It’s a tough call when your computer is still fast and powerful enough to do a lot of the things you want, but falls short in a couple of places that you want to upgrade. Sometimes it can feel like your best bet is to just build a new computer entirely (especially since it doesn’t take a lot of money), but at the same time, you could just upgrade the thing that’s causing you problems and call it a day. The lines are blurrier than you’d think. Here are the considerations you should make.
First: Do You Really Need to Upgrade?
It may seem obvious, but the first thing to ask yourself is if an upgrade is really in order at all. Is something specifically broken, or is your computer just running slowly? If it’s the latter, is it just general slowness, or is there a specific task you think could be faster?
We’ve offered some tips to help you diagnose your slow PC in the past, and I’d recommend going through those if your problem is just “general slowness.” You may find you don’t even need an upgrade. However, if that doesn’t help, it’s time to narrow down the hardware you want while paying attention to how it’ll work with what you have.
The Real Difference Between Upgrading and Building a New Rig
If you’ve built your own computer, you can probably upgrade just the stuff you want without building an entirely new computer. Remember: Your computer is made up of a lot of parts, and many of them are reusable. Even if you buy a new motherboard and CPU (which is what Windows considers a “new computer”) you can still reuse your power supply, hard drives, video card, anything you don’t explicitly choose to upgrade.
The only times you’ll need to build a new computer from scratch is if a) you need the old PC for something else, or b) everything in it is so old that nothing inside is worth recycling. Otherwise, it’s just an upgrade—though whether it’s a small upgrade or a big one depends on other factors.