Upgrading Vs Buying New Computer
What To Look For
The computer is old, running slow, low on memory and nearly out of storage. The question is whether to upgrade the existing equipment or replace it with a new computer. The answer depends upon the anticipated usage of the system and the computer's current condition.
1. An old computer with a slow processor will require extensive hardware changes. A new motherboard and (most likely) new SATA interface drives will be required. The hardware purchase alone will be much more expensive than the purchase of a new system, and once the installation time and labor are added, it makes no sense to upgrade.
2. A computer with a newer processor, Pentium or equivalent, can be economically upgraded to solve storage and possibly speed problems. The addition of an internal or external hard drive is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to solve storage problems. Recordable CD and DVD drives are simple to install and economically priced. External hard drives, although higher in cost, connect with a USB or fire wire cable and do not require opening the computer case.
Speed may be increased to a satisfactory level simply by the addition of a memory module. Many older computers did not come equipped with the maximum compliment of memory. Memory addition is not difficult, but the system must have the capacity for additional memory and the module must be compatible.
The anticipated usage is the most important consideration. If the existing computer has an adequate processor and is to be used for simple internet surfing, email, message storage, photograph storage and simple photo editing, then upgrading the memory and storage is a satisfactory solution. However, if the computer is to be used for gaming, video and video editing, sophisticated photo editing, extensive internet, or multitasking activities, a new system with the latest processor (duo or quad) is the best choice.
Upgrading the Computer
Adding or replacing internal drives (hard, CD and DVD) is relatively easy, but make certain the new drive is compatible. Internal drives utilize the IDE interface in older computers. Make certain the drive is marked "IDE." When adding memory, be certain to add modules consistent with the computer's specification.
A new computer will have the latest operating software system such as Windows Vista. Existing hardware, printers, and scanners may require different drivers to work with the new software. Drivers can be found and downloaded from the hardware manufacturer's web site. Original installation disks will be required to add software programs to the new system, and some older programs may not be compatible with the new operating system.
Where To Buy
Amazon.com, Newegg.com and TigerDirect.com are good online sites for upgrade drives and memory. For new computer purchases, the consumer should visit a store to get the look and feel of the new system. Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples and local computer stores will have working systems for review. Dell is a good site to learn about the latest available technology; however, after the on-line review, visit a computer store to see the product.
Hard drive prices will vary depending upon capacity and speed. A good internal 500 GB drive will cost around $70. Expect to pay around $120 for a comparable external USB drive.
Computer prices will vary depending upon the processor type, hard drive storage capabilities, as well as additional hardware (television tuner, disc labeler) or software. Expect to pay from $500 to $1000 for a well equipped computer with a duo or quad processor.
When comparing prices from the major stores, be certain to compare identical systems. A quad processor from INTEL is priced differently than one from AMD. The amount of memory, the number and size of the hard drives, as well as the optional hardware and software must be considered. Clerks at Best Buy are not on commission and are a fairly good source of information, so do not be afraid to ask.