Simple upgrades for your laptop

Install an SSD, more RAM and a Wi-Fi card

Upgrade your laptop's Wi-Fi

Upgrading a wireless card should be every bit as easy as upgrading the memory modules. In fact, on some machines, both the wireless card and RAM are located under the same panel.

The trick is to make sure that you install a compatible part. Most laptops that were made a few years ago use Mini PCI cards, while newer ones use the Mini PCI Express standard. Mini PCI cards have only one set of connectors along the narrower side; Mini PCI Express cards have two.

Even if the card you get has the right connector, it's not guaranteed to work in your laptop. You need a sufficiently up-to-date laptop with a sufficiently recent form of Wi-Fi to be able to take advantage of the newest, fastest version. You should be able to update an older model, but not necessarily one that's between one and three years old.

Upgrading to wireless-n: You might be surprised to discover that you're pretty unlikely to be able to upgrade from 802.11b Wi-Fi to 802.11n as few Mini PCI cards exist. On the other hand, you should easily be able to switch from 802.11b wireless to g as there are plenty of 802.11a/b/g cards.

Many laptops that came with 802.11g cards can be upgraded to meet the latest 802.11n standard. To avoid firmware incompatibilities, we advise you to get this part directly from the manufacturer of your laptop; in any case, it should be sold specifically for your computer.

Once you have the right part, performing the Wi-Fi upgrade is easy.

If your wireless card is under the keyboard, as is the situation with the card in our photo (below), you'll need to remove the keyboard. We've explained how to do that in the steps for upgrading your RAM.

Next, locate the wireless card and disconnect the two antenna wires by pulling straight up on the connectors. Don't pull on the wires themselves.


Remove the old wireless card by pulling apart the two holding clamps on the card's sides. Pull the card straight out. Insert the new card and reattach the antennae by pushing the connectors straight down on the plugs.


If your wireless card is located on the underside of the machine, things are much easier. You can simply flip the laptop over, remove the appropriate panel and follow the installation instructions we've provided above.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags notebooks

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?