There are many reasons to choose a laptop over a desktop PC, but all laptops have one major drawback — poor upgradeability. In most cases, you can only increase the amount of RAM and replace the drive with a faster one. This means that laptops become obsolete faster, which is why users often wonder what to do with an old laptop after buying a new one. Below I propose to consider 10 options on how to give an old device a second life.
If the old laptop has a well-preserved display, then it can be used as an additional monitor for your PC. There are 2 ways how to do it.
A simple option is to connect a laptop to a PC wirelessly using WiDi technology, for this you need the Space Desk program. For it to work correctly, your old laptop must be running Windows 7 or later, and your main PC must be running Windows 8.1 or later.
A difficult option is to disassemble the laptop, disconnect the display and connect it with an HDMI cable to the computer. To do this, you need a suitable LVDS scaler. An example of such an alteration can be seen on YouTube.
If you want to mentally transport yourself to the 22nd century when you look in the mirror, then an old laptop will help you out. This is a more creative way to use the laptop display, but requires straight arms. In addition, you will need a Raspberry Pi with a built-in WiFi module, mirrored acrylic, the previously mentioned LVDS scaler, as well as tools and material for making a frame. Instructions in English can be found here.
WiFi signal repeater
To expand the WiFi coverage area, you need to place the laptop where it will confidently receive the signal. Then, using applications such as MyPublicWiFi or MaryFi, you can configure it to work as a WiFi repeater. Of course, an old router or specialized device is more suitable for this role, but it is quite reasonable to use a laptop as a temporary solution.
If the laptop is equipped with a relatively large hard drive, then it makes sense to use it as a simple NAS — a personal cloud where you can upload photos and videos from your smartphone via WiFi, for example. There are several ways to organize a NAS on a computer, but for low-power devices, installing the OpenMediaVault distribution as the operating system is most suitable.
PLEX media server
The Plex server can also be run on the aforementioned OpenMediaVault NAS, but if you don’t feel like reinstalling the operating system, then Plex will work under Windows as well. With this software, you can view photos and videos, as well as listen to music that is on your laptop’s hard drive, from any device on your home network, be it Smart TV, tablet or mobile phone.
Support for scientific projects
Computing power is what so many scientific projects lack, whether it is emulating protein folding in order to find new drugs or testing mathematical hypotheses. Non-commercial projects such as Folding@Home and Boinc have been created to help scientific research, with several hundred thousand users already joining. The computers connected to these projects create a single network, the total performance of which is comparable to the best modern supercomputers.
Turning into a Chromebook
On July 15, 2022, Google made the ChromeOS Flex operating system available to everyone. Although it does not have functionality comparable to Windows, it significantly increases the performance of outdated systems, making them suitable for Internet surfing and working with cloud services. Before installation, it is better to make sure that the device meets the minimum system requirements. Fortunately, they are quite low:
64-bit AMD or Intel processor;
4 GB of RAM;
16 GB of free hard disk space;
support for booting from USB drives.
This option is ideal for those cases when the performance of the laptop is sufficient for simple everyday tasks, but the screen and / or keyboard of the laptop was damaged, and the rest of the elements remained in working order. In this case, you can put the insides of a laptop in a homemade case and fix it on the back of a regular computer monitor, you get something like a candy bar.
Game server hosting
To run a CS 1.6 or Minecraft server to play with friends online, a lot of computing power is not required. To some, this will seem irrelevant, because in most modern games you cannot create your own servers, and access to the official ones is provided for free.
However, there are a number of popular projects such as Terraria or Starbound that have left players with the option of playing on a dedicated server. Valve’s developer community has a list of over 100 games available on Steam that support dedicated servers.
Some users believe that cameras on laptops must be sealed to prevent possible surveillance. However, you can set up the laptop camera yourself so that you can monitor children and pets remotely. Like an old smartphone, a laptop can become part of your video surveillance system, such programs as iSpy or Yawcam will help with this.