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When do you really need to upgrade your PC? – Geeky Review

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Upgrading a PC or laptop can be an expensive affair. While inexpensive options are sometimes available, you could spend several hundred dollars or even a couple thousand dollars on a new device. It’s understandable to want to avoid a costly upgrade, but when do you need a new machine?

The answer is, it depends. Everyone has different circumstances, both financial and practical. But there are some general rules for people like gamers and PC builders, as well as some red lines that should apply to everyone. The following article should give you an idea of ​​when it might be time to retire an old computer and enjoy something new.

Safety is the most important consideration

With any operating system, hackers and bad actors are constantly digging into your code to find parts to exploit. Companies like Microsoft then work to fix those exploits as quickly as possible so their customers aren’t left vulnerable to threats. However, technology companies tend to eventually withdraw support for their older operating systems. Windows 7 was the last operating system from Microsoft to end support in 2020, with Windows 8 soon to follow.

If your PC can’t run a newer operating system, you should consider upgrading. A security breach means sensitive files, personal data, bank accounts and credit cards could be at risk. You don’t need to have the latest operating system available to stay secure: Windows 10 users should receive support and security updates until 2025 at the earliest. But when the time comes and the most advanced operating system your machine can run is no longer supported, get an upgrade. Chances are, something with similar specs to your old computer won’t cost that much by then.

Gamers should keep an eye on the console market

Renders of PS5 and Xbox Series X, side by side

Console games are more popular than PC games, which can work for gamers. Most major games have a console release alongside a PC release. So, in theory, the hardware requirements to run such games on average settings will remain roughly the same throughout that generation.

There’s usually five to six years between console generations, but the mere release of a new Playstation or Xbox shouldn’t send you scrambling for a computer upgrade. Apart from a few “exclusives”, it usually takes a couple of years for game studios to stop using an older console and start producing games exclusively for the new ones. This is because it takes a while for console gamers to upgrade to the latest machine. There are a few reasons for this, including a lack of early availability and a small library of next-gen exclusives in the early days. We’ve even gotten to the point where there are diminishing returns to the capabilities of each new console.

So the bottom line is that if your team can comfortably reproduce every new release at the beginning of the current console generation, it should be able to handle anything that comes out during that generation and even a couple of years beyond. The exception is if you want to maximize graphical settings with each new release or try out new technologies as they come along. Ray tracing is a good example. The first GPU that could handle ray tracing came out in 2018; it was also innovative and quite expensive. If you had spent your budget on a console that could surpass the capabilities of the PlayStation 4, you would need an expensive upgrade to try out this new technology. Even if your PC meets the specs of a current top-of-the-line console, you still won’t be able to game at 120Hz with ray tracing enabled. Features like true 4K and HDR may also be beyond the capabilities of your machine.

Upgrading individual parts is cheaper

A computer with an SSD on its side
DAMRONG RATTANAPONG / Shutterstock.com

Desktop PCs tend to be modular, so there’s the option of upgrading your PC’s specs simply by swapping out one or two of the parts for a newer, more powerful version. A new processor or graphics card can significantly increase your PC’s performance and may be enough to bring it up to par with a current machine. Some upgrades are also easy. Additional RAM must be put into empty channels on the motherboard or swap out old sticks for larger ones. Kind of like an SSD you need cabling to a spare SATA port and power.

However, the parts of the PC must be compatible, and there will be a time when something like a motherboard is no longer compatible with the latest RAM, processors, or graphics cards. At this point, it’s time to buy something new or build yourself a new one.

Still, with a desktop, you can save money here. Some parts, such as solid-state drives, hard drives, enclosures, and power supplies, are likely to work just as well with a future release as they did with a previous release. So even if a total overhaul is necessary, you may be able to salvage enough parts from your old equipment to save a significant amount of money.

Live desktops longer

In addition to its upgradeability, the design of a desktop computer increases its useful life. Heat can kill or drastically reduce the life of electronic components. If a PC isn’t kept clean, a thick layer of dust will also isolate those components, affecting performance and further reducing their lifespan.

A desk is much easier to cool down. In addition to options like air and water cooling, PC builders can also tinker with fan and airflow settings. There’s more room in the case for heat to radiate, and desktop PCs are also much easier to keep clean. If you own a desktop PC and notice that your GPU is building up a layer of grime, a quick blast with some compressed air or a full overhaul with a PC vacuum will soon fix that. Laptops also restrict airflow due to their size and shape. I am currently writing this while lying down, and the notebook I am writing in is on my chest. My instinct is blocking one of the laptop’s air intake vents, so if the fans need to kick in, they’ll have a more challenging job of cooling the machine. I have never blocked my desk intake fan with my stomach.

Beyond cleaning and cooling, you need to consider components like screens, batteries, and charging cables. Batteries have a more limited lifespan than most components, and when a laptop battery loses its ability to hold a charge, the laptop loses most of its functionality. After a few years of being twisted, bent, and wrapped, a laptop’s charging cable can become damaged. This will require a repair with a soldering gun or a fairly expensive replacement. As mentioned, a desktop can last a console generation or even as long as its operating system is supported. In contrast, a laptop lasts between three and five years on average.

Your computer will start to notify you when it’s time

A laptop with a frayed power cord
ArieStudio / Shutterstock.com

I have a fairly old ASUS, it is at least five years old and it shows its age at 100%. Keys fall off, it gives a lot of blue screens, it has problems with wifi, and the battery is almost toast. To compound the battery problem, it will only alert me that it needs to be plugged in very rarely; instead, it would rather die if I accidentally unplug the charger for more than two minutes. Speaking of the charger, the one I’m using is charger #2, and it’s currently being kept alive through a combination of bread ties and my shoddy soldering job.

None of these problems is recent; the laptop was fine for at least three and a half years before it started having problems. Those problems have gradually gotten worse and it’s getting to the point where I have to buy a new one. When I bought the old ASUS, I opted for something in the upper mid-range, which means the specs are still enough to handle the things I need a laptop to handle. But the lack of reliability and lack of portability are just too much, and it’s time to retire the old beast to a closet.

So when is the time to get a new PC or laptop? If you’re like me, that’s when your old one becomes so unstable that you can hardly use it anymore.

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