Upgrade or replace desktop pc?

(Internet Photo)

BY JIMMY MAWERERE

Before investigating the option of upgrades or replacement, it is advised that users clean up their computer software to try and speed up their systems.

Quite often software programmes that accumulate over time slow down the system from optimal performance. Because of this, users should try some maintenance to help speed up their PCs.

The average desktop PC has a functional lifespan of roughly three to eight years.The length of the lifespan greatly depends upon the type of system purchased, advances in hardware components and changes in the software that we run.

Over time, users will tend to notice that their systems are not as fast as they used to be, do not have enough space to store their files or do not meet the requirements for the latest software.

When this happens, users have the option of either upgrading or replacing their PCs.

To determine which path might be better for your computer system, it is best to look at a cost comparison of what you will get out of each of the two options.

The advantage that desktop PCs have is a greater amount of upgrades that can be made to them compared to a laptop computer.

The problem is that with so many components that can be upgraded, the costs of upgrades can quickly outpace the cost of replacement. Let’s take a look at some of the items that can be upgraded, their relative cost and ease of installation.

Memory

The memory inside of a desktop PC is the easiest and most cost effective upgrade that can be made.The more memory that a PC has, the more data it can process without having to use virtual memory.

Virtual memory is memory that exceeds the system RAM and is swapped to and from the hard drive in order to keep the system running.

Memory upgrades will vary in cost depending on factors such as the type of memory that your computer system uses and the amount that you intend to purchase. Another thing to be concerned about is the 4GB memory limit in the 32-bite operating systems.

Hybrid drives/solid state drives

The second easiest upgrade for a desktop PC is with the drives used for storage.

Hard drive space roughly doubles every two years and the amount of data that we store is growing just as quickly thanks to digital audio, video and pictures. If a computer is running out of space, it is easy to purchase a new internal hard drive for installation or an external drive.

CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives

This is probably the least expensive upgrade that can be done to a computer system. They are just as easy to install as a hard drive and the extra speed and functionality makes these a great upgrade for any computer that has an older CD burner or plain CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive.

Most desktops still only use DVD burners but Blu-ray has been out for some time. Adding a drive to a desktop can allow for playback or recording of the high definition media format.

CPUs

While it is possible to upgrade a processor in most desktop PCs, the process is fairly intricate and difficult to perform for most users. As a result, I typically do not recommend doing this unless you built your own computer from parts.

Even then, you may be restricted by the computers motherboard as to what processors you can install in the system.

If your motherboard is too old, a processor replacement may also require the motherboard and memory to be upgraded as well which can get into the same realm as buying a whole new computer.

Time to replace?

If the overall cost of upgraded parts is more than 50% of the cost of a newer and better system, it is generally advisable to just purchase a new computer system instead of upgrading.

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