New Life To Old Laptop

Old Laptop upgrades
Technology in today's time changes very quickly and a cutting edge technology get outdated very rapidly so I never chase the technology rather stick to necessity and comfort. Before investing in a new laptop to replace your old one it is worth investing in upgrading or at least exploring the upgrade option.  Laptops do not offer high flexibility as desktop PC when it comes to upgradation but every laptop can be upgraded to some extent. Softwares plays important role in performance which I am sure we all take care of as updates are very easily available now a days. Below are some of the Hardware upgrades I would suggest which I have successfully tried on my ThinkPad R61 and other laptops.

Upgrading RAM

Laptop Upgrades
This is the first hardware upgrade option you should look into. Thumb rule about RAM is more you have better it is. Modern computer operating systems and applications require more memory footprint. RAM are very inexpensive and offer a significant performance boost if your Laptop originally had very less RAM <2GB. Generally laptops have at least 2 RAM slots, you can always check the Laptop specifications to see the RAM slots it has and the maximum amount of RAM, speed and type it supports. A 32bit or X86 OS generally supports maximum of 4GB of ram so going higher than this will not give any benefit. I would suggest putting at lest 3GB of RAM on your laptop.

Upgrading HDD 

Old Laptop Upgrades
There are two things to consider when upgrading HDD they are Speed vs Capacity. If your laptop is couple of year old then there is a good possibility HDD will have a capacity less than 320GB . Putting a new 1TB HDD will give you more capacity to store all your data on one drive.
If you want to truly boost the speed of your Laptop then putting a SSD (Solid State Drive) would do wonders to your old laptop. SSD have high sequential and very high random Read/write speed when compared to conventional HDD. SSD are costly when compared to traditional HDD but, you will notice a great performance boost such as reduced boot time, quick launch of applications, no hanging or slowing down  of computer when copying files or doing intensive read write operations on the drive. Once you switch to SSD you will never look back. SSD are expensive but they are worth the upgrade. You can also take the same SSD and put it on your future Laptop. 
I have a 480GB Intel 530 SSD on R61 laptop and 240GB SSD on my other two laptops. All the three SSD are second hand which I have purchased from ebay for fraction of the cost of new one.
One other advantage of using SSD over Conventional HDD is power consumption and heat generation. These SSD consume lesser power which results in more battery life for your laptop. Also they generate less heat when compared to conventional HDD which makes the laptop run at much reduced temperature.

A third option is Hybrid HDD which have a both SSD and HDD in single drive.

Upgrading Laptop CPU 

Laptop CPU upgrade
This option should be done as the last resort. For a very old laptop you can find the upgrade CPU at very economic price. You can check the maximum speed CPU speed and type supported by your laptop from the manufacturer laptop specification sheet.  I have upgraded the CPU in my ThinkPad R61, Original CPU was T7100 with 1.8GHz dual core CPU and 2MB cache which I have upgraded with T7700 which is 2.4GHz dual core CPU with 4MB cache. This new CPU is about 33% faster than the original CPU but the biggest difference here is the 4MB compared to 2MB cache which makes a huge difference in performance. I have purchased this CPU for just 8.40$ (Rs.600) from which is a very good deal.

Cleaning Heatsink

Cleaning Old Laptop
Heat is the biggest enemy of any electronic device. Without proper ventilation inside the laptop case the components will become hot which will reduce there life and also make the computer unstable and reduce the performance.
Most of the new and even some old CPU support thermal throttling technology in this technology CPU will throttle down the CPU when its temperature goes beyond a certain level this is done to protect the CPU from physical damage, If the cooling in your laptop is compromised, your CPU might be throttling down which will severely reduce the performance of the system. You can check the CPU temperature from the BIOS or by using some third party software tools such as HWMonitor

From the above image you can see the accumulated dust inside the CPU heatsink of my Thinkpad R61. This build up of dust just took 6 months, normally I disassemble my laptops and clean them once in 6 months. A very simple way of cleaning your laptop is to blow air from the cooling vent.

keeping CPU cool

I also replace the thermal paste under the heatsink with fresh paste each time I clean the laptop as it increases the thermal conductivity between the CPU and heatsink.
The last upgrade which I did was to change the Keyboard and the battery as some keys had stopped working and the battery was not giving any backup.
This effort of upgrading my 8 year old laptop hardly costed me anything in comparison to the cost of a new device, with this I have increased the life of my Think Pad by at least 2 years. The device is working great. I would suggest all of you to consider this option not just because you will save some good money but also as its environment friendly. So the next time you think of replacing your laptop think once again and give updgradation a shot.

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About apoorv chaudhary

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  1. Suggest another step... switch to a light-weight linux distro.

    1. i am a windows person no linux for me, will rather switch the laptop.