Trick Out Your Old PC on a Budget

If you have an aging PC, you might be tempted to spring for a new one but upgrading your system can breathe new life into it without breaking the bank. Depending on how you’re using it and what’s frustrating you, there are several components in that old computer that can be upgraded on a modest budget to improve the grievances they address.


If you’re running a lot of applications simultaneously and switching back and forth between them, a slow system can often mean that your RAM, or Random Access Memory, could use an upgrade. Basically, your RAM stores data and applications that are currently in use so they can be accessed quickly. Data in your RAM only stays there while your computer is powered. When the power shuts off, the data is stored on your hard disk. If you’re performing more tasks than your RAM can handle, you will notice a slowdown in your computer.

Upgrading your RAM is often one of the most cost effective improvements you can make to get improved performance from your PC. While you’ll probably get away with having 2GB of RAM if you’re an average user, I highly recommend going up to 4GB. Your applications will run much faster with this upgrade and if you work with photo or video editing software, this is a definite must! Getting your system up to 4GB will run you around $50.

Hard Drive

I would recommend considering a hard drive upgrade if you find that applications take forever to load or you can make a sandwich in the time it takes your PC to boot up.  You can purchase a new 2TB hard drive for as little as $110 and this will provide you with plenty of storage while making your computer much more responsive.

If you have a larger budget, you might also consider looking into a SSD, or Solid State Drive. These drives do not contain any moving parts, such as spinning disks, which mean they can access information more quickly and are much quieter. Though these drives are more expensive, if you’re really committed to boosting your computer’s performance, they are highly recommended.

The great thing about upgrading the hard drive in your PC is the ability to take that hard drive out and reuse it when it’s finally time to retire your computer. The hard drive can easily be taken out of the machine and reinstalled in your new PC with all the data intact, saving you time and frustration.

Video Card

If you’re a gamer, upgrading your video card is probably already on your radar as an important upgrade for your PC. However, average users can often benefit from this simple upgrade as well. If you’ve ever wished for two monitors to look at a giant spreadsheet only to realize that your PC only has one display input, you can rest easy because there’s a simple solution. An external plug-in video card can allow you to plug in up to six displays and run your graphics more smoothly. This upgrade can cost as little as $60.

By Mike Agerbo

September 10, 2013