(Pocket-lint) – One of the best things about owning a computer is how easy it is to upgrade components when they start to feel outdated.
The problem is that almost every component of your computer is modular and scalable, it can be difficult to know what you need to upgrade first.
The answer, of course, will vary from system to system and there is no one right answer for everyone. But, with the help of this guide, you should have a much better idea of where to start.
Well, let’s look at our options and the potential benefits and disadvantages of upgrading each one.
Upgrading storage is not the most tempting thing in the world, it certainly is not as exciting as a graphics card and tends to have fewer fancy RGB lights than with a memory upgrade.
However, if you are still using an old hard drive in your system, an SSD upgrade is without a doubt the most immediate performance upgrade you can make. It will make Windows startup almost instantaneous, and it will make everything you do on your computer easier to use and more sensitive. Additionally, using a smaller Windows-only SSD, combined with your existing hard drive to store larger files, is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make.
However, these days, many of us already have at least one SATA SSD in our systems. So should you upgrade from SATA to NVMe in search of more performance?
The answer to this is not so clear. NVMe SSDs have many advantages, especially in terms of productivity and content creation, but especially for games, we doubt you would notice a big difference. That said, the price gap between SATA and NVMe is narrowing every day and the installation process is also much easier, with no cables to worry about. So if you need extra storage anyway, it probably’s worth the price difference.
Memory upgrades tend to be high on the priority list for many PC players. However, unless you are using a very low capacity RAM, your money is often better spent elsewhere.
For gaming, 16 GB is usually enough RAM to run smoothly. More never hurts, but it is an expensive upgrade that will not often give you the immediate results you hope for. In terms of performance, we would only recommend upgrading your RAM if you know that your system often runs out of memory – and if your system crashes when you have too many Chrome tabs open, this could very well be the case.
On the other hand, it is one of the easiest upgrades in the installation, so if you are worried about splitting up your valuable gaming platform, it might well be a good place to start. It is also a very easy way to improve the aesthetics of your computer. Bare PCB memory can easily make a system look low-end and there are plenty of dazzling RGB memory options to choose from.
It’s PC Gaming Week with Nvidia GeForce RTX
Needless to say, it’s already at the top of every PC player’s Christmas list, birthday list and every other list you can imagine.
This is because choosing your graphics card is the single biggest factor in gaming performance. A better card actually enables you to run higher frame rates, higher resolutions and more intensive graphics settings.
The disadvantages of upgrading your graphics card are also quite obvious. Aside from the lack of stock availability, it is an expensive upgrade. If you jump into a much higher performance category, then you may need to upgrade your power supply to fit, which again increases the cost.
While the GPU is the most important element in gaming performance, the CPU is not far behind. These two elements must work in parallel to create the best gaming experience.
A truly high-end graphics card, combined with an old and low-end CPU will lead to congestion. This means that the graphics card may not be operating at its full potential, as CPU-based tasks may not be compatible with the GPU.
Therefore, if you are planning a huge graphics upgrade, you should definitely consider whether the CPU will need an update to fit.
Theoretically, upgrading a CPU is a fairly simple task, but the reality is often much more complicated. A new CPU often requires a new motherboard to function properly, even when using the same type of socket. When it comes to changing the CPU and motherboard, you are essentially building a new computer. Sometimes it is necessary, but it starts to get into a different league than the other relatively simple upgrades on our list.
If you notice that your system is hot or getting much stronger than you would like, then a cooling upgrade could just be the ticket.
However, if your system is already running at decent temperatures, you are unlikely to see an increase in performance from just a colder upgrade. The exception is that a more powerful refrigerator provides more space for overclocking if you want to explore it.
A nice refrigerator could do wonders for the overall look of your computer. There are many fancy lighting options, even some with built-in screens, that allow you to display system information, memes or anything else floating on your boat – right in the heart of your podium.
A power supply tends to be upgraded only by adding a more demanding component, such as a new graphics card – or when the old one is defective.
It’s important to get a good one as your whole system relies on it, but we will admit it is not the most exciting upgrade.
There are a few exceptions, however, the Corsair PSU pictured here has an RGB fan to add a little feel to an otherwise quite common item.
Case and aesthetics
Last but not least, there is always the option to refresh the look of your computer. It will not affect performance, despite what some ambitious marketing campaigns may tell you, but there is something to be said for having a system that looks as good as it’s playing.
A new case will have the greatest visual impact, but it is also the most time consuming to install. Meanwhile, RGB fans are an easy addition that will not break money and can really transform the look of a system.
These days, the choices are endless when it comes to computer aesthetics – from braided extension cords to dynamic RGB lighting accessories, the world is your oyster.
PC Gaming Week (May 9 – 13) in collaboration with Nvidia GeForce RTX
Whether you are a PC Gaming veteran or a complete beginner, we cover you!
Visit the PC Gaming hub to get all the latest news and reviews, see some great features and find details on the best products out there.
With plenty of great content coming in daily, be sure to bookmark the page and come back for your daily fix.
Luke Baker writes.