Digitalk: Time for an upgrade?

Having religiously devoured any and all information I could see from last month’s incredible E3 Conference which showcased all the games and technologies to come in the next year, I came to an inescapable conclusion…

My PC will explode from the mere proximity of those games, let alone the strain of trying to run them.

This doesn’t mean I need a new computer! But replacing a couple of parts will help it perform so much better. So time to start looking at upgrades.

In a lot of cases, upgrading is the most cost effective way of getting more out of your computer rather than buying a newer more powerful premade PC.

The first thing you need to do is work out what the weakest links are in your computer. Get your best Anne Robinson plastic grin on and run a program that you know your computer struggles with.

While it’s running, open task manager and look at the usage percentages.

What’s being used the most. Is the CPU usage above 80%? How much of the memory (RAM) is being used? Is the GPU (graphics card) using most of its capacity?

These are the three core things that will determine the performance of your computer. If one of these isn’t powerful enough, they’ll slow the other two down. For example, in my computer, when stressing it I use 85% CPU, 90% memory and 40% GPU which means the parts that most need to be upgraded are the CPU and RAM.

Now you know what you need to replace, you need to know the specifications you need to upgrade to for the performance you’re seeking. And whether you want to just be able to run it or be able to bump the settings up a bit for a smoother and prettier performance.

A good place to check is www.systemrequirementslab.com You can search a game you’re particularly excited about and find out both the minimum and recommended specs for that game. The next step is parting with your hard earned cash, but who to give it to? There’s honestly not a lot of options in the South West, especially for high performance computer parts.

The corporate giants such as PC World and Curry’s only stock a limited range of the most popular items, so for the most part you’ll be looking at online stores.

I thoroughly recommend www.novatech.com and www.ebuyer.com from which I have purchased all my PC parts from in the past 5 years. Very reliable and fast delivery with the parts well protected in transit.

Before you order your new parts be sure to check that they’re compatible with the rest of your computer. For example, you don’t want to purchase a new Z170 chipset processor if your motherboard only supports H110 etc.

You can find out some of your current computer parts specifications by right clicking on Computer in the file explorer and selecting properties and then search for them online.

There are also a rare few specialist PC repair shops in Devon through which you can ask them to order in parts from their suppliers, in some cases if it’s from one of their regular dealers, you can get a good deal from it.

Again I recommend PC MOT on the edge of Exeter, the only place I trust to work on my custom gaming PC other than myself. Places like this will also be able to identify what parts of your computer need to be upgraded and what you should be looking for, so if you’re not comfortable with your deductions you should ask them for a second opinion.

They will also be happy to install your upgrades for you. The last time I had new parts put in it cost me a mere £30, well worth the saved day of work it would have taken me to do it myself… I’m not the daintiest of people and it can be fiddly.

Should you feel after all this that it’ll just be simpler to get a new computer, I recommend buying from either www.overclockers.co.uk or www.pcspecialist.co.uk where you can either chose from a selection of premade computers or specify a new build to your desired requirements.

Ross Tibbles

Author: Ross Tibbles

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