As more and more software is loaded on your computer and software developers make them larger and with more features, more and more is demanded of your computer. As time goes by your computer may not be able to keep up. You could get a new computer buy that is not always the most economical. Upgrading your computer is a quick way to make your computer faster and to have more features. Most computers can be upgraded but older ones have incompatibility issues. We can help inform you on your options and help you make your computer better fit your needs.
For our customers who purchase an Emerald Computer we charge nothing to install any upgrade that is also bought from us. For customers who already have a computer and simply need us to install their upgrade we have a very minimal charge. If you want to install it yourself and simply need out help deciding then call us, we will do that for you for free. Be sure to check out our price list for your upgrade options. If you don’t see what you want feel free to ask.
If you find that you need to upgrade more than 3 things you should consider simply getting a new computer. Doing this is not as bad as you think because we are willing to take your old computer as a trade in.
Here are the most common upgrades that people do and what we suggest:
RAM is the memory in your computer that actually runs your programs. For a typical users running today’s software should have at least 1GB of RAM. If you have 512MB or less of RAM then as you start to load more software it will start to slow down. Once your computer runs out of RAM then things really start to slow down. If you run Vista or if you run a large number of programs at once then we suggest at least 2GB of RAM. If your computer was made in 2007-2008 it will have DDR2 RAM. If it was made in 2006 it will probably be DDR2 Memory, but if it has an AMD chip it could likely be DDR. In 2003-2005 most computers were made with DDR memory. If your computer is older than that it will have PC-133 RAM or other memory types. Systems that have this type of RAM should be replaced, they will be too hard to upgrade. On a side note, just because you purchased your computer in 2007 does NOT mean that your computer was made in 2007. Many discount computers could be built with 2-3 year old parts, so if you bought a discount computer it could really be much older than you thought.
A video card is your processor of graphics. When you use your computer for normal things such as web browsing, watching videos and office work you are using the 2D part of your video card. This is basically the same on all cards. When you play a large 3D game you are now using the 3D part of the video card. As games get better and better with more graphics a better 3D video card is needed. For most computers a video card is easy to upgrade. There are 3 types of video cards, AGP, PCI-Express (PCI-E) and Onboard. AGP was the standard from the mid 1990’s until 2005. After 2005 PCI-Express is became the main standard for video cards. Cheaper computers have an onboard video card built on the motherboard, these onboard video cards are bad at 3D graphics and really are not playable for video games. The good news is that most quality motherboards with onboard video will also have an AGP or PCI-E slot where you can put the upgraded video card into.
The next most common upgrade for a computer is to get a larger hard drive. A hard drive is your long term memory, it is where all of your files and programs are stored. Your operating system (Windows) is stored on your hard drive so it is not that easy to simply replace it. In most cases we simply suggest adding a second hard drive, but a hard drive is one of the main failure points in a computer so for older computers we suggest replacing the hard drive. If your old hard drive fails you will lose all of your files.
The largest failure point in a computer is the power supply. A power supply is the AC to DC power converter, it takes all of the power from the wall and coverts it to the power that the different parts of the computer needs. If a computer needs 300W of power to work good companies will put in a 450W power supply, but other, lower cost companies will put in only a 300W power supply, this give no extra room for failure. If you install more ram or a larger hard drive you may find that your power supply is not good enough to run your computer, it simply will not boot.
But this is just the start of the problem, as power supplies get older they start to not produce as much power as they did before. Also with power spikes and drops damage occurs and soon your power supply simply does not work. When this happens it is time to get a new one, or you can upgrade your power supply now to prevent this in the future. Sometimes with your power supply fails it may also take out some of your other hardware so it is best to do it early.
Another popular upgrade is to upgrade to a DVD Burner. This drive will replace all other drives and it is able to do everything, it can burn and read DVD’s and CD’s. New drives are much faster, and have more features.
CPU and Motherboard
A CPU is the heart of your computer, often the most expensive part, and the part that most determines the speed of your computer. A motherboard is the nervous system of your computer, it connects to everything, it controls everything and therefore is very important yet hard to change. The motherboard determines what other hardware your computer will be compatible with, it sets your video card type, your hard drive type, your Memory type, your power supply type and your CPU type. For this reason we do not suggest upgrading a motherboard, it is almost always cheaper to simply buy a new computer and trade in your old one. As we have seen before, the motherboard and the CPU are a matched set. It is hard to get anything but the newest CPU socket type, this means that if you don’t have the newest standard on your existing computer it is hard to upgrade your CPU without getting a new motherboard, and as we saw that is not a good idea.