The performance of Windows Vista on my old HP laptop led me here to see if there were any ways to speed it up. pcpunk suggested I give Linux a try and that I should post here to get some help setting it up. I've settled on the Mint Distro and pcpunk recommended version 17.3 "Rosa" Cinnamon (64bit).
Here are the details on my HP: http://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c01574162
I'm posting this now at work on the West Coast so I won't be able to start the process until this evening.
In terms of tech savvy I'm about a 4.5/10 (no experience coding or programming but I can navigate Windows with zero issues) so I appreciate any assistance that can keep things fairly laymen for the moment.