I have mentioned before that I used to build PCs fro scratch. That means knowing all of the components and putting them together to make a fully functional working PC. This also means that I am no stranger to updating a PC. Upgrading the hard drive, adding memory, adding components. All of it has been done. The below guest post tells you where to start if you are thinking about updating your own PC.
The world of PC building can look intimidating at first glance, but the bare bones of it are actually quite simple – the motherboard sits in the case, and everything else slots into the motherboard. The main work is in researching your components, and making sure that what you get is not only functional and high quality, but compatible with the rest of your system. To get you started, here’s a guide to your PC’s insides – and what to look for when replacing them.
The motherboard is the large circuit board connecting all other components in your PC, and should really be considered first, as it’s this that will determine what you can plug into it. Make sure it has all of the ports you need for your requirements – look out for USB 3.0 ports if you’re likely to be transferring a lot of data, and a HDMI input if you want to plug your PC into a larger TV for gaming or video editing.
This should be the first thing on your list after the motherboard, as you need to ensure these are both compatible. This will again depend on what you use your PC for – high-power machines for gaming will require a dual core or quad core, which allows the processor to manage more calculations at once. Clock speed is another consideration, as this will determine how each core performs. There are a few big brands in the processor market, but we reckon you can’t go wrong with an Intel processor in terms of quality.
Your RAM determines how fast your PC can access information – the more RAM you have, the faster your PC will run. Your motherboard will come with either dual or triple “channels” – these are the ports that the RAM sticks slot into, and will determine how many sticks you can have in total. You’ll also need to check for the type and speed your motherboard supports – this should be stated in the user manual when you buy it, although Googling your model number should also get you some answers.
There are two types of hard drive you can pick up: the optical drive, which writes your information to a spinning disk; or a solid state drive, which writes information to microchips. Solid state drives are by far the more reliable, and definitely worth the extra cost – you can always expand or upgrade later, too, so don’t worry if you can’t spring for a terabyte drive just yet!
If you’re just using your PC for browsing and listening to music, you’re probably fine just picking up a motherboard with on-board graphics. For anything more heavy-duty though, like gaming, you’ll need to pick up a dedicated graphics card to really get the full experience. Choosing the right card is complicated, as brands fluctuate so much in terms of quality – check out resources like AnandTech’s benchmarking tool to find the latest top options.
Jordan Peck is a freelance writer who writes on various technology related topics, including mobile phones, laptops, tablets and the internet.