In Pictures: 14 steps to a better, faster Windows laptop

After a couple of years, most laptops fall seriously behind the times. Here are several ways to upgrade your legacy laptop to meet today's standards.

An overall improvement All told, the upgrade of my HP EliteBook took about three hours. Increasing the system's RAM to 16GB meant that its PassMark PerformanceTest score of 937.1 went up to 1,241.7. After I swapped the EliteBook's hard drive for a high-speed SSD, the score rose to 1,750.7 -- nearly double the original system's performance.

Of course, all these upgrades weren't free. The bill for the various materials I used for my upgrade added up to $642 -- about the price of a new budget machine.

However, you can pick and choose which upgrades you really need and which you don't. The result will be a rejuvenated laptop that you can depend on -- or that you can confidently pass on to a friend or relative.

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