Getting new PCs for yourself and your staff every few years is usually a horrible waste of a technology budget. Still, letting your staff continue to use aging computers long after they stop keeping up with modern software is a fast way to kill both the morale and productivity of your employees. How do you solve this dilemma? The simplest way to balance cost and effectiveness for your office hardware is by performing routine upgrades on existing computers.
These routine upgrades can be significantly cheaper than purchasing new PCs, while still allowing you and your employees to keep up with the demands placed on your computers by modern software. Here are our recommendations for the five hardware upgrades that will do the most to stretch out the life of your office PCs in a cost-effective manner.
RAM, or Random Access Memory, stores the states of programs, and the instructions that go with them, while the computer is running those programs. It's the juggler that keeps all your tasks in the air. The more RAM you have, the more you can multitask.
Because the cost of RAM has gone down so much, this is the most cost-effective upgrade you can perform. The only caveats are to make sure that your computer can take an upgrade (some older machines require older, outdated RAM, and some laptops don't have expandable RAM), and that your operating system can handle additional RAM. As a general rule, you need a 64-bit system to handle more than 4 gigabytes.
2. Graphics Card
A few years ago, upgrading the graphics card would only help with performance on computers used for serious graphical applications like video or image processing or 3D modeling. These days, though, so many programs can benefit from video acceleration that it makes sense to upgrade in almost any computer. Even standard Windows will see a significant speed boost with an improved graphics card.
3. Hard Drive
Most people think that upgrading the hard drive will only add additional storage space to a computer. In fact, going from an older drive to a more modern one can make your entire system much speedier. This is true especially if you use a lot of memory-intensive applications that require a lot of reading and writing from the drive. Switching from an older magnetic-disk based system to a solid state drive, or SSD, can be an even more drastic upgrade. And with SSDs quickly approaching a similar price per Gigabyte as traditional hard drives, it can be a relatively inexpensive upgrade that makes a big difference.
4. Network Card
Most people completely forget the network card when upgrading their PCs, but this little component can make a big difference. Modern network cards can support much higher speeds and are much more efficient than older network cards, and can make browsing the web or your internal file server a much more pleasant experience.
Upgrading the main processor in your computer is no small feat, and should be a last-choice option. It can give you a noticeable boost in performance at a lower cost than an entirely new computer with a similar CPU chip in it. However, if you find yourself needing to upgrade the CPU and some other components, it may well be cheaper to simply purchase a whole new computer system.
Make More Use of What you Already Have
There is a lot you can do to an aging computer to keep it alive and useful for a little bit longer without having to shell out for a whole new system. One thing we would like to remind you of, though, is that before deciding to upgrade, make sure that you do a thorough cleaning of your computer, both physically and software-wise. Often, a good spring-cleaning can do wonders to speed up an aging machine, and save you the cost of an upgrade.