Computer Hardware Upgrades With the Biggest Bang

Depending on What Your Needs are for a Maximum Performance Computer, A Hardware Upgrade Can Boost Different Aspects of How Your Mac or PC Functions





I recently had a customer that came in to discuss a workstation upgrade.  He just wanted to make sure that he was running an optimal system for his needs.  He was trying between deciding on upgrading some hardware components or upgrading his entire system.  Computer hardware upgrades require many considerations including what you need to use your desktop system most for.

Different computer applications require different components to run quickly and without any hiccups.  Should you upgrade your RAM, hard drive, processor or video card?  OR what combination of these components would provide the biggest performance boost?

Choose the Best Upgrade for Your Computer



There is no such thing an as an upgrade that will benefit everyone in every situation. It all depends on what you use your computer for. If you do a lot of multitasking, or your work involves applications that require a lot of memory, for example if you run a lot of virtual machines, RAM is going to be a solid upgrade that will increase your efficiency. If you are a gamer, a new video card is more likely to increase the performance than ram.  Video editors on the other hand would probably bump up their efficiency with a faster, multithreaded processor. Check out a breakdown of possible upgrades and what they would be good for:


RAM: RAM is easily the cheapest, easiest upgrade you can make. People who use a ton of programs at once, or use more RAM-intensive applications like Photoshop or a video editor, and people who run virtual machines in programs like VirtualBox or VMware, which require you to set aside a chunk of RAM for those machines would likely improve the performance of their computers with a ram upgrade.  The more RAM your virtual machines have, the faster they will run (and the less they will take from your actual OS).





Hard Drives/Solid State Drives: Upgrading to a solid state drive (SSD) is one of the best upgrades you can make for your computer in terms of general speed boosts. An SSD upgrade should speed up your boot time and the launching of applications, although it will not encode video any faster or make your games run more smoothly (though they will load faster). SSDs are especially great for those using slow-launching programs (again, like Photoshop) or launching many applications at once. Upgrading your regular hard drive to a larger, mechanical hard drive will only help your computer speed situation if you are regularly running out of space.




Processors: The first thing you will want to remember is that processors are not as easily upgradable as RAM or hard drives. Laptops and pre-built desktops are sometimes upgradable, and if you have built your machine yourself, you can always upgrade to a faster processor with the same socket type. This upgrade would be most useful for those doing processor intensive tasks—like encoding video or audio. Multi-core processors will help with multitasking, especially for these intensive processes. Faster processors can also help boost their computers’ performances for gamers.



Video Cards: If you are a gamer nothing boosts your gaming performance like a new video card. If upgrading to a new card is not within your budget, you can try to buy a second video card and put it in SLI or Crossfire, which essentially means having two of the same video card for shared, extra performance from both cards.  This requires a compatible motherboard.


Network Card: If you are using a modem, or a 10Mbps network card, upgrading to a 100Mbps or a wireless card will vastly increase the speed you can share documents in the office, or using the Internet. You will also have to make sure that your networking infrastructure can support the faster speeds. Bottlenecks


Now that you know what components are best for specific tasks, it’s time to consider what you already have. If you upgrade your video card and your processor is old and slow, games may run better, but they will still probably slow down when you have a lot of things happening on the screen, since it is the processor that regulates that function, and not the video card.  Also, getting an SSD will not make your computer feel faster if you still have only 512 MB of RAM. Take a look at what you have in your computer right now; see which part is the most outdated, and factor that into your upgrading decision. If you have a very old computer, you will not be able to eliminate bottlenecks completely, but at least you will be more realistic about what kind of performance increases you will experience.