Upgrade laptop: what makes sense, what does not?

Upgrade laptop: what makes sense, what does not?

In this tip, we show several useful ways to upgrade a notebook.

Every older computer will eventually reach the point where it can no longer keep up with the latest devices. But that doesn’t mean it’s ready for the scrap heap, because most of them can be upgraded quite easily. However, laptops in particular are considered "difficult" in this regard, so hardware manufacturers even advise replacing the device every two to three years at the latest. But this does not have to be the case. Here you can find out how to get your mobile computer up and running again in just a few steps, and what you basically have to consider in the process.

  • Unlike desktop PCs, laptops can only be upgraded to a limited extent.
  • You don’t need any computer knowledge to upgrade the RAM, just a screwdriver.
  • Many functions, such as Bluetooth 4.0, can be upgraded via a corresponding dongle on the USB port.

1. Replace or buy new? Upgrading makes sense with these components

1.1. Upgrading the CPU is only recommended to a limited extent

Upgrade laptop CPU

Upgrading a laptop: Many notebook models basically offer the possibility to replace the CPU, but the CPU is not always the same. In terms of cost and effort, however, this is hardly worthwhile.

The processor is one of the most important components in the notebook and contributes significantly to its performance. Basically, many models offer the possibility to replace the CPU with a more powerful variant. However, this is usually only worthwhile if you can somehow get hold of a processor at a low price, e.g.B. a used CPU from another laptop. On top of that, it has to be compatible with the socket on the motherboard. In many (especially older) notebooks, the processor can’t be removed anyway, as it’s soldered to the mainboard.

If you’re planning to buy a new device anyway, we recommend switching to a more powerful model right away. This costs a bit more money, but the costs for a new CPU including the effort for the installation are out of proportion to the often only small performance increase. The latter is also usually accompanied by the risk of a defect and a loss of warranty.

1.2. Expanding the RAM

Upgrading the RAM

In contrast to the CPU or graphics card, the RAM of a notebook can be upgraded relatively easily.

Windows 10 in today’s common 64-bit version needs at least 2 GB of RAM and the requirements of the current macOS are also in this range. However, the performance will be even better if you upgrade your RAM to 4 GB or 8 GB. The more programs that can be stored in the RAM of the notebook, the faster its working speed will be.

In contrast to the processor or the graphics card, replacing resp. Extending the RAM in a notebook is quite easy. Almost all models have a flap on the device’s underside, which can be removed by loosening a few screws. Directly underneath you’ll find the RAM components.

In this article, we show step by step how you can upgrade the RAM of your laptop or PC in your.

2. Upgrade your laptop: Install a larger hard drive or SSD

One of the simplest and probably most obvious ways to upgrade a laptop is to install a larger hard disk or a new one. their exchange for a faster SSD ("Solid-State-Drive"). The latter are characterized by significantly shorter loading times and faster accesses compared to conventional HDDs.

Replacing a hard disk is similarly easy as with the RAM. In older notebooks, a flap or in some cases the entire underside of the case has to be unscrewed for this. To benefit from the speed of an SSD, the motherboard should have a SATA controller (at least SATA2, better SATA3).

When installing, always pay attention to the size of the hard disk. Components with 1.8 or 2.5 inches are common, you can usually choose between 7 or 9.5 millimeters in height. If you are not sure which hard disk you can use in your laptop, take a look at the user manual of your device or on the manufacturer’s website before you buy.

Good to know: Activate the AHCI mode in your BIOS before installing an SSD, otherwise it won’t be recognized.

3. Replace notebook graphics card? Theoretically possible, but ..

The graphics card of a notebook can’t be upgraded as easily as on a desktop computer. Since the introduction of the standardized modules from NVIDIA (MXM) and ATI (AXIOM), it is theoretically possible to upgrade the RAM of your laptop or PC. Previously, this option only existed for a few Dell models, such as the Inspirion 8200 or 8100.

OMEN by HP Accelerator Shell

The compact graphics card case, such as the OMEN by HP Accelerator Shell, houses the PCIe graphics card. It is connected to the notebook via a Thunderbolt 3 port.

A laptop without one of these slots therefore offers practically no possibility to replace the graphics card. In many older devices, the GPU is also soldered directly on the mainboard, which means that a change is only possible automatically by a complete replacement.

Thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 standard, there is still an alternative option, which is, however, mainly reserved for newer devices. The interface does not only enable data loading (e.g., the.B. from external devices), but also the transmission of video data. By connecting a so-called "eGPU" (i.e. an external graphics card), you can achieve more graphics performance without having to modify the existing hardware.

Currently, manufacturers like Dell, HP, Lenovo or Razer already sell such systems. These usually consist of a compact case, reminiscent of a mini-PC. It contains the PCIe graphics card, which is connected to the notebook via the Thunderbolt 3 port. The work in graphics-intensive games and applications is then done by the GPU in the box.

Unfortunately, such solutions are still quite expensive at the moment. Thus, you have to calculate with around 300 euro for the case alone, plus the costs for the graphics card itself.

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