Looking to upgrade your Chromebook? Want to add more storage or RAM? Not sure if you even can?
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What determines whether or not you can swap parts
- A list of all Chromebooks that can be upgraded
- How to add more storage or RAM
- The process of upgrading a Chromebook
- Common Chromebooks that can’t be upgraded
- Other ways to get more performance out of your laptop
- And more
Whether you’re looking to get more performance out of your laptop or just extend the usability of it, you should have your questions answered by the end of this page.
If you find any errors, or I missed a Chromebook, let me know! Or if you have any questions, ask me.
Sound good? Let’s beef up your device!
Which Chromebooks can be upgraded?
Planning to buy a Chromebook to upgrade it? Heard that they’re very underpowered machines and want to circumvent this by plugging in upgraded parts?
I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but if you’ve read any credible sources online, you’ll already know that Chromebooks really are made for upgrading.
(But we’ll still cover the few models that CAN be upgraded.)
The majority of Chromebooks out there can’t be upgraded because they utilize proprietary parts that are completely soldered onto the motherboard.
Unless you know how to use a soldering iron, you’ll probably break something. Or brick your Chromebook. Or both.
This is why I suggest only doing this on a used Chromebook that you picked up for cheap. Besides, you can’t do this on a newer model anyway.
- Chromebooks after 2012 have soldered RAM, which means they can’t be upgraded.
- Chromebooks after 2015 have non-removable SSDs, which means they can’t be swapped.
So basically, if you want to upgrade the RAM, you’ll need a Chromebook made before 2012 and only a particular model.
And if you want to upgrade the SSD, you’ll need a Chromebook made before 2015. And not all will actually be upgradable.
We’ll cover the few models that are highly upgradable if you really plan to do this.
This will void any and all warranties
Doing any upgrades void the manufacturer’s warranty and most likely the retailer’s warranty and any extended warranty you may have purchased.
This should be obvious, but I just wanted to let those who may be attempting to upgrade their device to extend their life or get more performance out of it and aren’t tech junkies.
Also, Chromebooks are rated to their default factory specs. When you add additional high-performance parts, all previous testing conditions for spaces, temperature, durability, battery, etc. are all null.
Simply put: Don’t expect the same performance as prior when you start changing the parts. You may upgrade the RAM but suddenly lose battery performance.
Or you may upgrade the SSD, but suddenly lose all your data because the drive you used was garbage. There are many different possibilities, so tread carefully.
On the plus side, the only Chromebooks that can even be upgraded are at least 5-8 years old now.
So they likely are used and don’t have any warranties at all that are active. Not to mention that warranties may not transfer from owner to owner, so there’s that fact.
As with any DIY project, you should do your homework before attempting any hardware swap.
The material here is for educational purposes strictly and is not guaranteed to be accurate. You need to be careful when attempting to do any upgrades.
Read up and do your research on protecting yourself and your device as you’re dealing with electrical components.
These parts can be a hazard to yourself and others who may utilize the device. You may also end up bricking, destroying, or otherwise rendering your Chromebook useless if you do it wrong.
Always take it to a certified professional if you have any doubts or are unsure about what you’re doing.
You are fully responsible for all direct and indirect consequences. Proceed at your own risk.
Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to the list.
List of Chromebooks that can be upgraded
Here’s the master list of all the upgradeable Chromebooks on the market (that I could find).
Some of them have an upgradeable SSD and others have both RAM and SSD.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page go to Amazon, where I may earn a small commission if you buy something. This doesn’t affect the integrity of the list because it’s either upgradeable or it isn’t. My thoughts and opinions aren’t affected in any regard.
Please let me know if you find any errors, or if I missed any and I’ll add them to the list.
Or if you’re not sure about a particular Chromebook, ask me by leaving a comment!
Acer C710 series
The Acer C710 is the most “moddable” Chromebook and tops the list of many scrappers’ lists.
This particular model features a base SSD of 16GB and 2GB of RAM. It was first released back in 2012 and thus allows both hardware components to be swappable. There are a few models such as the C710-2834 and C710-2856.
The RAM can be upgraded to 4GB- doubling the default amount. And the SSD can also be hot-swapped for whatever you can fit in the tiny form factor.
The onboard CPU is an Intel Dual-Core Celeron running at 1.5GHz with a 2MB L3 cache supporting 64-bit processing. The default RAM is a 2GB DDR3 stick with a SO-DIMM 204-pin connector.
The C710 has an 11.6” display with an 1366 x 768-pixel resolution at 135.1 PPI and a glossy finish rather than matte. The onboard battery is advertised to run for 4 hours at 2500mAh.
For a Chromebook proven to be swappable, this is it. The Acer C710’s RAM module and SSD storage capacity can easily be upgraded.
Of course, it’s nearly 9 years old by now, so the design of the machine is definitely showing. Plus, you won’t find this sold as “new” anymore, so you’re forced to buy it.
Check out the Acer C710 on Amazon.
Here’s a video tutorial:
The process is actually pretty easy once you take it apart.
The RAM is accessible and not a pain to disassemble, unlike the HP 14.
Acer 720 series
Another Acer, another upgradeable device.
The Acer C720 can be upgraded, but only the SSD. The RAM is soldered into the motherboard, so you won’t be able to do anything about that.
The C720 has a 2GB and 4GB version, so you can hunt down the 4GB model and then swap out the SSD for a larger drive.
The model numbers are:
- 2GB: C720-2848
- 4GB: C720-2800
You can easily upgrade the SSD to a 64GB or 128GB drive. The SSD you’re replacing it with MUST use the M.2 NGFF standard.
Be sure to buy the right standard as it won’t be compatible with any other type.
The NGFF form factor is a newer standard that’s smaller than an mSATA card and isn’t as easy to find.
- The recommended SSD for the C720 by enthusiasts is the 2242 (42mm) M.2 NGFF MyDigitalSSD, which you can check out on Amazon here.
- Another popular SSD is the Transcend 128GB 42mm M.2, which you can see on Amazon here.
This seems to be the “go-to” drive that’s fully compatible with this model, and it’s a whopping 128GB so you have a lot of wiggle room should you decide to get Linux.
The process is super easy. You need to remove the screws, disconnect the default SSD, and swap it out for the new one.
Of course, use anti-static gloves, mats, and all the other precautions so you don’t destroy the components. If you’ve done this before, you already know about electrostatic discharge, using a clear workstation, fully discharging the battery, etc.
Always take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your device. You can seriously hurt yourself or brick your Chromebook if you don’t do it right.
And of course, if you don’t know what you’re doing or have the slightest doubt, don’t do it. Take it to a computer shop for a professional swap. Proceed at your own risk.
Here’s a video demo of the process in detail:
The 4GB version (C720-2800) has enough onboard memory for basic applications, but if you plan to load Linux onto the C720, you’ll feel extremely limited with just the 16GB SSD.
So the upgrade will definitely benefit the possibilities of this laptop.
Keep in mind that you’ll be spending some cash to upgrade this.
Consider the amount you need to put in for the SSD and the Chromebook overall compared to just buying one with better specs out of the box.
But, if you’re a DIY junky, you’ll enjoy the experience. Go for it.
Then you can whoop some behind. On a Chromebook.
Or you can read my quick review about it.
HP Chromebook 14
The older HP Chromebook 14’s SSD can be upgraded.
There are tons of different models and SKUs out there, and only a specific range of them can actually be swapped.
Look for these SKUs to start with:
Chromebooks have slowly evolved into MacBooks with soldered-on components since 2012. Thus, this makes it a lot harder to upgrade, let alone find compatible parts to upgrade.
However, the HP 14 needs an entire teardown just to upgrade, which makes it a pain to swap out parts. I’d stick to the Acer C720 or C710 just to save the headache.
But if you insist on taking the time to disassemble nearly the entire mobo and want to use it as a learning experience, then more power to you. You can add more storage to your Chromebook, but it’ll take some work.
If you already own one of the older HP 14s, you can add new life to the device by replacing the drive. The RAM is soldered on, so sadly that makes RAM additions not an option for most.
There’s also one particular model that has two RAM slots- the HP Chromebook 14 Pavilion (14-C050nr). You can add more storage by changing the SSD and also add a RAM stick.
Here’s a tutorial:
However, the white, green, and pink are upgradable, but the black one isn’t.
You can choose from 2 or 4GB when you buy it, so you should opt for the 4GB one since it’s soldered on leaving you stuck with the RAM choice you chose forever.
There are a TON of different models, but these are the ones you need to look for:
Check out the HP 14 on Amazon.
Toshiba Chromebook 2
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is another option out there that can be upgraded (only the SSD).
At first, I found that some people mentioned that the teardown is difficult. So then I was thinking to ditch this one altogether.
Plus, I couldn’t find much supporting documentation online. So I was planning to avoid Toshiba even if they’re cheap just because most people won’t know what they’re doing.
But then, upon further research, it’s really not as difficult as it seems. All you need to do is to take off the bottom panel as with any other hardware swap.
Unscrew the mounting screw. Take out the old SSD. add the new SSD diagonally so it fits correctly. Then secure the mounting screw. That’s all there is to it.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 was made in 2015 that has an upgradeable SSD.
The model number that you want to look for is CB35-C3300 or CB35-C3350. They both have M.2 2242 slots that can be replaced with a newer drive.
You can upgrade to a 120GB or 256GB drive in just a few minutes as long as you have a compatible drive. They use M.2 connectors, so any modern SSD with the 2242 M.2 SATA right plugins should work.
Remember that the 2014 Toshiba 2 is an eMMC drive, which means that it’s NOT replaceable because it’s soldered onto the mobo. Avoid this model (CB35-C3340).
The 2015 version works. The 2014 version doesn’t.
You can check Amazon for the Toshiba 2.
Here’s a detailed tutorial of the swap.
Dell Chromebook 13
Another popular choice, the Dell Chromebook 13 can be upgraded into a beast of a device because of the default factory specs that it comes with.
The 7310 series SSD can be scrapped for a larger drive.
There are 3 different CPUs that the Dell comes in:
- Intel Celeron 3215U
- Intel Core i3 5005U
- Intel Core i5
If you plan to get the most out of your upgrade, you should opt for the i3 or i5. They run circles around the base Celeron CPU, not to mention the additional cores you get. Get the older Haswell or Broadwell CPU chipsets only.
The Bay Trail and Skylake chipsets are soldered-down.
You can also load up to 8GB by default.
Plus, this Chromebook has touchscreen input already, so you can really make this into a powerhouse. The SSD can be upgraded and the process isn’t difficult.
Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571)
This Acer can be swapped out for a new SSD.
Be sure to do your homework as with any other model on this list. The default version comes in both 16 or 32GB variants, but you can upgrade to a 64, 128, or 256GB SSD.
Even more confusingly, there are multiple CB5-517 models:
Both of them seem to have confirmation that the SSD can be upgraded.
Acer specifically states on the product QA section that they don’t condone this and their quality/warranty only covers the default drive. Of course, this should be common sense.
The Acer CB5-571 has a huge screen and the upgrade process is straightforward similar to the other devices listed. It requires a teardown to access the SSD M.2 slot.
Similar to other Chromebooks, you’ll have to take off the bottom panel, unscrew the mounting screw, swap out the SSD, replace the drive, screw it back on, and put the panel back on.
As long as you have the proper form factor and connector, you should be okay.
Be sure you have the Broadwell CPU, NOT the Baytrail one as that one can’t be upgraded. You have a choice of MyDigitalSSD or a Transcend drive, as long as it’s an M2 42mm form factor.
Acer Chromebook 15 (C910-C453)
The Acer C910’s SSD can be expanded. You can swap the drive for another short M2 SSD. The RAM is soldered.
This Chromebook has a few different SKUs and comes in plenty of different configurations. If you’re planning to upgrade the parts, you might as well opt for the best specs you can get.
The C910 has both a Core i3 and i5 version and 2GB or 4GB of RAM. You’ll want to get the latter if possible so you can max out the performance.
What’s the point of upgrading the SSD if you’re going to be limited by bottlenecked RAM or CPU performance?
You can see the Acer C910 on Amazon here.
Can Chromebooks be upgraded?
There are two things you need to know.
- Newer Chromebooks can’t be upgraded (both the RAM and SSD).
- Older Chromebooks MAY be upgraded (some models allow RAM upgrades, some allow SSD upgrades, some allow both).
If you want to replace the parts, you’ll need to find a Chromebook made back in 2012 for RAM or 2015 for SSD as mentioned above.
- Only the earliest Haswell and Broadwell chipset Chromebooks have an upgradeable SSD/HDD.
- Braswell (Acer R11), Skylake, and Bay Trail chipset Chromebooks have completely soldered-on hardware and thus not upgradeable.
If you know how to solder SMC 204 pin chips, then yes, you can upgrade. For the vast majority of people, this won’t be a possibility unless you risk trashing your system.
All newer models are soldered on, so you really can’t swap out the RAM or SSD.
How do I update my old Chromebook?
Follow the video tutorials linked above.
Do your homework and research various forums and tutorials to see the process. Since each model is different, the process varies.
You’ll want to do your research and make sure that:
- The model you have can indeed be upgraded
- You have the right parts that are compatible with your motherboard
- You verified that the mobo and SSD have the right form factor
- You verified that the RAM has the right pin connector
- You assessed that you’ll have enough power to run the new device
- You have all the necessary tools, equipment, static mats, protection, etc.
- You understand that you can possibly brick your device if you screw up
- You know what you’re doing
Typically, swapping parts is relatively easy.
For the upgrade-friendly models like the Acer 7xx series, the process is usually as you’d expect:
- Lay out your protective equipment (anti-static mat, gloves, clean workstation, etc.)
- Use a Phillips screwdriver and remove the 18+ screws on the bottom panel
- Put the screws somewhere safe
- Remove the panel and place it aside
The SSD involves a few steps:
- Find the SSD and remove the screw mounting
- Remove the SATA connector
- Remove the old SSD
- Put in the new SSD (some models require a diagonal insertion)
- Connect the SATA connector
- Screw in the mounting screw
RAM is straightforward:
- Remove the old RAM sticks
- Plug in the new RAM sticks
- Put the bottom panel back on
- Put the screws back into place
- Power up your Chromebook and run a system check to see if it detects the new SSD/RAM
This is the general outline of an upgrade. Remember that the process varies depending on the device you have.
Can I add an SSD to Chromebook?
Yes, some models allow you to add a larger SSD to your Chromebook to get more storage space.
This will only be the older models made before 2015.
As of 2016, Chromebook manufacturers started to solder-on the hardware components which makes adding, swapping, or replacing any parts not possible.
Even if you’re skilled with a soldering iron and do a complete teardown, chances are that it’s not worth your time.
Because of this reason, stick with the older models if you’re inclined to do some modifications to your laptop.
Or if you have an older Chromebook and you’re trying to extend the life of it, an SSD swap can be a possible remedy. Though, I’d assume getting more RAM would help more than getting more storage space.
Can you add more memory (RAM) to a Chromebook?
Yes, for models made before 2012 (technically it was the Acer C710 back in 2013). It’s 2020 now as I’m typing this, so you’re going to be looking for a used Acer C710 or a similar Chromebook.
Upgrading the RAM has a much more noticeable impact on your system’s overall performance.
Check out the list of upgradeable Chromebooks above that allow you to add more memory and storage.
Is it more worth it to upgrade RAM or SSD?
Changing the SSD to a higher capacity drive doesn’t do anything unless you were running low on space in the first place.
Linux programs can eat up space quickly and a 16GB SSD won’t cut it for powerusers. For the casual user who utilizes cloud providers or doesn’t need a ton of apps on their system, a RAM upgrade will allow double the multitasking.
This will show an instant improvement in performance- your system will be snappier, programs and apps launch faster, and you can have multiple programs running simultaneously.
Other ways you can upgrade your Chromebook
If you have a newer Chromebook (made after 2015) and can’t swap out the RAM or SSD, there are some other things you can do to increase performance.
Here’s a neat trick you can do to get more RAM without actually changing the hardware.
- Launch the command prompt by pressing “CTRL + ALT + T”
- Type the following command:
- “swap enable 2000”
- Reboot the device
This will activate swap memory, which is basically allowing an extra 2GB of virtual RAM (VRAM) by using your SSD space. In other words, you’re dedicating 2GB of your storage space to be used as RAM. you should see an instant performance boost.
Of course, if you’re running low on storage space, you should avoid doing this as that will impair your system’s performance overall.
But for those who have space to spare and want to put it to use, you can squeeze out more performance by using the swap space.
Note that you can also adjust the amount of memory swap space you want to allocate by changing the values.
- swap enable 4000 will allocate 4GB of storage space to be used as RAM
- swap enable 6000 will allocate 6GB of storage space to be used as RAM
Swap memory isn’t as fast as an actual dedicated RAM module, but it’s still better than nothing. This is a handy trick you can do if you have plenty of SSD space and want to use it to your advantage.
For Chromebooks where the SSD can be upgraded but not the RAM, this will give you some more virtual memory to speed up your device.
The maximum swap space you can allocate on a Chromebook is 6GB.TL;DR: Allocate more RAM to your Chromebook by using swap memory.
Reduce the number of Chrome extensions
This is another overlooked solution.
Since Chromebooks largely rely on the Chrome Browser to do the bulk of their work, the number of extensions you have running in the background can really add up in time wasted.
For example, let’s say you have an extension that automatically uses coupon codes at checkout, yet you only shop online twice a month.
(Want to get the fastest Chromebook possible? Here are some other ways to speed up Chrome.)
This means every single web page you visit, the extension is running in the background and scanning the page to see if there are any applicable codes. Or even if you’re on an ecommerce store. That’s a lot of checks.
Over time, a half-second delay here and a half-second there really starts adding up. You’d be surprised at the time aggregate over a month just from a single extension.
Of course, every extension acts differently depending on how it was coded. Some are efficient. Some aren’t. Maybe some coupon code checkers don’t check every single page. I’m just exaggerating for an example.
The point is that the more extensions you have, the slower Chrome will run.
Add in dual-booting with Linux and you’re really putting a heavy load on your Chromebook.
So, consider combing through your entire extensions list and deleting the ones you never or rarely use. Or just add them back when you need them.
Sure, it’s a pain to search for it and add it back to Chrome just to use it for a few minutes.
But if you only need it once a month, which wastes more time?
Finding it on the Chrome Web Store and adding it back to Chrome, or having it run nonstop in the background and slowing everything down by a few milliseconds here and there?
For those who don’t know how, here’s the process to delete extensions from Chrome:
- Start Chrome.
- Type in “chrome://extensions” in the address bar.
- Comb through the list and find the extensions you don’t use.
- Click on “Remove” to delete it from the browser.
Expand storage using an SD card
Can’t replace the SSD? Consider just doing it the easy way and adding more storage by using an SD card.
Chromebooks equipped with a card reader can be utilized by just plugging in a compatible microSD card. I suggest using the cards over thumb drives because thumb drives stick out too much to be practical.
SD cards will stick out a few millimeters, but small enough to leave in the slot to be a “permanent” storage drive. SD cards are also a lot faster than thumb drives and you can even load Linux onto them or run Steam games from an SD card.
If you really want to eliminate the card sticking out and minimize the possibility of accidentally bumping it, get an SDHC card (typically used on smartphones) and an SD to MicroSD adaptor.
There are also micro USB flash drives that are made to be thin and portable.TL;DR: Upgrade your storage space by using an SD card if you can’t swap the SSD.
Can my Chromebook be upgraded?
Some readers have asked specifically about “can the be upgraded?”
Here’s a list I compiled of ones that can’t because they’re hardwired, soldered-on, or some other reason that prevents parts from being swapped out.
These models can’t be upgraded:
- Samsung Chromebook 3 (SSD and RAM)
- HP Chromebook 11 (SSD and RAM)
- Acer Chromebook r11 (SSD and RAM)
- Acer Chromebook r13 (SSD and RAM)
- Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532-C47C) (SSD and RAM)
Did you power up your Chromebook?
That’s all I have for ya.
The process of upgrading a Chromebook isn’t hard (for the most part).
Securing a device that allows you to do so is key.
Whether you’re looking to get more out of your laptop or you’re just looking for a hobby project, you should have a solid foundation by now!
I hope you got some use out of this guide. If you found it helpful, please let me know =].
If you have any questions (such as “can my Chromebook be upgraded?”) as always, post a comment and let me know!
Or if you have any advice about this topic, feel free to share your words of wisdom with fellow Chromies.
Thanks for reading!