In this article, we will see how to give life to an older laptop PC through some renewal operations or by adding new components who should get your computer back fast and efficient like when it was bought a few years ago.
Operations to get the laptop back again
In this part of the guide, we will show you all the operations we can carry out on our laptop to make the laptop come back like new, without spending even one euro.
Clean the computer
All computers attract dust and dirt as they age. Computer cleaning is, therefore, the first thing to do because a laptop can remain “choked” and slow down a lot if the air extraction fan is full of dust. Cleaning a laptop is not difficult, you can unscrew the various panels on the lower side and clean the laptop inside and out, so as to let the internal components breathe. On laptops, since it takes a little time to disassemble and reassemble the components, we recommend cleaning once a year (perhaps in conjunction with the famous “spring cleaning”).
Restore the operating system
Operating systems slow more and more over time. We have shown you several guides for return the computer as new without reinstalling Windows and also how repair errors on Windows: we will only have to carefully follow all the steps, so as to get a computer back as new. Always keep in mind that a laptop with an already installed system is always accompanied by a recovery disk from the manufacturer or a recovery partition on the hard disk or SSD.
For this reason, the fastest way is to reinstall the operating system by following the suggestions described in our guide to restore the computer to factory settings for PCs and laptops Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, Sony, Toshiba.
Switch to a lighter operating system
A PC with 4 GB of RAM or less could slow down at any moment since Windows tends to occupy a very high number of resources (especially in the latest versions).
Instead of reverting to an old version of Windows or switching to Windows 10, we recommend switching to an alternative system: GNU / Linux. Linux is a new system and there is certainly something to learn if it has never been experienced, but has at least two unbeatable features: it is completely free and easy to install. Moreover, even if the installer will surely receive the support of some guide for the initial configuration of the programs, it can be used without difficulty even by an elderly or inexperienced person.
For PCs that have 4 GB of RAM we recommend trying distributions (ie Linux versions) called Linux Mint Xfce and Xubuntu; if we have less than 4 GB of RAM we can try Lubuntu or Linux Mint MATE.
If we look for other fast systems we can read our guide to Best lightweight and fast Linux based mobile operating systems.
Speed up a laptop with new components
In this part of the guide, we will show instead which components we can change on our laptop, so as to give them new life and new performances.
Install new RAM
If you choose to stay on Windows, a laptop computer can be partially updated by completely changing the RAM modules, choosing the maximum memory size supported by the computer (usually 8GB or 16GB).
As also seen in the guide on how to update an old PC by changing some hardware parts, RAM is the only component that can be added or replaced easily and economically. In laptops it is sufficient to open a flap at the bottom where the RAM memory is stored; once arrived here we remove the module or memory modules and then install the new modules purchased.
To avoid making mistakes we check if the RAM already present are the DDR3L (the most widespread up to 3 years ago), le DDR3 (very old) or le DDR4 (the newest ones).
The two types of memories seem to be completely identical, but in reality, the contacts change (in fact we see that the separation notch is positioned differently), making the two types of RAM completely incompatible.
If we need to install a new DDR3L RAM kit, we suggest you take a look at the 8 GB DDR3L Memory Kit (4 GBx2, € 52); if we want to install only one RAM module with the old DDR3, we recommend taking QUMOX 8 GB DDR3 (€ 33). If instead our PC is much more recent and supports DDR4 we can increase the memory up to 16GB, focusing on Corsair Vengeance Performance RAM of 16GB, 2x8GB, DDR4 (73 €).
To avoid mistakes we advise you to read our guide on Types of computer RAM: DDR, shape, and speed.
Install a new wireless adapter
This is an often-overlooked update that can really add value to the older laptop. If the wireless card integrated with the laptop does not support Dual-Band Wi-Fi, we will not be able to navigate at the maximum speed offered by modern modems.
To be able to fix it without having to disassemble the whole laptop simply get a USB Dual Band Wi-Fi adapter, like the TP-Link Archer T3U (20 €).
By installing this small key in a free USB port, we will be able to navigate at maximum speed using the new 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks, which offer much higher transfer rates than the 2.4 GHz networks we used to use on the laptop so far. To avoid confusion, we recommend that you completely disable the internal wireless card and use only the flash drive (we can disable wireless cards on Windows by right-clicking on the Start menu and clicking Device management).
To learn more about the difference between the various frequencies available for Wi-Fi, we advise you to continue reading our article on Differences between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks; which is better?
Install the new SSD drive
The best component to enhance the laptop, to the point of making it completely different from the first, is a solid-state drive SSD, to be used instead of the mechanical hard disk present on the laptop.
An SSD disk has no mechanical parts resulting in faster loading and data transfer.
Once we identify the lower door where the hard drive resides we read our guide on how Move Windows to SSD without reinstalling everything; once the SSD is prepared we remove the mechanical hard disk, insert the SSD and start the laptop. If we did everything correctly, starting Windows will be extremely fast, as well as starting the various programs.
If we do not know which SSD to take for a laptop, we recommend that you consider the 480GB Sandisk SSD (€ 60) or, if you want even more space, the Crucial MX500 1 TB (€ 113). Always on the subject of SSD, we advise you to read our guide to Best SSD disks to buy to make the PC go fast.
As we have seen, there are various software and hardware procedures that we can follow to get the old laptop back up quickly. The most effective are obviously those with the new hardware components, since changing the RAM and focusing on SSDs any laptop comes back to life and becomes very fast indeed.
In another guide, we showed you the things to do with an old computer to recycle it, upgrade it and convert it. If, on the other hand, we want a new laptop but don’t want to spend too much, we advise you to read our guide on Best low-cost laptops above the minimum requirements (€ 250-400).