Did you know that in 2019, more than two billion computers were in use worldwide? That means that at least a quarter of the global population owns a computer!

This 2020, the rise in online work and school will surely fuel computer ownership. Indeed, computer sales in the second quarter of 2020 jumped by 9% from the previous year’s same quarter. All in all, PC shipments, including laptops, totaled 72.9 in Q2 2020.

Before you buy a new device, though, it pays to learn how to upgrade your laptop first. As exciting as it is to buy a new computer, it isn’t always the most practical choice. This is especially true if your current gear has only been with you for a year or two.

To that end, we’re sharing this list of the top laptop upgrade hacks you can try before you shell out money on a new one.

Check Your RAM Usage First

The first step on how to upgrade an old laptop (or one that runs slowly) is to determine how much RAM your computer uses. Even laptops that are only a few months old can run at a snail’s pace if there’s malware in them. In such cases, you likely don’t need a RAM upgrade; you need to remove the malicious software.

On that note, you can check what your RAM usage is by accessing the “Task Manager” on Windows. The “Performance” tab will display the used amount of RAM in percentage and MB/GB. You’ll also see a complete list of all active programs contributing to your RAM usage.

On a MacBook, you can check RAM usage by opening the “Utilities” tray and then “Activity Monitor.” Once this window is open, hit the “Memory” tab. The list will populate with all active tasks and services, and at the bottom, you’ll see the amount of RAM in use.

If your laptop is nearing its RAM capacity, that means you have too many apps running at the same time.

Too Many Active Apps, Too Little Memory

Keep in mind that even the most basic MS Office apps already require at least 2 GB of RAM. Ten active tabs of Google Chrome also use about 725 MB of RAM on average per session. So, if you use these apps and you only have 2 or 4 GB of RAM, you can expect your laptop to get quite slow.

However, if you only use one app and your laptop still lags, there may be a virus or malware in it. These unwanted programs running in the background can eat up a lot of memory. Do note that malware is widespread: there were 9.9 million recorded attacks in 2019 alone.

Dig Deeper

If you’re unsure of the presence of malware in your laptop, use a malware scanner. It will check your device for malware signatures, suspicious behaviors, and completed attacks. It will then tell you if it unearths any of these dangerous activities.

Some scanning tools are free, but they still do a good job of hunting down malware. Bitdefender, for instance, has an unpaid version that scans and offers real-time protection. It’s powerful enough to let you know if your laptop needs treatment.

Treat the Infection

Bitdefender is awesome, but if you need a free malware removal tool, go with Malwarebytes. Even its unpaid version is aggressive enough to get rid of more virulent malware. However, it’s more impressive as a malware remover than a scanner.

The important thing is to get rid of the infection ASAP before it steals more RAM, or worse, your money and identity.

Determine if Your Laptop is Upgradable

Suppose that your laptop is free of malware and unwanted programs, but it still runs slow. In this case, the next thing to check is the upgradability of your device.

If you’re using a newer MacBook model, unfortunately, you can’t upgrade its memory. The RAM of all MacBook Air and Pro with a retina display is non-upgradable. However, you can still boost its storage with an external drive.

If you’re not a MacBook user, check your laptop’s manual to see if it has soldered parts. If it does, then it means that you can’t just remove its memory or storage components. That’s because a melted metal material permanently fuses the components together.

The thing is, most of today’s laptop models come with soldered memory and storage. They also have tightly-sealed chassis, making it difficult to access their interiors.

However, according to www.Lenovo.com, some of its Legion and ThinkPad units are upgradable. For example, some models of the Lenovo Legion Y520 gaming laptop come with two RAM slots. One already comes with a pre-installed 8 GB of RAM stick, but you can stick another one in the free slot.

Even if they’re upgradable, be sure that you’re confident of your tinkering skills. Otherwise, a slight mishap can damage those sensitive chips and electronics.

Pop a Stick or Two of RAM In It

If the laptop’s motherboard has free RAM slots, you can buy RAM sticks and pop them in. If there’s no more free slot, but the RAM isn’t soldered, you can replace this with a stick that has more capacity. Again, be sure that the new RAM stick is compatible with your device.

Swap Out a Mechanical Drive With an SSD

An SSD can improve your laptop’s performance as it’s at least four times faster than a hard disk drive (HDD). This means that your laptop can access stored data much quicker than it would on an HDD. In addition, SSDs write data faster than HDDs, so your apps can also run quicker if they run on an SSD.

SSDs can also expand a compatible laptop’s storage capacity up to a whopping 8 TB. This isn’t the highest SSD capacity (there’s a 100 TB one), but it’s the most that you can plug into a normal laptop. If your device isn’t compatible, you can still get a robust drive with 1 or 2 TB of storage.

SSDs cost much more, though, but the price is worth it since they last a lot longer than HDDs. That’s because they don’t have mechanical, moving parts, so they don’t have the same wear and tear rate. The fact alone that they read and write faster than mechanical drives should be a good reason to get one.

Check if You Can Upgrade the CPU

Most laptop processors have soldered components too. In this case, the melted metal merges them together with the motherboard. You can still upgrade a soldered processor, but you have to swap its entire CPU for a new one.

If you can change the processor, make sure that the one you’ll swap it with is of the right size. It should fit perfectly into the same socket so that it touches the motherboard. A too-small processor won’t be able to communicate with the motherboard.

When Upgrades Won’t Cut It

If your current laptop is several years old, you may want to consider replacing the entire thing. While you may still be able to upgrade some of their components, their other parts may be too old or worn out.

For instance, it won’t make sense to boost a laptop’s RAM to play games if the device only has a 720p resolution. Even if you can increase its memory, it won’t be able to display modern games on its non-HD screen. Most of today’s immersive video games require at least a 1080p resolution.

If your laptop’s memory isn’t upgradable, then that’s all the more reason to think of buying a new device. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use modern apps, as they’re becoming more complex. Even if you can install them, you won’t be able to run them at the same time.

In case you decide to get a new laptop, be sure to stick to one that has at least 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. These specs are good enough for the average laptop user. If you plan to play games, consider a configuration of at least 16 GB of RAM and 512 of storage.

Follow These Tips on How to Upgrade Your Laptop Now

As you can see, there are several ways on how to upgrade your laptop without busting your budget. However, you first need to be sure that your device doesn’t have soldered components. If it doesn’t, then you can boost its performance by slipping in a higher-capacity RAM stick or SSD in it.

On the other hand, it may be better to get a new laptop if your current one is already half a decade old. This way, you don’t have to worry about anything else breaking down within just a few months.

Ready for more nifty guides and hacks like this? Be sure to check out our site’s other news and blog posts then!