You don’t need to break the bank to improve the performance of your computer
Every computer feels fast when it’s brand new, but over time things tend to get a little sluggish. This is normal, as adding more programs and files causes Windows to become slower.
But with newer and faster PCs arriving in the shops just about every month it can eventually become tempting just to give up and buy a newer, faster, less-cluttered PC.
Picking up a new PC every year or two, however, is an expensive habit – and a wasteful one, too. Because, unless your current PC is really old, the chances are you can get the same effect at a far lower cost by making a few simple upgrades – leaving you with extra cash to spend on more enjoyable things.
In this article, we’ll focus on which upgrades are simple and effective, and which are either too much bother or simply not worth your hard-earned cash.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that the upgrades available to you will depend largely on what kind of computer you have.
If you have a desktop computer then just about every part of it can be upgraded should you wish, but laptops are far less upgradable – in most cases just one or two internal parts can be easily changed.
In every case we will explain what’s possible for laptop users, and then go on to explain other options for desktop PCs.
One of the most common reasons for upgrading a computer is to boost its speed. The most obvious way to go about this might seem to be upgrading the processor, but in our experience this is often more trouble than it’s worth.
Check your PC’s specs
Before upgrading any of your hardware, you will need to know what’s inside your current computer – and that can be surprisingly hard to find out. One simple way is to download the free Belarc Advisor tool.
After the file has downloaded to your computer, double-click it to install the tool. You may see a security warning, and after that you’ll need to follow the instruction wizard.
At the end of the process you will be asked if you want to update the software – there’s no need – and then the scan will begin. This may take a few minutes to complete.
Once the scan has finished, a page of results will display. The most useful ones are at the top of the page, where you can see information on the processor and motherboard, and under ‘Memory Modules’, which shows any empty slots available for more memory.
As this document includes your software licence numbers, you should not share it online.
As the ‘brain’ of the PC, it seems obvious that upgrading the processor would be a good place to start if you want more speed. In practice, though, it’s seldom that simple.
New processors come along every six months or so, with each generation adding more power, but often this also requires changing the socket into which the chip itself is fitted.
This means upgrading one processor to another made at roughly the same time is generally easy, but won’t usually make much difference, while swapping your processor for one (for example) three years more modern is usually impossible.
The solution to this is to perform a more extensive upgrade, replacing the motherboard, into which the processor is slotted, at the same time. That’s not a simple operation, though, and you’ll often have to fit a new, more modern type of memory and re-install Windows and all your software.
So, when it comes to processors, our recommendation is this: if your computer is more than three or four years old then changing the processor, motherboard and memory will give it an enormous boost.
Updating your subscription status