How to decide which PC component to upgrade next
Desktop PCs can fulfil a variety of roles, from powerful workstations to budget gaming builds.
Using a desktop PC for gaming or professional applications can be a better choice than a laptop, due to the ability to upgrade individual components in order to meet software demands.
Instead of purchasing a new device every couple of years, you can upgrade the components which are creating a performance bottleneck.
I have outlined the factors to consider when choosing a PC component to upgrade, below.
KNOW WHAT YOU UPGRADE AND CONSULT THE MANUFACTURER'S WEBSITE FOR GUIDANCE
If you’re a gamer, an indicator that your graphics card needs an upgrade is low framerates in new games. This forces you to scale back your graphics settings or resolution in order to deliver playable framerates.
It is important to choose a graphics card capable of delivering sufficient power to play games at your chosen resolution.
For computing tasks which rely on graphics cards for processing power, upgrading to a powerful product based on a newer architecture will generally result in improved performance – as long as there is no CPU bottleneck.
Both gamers and professional users need a relatively powerful processor in order to perform intensive tasks.
Gamers can determine whether their processor is creating a bottleneck in their graphics performance by running hardware monitoring software and seeing which components are under maximum load when pushing the system’s performance.
If you are encountering performance problems, and the processor is under 100% load while the GPU is functioning with power to spare, you may need to upgrade your CPU.
Professional users can use the Windows Performance monitor tool to track their processor’s performance details.
Examining counters that display the length of the processor queue and general load will allow users to determine whether the chip needs upgrading or if certain software is slowing down the system.
Insufficient RAM is an easy problem to diagnose, as tools like Windows Task Manager allow you to monitor real-time memory usage in both idle and load scenarios.
If your memory consumption is reaching its maximum under load, you may need to increase the amount of RAM in your system.
Alternatively, if your background tasks are consuming a lot of memory, clean up your startup processes and background apps to minimise RAM usage.
There are two reasons you need to replace your cooling setup: temperature and noise.
Installing hardware monitoring software will allow you to track your system and component temperature and determine whether your chassis has sufficient airflow to cool its components.
If your components are cool under load but your system is exceptionally noisy, consider switching to quieter, bigger fans, or reducing fan speed without letting temperatures rise too much.
The operating temperature of your components should be regularly monitored. If your components are becoming too hot under load, it would be wise to upgrade your cooling system.
SOLID STATE DRIVE
Solid state drives are commonplace in performance-oriented desktops, due to their exceptional read/write speeds.
If your system takes long to boot and your operating system is sluggish, purchasing an SSD and installing the OS onto the new drive can improve performance and boot time.
This also applies to video game load times when running a game on an SSD.
If your SSD is old and begins to show memory errors and corrupt data, it may be near the end of its life and you should consider upgrading.