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The 15 easiest laptop upgrades

Software and hardware fixes to power up your laptop

We've rounded up the 15 easiest software and hardware upgrades for your laptop that will give the machine a new lease of life.

Bump up performance with fast RAM

RAM provides the foundation for your laptop to juggle multiple windows and applications. Since it's possible to add more RAM than is useful - and since pursuing the very best performance eats into your laptop's battery life - using faster, low-latency RAM can eke out better results than just throwing in the absolute maximum amount.

Performance gains can be minimal, and this upgrade is mostly for the fanatical anyway; you might get a few more frames per second in games or other high-end tasks.

Most RAM resellers let you shop based on your laptop's make; but if you're unsure, a utility such as Crucial's RAM scanner can identify what you need. With that information, buy compatible RAM with the lowest latency (CL) as possible. The rating references the time the memory takes to output requested data, often measured in clock cycles. A lower number means a shorter time.

Swap the hard disk for a solid-state drive

Solid-state drives trump standard hard disks in many ways. For one thing, they're lighter. Since they have no moving parts - they store data in flash memory - they're faster and more reliable. And an SSD merely sips from your laptop's battery because it lacks those motors.

You'll pay more for these features, and you'll likely end up with a smaller disk after the SSD transplant, but these drives beat spinning platters in nearly every way.

Upgrade your hard disk to one with more space

Many laptops ship with a small, sad hard drive. A 60GB drive is insulting, and even a 120GB drive can be cramped for anyone who wants to store lots of music and video. Break through those barriers by swapping in a massive replacement. A 2.5in, 500GB SATA laptop drive costs about £60, leaving ample room for files and for the OS' virtual memory. You could even split the drive into multiple partitions for organization, or for an alternative OS.

Check your laptop's manual or consult its manufacturer to learn more about the upgrade process. In most instances you'll be able to open a door on the back of the laptop or remove the keyboard to swap in the new hard drive. In addition, be sure to pick up a SATA USB transfer cable to move your old data to the new drive.

Upgrade your processors to speed up everything

A new CPU or graphics processor could add some oomph to an aging laptop. As a result of such an upgrade, your laptop could be faster than a new PC - but be aware that this procedure comes with caveats as big as the potential performance gain.

Installing either part can be difficult, usually requiring a full teardown of your laptop. And even if your laptop supports an upgrade, getting the right parts can be hard.

NEXT PAGE: Add a missing interface

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