Buy new or upgrade non-gaming PC?

There is no secret that everyone would like to have newest technology at their hands. This applies not only to computers, but also cars, appliances, phones and anything else you can think of. Let’s leave the rest and stick with computers.


There are many types of people depending on how they use their PC’s. I can think of gamers, hard core gamers, browsers, active in social networks, movie watchers, writers, designers, scientists and even more. Actually it doesn’t matter how many groups there are or what they do. It matters if you are satisfied with what you get. Probably the hardest life is for gamers. In order to play latest games with best settings, they have to be in front when speaking of computer performance. If budget allows they invest in high end graphical cards, overclocks CPUs that leads to need of good cooling systems. Big monitor or multiple of them is also one of priorities. If you fall in this category, then you all set for the rest workload you can think of.


I am trying to get to other group of people, who usually do not play games, or play occasionally with mid settings. The computer is used for multiple tasks that do not require very high performance or are somewhat CPU-RAM specific. For instance let’s take a student. What is his needs? Normally studying involves lots of reading, browsing, writing and running specific programs like programming language compilers, CAD programs, modeling, calculus like Matlab. Most of them can run on moderate PC with decent amount of RAM and storage. Normally you would need a moderate graphical card and so on. All this fits in to standard laptop.

Some people (like me) cannot concentrate when using laptop. In my opinion, they are not meant for serious typing, programming. Additional keyboard and mouse usually helps, but there is “this” feeling like you are on the run or so. I prefer desktop, this is why it is my number one choice for most of work. Laptop is more for mobility.

I am not a gamer so I don’t need powerful desktop. It is quite old comparing to today’s options. Let’s see. The main board is Gigabyte GA-780T-D3L which support ended with Windows 7 somewhere on 2012. It doesn’t have so needed USB 3.0 support, there is no SATA II support. Along with Athlon II X2 270 and 6GB of DDR3 1333 SDRAM it work like a charm with windows 10. The graphical card is AMS Radeon HD 6670. Of course I run my system on SSD which gives performance boost comparing to mechanical HDD.


Sometimes I think, it would be great to get new PC with at least Intel Core i5 processor, at least 16GB of RAM, newer motherboard with new interfaces included. But then I think, why? Why would I need new if, old does its job pretty well. I can do all my calculations with Matlab, compile basic programs without significant delay, still can play moderate games if needed. I can add in an USB 3.0 expansion board in to PCI express. Also I can still deal with SATA 3Gb/s speed. SSD seems speedy enough to keep going. What else? CPU and RAM. I can add couple gigs more of RAM to 8G. There is also a place for CPU upgrades. Motherboard supports all AM3 Athlon II and Phenom II processors. I can replace two core with quad-core processor to get some performance boost.  I should last few years with such setup.


I think if you are low on budget and system is still ok. It is better to look around for minor upgrade options to get some noticeable boost. Probably my best advice to those who are using old and even new PCs – get SSD as your primary disk. This is probably the only one significantly noticeable upgrade of all. Any cheapest SSD will do the job. Normally you would want to have SSD for windows system and most installs and secondary mechanical high volume HDD for files and other storage.

When speaking of laptop, they are usually slower than desktops due to energy savings and cooling. The only one cure here is also getting SSD instead of built in HDD. If there is no secondary HDD slot, then invest in to larger SSD like 256G or bigger. Also check out, you might be having laptop that has M.2 SATA support. Then you will have to open laptop and install M.2 SSD stick and still have slot for normal HDD.


And of course some general notices for old PC owners. Always clean your PC from dust. If you hear intense fan noise, it means it time to clean-up. If you do this more frequently, compressed air is enough to blow out. If this doesn’t help, there might be fan issues. Replace fan it becomes suspicious.

The other important part is power supply. If your PC is relatively old, it can be that power supply is also getting corrupted. It accumulates dust which is hard to get out without opening enclosure. Capacitors can get leaky and fail. From my experience I have replaced/repaired power supply twice. If you notice that PC sometimes doesn’t switch on or is sensitive to power fluctuations, better replace – they don’t cost much.


Also don’t hesitate to invest in to UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This can be a life saver. You cannot predict how electricity flows in to your house. There can be power surges, short losses and other influences due to powerful equipment running nearby. You don’t need UPS with high capacity battery. Cheap ones work fine. You probably don’t need true sine-wave UPS that are more expensive. It depends on how your budget dictates.

There are all my thoughts on upgrading PC. Don’t get emotional when planning. Read reviews – old components normally have lots of them. Compare things, know your needs and get what you really need. You will be amazed how little you need to get your things done. Better invest in small things like convenient connectors, expansions, backup options, than new system that most of time will be idling.

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