What Should I Upgrade on My PC?

If your computer has slowed down and isn’t fast enough to accomplish what you need, you can’t run the latest games anymore, or it seems to struggle when multitasking, it might be time to upgrade your PC. Instead of buying a whole new computer, you can upgrade components like random access memory (RAM), storage space, and even your graphics card to improve performance.

Here are the three most essential PC upgrades and other upgrades you may want to consider, as well as tips for speeding up your PC.

Add More Memory

Adding more RAM, or upgrading to faster RAM, is usually the most cost-effective way to upgrade your PC. It provides the highest return on investment in terms of how much it costs compared to the potential performance gains, and it’s useful for gaming, media creation, and multitasking, so it’s something that everyone can benefit from.

If your computer is running slow, switching between windows, or freezes or crashes a lot, upgrading your RAM may fix the problem. Editing images and video, gaming, working on spreadsheets, and other memory-intensive activities will all tend to speed up when enough RAM is available or slow to a crawl when the system doesn’t have enough memory.

Adding more RAM is one of the easiest upgrades you can perform on a desktop PC, and it’s one of the only real upgrades you can perform on a laptop—if your laptop has replaceable RAM. RAM comes in the form of sticks or small circuit boards with chips that plug into your PC motherboard.

If you aren’t sure what your RAM situation is, start by checking out how much RAM you have. You can then determine if you have enough RAM or if you need more. Here are some rough guidelines:

  • Basic use: If your PC has less than 4GB of RAM, you should upgrade. Even if you only perform basic tasks like surfing the web and sending email, you need at least 4GB to get even the most basic jobs done.
  • Gaming and media creation: If you game or work with image and video editing software, you need at least 8GB of RAM. This is usually sufficient for mid-range gaming and photo editing, but you may need more if your system slows down or freezes a lot.
  • More intense uses: For high-end gaming and working with large media editing projects, you’ll need 16GB or more. 

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Upgrade Your Graphics Card

Graphics cards are necessary for mid- and high-end gaming and media creation, so this should be on your upgrade list if you’re a gamer, 3D animator/modeler, or video editor. This is a pricey upgrade that not everyone needs, so it’s important to consider how you use your PC before investing in a new graphics card.

PC manufacturers often save money by using lower-end graphics cards or even relying on integrated graphics. That’s because basic integrated graphics provide a high enough level of performance for basic tasks and activities like surfing the web, streaming 4K video, and even low-end gaming. If you don’t need to play the latest games at the highest settings, and you don’t need to use 3D animation and modeling software, then you may not benefit a lot from this upgrade.

If you’re a gamer and have noticed that you can’t play new games at the highest settings anymore, then a graphics card update is exactly what you’re looking for. Upgrading your graphics card will also speed up editing videos, using 3D design software, and even running AI models like Stable Diffusion.

Install a Faster Storage Device

Installing a new storage drive is an excellent upgrade to pursue if you’re having slow performance issues or you’re out of storage space. The benefits you’ll see from this upgrade will depend on the type of storage device you already have, but replacing a slow hard drive or adding a second drive that’s faster and larger will always result in performance increases.

If your computer only has a hard disk drive (HDD), upgrading to a solid state drive (SSD) will increase performance. SSDs are much faster than HDDs, so you’ll notice shorter load times in Windows, apps, and games and better performance in applications that deal with large files like photo and video editing. If you already have an SSD, adding a faster one—like an N2 NVMe—will improve your overall performance, but not quite as much as switching from an HDD to an SSD.

Your operating system should be installed on your fastest drive for the best performance. So, if you have an old HDD and add an SSD to your PC, you won’t see substantial performance increases if your operating system remains on the HDD.

One money-saving tactic is to have an SSD for your operating system, games, and apps that require fast data access and then store media and other large files on a slower drive. Hybrid drives also provide a good balance of speed and storage size if you can’t afford a large SSD.

Upgrade Your Processor

This upgrade can provide huge performance boosts, but it’s expensive and more challenging than the other upgrades, and it isn’t always an option. To upgrade your processor, you need a motherboard that will accept a more powerful processor, which isn’t always the case. To determine if this is an option, you need to find out what motherboard you have, see what chipset it accepts, and then investigate the available CPU options. You’ll then need to compare the processors to see if the performance increase would be worth the investment.

If you already have the most powerful processor that your motherboard can handle, then upgrading the processor also means upgrading the motherboard. That’s a very complicated upgrade because the new motherboard may not work with your existing RAM, and you will also need to transfer your storage drives, graphics card, and any other expansion cards from the old motherboard to the new motherboard.

Keep Your Software Updated

Upgrading software, like Windows 10 to Windows 11, doesn’t always improve performance. However, keeping your current software updated is essential, as incremental updates often provide bug fixes and other changes that can help improve performance or at least prevent a degradation in performance.

If you’ve noticed your PC slowing down over time, it’s worth checking to ensure that your operating system, apps, and utilities are up to date. You can also tweak Windows 10 to make it faster if you haven’t yet upgraded.

What Other PC Parts Can You Upgrade?

There are a lot of other PC components that you can upgrade and hardware that you can add to your PC, but they won’t all increase performance. For example, upgrading your motherboard can give you access to more expansion slots, allow you to install a more powerful processor, and provide other benefits, but adding a new motherboard won’t increase your performance in and of itself.

If you’re looking for other upgrades, you might want to consider how you use your PC and what kind of improvements you’re looking for. You might consider adding an expansion card with more USB 3.0 ports if your PC doesn’t have enough ports for all your peripherals, upgrading your monitor if you’re a gamer or artist, adding new speakers or a subwoofer if you’re a music enthusiast, or upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 if your home network supports it.

By 111 Tech

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