In a world where new technology rolls out faster than you can spell “gadget”, it can be understandably tough to keep up with the latest innovations of the world of tech. A consequence of having what is virtually an infinitely expandable market, is that you will thus find yourselves quite often at the crossroads of reflection. “Is it finally time to upgrade?”, is a question many of us have asked ourselves, and it is a question many after of us will indubitably ponder upon as well.

The case is much the same with laptops. A laptop is, to most people, an investment. Put simply, these machines do not come cheap. If you’ve ever been involved in the process of buying a laptop, you’ll be thoroughly familiar with the amount of research you have to do to find the ones best suited for you, or the countless comparisons you’ll have to make to find out what make of laptop you find to be better than the other. It’s a tedious process, and fingers crossed you’ll make the best decision because soon after you may find a new release trumps your existing purchase. But is this really as big of a problem as some people might make it out to be? Actually, it may or may not be – it depends! Let’s go over some information that can help you decide which part of the spectrum you lie on.

Signs you should consider replacing your current laptop

It’s quite a rarity that someone considers a replacement for their daily driver without reason. Often there’s a problem, if not a slew of problems, that will force the thought. More often than not, the following are the most serious culprits in the cycle;

1. Your laptop gets uncomfortably hot

Having a machine that is literally too hot to handle is a warning sign for many reasons. Laptops, for both their form factor and function, work best when they are optimized for efficient cooling. In fact, many manufacturers, including industry giants Hewlett-Packard (better known as HP) set temperature limits in a laptop’s BIOS as to control overheating issues. Over time however, prolonged persistence nearing a computer’s maximum temperature allowance could prove dastardly for your laptop.

Among other things it can damage its internals and eventually render them unusable. To make things even worse, most of them are soldered on to the motherboard, making it so that they cannot be replaced, at least not conventionally. Also, your computer being loud is essentially a cry for help. It indicates the fans having to work overtime to cool your computer and might be the precursor for worse problems. Indeed, it may be more than worth the trouble to fix that issue, so for that reason a replacement machine could be your best bet.

2. Your laptop is painfully slow

A machine that runs like a slug is a consumer’s nightmare. While many times not beyond a fix, other times it might just be an indicator for your laptop showing its agedness. Processes ranging from simply shutting down & booting up the computer, all the way to experiencing lag and slowdown while running applications or even something as routine as surfing the web can be an awful experience if they do not run smoothly. In the long run, slow computers waste your time and kill your productivity and it is something you must find a timely solution to.

3. Your laptop dies on you real fast

Admittedly this is less of a problem in laptops with removable batteries, however as the norm is gearing towards increasingly thinner and lighter laptops, more and more manufacturers are relying on non-removable batteries. Although the focus with batteries being smaller is to maximize power efficiency to counter their sometimes-lower capacity, like all Lithium-Ion batteries they too will degrade in time. This also comes at the cost of it being nowhere near as easy nor convenient to replace your laptop’s battery. At the point when your battery is functional, but you find yourself plugged in a disproportionate amount of time it could be time to start weighing your options.

4. Incompatibility with software and hardware

Easily the most reliable litmus test for whether a laptop needs replacement is when you can’t run new applications, install the newest updates or when you’re unable to connect your physical devices for use on your machine. If this happens despite having updated your software and drivers to their latest available versions, this is truly the point of no return. You cannot reliably work on obsolete machines, especially if you’re in fields where software and hardware support for novel releases is a bare minimum (Think most STEM fields, graphic design etc.).

Lack of software support in particular opens the door to a whole new array of security problems. The older your software version is, the more vulnerable it would be to viruses and malware because computer hackers would have long exploited all the unsquashed bugs in what would then be considered outdated software. If such a situation should arise, we would greatly recommend an upgrade ASAP.

Do I even need to replace my laptop?

While most of us will experience something to complain about in our laptops from time to time, that alone is hardly grounds for replacement. It is true that some problems you will experience may either be beyond a fix, simply too much of a hassle or just an indicator of the laptop showing its age, but it could just as easily be none of the aforementioned. Modern laptops, especially if they cost a pretty penny, are supposed to be robust and last you a long time. Before you pull the plug completely on what you’re using right now, we highly recommend trying some things out that may save you the cost of a new laptop and possibly add several months (or years!) to your daily driver.

Try these out before buying a replacement laptop

There’s a plethora of procedures you should consider trying out before splashing the cash on a new device. These might be able to significantly improve your experience, help you save several hundred dollars in the process and spare you the hassle of relocating your files or redownloading dozens of applications.

1. Clean it up

By cleaning up, we mean both tidying up the internals and removing all the software gunk too. A laptop tends to accumulate dust, and of course the accumulation gets worse the longer you’ve owned it. Look up a disassembly tutorial for your particular model, or have the experts open it up and you’ll be welcomed by a whole litter of dust bunnies. They’re easy enough to sweep away though, and once that’s dealt with you should immediately notice the fans running a little easier, possibly even better thermals.

Coming to the software side of things, minimize the amounts of startup apps so your computer has a lot less to deal with when it boots up. Often times apps will run in the background without you even knowing about it, so it’s imperative you check this out. Finally, you’d do well to remove apps you don’t need (like bloatware) or don’t use anymore to give your system a breather. You may immediately notice faster performance and of course a much better experience using your device.

2. Keep it up to date

Outdated software builds or outdated drivers will do you absolutely no good. There is a reason developers push out updates so frequently; they greatly improve system reliability and performance, in addition to protecting your device from exploits and malicious programs. You can check for new updates most often in the settings tab regardless of what OS you use, and you can check for driver updates on a per-peripheral bases in your device manager.

3. Consider physical upgrades

The great thing about a lot of laptops is that they’re modular. Memory running low? Pop in a bigger storage unit. Nowadays you can invest in a wide range of SSDs, HDDs or flash storage like USBs or SD cards depending on your needs and pocket.

What a lot of people might not know about is that it’s likely that you can also upgrade your RAM! You might be a little surprised to learn that a lot of people still run on 4GB like it’s enough. While it might pass as bare minimum, the truth is that anything less than 8GB doesn’t really cut it with the state of apps and the web today. RAM helps your computer manage multiple process at the same time, so naturally the more you have the easier it is for your computer to run. Anything on top of what you have already is assuredly going to improve your experience multifold.

Finally, if you have an HDD, do yourself a favor and swap it out for an SSD. While the upfront offer of bigger storage and cheaper cost might tempt you into going for an HDD, the difference between the two storage mediums is like day and night. On average, SSDs perform 5 to 20 times faster than HDDs and one of those in your system is like breathing whole new life into it.

What to look for in a new laptop

You’ve weighed all your options, and tested out most of the alternative solutions, and you have finally decided that it’s best to part ways with your current machine. What you must now understand is that it’s in your best interests to choose a device with a specifications lineup such that it should comfortably last you several years. You’d do well to not overlook anything you might have missed the time of your last purchase, and make sure that your newest computer is as futureproof as it can be. Here we have a list of some things that should give the most weight new when in the market for a laptop.

1. Processor/RAM

At the minimum you want 8GB of RAM for reasons we’ve highlighted already. It would be great if you could go for 16 Gigs because that should set you up nicely for the years we’re heading into. The processor matters less, but ideally, you’d want something recent from Intel or AMD with respectable clock speeds and at least four cores.

2. Storage

Getting a model that doesn’t come with an SSD is a no-no in 2022. What it may lack in storage it will make up for many times over in speed. And again, with the current direction of the wind faster storage could be essential for running the newest applications with ease.

3. OS

Indeed, this is something that’s very subjective. If you’re part of the Apple Ecosystem you already have a defined range of macOS laptops to choose from, and you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of native applications you cannot get on Windows (iMessage, Facetime, Final Cut Pro). Otherwise, look no less than 64-bit Windows 10.

3. Customer Support

It would be wise to avoid purchases from less reputable companies and opt for manufacturers well known for excellent customer support and ease in parts availability should anything ever go wrong. You can’t really go wrong with HP, Dell, Lenovo but you might just with a brand you’ve never heard of before.

Conclusion

The choice of purchase belongs always to the individual, but you’ll find that there are several ways to improve on a lackluster experience which you should exhaust first before making the ultimate decision. If you’re in for a replacement computer anyway, buy something that should last you 5 years with ease, because like with all investments of the stature, longevity should be a standard, not an expectation.