how to Upgrade an Old Laptop and Is It Worth It?.
Laptops are the most popular type of personal computer, and it’s not hard to see why. This is a simple portable package that fits most people. However, compared to a desktop, you have to make one big sacrifice – upgradeability.
Does this mean you can’t upgrade your laptop at all? Not! However, upgrading an old laptop may not be worth the cost and effort, depending on what you need.
What You Can Usually Upgrade in a Laptop
There are usually two components in a typical laptop that can be upgraded or replaced. The first is RAM or random access memory. This is fast memory that the computer uses to store information from the currently running software. The more RAM you have, the more applications you can run (or open browser tabs) without having to resort to slow access to your hard drive.
By the way, another component that can usually be upgraded in a typical laptop is the hard drive. Most laptops have a 2.5-inch drive bay, but more recent models now have an NVME slot for NVME solid-state drives. Replacing existing drives with a larger drive offers the clear benefit of more storage.
However, one of the best ways to breathe new life into an old laptop is to replace its mechanical hard drive with a solid state drive. This will immediately make working at the computer faster and more enjoyable.
There are times when the hard drive, RAM, or both cannot be updated or removed altogether. This is mostly true for ultrabook-class laptops such as the M1 MacBook Pro 13. RAM and SSD are integrated into the motherboard, so you’re stuck with the model you bought in the beginning.
What You Can’t Usually Upgrade in a Laptop
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It’s tempting to just say that everything but the RAM or hard drive can’t be upgraded, but we’ll break that down into individual components to clarify the implications.
The most important overall component of your laptop’s performance is the CPU or Central Processing Unit. It is the brain of a computer that performs general-purpose number processing. In a desktop system, the CPU connects to the motherboard through a socket system. Simplified replacement for the best model. Usually laptops do not use this method. Instead, the processor is permanently soldered to the motherboard.
Unfortunately, the same usually applies to the GPU or GPU. It is either built into the CPU or soldered directly to the motherboard. It is a component that largely determines your performance in 3D applications, and can also help in some applications. For example, video editors that often use the GPU to speed up video encoding.
Some Laptops are More Upgradable Than Others
Of course, typical laptops do not allow for CPU or GPU upgrades, but there are exceptions. Some workstation-class notebooks use a desktop processor with a socket. This means that the model of the supplied chip can be updated. This is incredibly rare, but not uncommon.
When it comes to upgrading a laptop’s internal GPU, some models have a solution. It is known as the Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) and is actually used in some high-end laptops. Basically, it is a mini removable PCIe graphics card that can be replaced with a better model.
Although rare, it’s worth checking to see if your laptop is using the MXM standard for discrete GPU. Expect to pay a high price though, as MXM GPU versions can come with a huge head-up.
Don’t Forget About External GPUs
If you’re lucky enough to have a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C connectivity, you can plug in an external GPU and take advantage of desktop-grade graphics. While you still need to confirm that your particular laptop model supports external GPUs, it’s a great way to get access to a better GPU without having to buy a brand new computer.
Razer Core eGPU Case
The main disadvantage of these housings is that they must be plugged in and are portable rather than mobile. However, if you only need to do basic tasks on the go and want to do heavy 3D graphics (like games) when you return to your desktop, this is a great option. If you want to know more, go to “Everything You Need to Know About External GPU Cases.”
Are These Laptop Upgrades Worth It?
Now that you know what kinds of updates might be available for your laptop, the next question is whether those updates are worth it.
If you have the option to upgrade your laptop’s CPU or GPU, it’s definitely worth it in terms of performance. Updating these components can extend the life of your laptop by years. However, they can also affect heating and battery life. Not to mention, actually installing these updates might require extensive disassembly. You should also weigh the cost of these components as they can be so expensive that a completely new system may be the best option.
When it comes to upgrading your RAM or hard drive, it’s tricky. If your lack of performance is related specifically to the processor or GPU, then upgrading the RAM will do nothing. If you are running low on memory while performing a task that the CPU and GPU can perform (for example, editing video in 4-8GB of RAM), then upgrading the RAM will make a big difference. If your laptop has very little RAM (4GB or less), then an update will allow modern operating systems like Windows 10 to work properly.
When it comes to upgrading your hard drive, we always recommend replacing your mechanical hard drive with a solid state model. At least when it comes to the system drive with the operating system. Solid state drives make older laptops look modern and can handle everyday tasks like web browsing quickly. When combined with a RAM upgrade, an SSD can eliminate bottlenecks in the processor, allowing it to run at its maximum performance.
Good Uses for Old Laptops
If you really need to replace your entire laptop, don’t throw your old machine away. If you cannot sell it for a good price, you can use the old machine for other purposes:
- Use it as a media server (using Plex for example).
- Turn it into a network storage device.
- Install Linux on it, it’s never too late to learn!
- Create a privacy-focused personal computer for private browsing.
- Turn it into a retro gaming emulation machine.
- Donate it to a young or old family member who only has basic computing needs.
These are just a few ideas, but if you think about it, you will find that even an old computer with the right software installed in the right context can be incredibly useful. Electronic waste is a huge problem, so extending your computer’s lifespan will not only improve your life. It will help the environment too!
how to Upgrade an Old Laptop and Is It Worth It?
how to Upgrade an Old Laptop and Is It Worth It?