to make your laptop battery last longer
- Get more power out of the battery
- Are external accessories available for upgrading my laptop?
First of all, it is important to realize that laptops cannot be upgraded as easily as desktop PCs. Upgrading is generally only possible to a limited extent. It is very easy to upgrade the Laptop RAM and hard drive on most models. You can also leverage external accessories to upgrade your device. It always makes sense to upgrade your laptop if it is not too old and you would like to make it faster. Although additional RAM is ideally suited for this purpose, upgrading a low-priced laptop that was not very fast at the time of purchase with RAM will not turn it into a speed machine.
The cost factor clearly speaks in favor of upgrading a laptop. A little money can thus result in a considerable increase in performance. A new laptop costs much more than adding a little RAM or a new hard drive. Upgrading can also extend your laptop’s service life. Even though manufacturers would of course like their customers to buy a new device every two to three years, this is out of the question for most users. Often laptops are only used for office tasks and surfing the internet. In that case, it makes more sense to upgrade the device with suitable components rather than buying a new one. Even high-end gaming laptops can be upgraded with one or two components, such as a more powerful graphics card or more RAM. Since you can leverage simple and above all affordable means to upgrade your laptop, it is not always necessary to buy a brand new device right away.
That always depends on what you want to install. RAM is currently very affordable, with 16 GB currently available for less than 50 euros. Hard drives are another component with a reasonable price tag. Although prices go up and down, you can procure an average SSD hard drive with 1 TB for less than 100 euros. Furthermore, the cost of upgrading a laptop always depends on the model and its particular features. Many inexpensive components are available for a reasonably priced laptop. Higher-end models that come equipped with powerful and high-quality out-of-box components should be upgraded with components of a similar value. Upgrading a gaming laptop, for example, is thus a bit more expensive than upgrading an office laptop.
You should first check whether the laptop is a candidate for an upgrade at all. Although it is possible to expand at least some components on most models without a problem, certain models are difficult or impossible to upgrade. This category usually includes modern ultrabooks with a particularly slim design. They feature a very slim case to which both the hard drive and the RAM are soldered. This makes upgrading impossible. Laptops with “unibody” cases have a similar problem. It is usually impossible to even take a look at the inner workings of such models, let alone replace a component. Laptops with a display of 15 inches or more are generally easy to upgrade. These variants offer ample interior space, but many manufacturers do not make it easy for owners to access the interior. Although the cases are often so difficult to open that you are soon completely discouraged from upgrading, some manufacturers do make it possible to replace certain components without a problem. Such laptops come with built-in maintenance hatches, which make it easy to replace the hard drive or the RAM, for example. Some gaming laptops are also designed to be expanded. These laptop variants are also very easy to upgrade. However, it is always a good idea to take a look at the manual before replacing components, since many models come with instructions for upgrading components. It is also important to buy components that are compatible with the laptop.
The RAM is one of the components in a laptop that can usually be upgraded very easily. With many models it is not even necessary to disassemble the entire device, as they come equipped with special hatches on the bottom that allow access to the RAM components once the screws have been removed. The latter are located directly under the hatch and can be easily replaced or expanded. The only exceptions are laptops where the memory is soldered to the case. Although it is not possible to replace the RAM in these variants, it may be possible to insert additional RAM in some models. Increasing your laptop’s RAM is one of the easiest tasks when it comes to upgrading a laptop.
It is generally possible to upgrade a laptop’s processor, but we can only recommend this to a limited extent: although many laptops do offer the option of replacing the processor, it is not usually worth the effort or the cost. The processor is the heart of the laptop and is responsible for the device’s performance. Many manufacturers offer the option of having it replaced, but the processor is still soldered to the motherboard in many older laptops, making replacement impossible. It should also be noted that this upgrade is often quite risky. Replacing the processor usually requires taking the laptop apart and then removing the cooling system. Of course, the new processor has to be compatible with the laptop’s motherboard. However, even if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that the new processor will actually run properly. Upgrading the processor can result in system instabilities, for example due to insufficient power supply or overheating. In the worst case, this can damage the laptop.
Replacing a processor is only worthwhile if the existing one is defective, but the laptop is still perfectly fine and buying a new one is not yet justified. However, upgrading to a more powerful model is only worthwhile if it is available at a particularly low price and there are major differences in the performance of the two processors. Otherwise the change is often hardly noticeable. In general, however, only used high-quality processors are available for a low price. In this case, replacement doesn’t make sense, as it is very labor-intensive, the costs for the processor are high, and the result is often limited to a minor increase in performance. It is thus advisable to think twice before replacing or upgrading the processor. If you expect significantly more performance from your laptop, you are better off buying a new device with a powerful processor right away.
Although in theory it is now possible to upgrade the graphics card, it is usually not worth the hassle. Graphics cards designed for installation are hard to come by, and the component positions often don’t match. Apart from that, there are often problems with the compatibility of the cooling systems. You are thus better off opting for a sufficiently powerful graphics card when you buy the laptop. Since the graphics card is also soldered to the motherboard in many laptops, it cannot be replaced. The best way to upgrade a laptop’s graphics card is to use an external graphics card.
Yes, this is possible. It’s actually the only way to upgrade the laptop with a graphics card. To enable this upgrade, the laptop must be equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port. This interface lets you connect a graphics card case and thus an external graphics card (a so-called eGPU), making it possible to boost your laptop’s graphics performance without the need for laborious modifications. The case resembles a small PC. The PCIe graphics card is located in this case and is simply connected to the computer via the Thunderbolt 3 port. This type of upgrade is especially interesting for gamers. The graphics card always plays a particularly important role in gaming. Once connected, the external graphics card provides the performance boost required for graphics-intensive games and other applications.
Yes, this is actually one of the easiest ways to upgrade laptops. Installing a larger hard drive or replacing the original one with a particularly fast SSD hard drive is no problem whatsoever. Doing so can shorten loading times as well as speed up access times. Upgrading a hard drive is very simple. As with the RAM, there is often a special compartment for the hard drive that only needs to be opened for it to be replaced. With older laptops, it is often necessary to unscrew the entire underside of the case. However, the laptop can only benefit from the speed of a modern SSD if the motherboard has a SATA controller. The size of the hard drive plays an important role. Conventional hard drives, which are also installed in desktop PCs, cannot be used for this purpose. Today’s laptop hard drives are usually 2.5 inches in size. A look at the device user manual will provide information about which model is the right one.
A laptop’s performance depends primarily on its processor, but combining it with a fast drive can certainly boost the computer’s performance. Although upgrading the drive does not directly improve performance, it will definitely make the device faster. Even the installation of a modern SSD hard drive can provide a noticeable performance boost. Thus if you also upgrade the RAM, you will boost both the performance and the speed of the laptop. Since SSD hard drives offer very high access speed, it is definitely worth using them to upgrade your laptop. If you really want to speed up your laptop, you should choose this option.
Upgrading makes a lot of sense for gaming laptops in particular. Games are becoming more demanding every day. A gaming laptop bought a year ago is already old, at least when it comes to the installed components. The gaming market is rapidly evolving, with new games placing new demands on the laptop’s hardware. The graphics card and the RAM are particularly important for smooth gaming without stuttering. Whereas increasing the RAM of a gaming laptop is no problem, this can be rather difficult or even impossible with a graphics card. Most modern gaming laptops therefore come equipped with a Thunderbolt port that can be used to connect an external graphics card. This offers the advantage that the graphics card can be replacedat any time to keep pace with the demands of the new games. Replacing the hard drive can definitely also increase power and performance. Some gaming laptop manufacturers now even specifically design their devices to be easily upgradable. This is a huge advantage for passionate gamers, as it ensures that the right hardware is always available to play games without stuttering.
The keyboard can also be replaced without a problem. Of course, first you need to remove the old keyboard. There are several ways of doing so, with the right way depending on how the keyboard is installed. Some keyboards feature small notches and can thus easily be lifted using a screwdriver. Removing the old keyboard is a bit more complicated if it is fixed in place with screws, since they first have to be loosened. However, with most new laptops, you have to pry out the keyboard using a pointed tool. Once you have disengaged the keyboard, it can be easily removed. Simply disconnect the cable that connects the keyboard with the laptop. This makes room for the new keyboard. Plug in the cable, attach the keyboard, and the laptop is ready for use again.
It all depends on how old the laptop is and what sort of tasks it is used for. Old laptops that are mainly used for office tasks can be upgraded with a bit more RAM or a new hard drive, both of which are quite affordable. The situation is different if the processor is too slow. In that case, it is advisable to buy a new laptop right away for cost reasons alone. Upgrading with a new processor will usually not result in a tangible performance increase. It is only worth upgrading if the total value of the new components does not exceed the value of the device. The situation is somewhat different for laptops equipped with premium components. With these variants, it may well be worth upgrading the device. New components not only provide more performance, but also extend the service lifeof the high-end devices.
Since rechargeable batteries are subject to wear and tear, their performance can drop significantly over time. If you want to restore runtime to the level the device had when you purchased it, you have to buy a new battery. Although it is of course practical to by an original battery from the manufacturer right away, some third-party batteries also offer good performance. Simply make sure that the battery features a CE mark and ideally a TÜV-GS seal as well.
Every new battery installed in a laptop should first be conditioned. First of all the battery has to be fully charged. After that, it should be used until the charge level reaches about 10 percent. Then it should be fully recharged, before being used down to the same charge level once again. This procedure should be repeated several times. You should also be careful not to expose the laptop to extremely high or low temperatures: temperatures above 30° C or below -10° C are particularly problematic for the battery.
Upgrading a laptop no longer requires unscrewing and disassembling the device. There are quite a few external accessories that can be used to upgrade a laptop. You can expand your laptop’s capabilities with the help of external hard drives, docking stations and USB hubs. Connecting external graphics cards to so-called eGPU docks is a particularly advantageous option. Since upgrading a laptop’s graphics card is difficult or next to impossible, an external graphics card is a real asset, especially for gamers and anyone who spends a lot of time working with graphics and video programs. It goes without saying that the usual peripherals, such as headphones, a mouse or an additional computer keyboard, are also available. You can also upgrade your device with high-quality sound cards or add a TV card.
Modern laptops that offer good performance are not exactly cheap. Who wants to buy a new laptop after two years just because the performance has dropped a bit or no longer meets the general standard? This is not necessary either, since you can leverage simple components like RAM or a hard drive to make your laptop faster again. Although the options are rather limited compared to a desktop PC, there is still quite a lot you can do. A little money and effort can turn even an older laptop into a fast model again.