Which One Should Be Upgraded To Improve Your PC Performance

By | February 24, 2022

Need a faster computer but not sure what to upgrade on your PC? Follow our PC upgrade checklist to find out.

Is your PC fast enough to do the things you want to do? Does it take a long time to boot, or does it freeze when you try to use Photoshop? If so, it might be time to upgrade your hardware.

But now you’re wondering, “What should I upgrade on my PC?” What gives the best results, and which upgrades are a waste of time? Here’s our guide to the best PC upgrades you can do.

Why You Should Increase RAM

Adding more memory is the easiest and most convenient way to upgrade your PC. It’s affordable, you can do it on almost any computer, and it doesn’t require much technical knowledge. It’s also one of the best laptop upgrades, if your machine allows it.

If you’ve never opened your PC case before, this is the place to start.

RAM updates provide an instant performance boost to almost any slow running PC. For resource-intensive tasks, such as editing videos or playing games, the more RAM you have, the better.

Even for casual use, the extra RAM will allow you to have more apps running in the background or open more tabs in your browser.

So how much RAM do you need?

  • 4GB is the minimum amount. It’s fine for general use, with up to about 10 browser tabs, a bit of photo editing, and video streaming.
  • You will see a significant improvement if you upgrade to 8GB. It’s great for serious multi-tasking, browsing with up to 30 tabs open, editing RAW photos, and even some mid-range gaming.
  • For heavier tasks, you should using 16GB for best results. Serious gaming, media editing, or other professional-level tasks will do best with this much memory.
If you need to know what RAM is compatible with your computer, memory maker Crucial has PC upgrade tool which helps you identify the type of memory you need.

Consider Upgrading Your Graphics Card

We have the second one on the list, but if you are a serious gamer then it might be the first one to upgrade. If you’re not a serious gamer, 3D modeler, or 3D animator, you probably don’t need to upgrade at all.

And on modern systems, integrated graphics is good enough for most users. This will let you do some Photoshop work, or watch 4K videos. About 10 percent of Steam users even play games with integrated graphics.

But if you do need superior graphics performance, for gaming or VR, then upgrading to something like the Radeon RX 5700-XT will give you a big boost. You can compare the performance of a custom card with your current options at gpu.userbenchmark.com.

Get a Faster Storage Drive

There are two reasons to upgrade your hard drive or hard disk: you are running out of space or you want faster performance.

If you’ve done everything you can to free up hard disk storage and are still running out of space frequently, then you need to swap it out for a bigger one. Not only does a full hard drive make it impossible to save new data, it can also affect performance. At the very least, try to save 10GB of free space for the operating system to use.

For hard disk drives, consider increasing the physical speed. If your current PC has a 5400RPM drive, then upgrading to the 7200RPM model should give you a nice speed boost.

But one of the most useful computer upgrades is switching to a solid state drive. It uses flash memory instead of a spinning disk and is many times faster than a regular hard disk drive.

On average, 5400RPM drives can achieve write speeds of up to 100Mbps, 7200RPM drives of up to 150Mbps, and solid state drives of more than 500Mbps. High-end SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus have very high write speeds of 3300Mbps and more.

Ultimately, a faster data drive affects your entire system. This means faster boot times, faster program loading times, faster speeds for launching games, and more responsiveness in programs that use large files (such as video editing or RAW photo editing).

The big gripe about solid state drives back then was that they were much smaller in capacity and more expensive than hard disk drives. While this is still technically correct, it is far from being the case today.

1TB SSDs are now fairly common, and very affordable, see the SanDisk SSD Plus as a great example. That should be big enough for a lot of people, but if you need more space, you might consider a hybrid drive. It combines both technologies to give you a balance between speed and size.

Upgrade Processor

Upgrading your PC’s processor is a much more advanced task than the other upgrades we’ve covered so far. Not only is it physically harder to install, it’s one of the more expensive upgrades and there are compatibility issues to worry about too.

More importantly, a processor upgrade isn’t always a good thing and may not provide the performance boost you’re looking for.

Benchmark test in cpubenchmark.net can help you compare the relative performance of different processors. In general, this test shows that a simple update does not provide a big improvement.

A processor is only worth upgrading if the upgrade is significant, such as moving from an i3 to an i5, or from an older generation to a newer one. Don’t choose something just because the clock speed is faster.

Processors are expensive and may require you to upgrade your motherboard (and that may require you to buy new RAM). Even if your motherboard is compatible with the new processor on paper, it may require a BIOS update for it to work. This can be a pain, so check before you buy.

Ultimately, if your processor is the speed limiter in your system, you may want to consider buying a completely new system.

How Software or Application Upgrades Can Improve Performance

Chances are the programs on your PC are set to update automatically. Otherwise, you may click the Update button as soon as you are notified of the release of a new program version.

In most cases, this is the right thing to do. But not always. For many software, the version number is represented in the form Major.Minor.Revision. So if the update is 0.0.1, it’s likely a bug fix. If it’s 0.1.0, it’s likely to include a small amount of optimization and new features. Minor Updates and Revisions should be installed immediately.

But major updates, changes to the full version number are a different matter. It’s almost certain that the new version of the program will use more resources than the old version, so if your PC’s hardware is already stretched to its full potential, you should deal with that first.

The same applies to operating system updates. Regular incremental updates are essential for performance and security reasons, but completely new versions are not. They almost certainly have bugs and may run slowly on your system.

If your PC is running fine, it’s a good idea to hold off on operating system upgrades until you’re absolutely sure that they won’t be downgrading.

Software changes are often a good way to make your computer feel faster without spending a fortune. Our guide to how to make Windows 10 faster is a good place to start.

What Else You Should Improve

The motherboard is the most difficult of all upgrades because all the rest of the PC is attached to it. This is only worth considering if you are using a new processor that is not compatible with your current setup. It won’t give you much of a speed boost on its own.

There are other components to consider as well.

A keen photographer, for example, would definitely benefit more from having a better monitor than making Lightroom run a little faster. Similarly, a writer can be more productive with a mechanical keyboard.

Instead of focusing solely on performance, think about how you can improve your PC experience. Speed ​​is important, but not the only thing that matters.

The Best PC Upgrade For You

When you’re deciding how to upgrade your PC, we recommend RAM, SSD, and graphics card as the main areas to focus on.

Make sure you buy parts that are compatible with your existing kit. A good PC upgrade checker is PC Part Picker, which helps you identify and purchase the right components.
Ideally, you should always adapt your upgrades to your needs. If you’re not sure where your computer crashes, check out our guide to Windows diagnostic test which you can use to help you determine it.