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5 ways to upgrade an old Laptop or PC – Overview:
With the advent of new technologies and their availability in the market, the requirements for software and games also increase over time. To run those software and games you need a good laptop or pc.
Mostly our old laptops or home PCs do not have the ability to get close to the minimum requirements of software or games especially if the laptop is bought some years back. Scrapping an existing laptop and buying a new one is expensive, considering the fact post-COVID 19 eras, in which everyone has a limited budget to spend.
The only option remaining, at this stage, is minimal changes it possible to be more cost-effective.
Before heading out to online shopping or out-door shopping, it is better to analyze the budget, the change in performance with this upgrade, and the restrictions of the system both hardware and software-wise. E.g. buying out higher capacity memory will greatly enhance the system performance but whether the system supports it or not, should be an actual question.
So, let’s begin with some basics that can change the performance of your system by major increments comparing to the previous configuration. Some configurations will be easily interchangeable on PC rather than laptops.
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Memory is a basic requirement of a system that can be read and changed in any order, typically used to store working data. New games or new versions of games require more and more Memory.
PC and laptops have limits subject to the maximum allocation of Memory sticks. The limits of each motherboard are different based on models and the manufacturer.
Those limits are not only about the number of Memory sticks but also the speed and the total capacity of Memory. e.g. a motherboard can allocate a maximum of 32/64 GB with the maximum available slots being 2/4. The speed may vary depending on the type of Memory.
There are further variations in terms of channels as well. To know the exact configuration of Memory for a specific motherboard, head over to the manufacturer site for details.
It is easy to upgrade the memory on PC but very difficult on laptops.
Every laptop motherboard manufacturer has specified the maximum number of Memory sticks and capacity e.g. some laptops come with soldered memory and leaving one blank slot for new memory. The idea is to leave some room for the user to install more memory in the future if needed.
Before purchasing new sticks you should consider a couple of factors. First of all, the maximum allowable capacity should be considered. Secondly the number of sticks that can be accommodated.
In other cases where there is no empty slot available, the user can still upgrade the memory to its maximum capacity by replacing low capacity memory with higher capacity memory until and unless it is in the specified maximum capacity.
These configurations can be easily checked through windows and then comparing it with specified maximum memory capacity. The figure below is an illustration of the memory configuration.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), for gameplay purposes or video editing reasons, is now an integral component of the system. The launch of Nvidia and AMD’s new GPU has revolutionized the notion of gaming and 3D graphics. Thus, depending on the market, it can cost a huge chunk of the budget.
It is relatively straightforward to connect a GPU to a PC and gets very challenging when connecting it to a laptop. It is difficult to add/change internal GPUs much of the time. However, the eGPU concept has recently been introduced, which involves a thorough understanding of how GPU functions.
PC, on the other hand, has options available that you can add or change a new GPU. This addition will provide enhanced performance compared to the old system. Before you go to the store to buy a new one, you need to remember the device constraints.
It is possible that adding a new GPU to a very old CPU would create bottleneck problems, which in turn won’t boost performance to the desired degree. Furthermore, the addition of the GPU to the old configuration is constrained by the type of PCI Express slots available on the motherboard and the rated power supply.
In certain situations, if power supply ratings are lower, it is often necessary to change the power supply. The 400W power supply can be considered the least power available to operate a GPU that is many years old.
In older devices, PCI Express slots are PCI Express 1 slots that do not offer adequate performance. You need PCI Express 3 X16 to run the modern age GPU.
A few successful GPUs launched a few years ago are likely to run the games or video editing applications for years to come, saving a chunk of the budget. Selecting an older GPU, though, would have its own implications.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
Solid State Drive (SSD) is must-have hardware these days. Compared to its predecessors (Hard Disk Drive, HDD), it has a faster transfer rate due to which the system performance is greatly enhanced.
SSD are of two main types, M.2 and SATA. The performance with M.2 is higher than SATA but also expensive. Luckily, SATA SSD is easier to install on both laptops and PC.
Most of the time, there is only one slot available for SSD/HDD in laptops. So the user has only the choice to replace HDD with SSD.
However, this replacement will enhance system performance by leaps and bounds. The operating system (Windows) will boot faster and the load time for applications will be shorter. Older laptops do not have an option for adding M.2 SSD. You will have to replace your HDD with SSD.
The addition of SSD to PC is easier and also there is a luxury of adding both SSD and HDD to the system. Thus, keeping a higher capacity HDD and lower capacity SSD both in the system will provide an amalgam of better performance and better capacity.
We recommended keeping the operating system in the SSD. This will greatly reduce the windows load time.
M.2 slot is available only in modern motherboards.
The power supply is the main part that provides rated power to the system. Changing configuration will likely increase the requirement for more power. The low-power rated supply will not be able to compete with the higher requirements of the new system. Thus, you need to change your power supply.
Laptops do not have this luxury of changing out the power supply as laptops do not have it separately. PCs, however, have this option. A normal/old system has a normally 300W power supply.
This power supply may still be able to provide enough power to the components except for power-hungry GPUs. 450 W and above power supply will be able to power up the system normally.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
CPU/processor is the core component of the system. However, keeping in mind the budget allocation, changing out CPU to a newer version will make your system more powerful.
There are restraints while changing our CPU on laptops and PC. PCs have this luxury of changing out CPU. Check your mother configuration before upgrading your CPU. Your motherboard may not support that CPU. Motherboards only support a specific generation of CPU.
So, before heading out to market, make sure you read out the specification of the motherboard and then buy the latest CPU or as budget dictates. Here is an example of specifications.