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  • Computer Upgrades: What You Need to Know
Technology Articles > Computers > Desktops > Computer Upgrades: What You Need to Know

When buying a computer, it is important to prioritize the extra add-ons. You don't necessarily need to maximize *everything* on your computer -- that is an unnecessary waste of resources. However, a few add-ons are sometimes necessary (or simply nice to have) when buying a new computer.

For non-technical people, though, it can be difficult to know where to start when upgrading your computer. Do you buy a faster processor? Or do you upgrade memory? Is a higher-resolution screen for your laptop really necessary? How about a faster hard drive?

Some of these choices are more important than others. It is worth observing each main upgrade choice and analyzing its importance, especially in relation to all the other choices you could potentially spend your money on.

Faster Processor

When buying a computer, one of the foremost thoughts in your mind will likely be, "I want a fast computer." Who doesn't want a fast computer? However, don't let that desire fool you: speed doesn't comes imply from a faster CPU. The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is what allows your computer to process tasks. When it's "thinking," to use the common layman's conceptual parlance, the CPU is being used. A faster CPU means faster "thinking."

However, by now, most CPUs are "good enough". Unless you will be compiling software or editing video, you likely won't notice a drastic difference between a 2.4 gHZ CPU and a 2.6 gHZ CPU. This was very different when CPUs were more primitive. However, save your money and save a faster processor for last when buying a new computer.

More RAM

If you can only buy one upgrade to your new computer, spend it on more RAM. This is where you will notice the most drastic level of improvement, as it will allow your computer to keep more things running simultaneously.

Your computer will likely feel "faster" if you add more RAM, or memory, as it will not have to restart processes. Think of RAM as akin to short term memory. If a *person* had an increased amount of short term memory, that person would certainly be able to solve problems faster than someone who had to constantly look things up. The same principle is at work here.

Hard Drives

The third area in which you might be able to make some upgrades is in the realm of hard drives. Let's say your laptop comes with 320 GB of hard drive space, and you have the option of upgrading to a 500 GB hard drive. Consider, instead, spending that money on a solid state drive to use as a drive for your operating system and applications. While solid state drives are relatively expensive, a 64 or 128 GB solid state drive should suffice for running your operating system and applications, and you will feel the speed difference instantly. Solid state drives can recall data much more quickly than hard drives can.

So, when buying a new computer, spend money on RAM, solid state drives (or increased hard drive space), and a faster CPU, in that order. Don't worry if you can't get all of the upgrades possible.