PC sales are down more or less across the board. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (unless you happen to be a PC manufacturer, of course). The truth is that almost any Windows machine sold in the last five years can handle surfing the web, checking email, and even streaming high-resolution video. Depending on the hardware, it might even be able to handle some recent games as well. There are very few times when spending a thousand dollars or more on a new laptop or desktop is absolutely necessary.
But that doesn’t mean your PC can’t be improved. Upgrading a few parts is almost always cheaper than buying a new one, and it’s not as difficult as you think. Here’s a quick guide to the best ways to improve an older machine.
Upgrading your desktop
Despite a move to laptops over the last decade, desktop PCs remain solid choices for anyone who wants a cheap machine, or one that can be upgraded easily.
Most desktop upgrades focus on components that attach the the motherboard, processor excluded. If you think about a computer like a car, then consider the following — the motherboard is like the frame, and the processor is like the engine. If either has become inadequate, that’s a good sign a new machine, rather than an upgrade, is warranted.
But there are other options for quick and cheap upgrades. RAM (memory) is classically the best way to improve a sluggish machine, and it remains relevant. Adding more RAM, or even replacing the DIMMs (the technical term for a stick of memory) entirely, is a quick and easy process that doesn’t require any adjustments to your operating system. An 8GB upgrade can be had for under $50, and a whopping 16GB upgrade is going for less than $100.
Changing out a storage drive is more complex than replacing RAM. You’ll need to connect the SATA power and data cables to your computer’s power supply and motherboard, respectively, and either transfer your operating system to the new drive, or install it from scratch. It’s an excellent idea to back up your crucial files to an external drive, or a cloud storage service like Dropbox, before starting the installation process.
For a guide on upgrading your hard drive to an SSD, click here.
Add or upgrade your video card
Most desktop PCs come with an integrated graphics processor that can run a monitor right off of the motherboard. But if you’d like to be able to play newer, more attractive games, a discrete graphics card from AMD or Nvidia will be needed. Graphics cards plug into a PCIe slot on the motherboard, and some also require an open rail on the power supply.
Accessories like a new monitor, keyboard, or mouse won’t make your desktop computer any faster, but they can make using it more comfortable. If your Internet speed is lagging and you’re on a wireless connection, a new Wi-Fi adapter with access to faster standards might do the trick, so long as your Wi-Fi router is also compatible.
If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Amazon has canceled plans for a New York City headquarters afer citizens, civic groups, and politicians pushed back on Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's exclamation of economic joy over Amazon's earlier…
If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.
Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.
Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the top news, leaks, and rumors about the new Mac Pro set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what's likely to show up with the new Mac Pro.
You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.
We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.
Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.