Upgrade These Three Components to Speed Up Your Old Laptop

So here are some parts which you can upgrade easily in your laptop


Linto Lingson

3 years ago | 8 min read

Laptops are an essential part of our lives these days. From school kids starting out to learn the first lines of coding to the office worker using to create his presentation, laptops are everywhere.

They are lightweight, portable and powerful enough for everyday use and also in some cases for gaming.

But one of the biggest drawbacks is its longevity. A typical laptop will last you five years before it starts to show its age.

Especially if you use it for gaming. When you pay $500 or more, you expect your laptop to last longer. My 2012 HP Sleekbook laptop had slowed down to a crawl that I had to wait five minutes for it completely load up the desktop.

Thankfully, there are some ways to improve your laptop. Many people think malware and bloatware slow down your laptop.

And while it is true, deleting them or even formatting your hard drive won't speed up your laptop. Sometimes upgrading the parts of the laptop is the best way to give your laptop a new breath of life.

Upgrading parts? In a laptop? Seems tough and complicated right? Not really. It is actually not hard to open up your laptop. All you need is a screwdriver set to access your motherboard and the manual of the laptop to identify the parts you need to upgrade.

The manual is usually available online in the official website of your laptop brand. So here are some parts which you can upgrade easily in your laptop

1. Storage device

The storage device is the most important part of any computer. That is where all your data is stored and accessed from. So, if your storage device is not working optimally, then it could seriously hamper your laptop performance.

A Hard Disk Drive (Image by bohed from Pixabay)
A Hard Disk Drive (Image by bohed from Pixabay)

If your laptop is from the early 2010s, you probably have a HDD as the storage device. HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive, which is basically a disk where your data is stored and a needle which allows you to read and write your data into this disk.

The biggest drawback of HDD is its speed, which is measured in rpm (revolutions per minute). Most old laptops have 5400 rpm HDDs but you can find ones at 7200 rpm too.

Replacing your HDD with SSD (Solid State Drive) is the one of the easiest and most popular way to speed up your laptop. SSDs work differently than HDDs, which makes them as much as 5 times faster than HDD. They are also lighter and quieter since they do not have any moving parts like a disc or needle.

SSDs are also inexpensive. While you may not be able to get the same storage amount as HDD in the same price, the performance to price ratio is unbeatable.

You can get a 500gb SSD for around $70 and a 1TB SSD around $100. I would suggest you wait for a sale to get an even better deal.

But SSD is not the only storage device upgrade you can get. Remember I told you about your laptop manual? Time to go through it. I had thought my 2012 HP had only one storage device connection. But when I checked my manual, I saw I could have two!

SSDs come in different formats. The most popular one and found in most laptops are the 2.5-inch format. They connect to a SATA cable. No need to panic now.

Check out this article where I have elaborated on the different types of SSDs you can buy. So, check your manual, and you may be able to insert another device to further increase your storage.

And do not worry that the data in your old storage will be lost. In fact, you can make your new SSD a clone of the old HDD.

There is software out there that will do the job. All you need is a USB to SATA adapter and you are good to go. A bonus tip; instead of throwing away your HDD, buy a case for it and use it as an external storage.

2. Memory Module (RAM)

Memory module or, in layman’s terms, RAM is the next component that you can easily upgrade. RAM (Random Access Memory) is important when it comes to running programs like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, or any other 3D heavy applications.

Games usually use a lot of RAM, and 8GB of RAM is now held as the minimum requirement for most modern games. Even your browser uses a lot of RAM.

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay
Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

If you just use your laptop for only browsing and few presentations and typing, then you may not necessarily have to upgrade your RAM. While SSDs help you to load your data faster, RAM will help you to work on different applications simultaneously.

Do you want to surf the web, and at the same time watch a video on YouTube, prepare your slides in MS PowerPoint and video chat in Skype without your laptop slowing down to a crawl? Upgrade your RAM.

Check your manual or in the “About” section of your laptop to see how much RAM is installed.

Also check how many RAM slots are present. That’s right. Most laptops have two RAM slots. If reading a manual is too tedious for you, then use this link to download a RAM scanner tool from Crucial, it will give you all the information you need.

Your laptop may have both slots occupied or only one. If it is the later, then find the exact make and model of the RAM installed or you can choose to remove the old one and install two new modules. If both slots are occupied, then additional information is needed.

Is the total RAM shown in your laptop power of 2, i.e. 2,4,8,16 GB? Then you have matching RAM modules. If it is any other number, i.e. 3,6,10,12 GB, then you have mismatching modules.

For example, my laptop came installed with 6GB of RAM. Both my slots were occupied, which meant that it was a combination of 2GB and 4GB modules. I could have removed the 2GB module and replaced it with an identical 4GB, to get a total of 8GB, which as I mentioned before is good enough to run most programs.

But instead I opted to replace both of them with two 8GB modules for a total of 16GB. You can two modules for around $60, and as mentioned before, always look for a sale.

But why not add a 16Gb with a 8Gb module? Yes, you can do that as long as the modules have same frequency. But having identical RAM modules unlocks a feature called Dual channel mode, which basically mean the two modules share the burden equally.

Whereas for two different sizes, only Single channel mode is possible, where the larger RAM module will take most of the burden which is may cause performance to suffer.

But like SSDs before, RAM also has different formats and also frequencies. To choose the right one, go ahead and read this article where it explains the different types and brands which you can buy from.

3. WLAN module

Now this component is optional, and not as popular as SSD or RAM. But it is just as important for a smooth and stress-free web surfing experience.

Is your browser slow to load web pages or videos? And when it finally starts to load, does your laptop get disconnected from the internet? Or have you moved around in your room to get the best connection, only to find it is at a very inconvenient spot?

All this causes a lot of ire, especially during this age where everything is done online. The power of the internet has come to the fore due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with online classes and meetings being the norm, you do not want to get disconnected at the middle of a lesson or a presentation.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The WLAN module handles your internet and other wireless communication, like Bluetooth. So, if your internet is getting disconnected or your laptop is out of range, the WLAN module is the culprit.

But that’s not the only reason to upgrade your WLAN module. Wireless technology is moving so fast that every five years or so wireless components become obsolete.

Newer Wi-Fi technology makes for faster connection and longer range. The latest technology is Wi-Fi 6 but the WLAN module in my laptop only supported Wi-Fi 4.

I could only upgrade mine with a Wi-Fi 5 module since my motherboard did not support the connection type for Wi-Fi 6 modules. But that is fine, because I saw my internet speed increase, my Wi-Fi connection got stronger and range was not an issue anymore.

For $30, I would say it is the most under-rated component that you can replace.

But as always with computer parts, WLAN modules also have different connection types and sizes. To find the correct one you need read through your manual.

They are also other things to consider such as the number of antennas your laptop has. Confused? Just follow the steps in this article to find the correct fit for your laptop.

Bonus Tip: Now, all the aforementioned upgrades can set you back at least $100. If you do not have that much cash lying around or do not want to spend that much on an old laptop, or just afraid you may break the new component, just buy second hand.

There are lots of websites selling second hand computer components online and surely you will find the components you are looking for.

But is it safe? What if it is broken? There is always the risk with all second hand items, but that is the trade-off. Less money for used stuff.

To check a second hand SSD, take along with you a USB to SATA adapter and your laptop. If your laptop can access the storage then it is working fine. You can also format the SSD to make sure it is clean of any data (or viruses).

For RAM and WLAN modules, it is not possible to check externally. You will have to look at the seller and check his reputation, i.e. if has sold a lot of items and the reviews.

My HP laptop got a second life after I did these upgrades. I was planning to throw it away and buy a new one but with these upgrades, I can keep using it.

The only two things I wish I could change are the CPU and GPU, which unfortunately is soldered in like most laptops, and therefore not upgradable. I can guarantee you that doing at least one these upgrades will seriously improve your laptop performance.

Now if you are convinced, bring out that inner DIY man/woman and get upgrading.


Created by

Linto Lingson

Hi, I'm Linto. I write about technology, sports, and everyday stories. Check out my Medium page for other stories and my Sportskeeda page for my take on football.







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