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Always wanting to upgrade my desktop. Where is a good place to start & is the processor the "main vein" to the heart ? Answered

What started the idea of upgrading is the PSU or power supply went kaput. While I had the cover off I saw 2 open RAM slots. Already having two gig of memory I went ahead and ordered 2 more. Now I'm focused on the processor but my question would be how do I find out how much I can upgrade without going overkill?

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Downunder35m
Downunder35m

4 years ago

Quite simply put: if the motherboard is older than three years it is not really worth wasting money on upgrading.
Harddrive performance is another issue and upgrading to a SSD drive in an outdated computer is not that helpful either.
Main killers are the RAM and the graphics card, considering you started with 2GB the machine must be old.
Check what you need and you will notice a replacement system will come cheaper with much more performance.

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seandogue
seandogue

Answer 4 years ago

While under certain circumstance it makes more sense to save cash and purchase a new machine, That "if older than 3 years" comment is just plain silly.

If the installed processor is underpowered, far less memory than can be utilized is installed, cooling is in adequate, graphics card one of those cheap intro-level pieces of junk loaded by big box electronics stores, etc, and budget (money and/or time... rebuilding a system from scratch can be quite laborious) does not allow purchasing a new machine, it makes perfect sense to upgrade the existing hardware, although I'd consider more than a few hundred spent to be wasted UNLESS the computer is a workhorse. I just spent ~$300 to overhaul my now 11 year old XP workstation, including a new (duplicate) motherboard, fans, proc cooler, and power supply.

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Downunder35m
Downunder35m

Answer 4 years ago

Not really silly if you consider for how long things a available and actually useful.
A 3 year old computer can run on 5 year old hardware and even if not the price to upgrade processor, memory and hard drive come pretty close to what a new budget system will cost.
Only difference is that the budget system will be still faster.
And don't get me wrong but spending 300$ to upgrade a XP machine really is silly, especially if the machine is 11 years old, IMHO ;)

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seandogue
seandogue

Answer 4 years ago

I develop professionally using a computer built new in 2005. Aside from hardware failures, and recently a failure in my old antivirus package (was Avast) it has performed spectacularly ever since I purchased it. Some newer software won't run on it, and for that I use my Windows 10 laptop, but whether for software development, music composition, general internet use, cad, etc, the one I'm typing on right now is perfectly sufficient to the task.

Your opinion is noted. As a professional, I disagree. Systems are more than the hardware they run on and rebuilding a system isn't always an easy thing. For me, it'd require weeks of effort to restore the same level of usability. That corresponds to a multi-thousand dollar loss of income during the rebuild period, plus the cost of the new system...Somewhere in the area of $4-5000. $300 is economically sensible in the face of downtime and upfront cost.

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seandogue
seandogue

Answer 4 years ago

BTW, as I noted in my original reply, *sometimes it makes more sense to replace than to upgrade, and I don't dispute the validity of that stance, if evealuated as necessary.. I'll leave that analysis for the OP and not presume to know more about his/her needs than he/she has, a failure I see too often from regular respondents who presume to know what they can't know.

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tragicallyhip
tragicallyhip

4 years ago

You have ordered more RAM for your old machine,that will improve it's performance a bit, an SSD would improve Read/Write performance a bit but your old motherboard would prove to be a major bottle neck. there is no other upgrade you can add that can magically turn a Sow's ear into a silk purse. If you are content after the RAM upgrade great, if not buy the best current generation desktop you can afford. You can go with a NEW build and have a machine custom tailored to your need's but remember you will have too buy a new OS to go with it. Microsoft wont let you use your old one as it is married to the old motherboard.

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Quadrifoglio
Quadrifoglio

4 years ago

+1 on the OS. A top cause of "Why didn't my RAM upgrade work"?

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seandogue
seandogue

Answer 4 years ago

Actually, aside from hardware failure of the chip itself, the primary reason memory upgrades fail is because the person who purchased it didn't find out which chips are compatible with their motherboard and installed memeory incompatible witht heir bus speed, chipset, etc.. The OS simply limits the access to memory (for instance XP workstation only allows access to ~3G, even if more is installed up to the limti of the motherboard. My XP motherbaord will accept up to 16G, but it's only efficacious if I run Windows Server)

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-max-
-max-

4 years ago

I made the biggest mistake with my computer build expecting to upgrade down the road as the parts are very modular and upgradable, however, the value of components like CPUs and RAM simply do not depreciate as I would have expected. The only computers I would say are worth upgrading for a last breath are very VERY old machines, where the best possible CPU for the motherboard may be sold as new old stock on eBay for $20 or something.

.

I upgraded my very old 7 year old computer from 1GB 667MHz to 4GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM to make it usable as a PDF datasheet viewing machine running linux. I did not upgrade the old dual core Athlon 64 x2 processor in it however. Really the motherboard does not deserve anything better.

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-max-
-max-

Answer 4 years ago

Probably get one of those cheapies and throw in a decent graphics card and you can have yourself a really decent $300-$600 gaming machine. But don't expect many features or overclocking options from the OEM motherboards.

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bwrussell
bwrussell

4 years ago

I'm assuming this computer is pretty old (Win XP maybe?) if it only has 2GB of RAM and that if you really want modern performance you need a new system. It seems like you may not really need any upgrades though if the reason you're doing it is because its there. What is the main thing you use this for? That will determine your best course of action.

In general the way to get the most noticeable performance increase is to install your OS on a SSD (Solid state drive).

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iceng
iceng

4 years ago

OverKill will get you...

Your Bios must be able to accept and use 4 gig random access memory and did you get the same speed.

Often you can get two replacement mem sticks that use less power, double your RAM and are faster.

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seandogue
seandogue

4 years ago

As Steve and Squibo noted, evaluate your motherboard before investing too much time and money.

Different motherboards support different levels of hardware upgrade (for instance, you can't put a quadcore processor in an old "XT" machine, nor can you upgrade memory to 16 or 32G if your motherboard only supports 2G, any more than you can use an IDE card in a non IDE-compliant machine/OS pair or apply a PCIE card in a board that's not PCIE compliant....

In addition, the OS you're going to use is also in-part dependent on the motherboard, and the motherboard's capabilities are dependent on the motherboard. FOr instance, one of my old machines was originally purchased to upgrade my Windows 95 experience, where the motherborrd included both the now esstntially obsolete IDE bus and and the at the time new PCI slots. WIndows 95 allowed the use of IDE bus card. Windows 2000 and NT4 did not. When I upgraded to Windows 2000 and Win NT (I used to run a lot of multiboot environments) I had to be sure to use multiboot so I could still access the hardware installed (a pair of IDE sound cards and an IDE bus data acquisition and control card) , so that I could back boot to WIndows 95 for accessing them, since they were and are now considered a major security violation and are forcibly disabled by more modern operating systems... (windows 2000, NT4, and on up too Windows 10)

So why all this chatter? Because sometimes it makes more sense to place a stick in one's teeth, bite down, and patiently save the funds for an entire system upgrade, ie a new computer, than to toss $20 + $30... + $50 + $150... + etc. at an old machine in hopes of saving money.

ok, so now some practical ideas:

Memory: Installing 4G in a windows XP (workstation) environment will allow access of up to ~3G. I know this because I'm typing on a keyboard connected to a tower system running windows XP with a pair of 2G, and a quick glance at my task manager shows that to be true. (right now, system is nera fiully laoded and has only 300M of that 3.14.. G available...hmm...on that note time to close a few windows.

Also, consider a better monitor, and perhaps a better video card.. Is your hard drive big enough? consider adding a second drive or an external.

Fans are relatively inexpensive. Replace them.

Processor. Operating systems are often coupled to the specific processor. Be careful. Even if you motherboard supports a faster proc, you may experience issues with existing OS installs (I haven't broached it myself since I've read to many warnings and depend too much on my equipment, so I haven't attempted to "beat the system" by boosting a 1.86GHz proc with a 3GHz proc, etc. cost vs benefit....) ...

In addition, the bus speed of a given processor may not be compatible with installed memory. Be sure they're properly matched.

I'd also recommend cleaning your machine. blow it out with dry air, vacuum air ports, remove and reseat cards, connectors, and memory chips, etc, and prior to closing it up, route internal wiring to impede air flow as little as possible, etc.

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seandogue
seandogue

Answer 4 years ago

PS sorry for the typos. I hope you can ferret out my meanings aside from the gross spelling errors..

Sure do wish Indestructibles allowed editing of one's posts... cough cough cough cough cough...Like pulling teeth to see functional improvements in the GUI

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rickharris
rickharris

4 years ago

Why? what is the objective?

Often more/faster won't make a big difference to your use.

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Squibo
Squibo

4 years ago

I'm not going to disagree with steveastrouk but in my experience un-upgradeable pc's are few and far between.

If you run a program like "PC Wizard" to get the relevent info on whats already in there you can then look for the correct components and Google to see what others have done with the same hardware.

I like to think CPU & RAM are your best spend some money and notice a difference option, followed by the hard drive (think SSD), but there is always a bottleneck, most of the time something you upgrade will be held back from its full potential by something else so the path of PC hardware upgrading is a cruel mistress :)

Do you have a 32 or 64 bit system, if its 32 bit more RAM is a waste of time.

Do you have older hardware?, those unobtainable processors from when your hardware was new are now a fraction of the price second hand.

Best advice always check and double check compatibility (socket type etc) and google the hell out of any decision you make before committing your hard earned cash.

Hope that helps.

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steveastrouk
steveastrouk

4 years ago

Take a look at the EXACT specs for your motherboard - it might not support anything other than what's fitted.