Can You Upgrade Your Laptops? – Tech News Today

Science & Technology

Can laptops be upgraded, and to what extent? You can probably upgrade the RAM and storage in your laptop, but how about other components?
It is well known that desktops beat laptops when it comes to upgradability. However, laptops still have some upgrade paths available, the extent of which depends upon the manufacturer of your laptop. 
Some manufacturers, such as Apple, hold a very tight control over their devices and you can upgrade almost no components. Others, such as Framework in recent times, have strived to market modular laptops where almost every component is replaceable and upgradable.
You need to keep these things in mind if you are looking to upgrade your laptop. Having said these, we are going to be dealing with all such questions in detail, in this article.
Table of Contents
Components such as RAM, hard drive, and WiFi cards are usually easily upgradable. CPU and GPU are almost never upgradable, and IO components such as keyboard, trackpad, and screen are replaceable but not upgradable. The model and the form-factor of laptops also play a role in upgradability. Bulkier and heavier laptops are more likely to be upgradeable than ultrabooks.
The easiest method to determine which components in your laptop can be upgraded is to look into the User Manual that came with it.
If you’re unable to find that information in the manual, then you might also try contacting the Manufacturer and see if they can provide you with an answer.
Another avenue you can explore is a forum for laptop users where you can look up the model of your laptop. You can also try third-party apps such as HWInfo, CPUz, GPUz, etc to collect information on your installed hardware such as CPU, GPU, memory, and storage.
One thing you have to keep in mind while trying to determine if your laptop is upgradeable is whether the component you are trying to upgrade is soldered onto the motherboard. If you are unable to find if your component is soldered, then you will need to open up the laptop’s back panel and visually inspect the situation yourself.
We have prepared this article also to determine such manually. Please follow the procedures below if you have been unable to figureout if your component is soldered onto the motherboard or not.
RAM modules in laptops are installed in SO-DIMM slots, so you will be able to upgrade RAM if either you have a free SO-DIMM slot, or you can free one.
To find if a SO-DIMM slot is available you will need to open the back panel of your laptop first. To open the back panel:
Once you have opened the back panel (or a separate compartment in the back panel, if your laptop has one), then you can access the SO-DIMM slots. Take note of how many SO-DIMM slots are available and free.
If you have all SO-DIMM slots populated already, and the RAM modules are soldered on, then unfortunately you will not be able to upgrade your RAM.
Once you’ve inspected the SO-DIMM slots, you can then close the back panel again. Align the back panel with the laptop body and press firmly on the top. You will hear a snapping sound from the edges. Thereafter, fasten the screws that hold the back panel in place.
Laptop hard drives are either SATA III interfaced 2.5” form factor, or NVMe interfaced M.2 form factor. To be able to upgrade your system storage, you will need at least one SATA III or M.2 slot free and available.
Follow the steps below to see if you can upgrade the hard drive in your laptop:
If there are secondary expansion slots available, then you can install an additional hard drive in that slot. Otherwise, you can also remove the primary storage and install an update if the hard drive has not been soldered to the slot.
Most modern laptops come with an M.2 slot A/E keyed WiFi card already installed. They come in 1630, 2230, and 3030 sizes.
If your laptop is a few generations older, you might have either a full-height mini-PCIe WiFi card or a half-height mini-PCIe card installed. 
The full-height mini PCIe card is 30 mm x 50.95 mm in dimensions and has 52 pins in its edge connector. A half-height mini PCIe card, as the name suggests, is approximately half in size of a full-height card (30 mm x 26.8 mm).
These WiFi modules are mostly slotted into their compatible interface slot and to remove them, all you need is to disconnect the antenna and pull the card out. However, some models of laptops might also have a soldered WiFi card, in which case you will not be able to upgrade it.
To see if this is the case, simply open the back panel and look for the WiFi card to see if it’s soldered or not.
Even if everything else in your laptop is well maintained and updated, it is undeniable that your system will get slower as your CPU gets older each generation. This is because newer CPUs bring newer technology, higher core counts, efficiency, etc to the table that newer software are tailored to take advantage of. 
However, unlike desktop computers, it is very hard to upgrade your laptop’s CPU – unless your laptop CPU is socketed. Laptop processors are integrated into the motherboard in three typical fashions:
If your laptop processor uses either the LGA or PGA socket type, then it can probably be replaced or upgraded with a compatible CPU. BGA sockets typically integrate processors onto the motherboard by soldering them, so unfortunately if that is your type of socket then you are out of luck.
However, in recent years, laptop manufacturers solder the CPU onto the motherboard no matter the socket type. Thus, there is a good chance that you will not be able to upgrade your laptop CPU. You will need to find the information regarding the upgradability of your laptop CPU from your manufacturer.
Some of the recent laptops with an upgradable CPU are Alienware Area 51M, Dell Inspiron 15 N5050 series, and Framework laptops. Laptops which are desktop replacements also probably have replaceable CPUs.
To find out if your laptop’s CPU can be upgraded. you can follow one of the approaches below:
If you tried referring to the User Manual as well as contacting the manufacturer, but you were unable to get information on whether your CPU is upgraded, then you are left with no choice but to open the laptop and check for yourself.
Once you have inspected the CPU socket, you will need to put back the assembly together.
When it comes to upgrading the GPU, again, we have a component that is very hard to replace or upgrade in recent times. Most of the time, the GPU is soldered onto the motherboard, which virtually eliminates your upgrade path.
However, not all GPUs are soldered, as it turns out. GPUs designed with Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) interconnect standards are replaceable and upgradable.
Most recent mobile GPUs to implement MXM interconnect standard are: NVidia Geforce GTX 965M, 970M, 980M, 980, 1050 mobile, 1050ti mobile, 1060 mobile (Clevo), 1060 mobile (MSI), 1070 mobile (Clevo), 1070 mobile (MSI), 1080 mobile (Clevo), 1080 mobile (MSI GT73VR and GT83), Geforce RTX 2060 mobile (Clevo), 2070 mobile (Clevo), 2080 mobile (Clevo).
If your laptop has one of the above GPUs, then you can probably procure a compatible upgrade from the manufacturer. They can also provide you with the instruction for installation to their specific model of the device.
I’m a tech writer, an engineer, and a beginner/cell phone photographer. I love riding motorcycles. I have a love/hate relationship with Dota 2. I like traveling and trying out new food. I also love MCU. Yep, I’m a nerdy person who has gone mainstream.

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