Your laptop may be old, but that doesn't mean its days are numbered. These five DIY basic upgrades will help you breathe new life into your portable PC.

If you want more performance from your laptop, you don't have to trade it in for a newer model. If you're handy with a screwdriver and have some time on your hands, a DIY upgrade will work out a more affordable solution and can ensure you don't have to make any comprises on what you really want.

We took a Dell Inspiron 1525 and a Dell Inspiron 6000 and upgraded five components.

While we can't fit complete step-by-step, unscrew-this-and-unplug-that instructions for everything into this article, we can provide tips to help with each process. However, it's worth noting that every laptop varies. Even machines from the same vendor can have very different designs and therefore wildly different disassembly methods.

Before you start, keep these essential points in mind:

  • Many of these upgrades will void your laptop's warranty
  • Some upgrades can damage your laptop. If you are at all uncomfortable with such tinkering, leave it to a pro
  • Most vendors provide disassembly instructions in their products' service manuals, which can usually be found on their web sites' support sections
  • Unplug your laptop and remove the battery before attempting any upgrade. Also, to avoid damage from static electricity, use a grounded wrist strap
  • You'll need a collection of small screwdrivers, including flathead, Phillips, and possibly even Torx
  • Speaking of screws, keep them organised as you remove them. We like to use cups for each step. Just write 'LCD assembly' or 'keyboard' on each cup as you go, to help you remember which screws go where
  • Pay special attention to wiring. Laptops have intricate channels where the wiring must run; stray wiring may get pinched or may prevent other parts from fitting together correctly
  • No matter what machine you're working on, first upgrade your BIOS. You'll need up-to-date BIOS code to support many newer components
  • Not every laptop component can be upgraded. Some may be soldered or otherwise permanently attached

NEXT PAGE: Upgrading RAM

  1. Breathe new life into your PC
  2. Upgrading RAM
  3. Hard drive upgrades
  4. Upgrading your laptop's optical drive and add Bluetooth functionality
  5. Add a wireless card to your laptop

See our Laptop Advisor website for expert reviews of today’s best laptops, plus read our essential advice to make sure you choose the right specs