Upgrading a PC

Hardware Solutions to Improve Performance


Why Upgrade?

At some point you may realise that your computer could be a) upgraded or b) replaced, for various reasons. If, after uninstalling unnecessary software, getting rid of spyware, viruses and any other malware, and defragmenting the hard drive, the system still runs too slowly, it is time to consider one of the above options.

We took a brief look at the circumstances in which you might need to throw away your computer and buy a new one in our flow chart on the previous page under "System Maintenance." That is, what to do if the computer doesn't turn on, the screen display doesn't work, or the OS isn't operational. Now, let's determine what will actually make your computer run better, and how and why.

Possible Upgrades

  1. RAM: Putting more RAM into your computer is the easiest and most efficient way to improve performance. If you are looking for a quick boost, consider going from 4GB to 8GB, or if you are using resource-hungry programs often, 16GB.


    Figure 25: Loose RAM chips

  2. Graphics card: This one is often a must for gamers and whoever is using graphics-intensive programs like 3D rendering software. Often there is no reason to upgrade your graphics card, but if you do find reason to play a lot of games or do a lot of 3D modelling or animation, buying a new graphics card will improve your computer's performance significantly.

  3. Hard drive: "There are two reasons to upgrade your hard drive: you're running out of space or you want faster performance." (Makeuseof.com) In terms of getting faster performance out of the hard drive, it is advisable to buy one with a higher speed e.g. going from 5400 RPM to 7200 RPM. If you are running out of space on the hard drive, you may wish to consider storing your excess data on external media, or in the event that you actually want to upgrade your computer, buying a larger hard drive. Some of the largest hard drives on the market at the moment are:

    • Seagate - ST8000AS0002 8TB
    • Toshiba - 8TB X300
    • Western Digital - WD Red 8TB

    It is very common nowadays to install an SSD in a computer for higher speed; add that to a RAM upgrade and you can increase the working capacity of an older computer by a factor of several years. Thus, there is no reason not to recommend installing an SSD in an older computer for both increased storage space and higher performance. Shop around to see what's available...

  4. CPU: This is perhaps the least likely upgrade you will want to make on your computer, but it can have its benefits. It is important to know what you are doing before upgrading your processor: whether your motherboard takes an LGA or a PGA processor, and if you will need to buy a new motherboard. Do some research before upgrading your CPU.


    Figure 26: Top-of-the-line Intel i7-7500U Processor

© 2016-2020 Leo Coroneos
Certificate IV in Information Technology
South Regional TAFE, Albany WA Australia