With computers getting faster every year, and new games and applications requiring ever more power to run, it's easy to feel like a system is getting long in the tooth. Newer PCs have more power, more space, and more features than the models they replace. Since we are spending more time on our computers, both working and at leisure, it makes sense to have the best experience possible. However, getting back on the cutting edge doesn't always require buying a new computer outright. For many older PCs, a few well-placed upgrades will have them running like never before.
When feasible, upgrading a computer can save time and hassle, since all of the existing applications and documents will not need to be moved over. It is also quite affordable, usually costing only a fraction of the price of a new system. For people who need a little more power but are trying to save money, a few upgrades can put off the cost of a new computer for months or years. Of course, a new computer will be the most reliable option, and even the most affordable systems can handle most computing tasks. Especially for less reliable machines, a complete replacement might be the best option.
Decide Whether to Upgrade a Computer or Buy New
When deciding whether to upgrade or buy new, it is important to determine why the current setup is inadequate. Some decisions will be easy; for instance, if all that's needed is more space for programs, music, pictures, and video, then upgrading the hard drive will usually be a better option than buying new. If the computer is too slow, a memory upgrade might be enough to speed it up. Some problems are harder to fix with an upgrade. For instance, if a computer is unstable or unreliable, lacks wanted features, or if multiple components would need an upgrade, it might be cheaper or more practical to start fresh.
Different types of computers are more or less upgradable. Generally, desktop PCs can accommodate more upgrades than laptops. While many laptops can accept memory or hard drive upgrades, some cannot be upgraded at all. The user's guide which came with the laptop, or a manufacturers website, will have information to help determine the feasibility of a laptop upgrade.
Additionally, buyers might want to change their type of computer. For those who have a desktop and would like the portability and convenience of a laptop, or have a laptop and would like the dependability and speed of a desktop, it might be a good time to buy new. On the other hand, for people generally happy with what they have, but who are just needing a little more, an upgrade or two could be the answer.
When to Buy a New Computer
While upgrading a PC can be an inexpensive way to get more life out of an older computer, sometimes it just doesn't make sense. If more than a few parts would need to be replaced, it is often cheaper and simpler to buy new. Often, older configurations are simply incompatible with the latest technologies; for instance, a PC with DDR2 RAM slots will never be able to take advantage of more modern DDR3 RAM. Trying to get an old clunker to play the latest games might require upgrading the memory, graphics card, hard disk, and processor, and even then it will not have the performance of a modern computer designed with the latest technologies working together. Often, the upgradability of a system will depend on its age.
How to Tell if a Computer is Too Old to Upgrade
Computer technology changes fast, and newer architectures are developed all the time. This means that even the most dedicated upgrader will need to purchase a new system at some point. In general, computers made within the last 2-3 years will still be upgradable, while systems older than that may be unable to take advantage of the latest components.