What can you upgrade in a laptop?

Modern laptops have very limited upgradeability, but there a few things you can do to improve performance

What can you upgrade in a laptop?

The unfortunate truth about laptops today is that most of the components are soldered to the motherboard. This leaves no room for upgrades and forces you to spend as much as you can in getting a future-proof device. Thankfully, not all laptops are built this way and if you’re careful about your choices, you can get an upgradeable laptop that you can keep around for far longer than the ones with soldered insides.

What are the things I can upgrade in my laptop?

1. RAM

The one thing many laptops available in India do allow is upgrading the RAM. RAM or Random Access Memory is a high-speed storage structure designed to give your CPU the space it needs to store data that it is working on. More RAM essentially means your CPU will have more breathing room to do its job. That said, there’s an upper limit to how much RAM you’d actually need.

For most users, 8 GB is acceptable and 16 GB is comfortable. Anything less is barely usable. Also, unless you’re working with demanding applications such as Lightroom, Blender, or complex code, adding more than 16 GB of RAM might not result in any tangible benefit to most users.

ALSO READ: Gaming laptops vs gaming PCs: What should I buy?

Before upgrading your RAM, you’ll first need to check with your manufacturer to confirm that the RAM is indeed upgradeable and that doing so yourself won’t void your warranty. This is because you might need to disassemble your laptop to upgrade RAM.

Secondly, get a RAM module that is identical to the one already in your system. The why of it will take a lot of explaining, suffice it to say that to extract the maximum benefit from a RAM upgrade, adding a RAM module with the exact same specifications as the one already in your laptop will give you the best performance. It might be tempting to get a faster RAM module, but that RAM module will automatically slow down to match the speed of your existing RAM stick.

2. Internal storage

Another option for upgrading is the internal storage in your laptop. Again, several laptops solder the storage modules inside, but there are still many models out there that support storage upgrades. Internal storage is where your files and your operating system are stored. Getting more of it, or a faster version, can have tangible benefits, and of course, more storage never hurts.

Laptops today typically use the M.2 connector for internal storage and any M.2 compatible drive should work for you. However, do check the length of the SSD in the M.2 slot, as that can be a limitation when planning an upgrade. Secondly, if there’s only one M.2 slot, you’ll need to clone your drive or reinstall your operating system and all your apps on the new drive.

If you have a really old laptop that uses a SATA connector, we’d recommend getting a SATA SSD. Size should not be a factor here. Of the different types of SSDs available, we’d recommend TLC drives. They offer the best value in terms of speed vs longevity. QLC drives are cheaper, but have a fraction of the lifespan that TLC does.

3. Thunderbolt connector

If you’re lucky enough to have a laptop with a Thunderbolt connector, you have several more upgrade paths open to you. Thunderbolt looks like USB-C, but is significantly faster and more versatile. If your laptop supports Thunderbolt, you can invest in peripherals like GPUs that you’d normally buy for a PC. 

ALSO READ: Understanding laptop lifespan: When to look for a replacement?

These can then be connected to the laptop via a suitable Thunderbolt docking station to give you a significant graphical upgrade. You also get storage modules, ultra-high speed networking connectors, and more.

Upgrading your laptop is more restrictive today than it used to be, but making a smart decision now and getting an upgradeable laptop will help eke out the maximum useful life from your device. Do note that Apple MacBooks have no upgrade options other than Thunderbolt.

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