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(Pocket-lint) – One of the advantages of owning a PC is the ease with which components can be upgraded as they become obsolete.
The problem is that since almost every component in your computer is modular and upgradeable, it can be difficult to know what to upgrade first.
The answer, of course, varies 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.
So let’s take a look at our options and the potential pros and cons of upgrading each.
Upgrading the volume isn’t the most tempting thing in the world, it’s certainly not as exciting as a graphics card, and there are usually fewer blinking RGB lights than the upgrade memory.
However, if you’re still using an old hard drive in your system, upgrading to an SSD is arguably the most noticeable performance improvement you can make. Windows will start almost immediately, and everything you do on your PC will be faster and more responsive. Plus, if you’re only using a small Windows SSD, paired with your existing hard drive to store larger files, this is one of the cheapest upgrades you can make.
However, nowadays, many of us already have at least one SATA SSD in our systems. So, should you switch from SATA to NVMe for more performance?
The answer to this question is not entirely clear. NVMe SSDs have a lot of benefits, especially when it comes to productivity and content creation, but for gaming in particular, we doubt you’ll notice much of a difference. However, the price gap between SATA and NVMe is narrowing by the day, and the installation process is much easier, without having to worry about wires. So if you need the extra storage space, the price difference will probably be worth it.
Upgrading memory tends to be high on the priority list for many PC gamers. However, unless you are using very low capacity RAM, your money is often better spent elsewhere.
For gaming, 16GB of RAM is usually enough to keep things running smoothly. More than that never hurts, but it’s an expensive upgrade that often won’t give you the immediate results you hope for. When it comes to performance, we only recommend upgrading your RAM if you know that you frequently run out of system memory. If your system crashes when you have too many Chrome tabs open, this may be the case.
On the other hand, this is one of the easiest upgrades to install, so if you’re afraid to unplug your precious gaming rig, this might be a good place to start. It is also a very simple way to improve the aesthetics of your computer. A bare PCB memory can easily make a system look cheap and there are a plethora of impressive RGB memory options to choose from.
This card needs no introduction, it’s already at the top of every player’s birthday list on PC, birthday list, and every other list you can imagine.
In fact, choosing your graphics card is the most important factor when it comes to gaming performance, as a better card essentially gives you the ability to run higher frame rates, higher resolutions, and more intense graphics settings.
The drawbacks of upgrading your graphics card are also quite obvious. Besides the lack of stock, this upgrade is pricey. If you upgrade to a much higher performance category, you may need to upgrade your power supply, which increases the cost.
If the GPU is the most important component of gaming performance, then the CPU is not far behind. These two components should work in tandem to create the best gaming experience.
A very high-end graphics card, along with an outdated and poorly performing processor, will lead to performance bottlenecks. This means that the graphics card is unable to perform to its full potential, because CPU-based tasks cannot keep up with the GPU.
So, if you are planning a massive graphics upgrade, you should definitely consider whether your CPU needs to be upgraded accordingly.
In theory, upgrading the CPU is a fairly simple task, but the reality is often more complex. A new processor often requires a new motherboard to function properly, even if the same type of socket is used. When it comes to replacing both the CPU and the motherboard, you are essentially building a new computer. It’s necessary at times, but it starts to fall into a different category than the other relatively minor upgrades on our list.
If you notice that your system is getting hotter or louder than you want it to, a cooling upgrade may be the solution.
However, if your system is already operating at appropriate temperatures, a simple coolant upgrade is unlikely to give you a performance boost. The exception is that a more powerful cooler provides more room for overclocking, if you want to explore it.
A good cooler can also do wonders for the overall look of your computer. There are plenty of options with fancy lighting and some with built-in screens, so you can display system info, memes, or whatever you can think of, right at the heart of your setup.
A power supply is usually only upgraded by adding a component that needs more power, such as a new graphics card, or when the old component has failed.
It’s important to have a good one because your entire system depends on it, but we admit it’s not the most exciting upgrade.
There are a few exceptions, however, and the Corsair PSU pictured here has an RGB fan to add some flair to a somewhat unremarkable component.
Cover and aesthetics
Finally, there is always the possibility to improve the appearance of your computer. It won’t affect performance, despite what some ambitious marketing campaigns might tell you, but there’s something to be said about having a system that looks as good as it runs.
A new container will have the biggest visual impact, but it also takes longer to install. RGB fans are an easy addition that won’t break the bank and can really change the look of a system.
These days, there’s no limit to options when it comes to PC aesthetics – from braided cable extenders to RGB dynamic lighting accessories, the world is yours.
Written by Luke Baker.