Are you one of the millions of people using a laptop that’s passed its best-before date? That moment can sneak up on you. You had a slick new laptop that looked slim and trim, powered through tasks and went for hours without needing to be plugged in. However, as the years go by it gets cluttered with old files. Battery life is reduced to minutes. When you compile a home video, you’ve learned to walk away and just leave it to chug away at the project. Crashes are frequent. New operating system features aren’t supported. Between the thrashing hard drive and the fans, it’s noisy. Streaming video lags and resolution is poor. What seemed slim and light now seems like a boat anchor. What you have now is a computer that is past its best-before date. Here are five reasons why you should upgrade your laptop instead of continuing to compromise.
1. Solid State Drives (SSDs)
One of the key advances in mobile computing over the past five years has been the increasing use of solid state storage—SSDs—instead of traditional hard drives. An SSD has huge advantages. Booting a computer takes seconds, instead of the minute or more an older laptop using a hard drive can take. The SSD also makes overall system performance noticeably snappier, since any operation that reads or writes data to the drive is far faster than with any hard drive.
SSDs also have some other mobile-friendly advantages that help make the current generation of laptops better than ever, including: silent operation, a smaller form factor (M.2 SSDs look just like a RAM DIMM), lower power use, and with no moving parts SSDs aren’t affected by bumps the way a traditional hard drive is.
2. Improved battery life
A new laptop is going to dominate your old laptop when it comes to battery life. First of all, you’re probably using the original battery, and these degrade with time. There are only so many charge cycles before the battery will start to lose its ability to hold a charge. What starts as five-hours free of outlets can drop to an hour or less before you have to plug back in.
Battery technology has constantly improved as well, with NiCad batteries being replaced by NiMH and most recently by Li-ion. The Li-Ion batteries in today’s laptops have an incredible power density. Many current laptops also maximize battery capacity by designing the battery to take up as much of the unused space in the case as possible. Throw in other advances like the energy efficiency of SSD storage and the latest mobile CPUs and there has been a huge advance in laptop battery life.
In 2012, four hours was considered average for laptop battery life. By 2015 that had risen to six hours. Today, many laptops offer “all day” battery life—enough to easily get you through an eight hour work day—while the number of laptops offering 12 hours or more on a single charge is growing.
3. More portable than ever
The laptop I was using five years ago weighed 2.99 kg (6.6 pounds). The laptop I am currently using is far more powerful and offers three times the battery life, but it weighs just 1.35kg (2.96 pounds). That’s less than half the weight!
It’s also thinner and easier to carry. Many of today’s laptops have also ditched the plastic in favour of materials like machined aluminum that offer greater strength and durability while keeping weight down. These premium materials can also make for a more attractive looking laptop.
4. New technology and the latest operating system features
With the latest generation of laptops comes the latest in mobile computing technology. If your laptop is even just a few years old, it’s already falling behind the curve. Here are just a few of the features that were virtually unheard of a few years ago, but are increasingly common in today’s laptops.
I’ve already talked about the move to SSD storage, but laptops are also increasingly able to support more RAM and faster RAM. Many new laptops have added a USB-C port, for enhanced connectivity to the latest peripherals and accessories. Touchscreen support is increasingly common in laptops, and display resolution is also on the rise. Streaming video and games look better than ever, with Full HD now being the standard for laptop displays and some making the move to 4K. Wireless connectivity is also far faster, now that 802.11ac Wi-Fi is found in nearly all new laptops. Biometric security like Windows Hello is now mainstream. Mobile video cards have also improved in a huge way, and there are now many gaming laptops able to support a virtual reality headset—something that was limited to high end desktop gaming PCs just a few years ago.
There are also amazing new form factors, including convertible laptops that can be used as a tablet by rotating the display.
When you upgrade your laptop, you can also enjoy all the latest operating system features that your old portable didn’t support. You’ve heard of things like Windows Ink and Paint 3D, but now you’ll actually be able to use them.
5. Powerful new processors
You’ve probably heard of Moore’s Law. The Intel co-founder predicted that the number of transistors on a computer chip would double every two years. Add in the fact that those transistors get faster with every generation and the general rule of thumb became that computer CPUs would double their processing power every 18 months.
How old is your laptop? Even at just a few years of age, its CPU is not going to be able to keep up with the latest, 8th generation Intel Core CPUs and AMD’s new Ryzen mobile CPUs. For example, Intel says its 8th generation Core-U CPUs offer a productivity boost of up to 40% compared to the 7th generation versions.
With the latest mobile CPUs the advantages aren’t limited to performance. Energy efficiency—for improved battery life and much cooler operation—has been emphasized, helping to support laptops that are thinner, lighter and quieter than ever. Integrated graphics have also been improving, including increased support for 4K video.
Has your laptop seen better days? If so, be sure to check out the massive selection of laptops at Best Buy. Ultrabook, 2-in-1, MacBook, gaming laptop, Chromebook or just a good, solid basic Windows laptop; you’re covered no matter what you’re looking for in a laptop upgrade.