Home' LAPTOP Magazine : November 2010 Contents ❸StepUpto
Why You Want It:
Upgrading to a new
makes even an
old notebook feel
new again. How-
ever, as of summer
2010, developer site
ported that Windows
XP, a nine-year-old OS, remains the most popular
operating system, with 53.1 percent of the market,
and Windows Vista still remains on 10.5 percent
of computers as well. If you're using a PC and
don't have Windows 7, you're really missing out.
Windows 7 offers a more responsive system, faster
boot times, and a really attractive new interface
with features such as taskbar preview icons, pinned
shortcuts, and Aero snap that actually make you
How to Buy It: First, check Microsoft's system
requirements)to see if your notebook can handle the
upgrade. If so, find the lowest price on a Windows 7
Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional. Unless
you are using a corporate network, Home Premium
will be fine. Get the same bit-version you currently
have. That means if you have 32-bit Windows XP or
Vista, be sure to get 32-bit Windows 7. Most older
notebooks use 32-bit Windows.
Though a home premium upgrade disc typically
costs around $110, you can save about $10 by
purchasing an OEM or System Builder version of the
software from Newegg.com or Amazon.com. The
only disadvantage of an OEM version of Windows
is that you cannot later transfer it to another PC.
You can also save a lot of money if you have a .edu
e-mail address and can purchase the upgrade at a
student discount from Microsoft.
Install It: If you have Windows Vista, you should
be able to upgrade to Windows 7 while keeping
your notebook's settings and applications intact.
All you need to do is insert the Windows 7 DVD,
click Set Up from within Vista, choose an upgrade
installation, and follow the instructions.
However, if you have XP, you will need to do
a clean install, which means you must back up
all your data and your application installs before
a game, you're using up your system's resources.
In other words, the less RAM you have, the more
your notebook has to swap data to your hard drive,
causing the whole system to slow down. On today's
laptops, a minimum of 3GB of RAM is essential and
4GB is optimal. Fortunately, adding more memory
is cheap and easy.
How to Buy It: You'll need to determine both what
kind of memory your notebook uses and how many
sticks to buy. Aside from your instruction manual,
the best way to find out what type of RAM you
need and how many slots you have is to use an
online configurator such as the one on Crucial
.com. Most modern notebooks use either DDR2 or
DDR3 memory and have one or two slots in total.
Chances are that at least one of your slots already
has a DIMM(dual inline memory module)in it. So,
depending on what's in your computer now, you
may need to buy only one stick of RAM to put in
an open slot, or you may need to replace one or
both modules you have now so you can reach 3
or 4GB. A single 2GB DIMM costs between $35
and $50, depending on speed and brand. A 4GB
kit costs close to $100.
Install It: Consult your notebook's instruction
manual to find the location of your RAM slots. On
most notebooks, they are conveniently located
behind a panel on the bottom of the notebook.
Once you've accessed the RAM slots, just insert
your new DIMM(s) at a 45 degree angle, while
making sure the groove in the connector aligns
with the slot. Once your DIMM is correctly inserted,
clips will pop into its side grooves. If you need to
remove a preinstalled DIMM, pull the clips outward
and it will pop out.
starting the upgrade. Next, you'll need to download,
install, and run Windows Easy Transfer, which
will help you copy over some of the settings.
After you've backed up and copied settings and
software, run the setup DVD, select a Custom
Installation, and follow the instructions. After the
install is done you will need to reinstall your data
and all of your programs. This is a time-consuming
process that could take a couple of hours, but it's
well-worth the improved performance and better
❹ Add USB 3.0 to Your Notebook
Why You Want It: There's no doubt that USB 3.0
is the future. With ten times the theoretical band-
width of USB 2.0, we're going to see more and
more USB 3.0 drives over the next year. However,
you probably don't need a new notebook to take
advantage of USB 3.0 today. With the right adapter
and a new USB 3.0 hard drive, you can get twice
the read and write speeds of a standard USB 2.0
How toBuy It: Not every notebook can be upgraded
to USB 3.0, but if you have an ExpressCard/34 slot,
you're in luck. Just go to an online retailer, such
as Newegg.com or Buy.com, where you can pick
up an ExpressCard adapter such as the StarTech
ECUSB3S2 ($29.99; www.newegg.com) that will plug
right into the slot. To take advantage of the speed
benefits of USB 3.0, you'll also need an external
hard drive that supports the standard. The least
expensive USB 3.0 drives start at around $90 for
a 500GB model.
Install It: Adding your USB 3.0 adapter is as
simple as popping it into the ExpressCard slot on
your notebook and installing the drivers that come
with it. Then you'll be ready to attach any USB 3.0
devices you want.
StarTech USB 3.0
LAPTOP | November 2010
SPEED UP YOUR NOTEBOOK
UPGRADES & TIPS
Get More Online
UPGRADE YOUR HARD DRIVE
Follow our step-by-step instr uctions for
making your notebook better than ever.
See p. 6 for more info on how to use this code with your cell phone.
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