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When it comes to choosing which PC part or component to upgrade, it can be difficult to figure out the right path that will lead your PC to better performance. For this reason, we have decided to create a comprehensive guide to upgrading your PC.
The first question to ask yourself is what performance are you looking to gain from your PC? The answer that most people will say is they would like their PC to be faster.
However, there are many different factors to consider when it comes to upgrading your PC then just speed. Some people may want higher frame rates when gaming, better performance when streaming, video editing, or performing other demanding computing tasks. Therefore, those people would need to upgrade to a better CPU.
On the other hand, some people may just want to run multiple programs at once without lag and sluggishness in performance. Those people would just need to upgrade the amount of RAM in their system.
The point is that there are several different types of upgrades you can make to your PC. Below, we have recommended the most important of those upgrades that will help you acquire the PC performance you desire with only X amount available to spend.
Upgrade to an SSD for Faster Load Times
Upgrading your HDD (Hard Disk Drive) to an SSD (Solid State Drive) will result in noticeably shorter loading times leading to much faster PC performance. Also, the fact that SSD prices have decreased along with them being simple to install makes this upgrade a no-brainer.
By simply transferring your OS (Operating System) to an SSD your boot time from when you turn on your PC could go from around 1 min on an HDD to around 10 seconds. And the same shorter load times would also apply to any applications, files, and games you put on that SSD compared to the longer load and boot times of an HDD.
Over a period of a year, by upgrading from an HDD to an SSD, you could save yourself days in cumulated time wasted waiting for your PC and its programs to load. You will even notice better load times by just upgrading from a 5400 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) HDD to a 7200 RPM HDD.
Additionally, SSDs are more reliable and durable because they do not have moving parts like the disk of an HDD. And because SSDs do not have disks, you don’t have to deal with the fragmentation of your data. We recommend checking out this article by lifewire.com to learn more about the fragmentation of HDDs and how it slows your computer over time.
Upgrade Your RAM for Better Multitasking
RAM (random access memory) stores the data that your computer is actively using so that it can be accessed quickly. Therefore, the more RAM you have, the more programs your system can run at the same time. And the faster your system can remember and switch between those programs without it becoming sluggish and slow.
So, for those of you who like to have multiple programs and applications running at once, have 50 plus tabs open in your internet browser, edit videos, design graphics, play video games, and other resource-intensive tasks, upgrading your ram is a quick and easy way to speed up your computer.
Currently, DDR4 RAM is the optimal choice for your computer, though DDR5 RAM is on the horizon. And 8GB of RAM is the standard size for most PCs today. So, upgrading your RAM from 4GB to 8GB will make a noticeable difference in the ability of your PC to run multiple programs at once while remaining fast and responsive. Also, remember that RAM in dual channel (2x sticks) will run slightly faster than on single channel (1x stick) and that most motherboards only have 4 slots for a max size of 32GB of RAM.
Additionally, depending on how many resource-intensive programs you like to run (such as PC gaming, video editing, 3D rendering, compiling programs, and more), you will see even better performance by switching from 4GB or 8GB to 16GB of RAM. You can learn more about how RAM affects your PC’s performance here.
Upgrade Your Graphics Card for Better Visual Performance
For PC gamers specifically, if you already have at least 8GB of RAM and an SSD, another cheap and quick way to upgrade your gaming PC is to buy a better GPU and sell the old one (make sure the new GPU works before selling the old one).
For example, buying a graphics card such as the GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM for around $280 and selling your GTX 1050 Ti for about $150. This results in only about a $130 loss while gaining high to ultra-high graphical performance when gaming.
Based on which GPU you are upgrading to and from, not only could you notice a massive increase in framing rates, greater visual fidelity, and much smoother gameplay. But, you could also gain the ability to gaming at a 1440p or 4k resolution instead of 1080p.
However, it is important to consider the amount of power the GPU you are upgrading to requires. If you were thinking about upgrading to a GPU comparable to a GTX 1070 or better and you only have a 400W power supply in your system, you should then start thinking about upgrading your power supply as well.
Upgrade Your CPU (Central Processing Unit)
Upgrading your processor is a more time consuming and tedious task then the upgrades above. However, it is probably the most effective way to increase your PCs performance. Upgrading your CPU will lead to better performance when streaming, video editing, run multiple programs at once, higher frame rates when gaming and so on.
Obviously, the performance jump will vary depending on what CPU you are upgrading to and from. But, upgrading to a more recent CPU with more cores and threads will take your PC’s overall performance to the next level. In fact, by just switch from a core i3 or i5 to an i7 CPU within a given generation you will notice better PC performance.
A Key factor to consider when upgrading your CPU is to make sure that the new CPU is compatible with your motherboard’s socket. If not, the cost of a new motherboard to go along with that CPU will make this upgrade even more expensive. However, upgrading your CPU is still worth it as you stand to gain the most performance increase with this upgrade.
Upgrade Your PC’s Cooling
Sometimes the CPU cooler and or fans that came with your PC may not be adequate to properly cool your system. This can lead to higher system temperatures, damaged PC components, decreased PCs performance, and even cause distracting noises when your system is running. Therefore, if you are experiencing high temperatures, upgrading your CPU Cooler and or case fans is something that you should consider.
This upgrade should be taken into serious consideration especially if you overclock and or have a case with poor airflow. You should then consider a liquid-cooled PC rather than a standard air-cooled PC to keep your system at optimal temperatures.
With a better air cooler or liquid cooler, you will experience lower system temperatures which will protect your PC’s components from heat damage and allow your PC to run a lot cooler resulting in better PC performance.
Upgrade Your Power Supply
When it comes to PCs, most people tend to forget that the power supply is arguably the most important component. Yet, it is often overlooked by many looking to upgrade their PCs. The power supply is in a way the heart of your system and could damage the other PC components if it becomes old and or overworked.
Upgrading your power supply may be necessary if:
- You have upgraded other PC components such as your graphics card and or CPU that requires more power than your current PSU (Power Supply Unit)
- You are experiencing distracting groaning/vibrating noises from it
- Your PC sporadically reboots
- Your power supply is emitting a burning smell
- Your power supply is over 2 years or more in age
I remember when I had to upgrade my power supply because it was producing what seemed to be groaning sounds of which I could feel the vibrations from through my desk. It did take a couple of hours to replace that power supply. However, the upgrade was well worth it knowing that my PC components were no longer in jeopardy due to the voltage protects available with my new power supply. Check out our list of gaming power supplies under $50 for your PC.
Upgrade Your Peripherals
Upgrading your peripherals such as your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and headset can also make a huge difference in how your PC performs. What good is a GTX 1080 graphics card if your monitor is inadequate?
You can have the most amazing PC in the world, but if your peripherals are slow and of bad quality, you won’t be able to experience that PC to its fullest potential. Take a look at our peripherals page to view some of the best PC peripherals currently on the market.
PC Upgrade Guide Video by ScatterVolt:
It is important to remember some of these upgrades are costlier and or more time to consume than others. Therefore, you must take your time to really diagnose what type of performance increase you are looking to gain in addition to the amount of money and time you have available. We believe that the CPU, SSD, and RAM are the three most impactful upgrades you can make to your PC. We also hope that you find this article useful and good luck on your PC upgrades.