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Make a low cost laptop more powerful

A laptop tutorial by Peter Kalmstrom

You can save a lot of money by some simple engineering if you buy a cheap laptop and add some more powerful parts to it, instead of buying a pre-configured computer that has what you need. This is how you can do it:
  1. Focus on the screen ? how large of a laptop do you want?
  2. If you plan to run virtual machines, also check that the processor is powerful enough to handle them and has virtualization features that can be enabled.
  3. Buy the cheapest possible computer with the right screen (and processor).
  4. Take out the hard drive and replace it with a a solid-state drive (SSD).
  5. Take out the RAM and replace it with more RAM.
  6. Done!
The price tag of this laptop will be less than half compared to a laptop pre-configured for the same performance.

Taking out the hard drive and RAM

Nowadays the hard drive and RAM is often placed directly under an access panel, just like the RAM, so if you can do Lego or assemble IKEA furniture, you can do #4 and #5 too. You will probably find information on how to do it in the laptop manual, and there are also a lot of instructions on the internet.

Choosing the right replacements
Selecting the right memory and hard drive might be a bit tricky. Look for the cheapest SSD with transfer speeds of over 500 Mb/s.

Here is an example: A low weight laptop with a 17.3 inch screen in full HD and space for two 2.5 inch hard drives and a DVD-player. Add a primary SSD of 240 GB and a secondary 750 GB Hybrid drive.

Reinstall the OS

After changing the hard-drive you need to re-install the operating system. It is not so easy, but if you have read this far you probably know how to do it! Otherwise there is information on the internet about that also. Windows 8 installs in 10 minutes on an SSD.

Note that this method does not work if you are a hard-core gamer. In that case you need a graphics card with higher performance than you will get in a cheap laptop, and they cannot be replaced like the hard drive and RAM.


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