The Lenovo L340 is a cheaper gaming laptop which offers serious value. In this guide I’ll show you how to upgrade everything in the L340, including the memory, Wi-Fi card, SSD, and hard drive and see what sort of performance differences these upgrades will make.
My L340 comes with an Intel i5-9300H processor and Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics.
Unfortunately neither of these components can be upgraded, so you have to buy it with the CPU and GPU that you need originally. Pretty much everything else can be upgraded though. First let’s open it up. This is done by simply removing 11 Phillips head screws and then prying around the edges.
The L340 has a single memory slot, and I bought mine with 8gb. This is a disadvantage as it means the laptop will not run in dual channel, which gives a performance boost in games, however we can still increase to say 16gb which will be beneficial if you’re hitting the limits of 8gb.
To remove the old memory stick, first take off the metal cover if there is one, then simply pull out the two tabs on the sides and remove the stick. Installation is easy, the stick can only install one way, so insert it on a slight angle and push it in until the side clips click in to hold it in place.
Both my old and new stick ran at DDR4-2400 CL17, so no difference in speeds here, just size.
The Wi-Fi card that I’ve got installed supports up to Wi-Fi 5, or 802.11ac. I bought a newer Wi-Fi 6 card for less than $20, so a cheap upgrade for faster network connectivity, assuming your wireless access point supports it. Not an issue if it doesn’t though, it will just run at a lower speed if required. Note that the cables to the Wi-Fi card are colored differently, these need to be taken off and installed back in the same order. Simply pull off the cables, unscrew the single screw holding the card in and pull out the Wi-Fi card. Now reverse the process with the new Wi-Fi card, stick it in the slot with the antenna bits facing up, screw it in place, and put the cables back in the same position.
Next up we’ll look at installing a 2.5” drive, this can be either a hard drive or a faster SSD, which ever you like. Unfortunately if you buy the L340 from Lenovo, they do not include the mounting hardware or cable to connect the drive to the motherboard in the box.
After contacting Lenovo about this, they quoted me over $200 AUD to get the required parts, so about $130 USD, which is more than the price it would have been if I just bought the laptop with an extra drive. If you haven’t bought yet, it may be worth buying it with the drive just so you don’t have to go through this process.
With that said, I was able to buy the drive mounting kit and cable from eBay for about $23 USD. To install it, you first need to uninstall the M.2 storage drive as it’s in the way. The process is similar to the Wi-Fi card, take out the single screw and pull it out. Underneath the M.2 SSD there is the port on the motherboard to connect the SATA cable that I got with the drive mounting kit.
There’s a little black tab on it which needs to be pulled up then place the cable inside with pins facing down and push the black tab down to secure the cable in place.
From here you need to screw the drive into the caddy, screw that into the laptop, and connect the cable that we just attached to the motherboard to the drive. This cable carries both SATA and power, so nothing else is needed. My cable was a little long, so I had to fold it underneath the drive which should be fine, just don’t full on right angle bend it.
For the actual drive I’m using a 1 TB Samsung 850 Evo SSD, but you can use whatever you like.
At this point you can reinstall the original M.2 SSD drive if you’re not upgrading that. Mine was just a small 256gb SSD, so I’ve instead chosen to take the opportunity to upgrade it to the MP33 from Teamgroup, a 1 TB M.2 NVMe drive which is not only 4 times larger than the original drive, but also substantially faster in both read and write speeds.
My smaller M.2 drive is so small that it has this metal bracket to make it longer so it can be screwed in place, that wasn’t needed with my new one as it was the normal size. Note that if you’re installing a new SSD and replacing the original drive, you’ll either need to download and reinstall Windows, or otherwise migrate it from the old drive to the new drive with a secondary system. I just went with a fresh installation, Windows update will take care of installing most of our drivers, and you can download the Lenovo Vantage software from Lenovo directly which will apply any other needed updates, such as BIOS.
At this point we’ve upgraded everything possible, the Wi-Fi, RAM, and storage space, so just put the bottom panel back on and screw it in, or leave the screws out until you boot up and confirm everything is working, that way if there’s an issue it’s easier to get back inside to double check everything or swap components back if needed to troubleshoot. I’ve already shown the performance difference the new drives made, now let’s see if the extra memory actually helped improve gaming performance at all in a few games.
We’re not expecting an FPS increase as a result of improved storage, it might help load assets in faster though, but for the most part this is to see if going from 8gb to 16gb made a difference. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games built in benchmark tool. I’ve got the upgraded machine shown by the red bars, and the stock machine before upgrading in the purple bars. Between max and medium settings there was only a 1 FPS improvement in this game, however at lowest there was an 8% boost. Fortnite was tested using the replay feature, with the same replay file used before and after the memory upgrade. Again the differences were minimal at higher setting levels, however at low the upgraded L340 was 5% faster in terms of average FPS. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the games benchmark using Vulkan, the differences were quite small here for average FPS, with a slightly bigger improvement noted to the 1% low performance.
In terms of gaming performance, at least for the titles tested, going from 8gb to 16gb didn’t matter too much, it will of course vary greatly based on how much RAM a game requires to operate though.
I’ve attempted to boost performance by undervolting the CPU, I’ve done this by -0.1v here however in this machine with this game I was actually getting worse performance. Outside of gaming we’ve now got lots more and faster storage, along with faster Wi-Fi. You could replace the battery if you’re able to buy a new one from Lenovo or elsewhere, I’m not aware of larger batteries for this machine though, so it would likely just be a case of swapping in a new one if the old one isn’t lasting as long as it used to.
We could also change the thermal paste, however I haven’t done that here as I want to keep mine stock for a possible future thermal paste comparison. Overall I think the upgrades available here are pretty decent, the downsides are of course that the L340 is still limited to single channel memory due to only having one slot, so even if we upgrade the total size, unless you’re actually limited by the total space this is unlikely to help much.
Adding more storage will probably be more useful to most people, unfortunately Lenovo makes it expensive to get the drive mounting kit officially, so you’ll probably be better off looking elsewhere for that if you didn’t buy your L340 with a 2.5” drive. These upgrades should help get some extra life out of your machine, I hope the guide was useful.