We’ve all been there, switching on your computer, and then going off to make a cuppa whilst it boots into Windows. Then another arduous wait for any application to open, whether it is a mail client, or a web browser! The good news is there is a way to potentially speed it up, which can be more cost effective than buying a new computer!
Older computers running Windows 10 generally have 4GB RAM installed as standard. This was fine for earlier versions, but due to the evolution of Windows 10 since it’s release, this has resulted in RAM usage increasing to 70%+ with just Windows 10 running, and no applications open. We recommend at least 8GB RAM to run Windows 10, which decreases the RAM usage to around 35% with only Windows 10 running and nothing else. You could even upgrade to beyond 8GB if your computer is capable. We have found that computers running Windows 11 are resource hungry, and would also benefit from a RAM upgrade.
Traditional hard drives are mechanical and have moving parts called platters which store data, and read/write heads which access the data. SSD drives however, use memory chips, making stored data instantly accessible, and increasing read/write speeds, making the boot speed faster, as well as the opening of applications.
What Can and Can’t Be Upgraded on a Laptop?
As a general rule, laptops can have their RAM and storage upgraded, although with every rule there are exceptions.
Some laptops are limited to 4GB RAM, and in some cases, the RAM is soldered to the system board, making it non-upgradable. Some models are also limited to the maximum amount of RAM they will accept. Low-end models can be limited to 4GB, where as mid-range can be upgradeable to 8GB or 16GB, with high-end having the ability to take more.
Regarding storage, certain laptops have the storage built-in to the system board, making it impossible to replace, resulting in the laptop not being eligible for an upgrade. These limitations are typically found in low-end specification laptops, unfortunately condemning them to a slow and cumbersome existence.
Laptop CPUs, also known as processors, cannot be upgraded as they are soldered to the system board. Even back in the day when laptop processors were removable, they could only be replaced with a like-for-like option in the case of a faulty processor, as the system board would only accept the specific processor it was initially built with.
Another frequently asked question is about graphics upgrades on laptops. Even if a laptop has a dedicated graphics card, it cannot be upgraded. Once again, the system board is locked down to that graphics card. If you require more graphics power you will need to replace your laptop.
What Can and Can’t Be Upgraded on a Desktop PC?
Now, this depends on whether the PC is an off-the-shelf model, i.e., HP, Lenovo, Dell, or is a Custom Built PC.
The upgradeability of the RAM is an option for both off-the-shelf and a Custom PC, with the only limit being the maximum RAM the motherboard can take. Off-the-shelf PCs are generally limited to 16GB, or 32GB if you are lucky. Whereas a Custom Built PC can potentially take up to 128GB, but all systems are different. This would apply more to gaming PCs/motherboards, but still a mid-range Custom Built PC could potentially go up to 64GB. This is something we can check and advise you on, as all motherboards are different.
Storage upgrades are possible on both off-the-shelf and Custom PCs, but the storage type will depend on the PC itself. Over the past few years the motherboards we have used for Custom Built PCs have had M.2 slots, meaning they have the capability to take M.2 SSDs. If the PC doesn’t have an M.2 slot, we can still install a SATA SSD which will help to speed up the computer. We are happy to have a look at your computer for you and advise what storage upgrade options are available.
The same applies to off-the-shelf desktop PCs as for laptops, so far as only being able to accept the specific processor it was initially built with. Custom Built PCs however do have the potential for a CPU upgrade, but this depends on availability of compatible CPUs. We are happy to check this for you, but we will need to know the make and model of the motherboard, and the specification of the current CPU.
Graphics card upgrades on off-the-shelf PCs is dependent on the size of the case and whether the install PSU is powerful enough to run the graphics card. SFF (Small Form Factor) PCs have limited space, and even when graphics cards come with low-profile brackets, it doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to fit inside the case. It’s far from being a straight forward upgrade, we aren’t saying it is impossible, just that it will take some investigating and research.
When it comes to Custom Built PCs, graphics card upgrades don’t usually pose a problem. Again case size can be a factor, but generally cases are usually mATX or ATX, but physical space within the case does need to be factored in. You do still need to look at whether the PSU is powerful enough and has the relevant power connector, as some cards require direct power from the PSU. You also need to check whether the PCIe slot on the motherboard supports the specific PCIe version required by the new graphics card (e.g., PCIe 3.0, PCIe 4.0).
If you are interested in finding out if your computer, whether it is a desktop or laptop, can be upgraded then get in touch.