How Often Do You Upgrade Your PC?


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I think it’s fair to say that the PC above has reached the end of its useful lifespan and should perhaps be put out to grass or maybe just terminated. Believe me, I’ve had PC’s come into the shop, not quite but very near this kind of condition, where the owner has insisted that I breath new life into his beloved machine as if it’s become some kind of family heirloom to be propped up in a glass case in the corner of the living room. When someone clearly can only just afford to repair a PC, it pays to err on the side of caution and do the best job you can, fully aware of the fact that a time will come when the ends don’t justify the means.

Taking the leap

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Upgrading your PC is driven by several factors including what you use your PC for and how deep your pockets are. On the other hand, many people are dumping their creaking old Pentium 4‘s for a single laptop or a tablet or both. In fact I have a PC here in the shop which belongs to a pensioner whose son bought her a shiny new laptop which completely replaces her PC and she wouldn’t go back. That’s not isolated either and I’ve sold a bucket load of similar hardware for customers, who have effectively ‘downsized’ but moved upscale technologically wise.

We all use our PC’s in different ways, however if you’re simply using the Web, editing documents and keeping in touch with family and friends, even the once mighty Pentium 4 is going to creak a little as it’s limited to memory size and frankly a single core CPU is hard pressed to cope with multitasking in today’s software.

The most common upgrades are:


  • Memory (RAM)
  • Hard drive
  • Graphics card (GPU)
  • Power supply unit (PSU)

Upgrading your operating system is not the issue here and 1 Gb of memory simply isn’t enough today, so this is one of the easiest ways to speed up your PC without costing an arm and a leg, and if you can manage to incrementally top up your PC with the hardware upgrades listed above and your machine does what you want it to do, then job done. On the other hand, if you’re a gamer or demand more intensive work from your PC, a time will come when upgrading morphs into a totally new PC, which is when it starts to get really interesting and great fun!

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When it’s simply never enough

It’s long been held that gaming has been the major driving force in PC technology’s swift advancement, Moore’s Law notwithstanding and it’s hard to disagree. I remember when I bought my first Windows 95 machine at Evesham Micros all those years ago, I hadn’t even discovered gaming by then, but I had caught the PC bug and my mind boggles at how much money I threw at Evesham, before I discovered how wonderful it is to build your own computer. So, fast forward to 2004 and several self builds later, I built myself a ‘supercomputer’ or at least my interpretation of it at the time. Check out this hyper specification:

  • Intel Pentium 4 3.2Ghz (Prescott) with Hyper Threading
  • Asus P4P800 motherboard
  • 1Gb DDR memory
  • 80Gb hard drive SATA
  • LG DVD drive SATA
  • LeadTek Win Fast Geforce 6800GT 256 Mb graphics card

p4gaming

I’d managed to find a case with a side window and fitted six brightly lit fans and as far as I was concerned, this was it; the PC to take the world by storm and of course, at the time it was the mutts nuts and served me well over several house moves and numerous games well into 2010, when the machine simply couldn’t be upgraded anymore.The motherboard had a limit of 2gb and my GPU options had run out since AGP had been superseded by PCI Express. I had however, managed to push this particular PC to its absolute limits over a period of six years, which ultimately gave me a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I’d squeezed every last penny of value from the machine till the very end.

Upgrade everything!

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I suspect many of you have upgraded your PC’s right to the end of its limits and there comes a time when the upgrade is in itself, a new PC, whether self build or off the shelf. When I sent my Pentium 4 off to graze, I got hold of a motherboard bundle and other components with the sole objective of building a gaming PC that would run every game I had without missing a beat.


  • AMD Phenom 965 quad core 3.4Ghz
  • Motherboard Gigabyte GA-770T-USB3
  • 8 Gb DDR3
  • 1.5Tb hard drive
  • Radeon HD 5770 1Gb GPU
  • Corsair 650 watt PSU

But that was five years ago and whilst it could slice through Tomb Raider Underworld with ease, Crysis was still a big hardware challenge and Crysis 3 simply needed more horsepower, much more in fact. So bit by bit I upgraded this machine until eventually, not only had the case been changed several times, but it also became an octo core with a completely different motherboard, a 3Gb GPU, numerous hard drives and even a different monitor.

  • FX 8320 eight core CPU
  • Gigabyte 97A-UD3P motherboard
  • MSI GTX970 3Gb GPU
  • 16Gb RAM
  • PSU 850W
  • NZXT full tower case
  • Numerous hard drives

In fact it’s become more than an upgrade, it’s a new PC and I confess that the upgrade path will probably never end and, as I add new bits to it, I suspect that my PC will soon be unrecognisable sooner rather than later.

Are you serial upgrader like me?

 

About the Author

Marc Thomas

Marc is an avid traveler, motorcyclist, entrepreneur, and gamer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. His interest in computers and technology began in the early 1990's when he was introduced by a friend to a Zenith Data Systems computer running DOS. In the years following he has experienced all versions of the Windows operating system, built hundreds of systems, and fixed many more for his customers. Marc also has an interesting forum you might like to check out at Argentina Expats

11 Comments

  1. I upgrade when I am annoyed that I can max-out games in settings.
    And have the money for it.

    FX-4100 to FX-6300
    GTX 660 to GTX 760 to 970(Unfortunately, GTX 960 wasn’t that much of an improvement for the 760, so I went 970.)

    GTX 660 to 760 = Wow!
    760 to 970 = Jaw dropped! MEGA WOW!

    • Megaman
      I’ve updated the article as it looks like we have a very similar spec.
      And yes, the GTX 970 is a jaw dropping video card. The upgrade from a Radeon 7950 is more than I expected!

  2. When I can afford it, I’d like to buy another SSD for my gaming rig. I put one in my older Dell Latitude D630 and what an improvement. Also wouldn’t hurt to upgrade the Graphic Card in my gaming rig.

  3. Two of our home computers still in heavy daily use (including this one) run on Pentium 4 3.2mhz/3.06mhz resp. plus 2GB RAM each.The graphics card was upgraded to an inexpensive AMD Radeon HD 5450 .

    They run all our older games well. eg DDD 3D pool, Flight Sim 2004 ,Fantasy Tetrix, Call of Duty,Trainz 2004.GP legends and surprisingly GT legends. and V8 supercars.
    The old rigs handle all You Tube and web sites with ease.
    I am still impressed with the quick load response of web pages whilst listening to Radio Sure at the same time !!
    Tuning and keeping all the bad guys and slow-ware off seems to be the key.

    Many people discard perfectly good computers primarily due to ‘software rust’ build up over the years.

  4. I upgrade as soon as I can but only when the upgrade performance is what I would consider worthwhile. I don’t game anymore, but I do a lot of 3D rendering and some video encoding. Even with the best I can afford is never enough power so I have been looking towards building a small render farm

  5. I work repairing computers, so my upgrade path is generally due to me needing to know about new tech so that I can service it. That’s the story behind my 1st smartphone & tablet, too. Now, I couldn’t live w/o the phone, but the tablet is basically a “reading in bed” device.

    For my tower, it’s an upgrade whenever I need fluidity. If I feel lag or lack of snappy response, I start to look at what needs replacing. My previous build (circa 2009) was an i7-930 (beast at the time & still quite fast), 18GB triple channel DDR3, 5770 graphics. I eventually found myself using it to connect & diagnose/do data transfers on client machines. It’s great for that- fast & heaps of storage. Linux Mint 9 until recent update.

    Recently, I built myself a new mini-ITX system. I love the form-factor. This, is in a cobalt blue Bitfenix Prodigy case: i5- 4690, 16GB DDR3 RAM, 256GB Samsung Pro SSD (Linux Mint 17.1), 600GB WD Raptor as home/storage. Built on the ASRock ASRock H97M-ITX/ac board w/Deepcool Gammax 300 cooler (in place for when I decide on graphics card). This thing is blazenly fast- start-up, shut-down, browsing, multi-tasking, you name it. The onboard graphics are pretty sweet, as well.

    So, all that to say, I don’t rush to upgrade any machine that serves it’s purpose. Once there’s lag or inability to run something at a reasonable rate, I’m online & searching parts.

    🙂

  6. When ever I get bored and have some free time. Like I don’t have enough of that. Takes a lot of work to be fully retired.

  7. Back in my days before retirement and getting a steady paycheck I would not hesitate to buy the newest video or sound board or mem upgrade for that matter. Even if I felt a new machine was better, it was hard to let go of the old one. Now that I am retired it is more of a necessity than a passion. I have had my current computer for longer than any other and as long as the motherboard can handle it I will continue to upgrade.