A beige old computer from the late 90's

When do you really need to upgrade your PC? – Geek Review

Upgrading a computer or laptop can be costly. While cheap options are sometimes available, you can spend several hundred dollars or even a few thousand dollars on a new device. Wanting to avoid an expensive upgrade is understandable, but when do you need a new device?

The answer is, it depends. Everyone has different circumstances, both financial and business. But there are some general rules for people like gamers and PC builders, as well as some red lines that should apply to everyone. The following piece should give you an idea of ​​when it is a good time to retire from an old computer and treat yourself to something new.

Security is the most important consideration

With any operating system, hackers and bad guys are constantly investigating its code to find parts to exploit. Companies like Microsoft then fix these vulnerabilities as quickly as possible, so their customers aren’t left vulnerable to threats. However, tech companies tend to eventually withdraw their support for older operating systems. Windows 7 was the latest operating system for Microsoft to withdraw its support back in 2020, and Windows 8 will soon follow.

If your computer cannot run a newer operating system, you should consider upgrading. The security breach means that sensitive files, personal data, bank accounts, and credit cards may all be at risk. You don’t need to have the latest operating system available to stay secure — Windows 10 users should receive support and security updates until 2025 at the earliest. But when the time comes and the more advanced operating system your device can run is no longer supported, get an upgrade. Possibilities with similar specs to your old device won’t cost much by then.

Gamers should keep an eye on the gaming hardware market

PS5 and Xbox Series X shown side by side
Sony

Console games are more popular than computer games, which can benefit gamers. Most of the mainstream games have a console version along with the PC version. So in theory, the hardware requirements to play said games at medium settings will remain roughly the same throughout this generation.

Five to six years usually pass between console generations, but just a new Playstation or Xbox version shouldn’t send you scrambling to upgrade your PC. Aside from a few “exclusives,” it usually takes game studios a few years to move away from the old console and start producing games exclusively for the newer ones. This is because console players take some time to upgrade to the latest hardware. There are several reasons for this, including a lack of initial availability and a small library of next-generation exclusives in the early days. We’ve reached the point where there are diminishing returns regarding the capabilities of each new console.

So the bottom line is, if your hardware can comfortably run every new release early in the current console generation – it should be able to handle everything released during that generation and even a few years after. The exception is if you want to maximize graphical settings in each new release or try out new technologies as they appear. Ray tracing is a good example. The first GPU that could handle ray tracing came out in 2018 – it was also very advanced and expensive. If you’ve spent your budget on a console that can exceed the capabilities of the PlayStation 4, you’ll need an expensive upgrade to try out this new technology. Even if your PC meets the best current console specs, you won’t be able to play at 120Hz with ray tracing enabled. Features like true 4K and HDR may be beyond your device’s capabilities.

Upgrading individual parts is cheaper

A computer with an SSD on its side
DAMRONG RATTANAPONG / Shutterstock.com

Desktop computers tend to be modular, so there is an option to increase your hardware specifications by swapping out one or two parts for a newer, more powerful version. A new processor or graphics card can greatly boost your computer’s performance and may be enough to put it on a par with your current hardware. Some upgrades are obvious, too. Additional RAM should be cut into empty channels on the motherboard or replace the old sticks with larger ones. Something like an SSD needs connections to a spare SATA port and power.

However, computer parts have to be compatible, and there will come a time when something like your motherboard will no longer be compatible with the latest RAM, processors, or graphics cards. At this point, it’s time to buy something new or effectively build a new platform yourself.

However, with a desktop, you can save money here. Parts such as SSDs, hard drives, cases, and power supplies will likely work with future builds just as they did in the previous build. So, even if an overhaul is necessary, you may be able to clean enough parts from your old rig to save you a significant amount of money.

Desktop live longer

In addition to its upgradability, the desktop design adds to its longevity. Heat can kill or drastically reduce the life span of electronic components. If a computer is not kept clean, a thick coating of dust will isolate these components, affecting performance and reducing their life.

Desktop is much easier to cool down. Aside from options like air and water cooling, PC builders can also play with fan and airflow configurations. There is more room in the enclosure to radiate heat away, and desktops are much easier to keep clean. If you own a desktop PC and notice your GPU building up a layer of dirt, a quick blast with some compressed air or going completely with a PC vacuum will fix that soon. Laptops also restrict airflow due to their size and shape. I’m currently writing this while lying down, the notebook I’m writing on is on my chest. My gut is blocking one of the laptop’s air intake vents, so if the fans need to be running, they’ll have a much tougher job cooling the machine. I’ve never blocked a desktop intake fan in my stomach.

In addition to cleaning and cooling, you have to consider components such as screens, batteries, and charging wires. Batteries have a more limited life than most components, and when a laptop battery loses its ability to withstand a charge, the laptop loses most of its functionality. After a few years of twisting, bending, and twisting, your laptop charging cable can become damaged. This will require repair with a soldering gun or a rather expensive replacement. As mentioned, a desktop can last through console generation or even as long as its operating system receives support. On the other hand, a laptop computer lasts between three and five years on average.

Your computer will start telling you when the time is right

Laptop with a frayed power cord
ArieStudio / Shutterstock.com

I have a very old ASUS device, at least five years old and 100% showing its age. The keys fall off, it blue screens a lot, it has issues with Wi-Fi, and the battery is almost overheated. To exacerbate the battery issue, it will only let me know that it needs to be plugged in on very rare occasions – rather it just prefers to die with me if I accidentally take out the charger for more than two minutes. Speaking of the charger, the charger I have is the #2 charger, and it’s currently kept alive by a bunch of breadsticks and my own poor soldering work.

None of these issues are recent; The laptop was fine for at least three and a half years before it started developing problems. These issues have gradually gotten worse, and it’s getting to the point where I have to buy a new one. When buying the old ASUS I chose something in the upper mid-range, which means the specs are still enough to handle the things I need a laptop to handle. But the unreliability and immovability are too many, and it’s time to retire the old beast in a closet.

So what’s a good time to get a new PC or laptop? If you’re like me, that’s when your old device becomes so unstable that you can barely use it anymore.

#upgrade #Geek #Review

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