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03 December 2012

Get Super Performance From An Average Laptop

Today I welcome the CEO of kalmstrom.com Business Solutions, Peter Kalmstrom, who wants to share with you how he is getting really fast and powerful computers for half the normal cost without too much engineering. As I use one of Peter's ehnhanced machines myself, I can confirm that it works very well.

Peter KalmstromSuper performance at low cost
I travel a lot, so regretfully my computers tend to get banged about quite a bit and need to be replaced often. Thus I don't want to invest a lot, but of course I want – and need! – the utmost in performance. Here is my "recipe":
  1. Focus on the screen – how large of a laptop do you want?
  2. If you plan to run virtual machines, also check that the processor is powerful enough to handle them and has virtualization features that can be enabled.
  3. Buy the cheapest possible computer with the right screen (and processor).
  4. Take out the hard drive and replace it with a solid-state drive (SSD).
  5. Take out the RAM and replace it with more RAM.
  6. Done!
I have tried this several times, and the price tag is less than half compared to a laptop pre-configured with (almost) all of the options I now have. My method does not work if you are a hard-core gamer, though. In that case you need a graphics card with higher performance than you will get in a cheap laptop, and they cannot be replaced like the hard drive and RAM.

Taking out the hard drive and RAM
Earlier the hard drive could often be found buried under the keyboard or motherboard, and to remove it included removing not only dozens of screws but also other parts of the computer.

Nowadays the hard drive is often placed directly under an access panel, just like the RAM, and then you will have no problems. If you can do Lego or assemble IKEA furniture, you can do #4 and #5 too. You will probably find information on how to do it in the laptop manual, and there are also a lot of instructions on the net.

Choosing the right replacements
Selecting the right memory and hard drive might be a bit tricky. Look for the cheapest SSD with transfer speeds of over 500 Mb/s.

My choice
I chose a PC with a 17.3 inch screen in full HD, which is what I really want. It only weighs 3 kgs (which I can handle during my travels) and it has space for two 2.5 inch hard drives and a DVD-player. I then added a primary SSD of 240 GB and a secondary 750 GB Hybrid drive.

Reinstall the OS
After changing the hard-drive you need to re-install the operating system which is not so easy, but if you have read this far you probably know how to do it! Windows 8 installs in 10 mins on the SSD.

I hope you have found my tip useful. If you want to see more, please have a look at the Tips section of the kalmstrom.com website. There you can find tips and tricks like this one and tutorials on SharePoint, Outlook, Excel and more.