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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.

Add a missing interface

If you carry a Swiss army knife or a similar multi-tool device, you probably don't take advantage of every file, knife, and toothpick on a daily basis; instead, you carry that arsenal for the unexpected moment when you might need one of those tools. Your laptop's selection of ports is a similar concept: A wide range of connections is the center piece of a versatile, leading-edge system. To your laptop, you can add any missing connection, such as gigabit ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, eSATA, 802.11n Wi-Fi, or USB 3.0.

Your best bet for doing so is to use an ExpressCard slot, since it'll be fast enough to make the most of the upgrade. For some upgrades, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you might be able to swap an internal module into the laptop; contact your PC's manufacturer to see if that works for your model. For upgrades that run at slower speeds, including Bluetooth, you could instead plug an external adaptor into a USB port. Belkin, Linksys and other companies make various connection options.

Connect to an external display

Need to attach your laptop or netbook to an external display? What about multiple displays? If you don't have a built-in port, or if you want to attach more screens, use a USB adaptor. Since the adaptor connects over USB 2.0, the performance is capped (don't expect to run 3D applications or games). But for nearly any day-to-day task, the alchemy works well, giving you an additional display - or up to six displays, if you keep adding more adaptors.

Get more battery life

Care for a laptop's battery, and it can last for several years. But if you want to upgrade for longer life, or if yours just isn't holding enough charge, a third-party battery can give you more juice.

Wherever you purchase the battery, be sure to buy a new one. Since batteries deteriorate over time and through use, an old or refurbished battery won't work as well.

Find a battery that's compatible with your laptop, and compare its ratings with those of the original; look for a higher mAh (milliampere-hour) or Wh (watt-hour) rating than the original for extended life.

  1. Speed up your laptop
  2. Share your mobile internet service
  3. Bump up performance
  4. Add a missing interface

See also: 10 ways to re-use an old PC

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