A Computer Upgrade For Your Budget

| February 3, 2011

The economy stinks. Your PC is slow. This is a depressing combination for someone who wants to play the latest games or watch TV on their computer. The computers that were out a few years ago are already struggling to keep up with the high demands of streaming video, online applications and video chat that is starting to take over the Internet. Your computer is old–but not that old. If you can relate to this, you should consider a computer upgrade.

A computer upgrade is not too difficult. Most people can do it relatively easy if they know what to buy. A computer is similar to a Lego set. It has hardware that snaps on and plugs into a main board. This board is the motherboard. You can add RAM, a new video card, a faster CPU or a new power supply in a few easy steps. There is a fine line, however, between the cost of upgrading an existing PC versus buying a new computer.

In most cases you will not upgrade the CPU, the case or DVD drives. With most PCs you’ll get the most performance boost by upgrading your RAM, video card and hard drive.

Learn What You Already Have Installed On Your Computer

Before you start spending money on upgrades, you first need to figure out what hardware and software your computer already has. You can do this by running software that indexes everything on your computer. One such free program is Belarc Advisor. Note the amount of RAM you have, the type of video card, the Operating System and the size of the hard drive, as these are the things we will be focusing on first.

upgrade your RAM to improve computer performanceUpgrade Your RAM

Your RAM is often the cheapest and most significant upgrade you can do to your computer. Most newer computer will ship with 2GBs of memory. Some older computers will only have 1GB. Upgrading the memory to your computer’s full potential will give it a tremendous speed boost. The best place to buy RAM if you do not know what to get is Crucial.com. They have a method of either scanning your computer or allowing you to put in your computer’s model to determine your existing RAM and the amount of RAM your computer can take. We recommend you allow it to scan your computer to be safe. The goal is to get your computer up to a respectable 4GBs.

upgrade your video card to improve computer performanceUpgrade Your Video Card

If you’re looking to play the best PC games or ditch your cable box and turn your computer into a DVR, you will want to upgrade your computer’s video card. Your current computer may only have onboard video graphics, which means the video adapter is permanently attached to the motherboard. Or you could have a video card, which means you can remove it and insert a better one. Even if you have an integrated graphics card, you likely have a slot for a new video card. If this is the case, upgrading your graphics will take some of the processing burden off of the CPU and improve the speed of your computer. Refer to the Belarc Advisor sheet to see what type of graphics adapter you have, or open the case and take a look.

Buy a TV Tuner card with HDMI PNY GeForce GT 220 1024 MB PCI-Express 2.0 DVI with HDMI and VGA Graphics Card

upgrade your computer's hard driveUpgrade Your Hard Drive

Upgrade your hard drive? That seems silly. Not really. If your current drive is low on capacity, you should upgrading to a larger drive. Having more space makes your hard drive run cooler and work less, as it has the room it need to move files around. If you’re low on space, your hard drive will chug as it works to managed the data you have on there and the data you’re trying to access. Transfer the data from the first drive to the new drive, then use the original drive as a backup drive after reformatting it. There are two main types of hard drives  based on their connectors: SATA and the older IDE. Make sure you buy one that is compatible with the inputs on your motherboard.

Buy a Seagate Barracuda 7200 1 TB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive

upgrade your power supply to improve computer performanceUpgrade Your Power Supply

Often times when upgrading to a new video card or hard drive you’ll also need a better power supply. Most power supplies that ship with major brand name computers are generic, cheap and destined to fail. You can easily add a modular power supply to your computer to improve overall capacity and ensure maximum airflow throughout your computer case. What is a modular power supply? Most power supplies are a tangle of wires–most of which are never used. A modular power supply allows you to add only the cables you need, thus freeing up space for hot air to be pulled up and out of your computer. A cool PC is a faster PC.

Buy a  Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650-Watt TX Series 80 Plus Certified Power Supply

upgrade to Windows 7Upgrade Your Operating System

You’re running Windows XP or Vista and it’s time to move on. Windows 7 is by far the best version of Windows to date. Forget the horror stories of Vista. Windows 7 is leaner and meaner and will make your computer more secure and faster than previous versions. If you’re running Vista, you should have no issues upgrading.

If you’re running XP, you’ll want to first run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to make sure your hardware is compatible with the new Operating System.

Buy Windows 7 Win 7 Home Premium Upgrade & Transfer Cable

Upgrade Your Accessories

A new monitor, mouse and keyboard is a simple way to rejuvenate your old PC. If you have an old tube monitor (CRT) it’s time to upgrade to an HD monitor. A large 20″ computer monitor will drastically improve your computing and online experience. In addition, a new wireless keyboard and mouse will give your computer that “new car” smell.

Buy a HP 2009M 20-Inch HD LCD Monitor

Buy a Microsoft Wireless Media Desktop 1000 (Black)

In conclusion,

Your computer may either be too old to upgrade or a prime candidate for an upgrade. Replacing slow, obsolete parts can be a lot cheaper than buying a new computer and can extend the life of your current PC a few more years. The best part is, these upgrades do not require a computer repair technician. If you read the instructions and take your time, your old PC can be upgraded to give you the performance and functionality you’ve been waiting for.

If you have any questions a computer upgrade, just join our free forums and ask.

Tags:

Category: Tips

Dave

About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Solid State Disk upgrades are now a real option too – check out the range at http://www.futurestorage.co.uk

    Great article BTW!