Upgrading your computer allows you to breathe new life into an aging system or to customise your technology to better suit your needs. This guide will highlight some of the components that you may consider upgrading for an improved performance.

 

Storage

The traditional hard disk drive (HDD) holds everything from the operating system and software programs to each data file, document and image. They are inexpensive and provide a fair amount of storage space. However, sometimes your built-in hard drive is too small or too slow.  If your computer allows, it could be replaced with a larger, faster model or a secondary storage HDD can be added.

Your HDD can also be replaced or supplemented with a Solid State Drive (SSD). SSDs are faster and more reliable than HDDs, making everything more responsive and allowing programs to open and load more quickly. As SSDs are much more expensive, a good option would be a combination of the two, using the speed of the SSD to store your operating system and programs, while storing your pictures, documents, videos and music on a secondary HDD.  You can also look to expand your computer’s storage capacity with an external drive.

 

Memory

If your computer slows down significantly when you’re attempting to use multiple programs, upgrading the RAM may be the cheapest, easiest upgrade you can make.

Before buying new RAM for your computer, you’ll need to check what type of RAM it’s compatible with, and the maximum amount supported by your system.

 

Processor

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of your computer. Everything passes through it, making it a great candidate for upgrading in some cases.  Before attempting any CPU upgrade, be sure to check your computer’s motherboard for compatibility. Motherboards are often designed for a specific type of CPU from a specific manufacturer, therefore, may not support the newest types of CPU.

 

Graphics Card

If you want to get into PC gaming, live streaming, video or photo editing, adding a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) or upgrading your existing one is a good option. Most computers come with built in “integrated graphics,” which are fine for displaying  programs, viewing websites and watching movies but are not powerful enough for  quality gaming or editing. Some computers even support the use of multiple GPUs to further boost graphics performance.

 

Power Supply

The Power Supply Unit (PSU) sends all the electricity to every component in a computer. Most systems come with PSUs capable that provide just enough wattage for the system. In many cases, if you wanted to add a GPU for quality gaming capabilities, you will likely need to upgrade your PSU as well.

PSUs are measure on Continuous Wattage and 80 Plus rating. Continuous Wattage is the maximum amount of wattage the Power Supply can output during continuous use. The 80 Plus rating indicates the efficiency and comes in Regular, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the power supply is while running above 80% of its maximum Continuous Wattage.

It’s best to decide on your other upgrade parts first to understand your power needs before selecting your PSU.

 

Cooling

Higher performance parts that draw more power, especially faster CPUs and GPUs, also generate more heat. These components are designed to work within a specific temperature range, and will automatically slow themselves down, if they get too hot as a protective measure. While great for preventing damage to your computer and its components, this also decreases performance.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to help with cooling, is to add more fans. For laptops this is commonly accomplished by using a Cooling Pad, which usually have an extra fan, and will raise your laptop above the surface to improve airflow. With desktops, you can add additional Case Fans to increase airflow, or even upgrade the stock heatsink and fan that comes with your CPU with larger ones or water-cooled solutions with pumps and radiators.

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