The Best External Laptop Ugrades
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So, you got yourself a laptop and now you are looking for ways to get more out of it – but you don’t want to splash too much cash on a replacement or upgrade? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways for you to get more performance out of your laptop via external upgrades than you might think, that can improve not only the hardware but also the software performance of your laptop.
Interested? I bet, so check out these great ways to upgrade your laptop!
There are a bunch of people out there who rely on their laptop to enjoy their games either at home or on the go – perfectly valid, and a good way of combining the portability and usefulness of a laptop with the strength and power of a gaming PC – but it can often be the case that the laptop you buy doesn’t quite cut it a few years on once gaming technology has stepped up.
That’s where an external GPU fits in. Its exactly as it sounds, an external graphics card that you hook up to your laptop so that you can play more games at a better quality than you once did. They are made by a bunch of different companies, and the variety of products you can get varies greatly – here is a quick rundown.
So, you could choose to get an external GPU that comes fitted with a graphics card as standard, and is irreplaceable. Basically what you are buying here is a graphics card that you plug into your laptop for improved graphics and framerates, with the trade-off being that the GPU is an external bulky addition that (whilst portable), might be a little more difficult to transport than a laptop on its own.
The same can be said for all external GPUs but consider that some external graphics card options offer a lot more variety. The Razer Core X for example is an external graphics card unit that isn’t set up with a stock GPU. Instead, you use the Razer Core X as a housing sleeve for whichever desktop GPU you choose, which is then fed into your laptop for much better graphics and performance.
This option is a lot more versatile, and whilst it gives your laptop a boost in performance, you can also invest in it knowing that if you were to build a desktop gaming PC in the future, you can always save on the cost by using the GPU you have in your external GPU rather than having to buy everything new.
Basically, EGPUs are a great way to give your laptop a boost in performance for a couple of hundred dollars. Just make sure that your laptop is compatible with whatever card you are looking to hook in, and you should be good to go – and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than upgrading your unit entirely.
Luckily external hard disk drives and solid-state drives are becoming increasingly popular and more mainstream, meaning that more people are becoming comfortable using them. If you haven’t already though, you should think about the potential benefits of using an external storage device, and exactly how the different kinds could benefit you.
I’ll start by saying that if you have a bunch of files, spreadsheets, pictures or films, then an external hard drive is a brilliant addition to any laptop. Not only are you going to free up a bunch of space on your actual laptop itself, but you are going to potentially be able to organize your files a lot better, and free up your actual laptop’s memory with applications or programs that you need on the go.
However, if you are looking to store more games, applications, or other forms of software that your PC runs, then I would suggest getting an SSD. So, not only will an external SSD help free up space on your laptop like an HDD would (hard drive), but you are also going to have the advantage of speedier memory unit. Why? Well, solid-state drives operate differently to hard disk drives in that the memory is stored in a solid unit that keeps the information available even when power to the unit has stopped. Basically, the information is more readily accessible to a PC, making it much quicker to load.
So, if you are considering upgrading your laptop’s memory and want to run applications or games quickly, then consider getting yourself an external SSD – you are going to free up laptop space and potentially get quicker loading apps for your money. Total winner.
One of the biggest dangers, when you are using a laptop, is the constant worry that you are going to have to replace the keyboard due to damage, be it from spills, hard use, or even just dropping something heavy onto it that breaks the keyboard entirely. These replacements can be costly, annoying and time-consuming – so when you are using your laptop at home or on a desk consider getting yourself an external keyboard to use so that you are preserving your laptops ingrained hardware life as much as possible.
There are a couple of different ways to go when it comes to buying an external keyboard, and luckily for you, these options all depend on what you want from the keyboard itself. Say you are looking for something small and easily portable – there are a bunch of Bluetooth capable keyboards that would be ideal for use as you travel for work.
Or maybe you want something a little more robust and in line for gaming? You can bet that any standard gaming keyboard you might buy for a desktop PC will work just as well with a laptop – just remember that if you are thinking about taking your laptop and keyboard combo on the go, it could be easier to invest in a wireless option as you won’t have to worry about wires as you travel around.
Or maybe you are looking for something that offers a lot more in the way of accessibility when you are typing? Well, there are plenty of options out there for just that, even some that offer split keyboard interactivity so that you can place the respective keyboard segments exactly where you want them to be for ease of use.
What I’m trying to say is that one of the best laptop upgrades you can give yourself is a well-performing keyboard that is going to relieve the stress on your laptop hardware, and potentially give you a boost in performance because let’s face it…not every laptop keyboard was made brilliantly.
Now, depending on who you are this might not seem like a totally necessary option, but I will say this; I work everyday on a laptop, and moving from a trackpad to an actual mouse has been a godsend, and if you are already using an external keyboard with your laptop then you are going to be aware that moving from that external keyboard to a trackpad in everyday use is…frustrating.
But, think of it this way: you are saving the lifespan of your trackpad, and making life easier for yourself when you are working on a desk. All wins in my book. Plus, you can look for a mouse that suits your needs – so if you only need something small to break out in meetings and at presentations, then are a bunch of wireless mice and keyboard combos out there that meet your needs at a low price – perfect to slip in a laptop bag.
But, if you are looking for an actual laptop upgrade that works, then maybe you should look at different mice that are specialized to your interests. So, if you have a gaming laptop, look into different gaming mice, brands like Razer and Corsair always offer exemplary products, so start there.
Or perhaps you like to work on video or audio editing on your laptop – don’t worry there are plenty of different options out there for you too, with rollerball models often being the preferred type of mouse for this kind of work.
The point of this segment is to say that whilst sure, you have the ability to use your laptop’s trackpad, moving to an actual mouse is a genuine laptop upgrade – probably one of the best moves you could make considering all the different advantages an actual mouse brings like better DPI, more reliable clicks and easily adjustable scrolling speeds.
If you are going to be using your laptop at home, and want a way to get more out of it when it comes to audio then it’s fair to say that the speakers in a lot of laptops leave a lot to be desired. So, what to do if you are looking to upgrade your laptop speakers? Simple. Get yourself an external set.
There are a tonne of different options out there when it comes to speakers that you can use with your laptop – and let’s face it, a lot of them would also be compatible with your computer (if you had one). The question you have to ask yourself is what do you want from an upgraded laptop speaker?
If you are looking for portability, then there are plenty of different options out there for you. You could invest in a smaller soundbar that offers Bluetooth connectivity so that you can slip it in and out of your laptop bag and still enjoy a high level of audio quality. Bose has some great options for this, as do Sony and Anker.
But, if you are looking for something a bit more traditional in the form of a speaker set up, then you can always look to the likes of Bose, Logitech, Razer or even Redragon if you like – it all depends on your personal taste. Obviously, audio quality is going to differ between each brand, but depending on how much you are willing to put down in terms of cash, you could be in with a really impressive upgrade to your laptop’s audio quality.
The thing is that when we talk about laptop speakers, we are talking about hardware that has been designed to fit within a certain form factor, with size and power usage often a bigger concern than their performance in more budget orientated machines. With that in mind, spending some money on a viable speaker system you can connect to your laptop will always be a good idea if quality audio is something you are concerned about. Just make sure that your laptop is running its most current audio drivers, and that you have a dedicated audio setting for the speakers themselves so that you are getting the best audio pre-sets running through them when they are in use.
However, if portability is your main concern, then there is another option when it comes to audio that might offer greater portability, and can even solve the problem of a weak internal microphone.
Whilst a set of speakers is one of the best external laptop upgrades if you are looking for better audio in a space where you are allowed to be a bit noisy and enjoy music or audio in an environment that isn’t policed, or too crowded, it’s inevitable that sometimes you have to keep it down, and in those situations, a headset is called for.
Now, the reason that I am writing about a headset rather than a set of earbuds or in-ear monitors is that the versatility that a headset offers is much better than a set of earbuds, and often times the audio quality is better, and the added extras give you more for your money.
So, what kind of added extras am I on about? Well, look at the Sennheiser GSP 600s. They don’t just offer superior audio and comfortable padding, but also a microphone that has good noise cancellation and clear output. My point here is that not only can you enjoy better audio in more environments thanks to the private nature of a headset, but you can also count on them for clearer communication, in the long run, thanks to many laptop microphones not being as powerful or clear as they could be.
So, if you are looking for one of the best laptop upgrades that help you enjoy better audio privately, and talk to people online whether your gaming or in a meeting, then a headset is the way to go. Plus, they are often very easy to slip into a laptop bag or case, making them no hassle at all to carry around with you.
So, one of the great things about ultra portable laptops is that they are small, lightweight, and super light - but all that comes at a cost, and that cost is often connectivity. A lot of the different external upgrades mentioned on this list depend on factors like USB drives, audio inputs, and other forms of hardware connectivity in order to run, and its often the case that ultra portable laptops have a reduced number of these port to save on space.
Enter the multi-port hubs. The purpose of these little docks it to allow you to hook more than one device into your laptop without having to worry about the available number of USB ports you have. Incredibly useful for a number of reasons: firstly, you can manage all of your devices through one port of access, meaning that your cable management (as well as file management is going to be a lot simpler.
Secondly, you are going to be able to take advantage of these different ports to make sure you are getting the most out of your laptops external upgrades. If you went for a simple Anker four-socket hub, for example, you can be charging your phone, running a keyboard and mouse, and have access to your external storage all at the same time. Pretty handy to have, especially if you want to be using these devices at the same time.
They are cheap as well – small too, making these the perfect external upgrade your laptop that you can easily take on the go with you.
And that just about wraps up all of the different and best external upgrades for your laptop available in 2020. If you are currently using a device that improves your working or social life with your laptop let us know – we would love to keep updating this list with the best gadgets and upgrades for your laptop that money can buy!