How difficult is it to upgrade laptop components?

I gotta buy a laptop for law school, but the laptop makers MURDER you on memory prices. Dell charges $150 to go from 1Gb to 2GB while Newegg sells 2GB for $85. I’ve never owned a laptop, just how involved/dangerous of a process is swapping DIMMs?

Along similar lines, how difficult is it to upgrade a video card? Not that I plan on doing a ton of gaming(as it is, alas, d0med), but you never know what the future may bring.

My level of competence here is that I have no problem with removing hard drives or popping in a PCI card or the like from desktops, but tend to get gunshy on anything involving the CPU, motherboard, or power supply.

RAM is almost universally easily accessible. One or two screws for most laptops and you’ve got access to it. Never buy RAM from the laptop manufacturer. To paraphrase Leo in Lethal Weapon II, “They Fuck You With the Memory Upgrades!” For instance, Apple charges you up the ass for extra RAM, when you can get it for half the price at Crucial.

Are you talking about upgrading the video chip on the laptop? Can’t be done. Oh, there’s supposedly a mythical laptop out there that you can sodder a new chip onto, but I’ve never seen it. Besides which, there’s absolutely no retail market for laptop graphics chips, so good luck trying to find one.

Memory and hard drive are fairly easy to upgrade on 99.9% of laptops.

The rest, not so much, except in extremely rare cases that aren’t really worth talking about.

There are some laptops that have theoretically upgradable video/GPU daughtercards but there is no widely adopted industry standard for connection type, size, etc so in the end this usually ends up being a worthless feature. You’ll have a really hard time trying to find an upgrade card at a reasonable price since you’re vendor locked and the cards tend to be priced at levels where you might as well just buy a new laptop. Also, by the time you want to upgrade to a beefier videocard the vendor has probably already stopped official support of the laptop model you have and doesn’t even sell the upgrade cards anymore.

I really wish they would standardize the upgradable vid cards.