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By Doug Aamoth
October 27, 2015
Illustration by Peter Arkle

Looking to squeeze another year out of your aging portable? The common ailments below can be cured for $150 or less. And if you’re not sure what the trouble is, these sites can help diagnose the problem for free. Tech Support Guy lets you pose questions to volunteer tech experts; iFixit features repair guides that show how to take gadgets apart, upgrade them, and put them back together; and CCleaner is an app that speeds up your computer by getting rid of junky, unneeded programs.

Dismal Display

Problem: Your screen is so murky, it looks like it’s been smeared with Vaseline.

Solution: If your laptop is mostly deskbound, consider adding an external monitor. Look for an IPS LED (in-plane switching, light-emitting diode) version with a 1920×1080 resolution in the 21- to 23-inch range, which is the size where you’ll get the best bang for your buck.

What it costs: $150 for a decent 23-inch IPS LED

Pitiful Productivity

Problem: Your computer grinds to a halt when you open too many programs at once.

Solution: Upgrade your RAM so that it tops out at eight giga-bytes (anything past that is overkill). It’s relatively cheap, and one of the most effective ways to squeeze more performance out of your machine. Any repair or electronics shop should be able to sell it and install it within minutes, provided your machine has an accessible upgrade port. (Check your user’s manual for more information. Many newer Macs and ultra—portable Windows machines aren’t RAM upgradable.)

What it costs: $100 or less with installation

Battery Blues

Problem: Your battery conks out faster than a narcoleptic in a mattress store.

Solution: Nothing fancy here—it’s time for new juice. Laptop batteries generally last about two years before their maximum charge starts to take a nosedive. Replacements can be had for cheap depending on the model of your computer. Many PC batteries just snap right in, but you’ll need a pro to install batteries in Macs and ultra-portable Windows machines.

What it costs: $20 and up for PCs, $129 to $199 for Macs

Read next: The Best Headphones You Can Get for Less Than $100

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

EDIT POST