While visiting my parents in Arizona, my mom asked for help on choosing a new laptop to buy. Knowing that my dad’s medical expenses from cancer treatment have been piling up, I offered to save my parents some money by upgrading their old Dell Inspiron 1750 laptop. It must be from 2009 or 2010… Ancient history in technological terms.
Regardless of the age of this old laptop, it wasn’t time to throw it away yet.
I’m writing this guide for anyone with at least some experience with computer hardware. Please, make sure you understand what you’re doing!
Let’s break down my process for upgrading an old beater like this one. Most of these principals apply to desktop computers, as well… But this post is focused on old laptops.
Step 1: Determine Your Motherboard’s Maximum Amount of Supported RAM
Search Google, your manufacturer’s website, or any documentation you have for memory specs. Maximum supported RAM should be pretty easy to find.
Specifically, we want to know how much RAM the system can handle. This is a great way to gauge whether or not an upgrade is worth the time and money. In our case, the Dell Inspiron 1750 can handle a maximum of just 8GB of RAM. This is below my own minimum of 16GB, but good enough to keep an old workhorse laptop going for my parents.
- If your laptop’s maximum system memory (a.k.a. RAM) is 8GB or less, your laptop/motherboard is dangerously old. 8GB of RAM is barely enough to keep up with modern software.
- Some systems can support more RAM than what’s specified by the manufacturer, but such endeavors are experimental.
Step 2: If Your RAM Isn’t Maxed, Research the Process of Upgrading
In many cases, the process of upgrading your system memory (RAM) involves a screwdriver, a couple of screws and some care in keeping electricity at bay. Visit this handy guide for upgrading laptop memory for more info. You just want to make sure you’re not opening a can of worms. Be certain that you have everything you need to do the work on your particular laptop!
One of the quickest ways to find out exactly which RAM you need is to use Crucial.com’s search function, then take note of the specs of the RAM they recommend for your system.
Step 3: Choose Your New RAM
The quick and easy route is to use a company like NewEgg to gauge the price and ratings of the RAM that you determined to be the proper fit for your laptop. Let me guess — 200-pin DDR? Make sure you know! Here are some examples of popular RAM upgrades for laptops. Use your best judgment from reviews and specifications to choose wisely.
Step 4: Install the RAM
Refer to your manufacturer’s website to find out exactly how to install your new RAM. More info here: https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/ram-upgrade-tutorial
You can keep your old memory stored away, attempt to sell it, or donate it to a local thrift store.
Enjoy your upgrade! Part 2 is next, focusing on the harder step of upgrading an old hard drive to a fast new SSD (solid-state disk) drive.