Know If your PC is crying for an upgrade?

Know If your PC is crying for an upgrade?

Tired of your out dated personal computer configuration? Think your computer is no good anymore?

With the price of the personal computers having hit rock bottom in the past couple of years, one can't help but think of getting the latest replacement. Also, with the extensive promises that chip manufacturers, video card designers and peripheral manufacturers make these days, your computer might seem far outdated than it actually is for your needs.
However, before you jump to any conclusions, here are a few questions you need to answer first.

  • How long ago did you buy your machine?
  • What do you use your computer for?
  • Where exactly does it fall short?

Read on to understand the kind of performance an average computer user actually needs from his machine.Then evaluate if you really need an upgrade.

Hard drives :

There isn't much to choosing or upgrading a hard drive. When you fall short of storage on your machine, which is sooner rather than later, just get a new 160 or 300 GB disk.

Go for companies like Seagate, Western Digital or Hitachi since they have well-established dealer networks in most Indian metros. A 300 GB, 7500 rpm hard disk should cost you between Rs 4,400 -- 4,700. Once bought, just complete the formality of partitioning it to facilitate storage of programme files.

Motherboard :

Look at the right reasons before upgrading your motherboard. One of the primary reasons for the upgrade could be the fact that you want a more responsive, faster central processing unit, CPU. Perhaps your present motherboard needs a new socket, or does not adequately support the speed. In case of an upgrade, go for a motherboard with integrated sound, video, network and modem. This will free up quite a few slots to help you upgrade to perhaps a, 8X AGP adapter.

Remember that upgrading your motherboard is quite pointless unless you simultaneously upgrade your CPU and random access memory, RAM, too. Upgrading your AGP card or getting PCI Express means an additional expense on a DDR2. Once you reach the point where the only old components on your machine are the drives and the peripherals, seriously consider getting a new machine.


Let's get it clear what a CPU upgrade practically means:

  • Your motherboard has to support it first, and it needs to be at least 40-50 per cent faster than your earlier CPU for you to even notice the difference.
  • The memory and hard drive will be running at an unchanged speed.
  • A CPU upgrade means more on-chip cache, and faster command execution.

A CPU upgrade makes a lot of sense if you manage to get a substantial upgrade in the chipset and the CPU at under Rs 3,000. Also socket compatibility and compatible chip set models are factors you should ascertain prior to upgradation.


This is the best value for your buck as far as improving performance is concerned. Anything under 256 MB surely needs an upgrade. Most softwares and applications today struggle to run smoothly on machines with 128 MB RAM, say for example running Windows XP. Upgrade over 256 MB at your own discretion in case of usage of heavy applications like graphics-heavy games, animation software or speech recognition.

It is recommended to replace your entire RAM with the new one at the time of the upgrading. Do not upgrade just the required additional RAM over your old one. It leads to complications, and quite simply for the marginal cost difference, it's not worth the trouble.


Some points to remember:

  • Faster CD or DVD drives do not affect any application or program that you run. So whether the player is a 16X or a really old 2X, there isn't much to gain with a faster drive.
  • Choose to go for a DVD burner upgrade over a CD burner. The cost difference is negligible for the advantages.
  • Check for software compatibility with the drive upgrade as that is the area of highest concern while upgrading.
  • Upgrading from an existing burner to a faster burner is pointless, unless you plan to burn CDs or DVDs for commercial purposes in large quantities.

Video card :

An AGP adapter or a top-end PCI Express can cost you more than your entire machine at times. Similarly, a Rs 25,000 video card in a Rs 20,000 machine will not make your machine gain much performance edge, besides bettering the 3D effect a little bit. If you are into hard-core gaming, make sure that you have an AGP slot and not onboard video before you go for an expensive video card upgrade.

Sound card :

Keep a few pointers in mind:

  • There is no 'ultimate' sound system. It depends whether you want your speakers to produce 3D surround effect for games or a home theater effect or rather take the place of your music system. Choosing a sound system is one of the most subjective calls you could take among all hardware choices for your computer.
  • For 3D surround sound in games, first check if you have a 3D sound card installed before installing the four speakers. It is the card that actually gets you to hear enemies closing up on you from behind, not the number of speakers.
  • If you are simply interested in recording music, go for a sound card with a good A/D conversion. Choose a top shelf card if you want to compose music on your machine.
  • Dolby Surround Sound is the same as 3D surround, and usually most motherboards support 6 channel speakers (5.1 audio) that come with a sub-woofer.

If the cost of an upgrade exceeds Rs 15,000, don't even consider an upgrade; go for a new machine. If the cost for upgrading is between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000, take a call on how old your machine is. If it exceeds 3 years, you might consider buying a new one.

Don't upgrade your machine in a hurry. Understand and list your needs of a computer. Check your current system configuration and check if you are really falling short of an upgrade. Most times, upgrading your machine might not be worth it in terms of time and efforts required, since new ones cost so little.

Keep in mind that system crashes and software failures might just mean you need to clear some memory space, curb a few applications or defrag your machine; not that your machine is 'out-dated' for your needs.

Note :

  • Basic hardware requirements have been addressed in the article.
  • Prices are subject to fluctuation across markets.
  • The article does not endorse any brand/ brands of hardware or computers.