Anyone into their technology has messed around with a computer at some stage. Desktop PCs, thanks to their size and design, are ideal for upgrading – new graphics boards, an upgraded motherboard or even something as simple as a flat screen rather than the traditional box. But laptops are a whole other story. Compact microcircuitry dissuades everyone but the most technologically savvy from undoing those screws and opening ‘Pandora’s Laptop’. Slotting in a new graphics or sound card into a laptop is not a simple matter of taking the case off and tricking up the insides of the computer. But there are things you can do to upgrade your laptop that don’t involve a degree in electronic engineering and a very steady hand with a soldering iron.
RAM – giving your laptop a better memory
Almost every laptop can be given a RAM upgrade, simply by opening a compartment on the bottom of the laptop and inserting a new memory stick. However, before buying a new stick of RAM, it is strongly advisable to check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Many manufacturers make RAM sticks for their own computers, but it is possible to buy ‘generic’ sticks that can fit a range of laptops. If you are unsure as to whether your memory stick is suitable for your laptop, check with the manufacturer.
Upgrading the processor is something that should be thought about carefully before you attempt it. Most modern laptops run dual-core processors, which have enough processing power to run almost any application, including processor-hungry ones like games and graphics programs. It is worth weighing up the cost and time involved in upgrading the processor against the net gain this would achieve. In most cases, the gain will be negligible, and as laptops use microcircuitry to cut down on weight and size, replacing the processor could be described as ‘fiddly’ at best!
The internal hard disk of a computer is the beating heart of any machine, whether that’s a laptop or a desktop PC. While it is relatively easy to replace the hard disk on a PC, laptops are trickier. In laptops that do allow you to replace the hard disk, it is a relatively straightforward process, though again because of the constraints of size, a pretty fiddly job to do. A better option may be to go for an external hard drive to increase the capacity of your machine such as Firewire or USB drives. Although this might make your laptop bag bulge a little, it’s a cheaper and easier option.
That ‘b’ word…
Batteries. The bane of all laptop owner’s lives. It is probably the one thing that everyone with a laptop will upgrade at some time, as batteries do have a finite lifespan (as in the number of times that they can be recharged and still hold enough charge to run your laptop for more than half an hour). The advice here is to ensure that any new battery you buy for your laptop is compatible with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
More of a repair than an upgrade
The other problem encountered by laptop owners on a regular basis is the ‘blank screen’. The laptop boots up but you’re left staring at a black screen. This usually means that the inverter has failed – one of laptops biggest generic weak spots. Inverters can be relatively easily replaced, but again, check with your manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that you are buying the right inverter for your make and model.
Finally, consider that any upgrades you carry out on a new laptop may invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty, so check carefully before you start tricking up your laptop.