So you’ve had your computer for a few years now and you’ve noticed that it doesn’t really run as fast as it once did. It can’t really handle the new software you just installed and it is also running out of space mainly because of all your photos. Due to all these reasons, you’re considering spending some money on either computer upgrades or a new computer.
Computer Upgrade: More Memory
Maxing out your memory (RAM) can breathe new life into an aging computer if your computer isn’t already maxed out. If you’re doubling your RAM you will most likely notice a difference in your computer’s performance. RAM is fairly inexpensive and doesn’t require much additional work past installation. The cost depends on type and amount of RAM you will need to purchase. This computer upgrade usually costs less than $100.
You will need to figure out how many memory slots you’re currently using and how much RAM is currently installed. On a Mac you can find this info by going to Apple Menu > About This Mac > Memory. On a PC, start the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and go to the Performance tab. Once there, click on Memory and look for the info on Slots Used.
If you’re willing to do it yourself, go to Crucial.com and use their site to identify the correct RAM modules for your computer. You can order directly from their site or use the info you find to compare prices on Amazon.
Computer Upgrade: New Hard Drive
A new hard drive can increase your storage capacity and/or speed up your computer. If you’re looking to upgrade your hard drive make sure you get a Solid State Drive (SSD). You will definitely notice a performance improvement if you’re upgrading from a non-SSD drive. Price of an SSD depends on size with 500GB drives costing around $80. I’ve used Samsung EVO drives in the past to upgrade an iMac and a couple of Dells.
Upgrading a hard drive also means reinstalling your operating system and migrating data from the old drive or restoring it from a backup. This part takes time and if you’re paying someone else to do it, costs money. Expect to spend around $300 to have someone do all this for you.
Computer Upgrade: Other
I don’t recommend upgrading your processor (CPU). For a home user that can’t do this themselves, it usually isn’t worth it. For businesses running servers or gamers with custom machines, this makes a lot more sense. The cost for this upgrade (CPU and installation) could easily go over $300.
A nice new monitor can improve your experience but it will not improve performance of your computer. Same goes for a new keyboard or mouse.
Replacing Your Computer
If you’re looking to upgrade your RAM and hard drive (no CPU) the cost is already around $500 unless you can do most of the work yourself. If your computer was a 3-5 year old budget PC (purchased for around $500) and your replacement option would be another budget PC, you should just replace it.
There are great off-lease/renewed options if you’re OK with a used computer. I’ve bought many of these over the years both for home use and as replacement computers for clients. Here is a good HP on Amazon; 32GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD, WiFi and Windows 10 Pro.
If you spent over $1000 on your computer and your computer is less than 3 years old, upgrading is good option. You have to compare the cost of getting a new computer with upgrading your current one. Keep in mind that if you can’t do it yourself, you will need to pay someone to transfer your data to your new computer. This could cost around $200 on top of the cost of the new computer.
I estimate cost of services based on what I would charge here in Marin County, CA. My recommendations are general but focused on home users. Business users have different requirements and can be a whole other ball game.