We believe in second chances, and there are times when a PC is very fond of it. Therefore, we are going to explain how to improve an old PC, taking into account how the market is and how to save money in the process.
Speeding up, optimizing, or improving an old PC is possible without spending a lot of money, and you have to know what expectations you should have. First, be clear about the starting point of our PC, and then see how we can improve it to make it a more agile tool.
What do you want to improve?
This is the first thing you should ask yourself since you can improve your PC in a thousand different ways. If you have come here it is because you want to improve one or more aspects of your PC, but which one exactly?
Some people simply want more space, others need it to go faster, and others want to improve it to have more FPS in video games. As you will see, there are many different purposes, so first ask yourself what you want to improve.
- If you just want the operating system to go faster, you will have to buy an SSD (if you don’t already have it) and install Windows (or whatever OS) on it.
- Then, there is the option of RAM memory, if our equipment has 8 GB or less. Going up to 16 GB is a great idea, but we’ll only notice it if we play games on high graphics settings or run a lot of programs at the same time. If you want to see differences between 16 vs 32 GB, our article is very good, to clear up any doubts.
- In case you are looking for more FPS, you have to look at the GPU and CPU, without neglecting the power supply after seeing the latest generations.
Before buying, optimize the equipment
What do we mean by optimize? Clean the PC from viruses, configure the boot, clean and maintenance of components, etc. So as not to bore you by always saying the same thing, we refer you to the most interesting tutorials on it.
SSD: what options do we have
It seems that all problems are solved by buying an SSD and more RAM, but let’s be cautious when buying components. Today, we have many types of products within SSDs:
- 2.5-inch SSD.
- M.2 SSDs.
- M.2 NVMe SSD.
- PCIe 4.0 SSD.
We don’t want you to waste time buying and returning SSDs because your computer doesn’t support them or because you can’t install them on your platform. The first option we have is the 2.5-inch SSD, which is compatible with most PCs because of the following:
- Due to its size, it fits most laptops and desktops.
- It makes use of a SATA connector that goes to the motherboard and a SATA connection to power the SSD.
- Its transfer speeds are approximately 400 MB/s in writing and reading. This is a piece of information that you should look at when you go to buy a 2.5-inch unit since there is some that move at 350 MB/s. Also, note that they are sequential: MB/s at the peak are not the same as others that can be reached continuously.
However, M.2 drives have caught on because they are three times as fast as 2.5-inch SSDs and their prices are the same or better. They do not use SATA, but the PCI-Express interface, connecting directly to the motherboard. Things to consider:
- PCs from 2016 or later do not usually have an M.2 slot, so M.2 SSDs can only be installed in the PCI-Express slot through an adapter. In case you choose this route, you have to pay close attention to the slot technology (PCIe 2.0, 3.0, etc.) as well as the rails it uses (x1, x4, x8, x16). Always check your motherboard manual to check compatibility.
- They do not need power because they connect directly to the motherboard.
- There are different form factors, and you should look at this before buying an M.2 SSD to install it in your M.2 slot (if you have one). The most common are 2280, 2260, or 22110.
- There is M.2 SSDs with NVMe protocol, like others that come without it (also called SATA): the difference lies in enjoying 1500 MB/s to 3500 MB/s in reading easily. It is a key feature to have a faster SSD, and we advise that if you opt for one with NVMe, you use it on a PCIe 3.0 interface.
- Look at the M.2 SSD pins: there are certain models that are for laptops.
- Related to the previous point, many modern laptops come with an M.2 slot which makes upgrading much easier.
Refer to PCIe 4.0 SSDs, which reach 7000 MB/s transfer rates thanks to the use of PCI-Express 4.0. Avoid these SSDs if you don’t have a laptop or motherboard with PCI-Express 4.0, especially in the M.2 slot, which normally uses x4 or x8. They are the most expensive (waiting for PCIe 5.0 SSDs to come out), and only cater to high-performance needs like databases.
Mention that such powerful SSDs need a heatsink to give maximum performance, as is the case with PCIe 4.0 or 5.0 SSDs.
As a last detail, you should never occupy almost all the space of the SSD, but you have to leave a free space of 20-10%. If you occupy almost the entire SSD with data, its performance drops a lot, especially in writing. The reason for this is that SSDs fill up empty blocks when writing data; if there is no space, the SSD reads the nearly full block, writes the data to the cache, modifies the deleted block with the new data, and will overwrites other partially filled blocks.
Our 3 proposals to speed up the old PC with an SSD are the following:
- Kingston A400 480 GB for those looking for a 2.5″ SSD.
- Kingston NV1 NVMe 500 GB, for those looking for an M.2 SSD.
- Sabrent 500 GB PCIe 4.0 .
Are there differences in loading screens with a 2.5″ SSD and another M.2?
There are no differences, so it is not necessary to go to the M.2 SSD to take advantage of speeds that, if you think that you are going to take advantage of them in video games, are non-existent. You can check it yourself or go to a YouTube video in which they compare an M.2 SSD and a 2.5″ SSD on the loading screen of various video games.
The big difference in this aspect comes when we change an HDD to an SSD.
RAM: do not buy to buy
If you are wondering how to improve an old PC and you have thought that RAM will be the solution, you must keep one thing in mind: it will improve multitasking and meet demanding video games when we play in Ultra.
It improves multitasking because we have more resources (more RAM memory) to distribute among the processes (games, launchers like Steam, background programs, Chrome, etc.). Therefore, we will not see that lag or slowdown when we open a window or when we have many tabs open.
On the other hand, the latest video games are asking for a minimum of 16 GB in recommended requirements. This is for those who are going to play with everything in ULTRA, and it is that a video game takes 8 GB of RAM memory by itself on many occasions.
Also, you have to understand that if you want to improve an old laptop, you have to look at SODIMM RAM, not the conventional one that is sold for desktops.
With all this, you must understand that most of you will not need more than 16 GB with a frequency of 3,200 MHz. Of course, opt for 2 modules to make them work in Dual Channel because that way you will take advantage of a 128-bit bus and it is more interesting in terms of performance. This option will not be more expensive and it is always welcome, although working with only 1 module is still a good option.
Even so, those 3,200 MHz have to be supported by your motherboard, so it is something that you should look at before buying anything; if it does not support them, choose less frequency. Keep in mind that you will be investing in something that is already outdated because DDR5 RAM has just arrived, and anything that is investing in DDR3 or DDR4 is obsolete.
If you want to save some money to speed up your old PC, we recommend these options:
- Crucial Ballistix BL2K8G32C16U4B 16GB 3200MHz CL16 Desktop.
- Kingston FURY Beast 16 GB at 3200 MHz CL16 in Single Channel for desktop.
- Crucial CT16G4S24AM 16 GB DDR4 2400 MHz CL17 Single Channel for Laptops.
- Crucial CT2K8G4S266M 16GB 2666 MHz CL19 in Dual Channel for laptops.
- Komputerbay MACMEMORY 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 for Apple and Laptops.
- Crucial CT2K51264BD160B 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 for Desktop
GPU: Just for gaming and how to save
We have reached a critical point when it comes to knowing how to improve the old PC that you have because the graphics card market is turned upside down. Without getting into the causes, let me tell you that I would only recommend buying a GPU for those who want to play at more FPS.
For those of you who need a GPU, but don’t want it to play games, or to work with heavy tools… I would recommend a good AMD APU. You will have more than decent integrated graphics and the great performance of a CPU. However, this will imply many changing the motherboard, RAM, and CPU, and so do the math.
Do you only want to change GPU? There are 3 options :
- Get into Discords or Telegram channels with bots that notify you when online stores replace new GPUs.
- Buy a refurbished graphics card. Think that they are products that may have been used on display or are simply not sealed, having a like-new condition.
- Buy used GPUs. This is “playing it” because you are buying a product from a private individual that you have to trust who has not used this GPU to mine 24 hours a day or has overclocked it. There is no certificate attesting to the status of the GPU, so it’s a risky option, but one that can work.
The last option will always be to pay the premium that is in the market, but we try to solve the problem. In this way, depending on how we invest the money, we are going to improve the old PC or not.
Power supply: note the consumption
A common mistake is to upgrade components to improve an old PC while keeping the original source, which may be a runtime error on how to do it. Seeing what the Intel Alder Lake-S and the RTX 3000 consume.
As a trick, look at what “PSU suggestion” or “recommendation” is in the technical sheet of the GPU that you are going to buy. On the other hand, we recommend you take a look at the reviews of CPUs and GPUs that we do at Professional Review: at the end of each one we show the consumption of the equipment, and it can help you!
Given the consumption of the latest generation, we are seeing that many configurations require 650W-750W of power supply. Let’s hope that with the advancement of the process to 7 nm by Intel and 5 nm by AMD, things will improve in terms of consumption.
With this, we finish our article on how to improve an old PC with all these tricks. Do you find it interesting? What PC do you have? With what components? We read you in the comments.
Also, reda about CPU Microarchitecture: Everything You Need To Know
Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.