Is your computer fast enough for what you want to do?Does Photoshop take a long time to boot or freeze when you try to use it?If so, it might be time to upgrade your hardware.
But now you're wondering, "What should I upgrade on my computer?" What things will give you the most bang for your buck, and which upgrades are a waste of time?Here's our guide to the best PC upgrades for you.
1. Why you should upgrade RAM
Adding more RAM is the easiest and easiest way to upgrade your computer.It's affordable, you can do it on almost any desktop computer, and it doesn't require much technical knowledge.It's also one of the best laptop upgrades, although not many laptops let you do that anymore.
If you've never opened your computer case before, this is the place to start.
A RAM upgrade can provide an instant performance boost to almost any slow PC.For resource-hungry tasks like video editing or gaming, the more RAM you have, the better.Even for casual use, the extra RAM lets you run more apps in the background or keep more tabs open in your browser.
So, how much memory do you need?
4GB is the absolute minimum.That's fine for general use, with a handful of browser tabs, light photo editing, and video streaming.But you should only settle for that if you're a very light user.
If you upgrade to 8GB, you'll notice a noticeable improvement.That's fine for serious multitasking, browsing with up to 30 tabs open, editing RAW photos, and midrange gaming.
For heavier tasks, you should seek 16GB for best results.Serious gaming, media editing, or any professional-level tasks are best served with this much memory.
2. Consider upgrading your graphics card
We'd put it second on our list, but if you're a serious gamer, it should probably be the first thing you upgrade to.If you're not a serious gamer, 3D modeler, or 3D animator, then you probably don't need to upgrade it at all.
Cutting out the graphics card fee is an easy way to save money, so PC builders tend to opt for integrated graphics over dedicated graphics.
And on modern systems, integrated graphics are good enough for most users.It lets you do some Photoshop work or watch 4K video. About 10% of users on Steam are even playing games with integrated graphics.
But if you do need superior graphics performance for gaming or VR work, stepping up to something like the GeForce RTX 3070 will give you a big boost.
3. Get a faster storage drive
There are two reasons to upgrade your hard drive: you want faster performance, or you're running out of space.
If you're still using an old hard drive, one of the most useful computer upgrades you can do is switch to a solid-state drive.These hard drives use flash memory instead of spinning disks and are many times faster than standard hard drives.
On average, a 5400RPM drive might achieve write speeds of 100Mbps, a 7200RPM drive 150Mbps, and a solid-state drive over 500Mbps.High-end SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus have incredibly high write speeds, reaching 3300Mbps or even higher.
Upgrading is great because faster data drives affect your entire system.It means faster boot times, faster app load times, faster game launches, and more responsiveness in programs that use large files like video editing or RAW photo editing.
Another reason to upgrade is space.If you've done everything possible to free up your storage space, but are still running out of space regularly, then you're going to need to swap it out for a bigger one.A full drive not only prevents you from saving new data, but it can also affect performance.At least, try to keep 10GB of free space for the operating system to use.
The biggest complaint about SSDs used to be that they held much less capacity and were more expensive than hard drives.Now this is not a problem anymore.
4. Upgrade the processor
Upgrading your PC's processor is a far more advanced task than the other upgrades we've covered so far.Not only is it physically harder to install, but it's also one of the more expensive upgrades.And there are compatibility issues to worry about.
What's more, a processor upgrade isn't always a good thing and may not give you the performance improvement you're looking for.cpubenchmark.netBenchmarks on the web can help you compare the relative performance of different processors.Generally speaking, these tests show that modest updates do not lead to large improvements.
A processor is only worth upgrading if the upgrade is significant, such as going from an Intel Core i3 to a Core i5, or from an older generation of processors to a newer generation.Don't buy it just because it has a faster clock speed.
Processors are expensive and may require you to upgrade your motherboard (which in turn may require you to buy new RAM).Even if your motherboard is compatible on paper with a new processor, it may require a BIOS update to work.This can be a painful process, so check before buying.
Ultimately, if your processor is the speed bottleneck in your system, you may want to consider buying a whole new system entirely.
5. How Upgrading Software Improves Performance
Programs on your computer are most likely set to update automatically.If not, you probably hit the update button as soon as you were alerted that a new program version was released.
In most cases, this is the correct approach.But not always.For many software, the version number is described in the form of Major.Minor.Revision.So if an update is an addition to 0.0.1, it's likely a bug fix.If it's 0.1.0, then it probably includes optimizations and small new features.Minor and revision updates should install immediately.
But a major update -- a change in the full version number -- is a different matter.Newer versions of programs will almost certainly use more resources than older versions, so if your computer's hardware is stretched to the max, you should deal with that first.
The same goes for OS updates.Regular incremental updates are essential for performance and security reasons, but whole new releases are not.They will almost certainly have bugs and may run slowly on your system.
If your computer is running fine, it's worth holding off on OS upgrades until you're absolutely sure they won't turn into downgrades.
Software tweaks are often a great way to make your computer feel faster without breaking the bank.
What other PC parts should you upgrade?
The motherboard is the most difficult of all upgrades because all the other PC parts are connected to it.It's only worth considering if you're dead set on picking a new processor that isn't compatible with your current setup.It won't give you much of a speed boost by itself.
There are other components to consider as well.For example, someone who is an avid photographer would certainly benefit more from having a better monitor than having Lightroom run faster.Likewise, a writer can increase his productivity by purchasing a mechanical keyboard.
Rather than focusing purely on performance, consider how you can upgrade your PC experience.Speed is important, but it's not the only thing that matters.
The best PC upgrades for you
We recommend RAM, SSDs, and graphics cards as the main areas of focus when you're deciding on the best upgrades for your PC.Ideally, you should always base your upgrades on your precise needs.Taking the time to figure out what's wrong with your system will help you make the right decisions about hardware upgrades.
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