You may not know it -depending on your requirement- often you will save money by buying a new computer instead of upgrading an old one. Sometimes, a whole new computer is considerably cheaper than the sum of its components. But if you can reuse many old components such as the LCD display, hard drive and the case, which allow you to save some money, then you should choose the upgrade path.
Upgrade the computer if you can build a good system
You can upgrade your current PC with relatively inexpensive components to give it performance boost and extra features you can’t get in pre-manufactured systems. Computer parts are relatively affordable than they have ever been, while the performance levels are increasingly impressive. In fact, some components that are widely available on the PC part market for replacements or upgrades are rarely present in branded PC models. So it is possible to build a hot-rod system, perhaps leveraging some of the old system’s parts, without spending too much time or money.
PC makers usually don’t equip their computers with the best possible parts. By “best,” it often means “fastest”; other than performance you should also take into account reliability and after-sales service.
Upgrade Your PC if You Want to Keep It Alive
The second most likely reason for PC upgrades is that you need to do it for routine maintenance. In a few cases you really need to upgrade the computer simply to ensure that it can be used properly. When a part expires or damaged you have to find a replacement. Older equipments are not always available on the store and are not necessarily cheaper than latest equipment. This isn’t because old equipment has drastically appreciated in value; mostly because the prices of new equipments have plummeted faster than the depreciation of old equipments. It presents a whole new problem: a good balance between availability, affordability, compatibility, and reliability. You may find yourself upgrading to a newer component model part because that’s the more affordable route. A Pentium IV 1.5 GHz processor (Willamette) with fan and heat sink sells for about $55 when it was released; now at the same price you can get an Intel Dual Core E5400 (including fan and heatsink), which is about ten times faster in Passmark benchmark!
Don’t Upgrade If It is Too Expensive
Today the typical price range of an off-the-shelf, fully configured, consumer-level desktop computer is between $600 – $750. That price level could dip down during the holiday season but it probably represents the stable average of PC system price. At this moment, consumer-level PCs will simply have higher-performance and newer features and sold at that price level. So an ordinary $700 system sold two years in the future might be the comparable of today’s “power-user” $1500 system. This is a price level that retailers can usually live with.
If you deduct the price of a $750 computer with all the peripheral parts (monitor, speakers, scanner, printer, mouse, keyboard, Internet subscription), all that is inside the computer casing may cost a little more than $350. Keep this figure in mind when you are considering whether to upgrade your old computer or buy a new one; if your monitor still works, it’s always a good idea to reuse it. Keeping the old hard drive can avoid the hassle of transferring your files and worrying about data theft. Still, upgrading is always a good way to go; especially if the computer is more than two years old.
Don’t Upgrade If You Aim Too High
If your goal is to convert your current PC into a high-performance or gaming computer and your computer was built in 2002 or earlier, you should just forget about it. The money you’ll need to spend to convert it into even an average system may easily exceed your current budget. If your old system was bought in 90’s and you want to convert it to the “state of the art” then you should splash cold water on your face and heed these words: High performance is accomplished through the cooperative efforts of all your PC’s parts; this, of course, includes the processor, motherboard and RAM (also graphic cards if you play games often). Each component expects the others to support its maximum performance; for example, the fastest graphics card you can buy (Nvidia GTX 580, for example) will be useless and can only offer sluggish gaming performance if you use a slow, low-end Celeron 430; and in some cases it may not even work. Additionally, the fastest RAM you can buy will be useless if your motherboard can only support lower memory clock.
Although your system is relatively new, upgrading to the newest component might force you to upgrade everything. By the time you have done this, you’ve more than bought your own computer all over again. Unless you are a die-hard Dominos fan, you need to avoid that chain of events at any cost.
Don’t Upgrade Just to be the Fastest or Best
The relative performance of a PC model, from the perspective of the overall computer industry, goes from high-end to obsolete in two or three years, while a new mainstream model can be outdated in just one year. This isn’t a joke. Is it really matter for you to have the best system on the world? Why not instead get a computer needed to get all the jobs done? Just because a friend or an online article claims that your computer configuration is obsolete, is that means you need to upgrade immediately? Fortunately, the answer is no. If a computer continues to serve its purposes well -and you don’t smell something’s burning – then there’s no good reason-aside from maintaining the computer-to open the computer case.
Keeping up with the market perception or public perception of the PC’s relative performance is simply not a good enough reason in a computer upgrade decision. You may be forced to spend on the incremental upgrades each month or even every week just to be the best.