What to Look for when Upgrading your Laptop


It is always difficult to tell when it is time to upgrade your laptop or just buy a new one. However, in most cases upgrading your laptop becomes a cheaper option compared to purchasing a new one. Upgrading a laptop entails a lot of factors that ...

Author: Collins Okoth
Category: Hardware
Author: Collins Okoth
Category: Hardware



After a few years in operation, most machines tend to slow down, get overwhelmed, and sometimes even shut down. This is not any different when it comes to your laptop. Laptops tend to start operating at a much slower rate as time goes by. Sometimes the situation gets to a point where the machine is no longer capable of smoothly running programs or software that it used to run before. If this describes your situation, then you probably should consider either upgrading your laptop or replacing it. But what exactly does upgrading your laptop entail?

Generally, upgrading your laptop should refer to improving it in every way possible. You can do several things to improve your computer's appearance, performance, graphics, sound, battery, etc. All these little factors contribute to the overall upgrade of a computer. In this article, I will use the term computer to refer to a laptop and not a desktop computer, since I am discussing laptop computers. Upgrading a laptop is usually not as easy as upgrading a desktop computer. That said, it is possible to perform these upgrading tasks using the right tools and procedures as well as involving professionals.

Why should I upgrade my Laptop?

There are several reasons why you should consider upgrading your laptop. Here are some of the significant reasons to consider an upgrade.

Battery Life

Battery cells in laptop batteries usually degrade over time. This implies that the longer you've had your laptop, the worse it's battery life. It is common to find laptops that could hold power for 7-9 hours, struggling to keep power for even 20 minutes after years of use. At this point, it is necessary to consider purchasing a new battery. This is an essential step to upgrading your laptop, and it requires no technical expertise. Most importantly, when buying a new battery, make sure to get the battery from authentic sources. Third-party batteries are often not Industry-tested and tend to fail at a much faster rate compared to original batteries.

Faster Storage

In a quest to improve the speed of your laptop. You might want to have a look at the technologies used inside; specifically the storage. The modern technology is heavily dependent on Solid State Drives (SSDs). SSDs are much faster and more reliable compared to the traditional equivalent Hybrid Hard Drives (HDDs). HDDs are made of magnetic tapes, and they have mechanical moving parts inside, which makes them large and slow.  SSDs are smaller, with no moving parts and hence much faster. For this reason, older laptops that initially shipped with HDDs might want to consider upgrading to SSDs for a faster and better computer experience.

New Operating Systems

Upgrading your laptop does not have to be a hardware thing. Sometimes, just by upgrading to the latest software improves your overall experience while using the machine. It is often necessary to upgrade your Operating system (OS) to the latest version. This helps to protect your device from malicious software, provides better and improved user experience, and excellent new features. Again, it is worth noting that Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP and will soon stop supporting Windows 7 this year. It is, therefore, important for users of these previous windows OS to upgrade to Windows 10 for continuous service support and essential security updates.

New and Demanding Software and Games

New and exciting software and games are released every year, and there is always a need to have the latest software or game in your machine. I mean, who wants to play GTA San Andreas in 2020 if they can play GTA 5? But remember, it is quite possible to run GTA San Andreas on a 2gb RAM desktop computer with practically no special graphics card. However, for GTA 5, you are going to need to upgrade to at least 8GB RAM machine, with a dedicated NVidia or AMD graphics cards with about 4 GB video processing memory. So if you are a PC gamer, eyeing that FIFA 20 crack for PC, you better be ready to upgrade your RAM and Graphics card to match the requirements shown below.

What to Look for when Upgrading your Laptop

There are several other reasons to upgrade your laptop. If your laptop takes way too long to boot, overheats after running programs it used to run before, or you just need to tweak a few things to match your new needs, you should consider an upgrade.

 

Common Upgrades you can make to your Laptop

As I mentioned earlier, your laptop will eventually get old and slow down regardless.  You will then need to either replace it or upgrade it. Older laptops usually are bulkier and hence upgrade-friendly.  Now that you already know some of the reasons to upgrade your laptop let's look at what exactly you should consider when upgrading and what will be their effects. Many laptops share many standard features and therefore have similar ways to upgrade I will mention below.

  • Upgrading RAM.

Some laptops come with available RAM slots to allow for expansion. This is an outstanding feature when it comes to laptop upgrading. It implies that when you need to increase your RAM for any reason, you just need to buy an additional RAM chip then install it in the readily available slot. However, some laptop motherboards do not offer many RAM slots, and in this case, if your RAM slots are full, you will have to remove a current RAM stick and replace it with another of higher memory. If you are going to upgrade your RAM, please do a little research to determine what amount of RAM will affect your computer speeds. Also, you need to be specific and buy the RAM stick that is compatible with your slot.

  • Upgrading from HDD to SSD

Before the introduction of SSD technology, most laptop computers used to ship with HDDs. Although SSDs are expensive, they offer high-speed and stable services.  If you own a relatively old laptop, chances are you are using the old HDD drives. You might want to overhaul your laptop by upgrading it. Installing a new SSD drive in place of the HDD can significantly increase the efficiency and speed of your computer. When it comes to upgrading hard drives, you will probably have to remove and replace the old ones since most laptops do not come with multiple hard drive bays. However, there are a few large laptop computers that come with more than one hard drive slot, but don't count on it.

  • Replacing the Optical drive with an SSD

Modern laptops do not come with the optical drive slot. This is because the Industry is dead and not so many people buy CDs, Blu-ray, or DVDs anymore. The need to have these optical drives in laptops has severely decreased. For those who have older models with these slots, they can be converted to house SSD drives instead that will significantly increase your laptop computer’s memory capacity as well as speed. Here is an image of the old model laptop with an optical drive section.

What to Look for when Upgrading your Laptop

 

Central Processing Units (CPU) and Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) are also possible upgrades to a computer, but they are much harder and technical to execute. You will have to worry about so many compatibility issues with the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). Again, some of the advanced and powerful CPUs and GPUs emit a lot of heat due to their power. The heat may cause problems if your computer is not well equipped with a cooling system to match the heat emitted by these new powerful devices.

Common Challenges Experienced when upgrading a laptop

There are a good number of people who have gone down the route of upgrading their laptops successfully. But on the flip side, others have not enjoyed the experience, probably messed up and ended up creating more problems than before. Here are some of the challenges involved in the process of upgrading.

  • Warranty – Even though you can easily uncase your laptop and tweak a few things here and there, many manufacturers won't let you do that without voiding your warranty. Most warranty-voiding stickers are placed strategically to show any slight attempt to tamper with the inside of your machine. This is a notorious behavior among electronic manufacturers since they are always looking for ways to trace the problem back to you. For this reason, warranty holders may opt not to tamper with their laptops just to make sure the warranty is valid.
  • Soldered on Components – Some manufacturers are very stubborn. For instance, MacBooks usually ship with RAM, GPU, and CPU, all soldered on to the motherboard. This becomes a challenge for anyone who wants to remove and replace these components.
  • Uncasing – Let's face it; many people have not or are unable to uncase their laptops successfully. This is because most laptops are very compact, with several vital components firmly sitting beside one another. You will have to displace many parts before accessing a tiny component of interest inside the machine. Just to give you an idea, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 contains over 90 screws inside.

Conclusion 

It is always difficult to tell when it is time to upgrade your laptop or just buy a new one. However, in most cases upgrading your laptop becomes a cheaper option compared to purchasing a new one. Upgrading a laptop entails a lot of factors that include changing or replacing the original computer components like the hard drives, display, memory, CPU, GPU, and even upgrading the software versions. All these factors, when improved, will work together to increase the overall efficiency of the computer.