Computer running slow? Why not upgrade instead of replacing?
If you’ve got an older computer (perhaps around 3 years old or older) then you may have found that it isn’t as responsive as it used to be. Rather than replacing it you might want to think about an upgrade.
There are cheaper options available thought to speed your computer up to make it last a little bit longer. In this post, we list a few of the low-cost options that can save you buying a new computer for a little bit longer.
Upgrading the system memory
Upgrading the system memory, or RAM (short for Random Access Memory) on your computer can make a big difference. Unfortunately, computer manufacturers have a habit of installing the bare minimum of memory in a computer. You’ll often find that a computer may have 2 or 3GB of memory installed which is enough for a couple of programs but after a while you’ll find that the more tabs you have open in a browser, or the more programs you have open your computer starts to slow down. This is because when a computer starts to run out of memory it will move chunks of memory to the hard disk to free up room for more running programs. The problem with this is the hard disk is much slower than the system memory in a computer so it takes time to move the chunks of memory to the hard disk, and often if a program needs to access a chunk of memory it needs to load it back in. If you find that your computer or programs seem to freeze for a few seconds or even a minute or two then this could be a sign that you need more memory.
A typical memory upgrade will cost from about £35 although this can vary depending on your computer (there’s a few different types of memory out there).
Upgrading to a Solid-State Disk (SSD)
After upgrading the system memory, one of the most beneficial upgrades to a computer is to install a Solid-State Disk or SSD. They replace the hard disk (where your programs and data are stored) with a much faster drive (usually at least about 10 times faster) which considerably speeds up loading and saving of programs and documents. Another advantage of an SSD, especially in laptops is they don’t have any moving parts.
A traditional hard disk contains small disks either made of metal or metal coated glass which is magnetised. Your programs and data are stored as minute magnetic fields on the disk (like a CD, DVD or even a vinyl record). When you load a program or document from the hard disk, a small “head” inside the hard disk unit scans the surface of the disk for the data. It’s much quicker than a CD or vinyl record but it still takes time to find and read it. The moving parts inside a hard disk unit are fragile and any large shocks (such as dropping a laptop on the floor) can damage the disk rendering it useless and making the data almost impossible to recover without expensive specialist data recovery services.
A Solid-State Disk however uses memory chips which don’t move. It works in a similar way to a memory card that you might use in a smart phone or digital camera where data is stored on a memory chip which keeps the contents safe after the computer has been turned off. These memory chips are very fast and finding and retrieving files is almost instantaneous and can considerably speed your computer up (and without any moving parts, they’re more resistant to shocks or drops).
Solid-State Disks however currently come in much smaller capacities than a typical hard disk (unless you’re willing to spend a few hundred pounds), however a 120GB Solid-State Disk is quite often large enough for a regular user who may only use their computer for web browsing, e-mail and simple office documents, and existing hard drives can often be re-used as an external USB backup drive to store backups of your important documents.
A typical Solid-State Disk upgrade starts at around £60 for a 120GB drive or around £85 for a larger capacity 240GB drive, although prices are constantly coming down.
Upgrading the processor
The processor is the chip inside the computer which executes or “runs” the programs inside the computer. Usually the newer or faster the processor the more responsive it will be. There’s many different types of processor available although the popular choices are usually from Intel (who manufacture the Core, Pentium or Celeron range of processors) or AMD (who manufacture Athlon, Phenom, FX and Turion processors to name a few).
A processor upgrade can make a difference on an older computer. Depending on the model of computer it may be possible to fit a faster processor straight in, or it may possibly need a board and memory upgrade at the same time.
A desktop computer can be typically upgraded easily. Most computers have a few models of processor they are compatible with. For instance, your computer may have a Pentium or Core i3 processor from Intel, and it might be possible to replace this with a Core i5 or i7 (usually the higher the number the more advanced and faster the processor is). In some cases, it might make more sense to upgrade to a much newer processor, and this may require replacing the processor, motherboard (the main board inside the computer where everything plugs in) and the memory. In some cases, though it may make sense to upgrade the desktop to a newer machine (the old one perhaps could be given to the kids to use or re-purposed as a home backup machine to store photos, videos and music) which can be streamed to phones, tablets and games consoles.
Laptops tend to be a little harder to upgrade but it’s not impossible. Older laptops with Pentium or Celeron processors may be upgradable to faster Core processors. We can advise what processor upgrades may be available.
Prices on processor upgrades can vary from machine to machine, prices tend to start at around £40.
For more details on upgrades available for your computer, give us a call on 01803 500199 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org