Should you upgrade your PC if it's not broken?
Ryan Scholes, Service Desk Engineer, Fabric IT
Every PC, whether it’s a desktop or laptop, has a lifespan. It may be something going wrong or just that it’s getting slower due to age. There comes a time when you have to bite the bullet and futureproof yourself with a replacement.
We have all heard “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and to a certain extent, this can be true.
A lot goes into the decision; budget, age, specification, the reason for the upgrade (and if it can be resolved another way), to name a few. These are all things that need to be considered before deciding where you go next.
The best place to start is to think about how old the PC is, if you have a slow computer from 2002 running Windows XP, chances are it’s time to let it go.
If you’re running a PC that’s only a year or two old which has a decent specification, it may be worth thinking about an upgrade or two. Especially if you’re running a modern operating system like Windows 10 which will still be receiving updates from Microsoft.
There’s more, computers sometimes have a mind of their own and can have issues that don’t relate to age. A PC could have an underlying processor issue which limits performance, you could spend money upgrading the memory and hard drive to find there’s no increase in performance due to the processor issue. For that reason, it’s always best to speak to your IT provider first to check which upgrades would be best, or whether a replacement is the best route for your specific situation.
What should I upgrade?
There are two parts which are the main things you can upgrade on a PC: SSD’s and RAM. Other components can be updated too, but newer processors may not fit on older motherboards, so upgrades can be more expensive and often not cost-effective when compared to replacing with a new one. As for other upgrades like graphics cards, they don’t always mean performance increase for most peoples workloads, unless you’re working with applications which do a lot of graphical processing.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
Probably currently the most popular upgrade option due to the low cost and performance increase they give, SSD’s are an excellent option for computers with slow hard drives or hard drive failures. An SSD is sometimes a direct replacement for a hard drive, but can also be used alongside it. They do the same job, but do it much faster and have no moving parts. In a lot of cases, an SSD can take a computers boot time including loading all applications from taking 2 minutes to taking just 20-25 seconds and can also increase general performance too.
The other of the two most common upgrades is a memory upgrade. You may hear some people refer to this as RAM (random access memory). RAM is used by your computer to run applications. Running more applications use more memory, and modern applications now use more than ever. For this reason, older computers may start to struggle with high memory usage, and a memory upgrade would be the route to go down if this is the case.
Memory is one of the less expensive parts for your PC, decent modern PC’s usually come with a minimum of 8GB, but a lot of older machines have only 1/2/4GB which can run out quite quickly if you have a lot of applications open.
Both of these parts can be replaced for a reasonably low cost, and each increases performance differently. If your PC is just slow, but memory usage is not too high, then it’s worth looking at an SSD. If your PC runs fine generally but goes slow and has high memory usage when you have a lot of necessary applications open, it may be worth looking at a memory upgrade.
When should I consider a replacement?
Replacing your PC is more expensive than merely upgrading, but sometimes it’s necessary and is a better idea. If you have a PC that you’re looking to either upgrade or replace, here are some key things consider when making that decision:
Some examples of ongoing problems would be graphics issues, high CPU usage, temperature issues, etc that may cost extra to fix. In this situation, a replacement may be the better option once you factor everything in. It’s best to think about the root cause and reason why you’re thinking of upgrading or replacing your PC. Will cost-effective upgrades resolve this?
2. Operating system
If your PC is on Windows 7 or earlier, it’s no longer supported by Microsoft. This is worth considering as these updates are essential for security and general performance of your PC. Operating system upgrades can be costly and the cost of this plus upgrades could go towards a new PC.
Think about the other parts of your PC that won’t be a part of your upgrade plans. While you may get a performance increase from the upgrades, there may be other parts which are 4-6 years old, which makes them not only slower but also more prone to failure. If this is the case, it may be better to think about a replacement.
A big thing to consider is the price of an upgrade against the price of a replacement. Consider what a new PC at the spec you want would cost you, then put that against what the parts needed to upgrade would cost you… Is it worth it?
To conclude, there is a lot to think about when it comes to deciding to upgrade or replace your current PC, but using the above guidelines should help you to make a decision. Feel free to give us a call if you need advice on what would be the best option for you. We can help with finding the right upgrades or replacements and can provide information & pricing to help you make your decision.