So you got an old laptop and don’t know what to do with it? It’s just standing in the corner and gathering dust?
Fear not, you can put it to several good uses!
Top 5 List of things you can do with your old notebook:
- Try upgrading the hardware:
Unlike brand new hardware, like the Retina Macbook you can exchange the harddrive/RAM on most older laptops. Exchanging the harddrive for an SSD is going to give you a significant performance boost on the cheap. Most smaller SSDs (64-200GB) cost less then 150$ and it will make your old laptop way faster.
- Use it as home-server/tv-computer:
This is really easy & cool. You’ll need a HD-TV with a VGA-port (or a VGA-to-HDMI-converter will do as well) and a “old” laptop that can play movies/run windows 7 preferably. First make sure you wipe the old laptop and install a clean windows 7, that way you can make sure it runs at full performance. Next you setup windows media center as start-up application. You can now hide the laptop in your TV-closet next to the dvd-player. As a remote simply use your android or iphone with a windows media center remote app. (A great app for android is “my-remote“).. Now you can watch all your downloaded movies and your family-pictures on the big-screen.
- Install Linux:
Some Linux distributions use a lot less resources than windows. So by installing Linux you can give your laptop a new life as server/workstation/office-laptop/surf-machine etc..
- Use it as download-server:
Put it in your cellar and keep it running 24/7. Use remote-desktop to start downloads.
- Make it more awesome then ever:
This requires some work, but if you like tinkering with tech-stuff you’ll chose this option just for the challenge of creating something new. Read below
How to make your Laptop more awesome then ever?
If you are willing to tinker with your old notebook there are several cool uses you can put it too. I decided to integrate mine into my glass-desk, therefor giving me a clutter-free additional pc for testing stuff and watching youtube videos . But if you don’t have a glass desk you can probably find other transparent surfaces where you can put it, like behind a cupboard with glass-doors. Or you can mount in it onto a wall as digital picture-frame. Everything with glass wors.. so you get the idea.
So how to make this work:
First remove the battery from your laptop, we don’t need it for what we’re going to do so put it to your spare pc-parts.
Next you remove the screen, preferably watch a youtube video about your laptop-model first. Because when I first tried I remove the screen without instructions I took all the wrong screws out and I had to screw them in again.. and that isn’t fun when you don’t know which screw belongs where (they were different lenghts) xD.
Once you have removed the screen you should make sure to remove all plastic parts from the front and the back of the screen. But be very careful with handling the screen, if you touch the screen-back hard you could damage it and then you’ve failed.
Next turn the screen and laptop over, so that it lays with the keyboard down. The screen should lay on what was the previously the bottom of the notebook.
Now connect the power and see if it still works. If it doesn’t try to fix it otherwise good job so far!
Finally take duct tape in the color of your laptop and glue the screen tight into place. This is obviously a lot easier if your laptop is black .. if it has a special color it may be hard to find duct-tape with the same color.. then try to be artistic by using an accent-color or don’t tape the screen at all.
Now your new “tablet/desk/wall/cupboard”-computer is ready for use. In my case I used two strings to bind it firmly below my glass desk. I can access the power button and usb-ports easily, so it’s no problem to turn it on. If you don’t have it so nearby you can always change the bios-settings to “boot on power”, then it will automatically boot up when you turn the power on a remote power-plug. To control it you can use any wireless mouse, a android/iOS touchpad app, the windows on-Scree-keyboard or a wireless keyboard if you plan to do a lot of writing .
In my case I just use a mouse and the on-screen-keyboard because I made a lot of shortcuts so I don’t really need to type anything.
And that’s how you convert your old laptop to a awesome gadget!
If you chose to make something like this please post a picture in the comments I would love to see what you come up with!