How to speed up your laptop for cheap

Don't shell out for a new computer when we can get you zipping along faster for less

Step 1: Give your graphics a speed boost

A graphics card makes everything better. Online gamers can kill quicker, movie makers can edit faster and couch potatoes can enjoy HD films in more clarity, all with a simple upgrade. Install it yourself, if you're feeling particularly technical.

The £150 nVidia GeForce 8600M GT MB MXM II grahics card is an affordable way to rev up your laptop – but be sure to check your lappy is MXM friendly before you flash the cash.

Step 2: Play it cool

A cooler laptop is a faster laptop. And you don't have to sit there shivering with your doors and windows open to keep your computer chilly.

Pop your laptop on a cooling stand like the £30 Zalman ZM NC3000S and it’ll keep your computer's temperature down so you can warm up for an over-clocked gaming frenzy.

Step 3: Keep it clean

The only thing you need to spend on this is time. The tidier you make your computer, the easier it can find files quickly – much like hunting for your wallet in a tidy bedroom instead of a filth-pit.

Download the C(rap)Cleaner and let it clear out the clutter on your (Windows) computer for a speed boost. CCleaner also lets you select certain files you want to leave untouched, like web cookies. It’s similar to hiring a cleaner to sort out your mess, only it's free. What's not to like?

Step 4: Remember quicker

The faster your computer's brain can access its information, the better it will run. While solid state memory is the future, it's a bit pricey in bulk, whereas spinning drives are slower but cheaper. Enter the hybrid drive – which gives you the best of both worlds.

The Seagate Momentus XT, for example, gives you 750GB storage on the 7200rpm drive, while its 8GB NAND flash memory is used for frequent processes like applications and operating system functions. This means you get all the benefits of fast boot up and program execution, while still having the storage capacity of a larger drive – and it won't break the bank.

Step 5: Get in and out fast

USB 3.0 is the big brother of USB 2.0. It’s faster, uses less power and is backwards compatible – and with speeds of up to 5Gbit/s there’s no reason not to have it. Well, there is one – at the moment there are only a few devices compatible with USB 3.0, like the Iomega Laptop PCI Express Adapter USB 3.0. But remember: pioneers are heroes.

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