PC upgrades can bring more speed, efficiency, and storage space for cheap. However, you may not want to install brand new components into older systems that will not be future proof. If your PC is newer than four years, it is reasonable to upgrade. If not, buying and building a new one is the smartest way to go.

When to upgrade and when to give up on your old computer might just be the most controversial topic when it comes to the PC Master Race communities. The answer is not quite as black and white as you might think after reading a couple of comments on Reddit. It all depends on what your current setup looks like, and what you want to accomplish with your new computer.

Should I Upgrade My PC or Buy and Build a New PC?

In the PC market, technology has brought about a revolution. A lot keeps changing; however, one question is always in the mind of PC users. Is it possible to squeeze more storage, performance, and effectiveness out of my PC system, or should I replace it? Here, I will help you maximize performance and minimize costs. Down below are some of the factors that I think will help you the most with making the right decision as to whether or not you should upgrade your current system.

Desktop or Laptop

Most modern and high-end laptop systems have few upgrade options compared to desktops. Mostly, only the internal storage, cooling systems, and RAM of a desktop can be upgraded. However, a desktop has more flexibility for upgrades. Upgrading a laptop is rarely worth it - apart from replacing an HDD with an SSD, that can often give you a very good boost in performance for cheap.

Futureproofing Your PC

Before I decide to upgrade my PC, I have to consider what parts of my PC that I will not upgrade, and so should you. Although your PC will perform better after the upgrade, what other components that you will not upgrade? If these are parts that can lead to slower operations or are also prone to failure, a new PC is the ideal option.

The Cost of Upgrading vs. Buying New

The price of replacing vs. upgrading is something that you have to consider. A few years ago, it was expensive to build a computer. Today, computers are affordable. Nonetheless, you should compare the price of upgrading and consider if it is worth updating the individual parts. Something important to consider is this: What are the parts in your PC that you are happy with and do not want to buy replacements for? What is the total cost saving of keeping those parts? Usually, this is where you realize if it is worth upgrading or not.

Operating System

If your computer is old enough for the latest and greatest version of Windows not to play nice with it, it is time to new all new equipment. Without the latest version of Windows, security and performance will lack. Upgrading incompatible systems can be costly, and chances are that your computer is old enough to justify buying or building a new computer anyway.

Detect Possible Bottlenecks

Can you identify current significant bottlenecks with your current PC setup? This might be a sign that those can be upgraded individually. This makes it a lot easier for you compared to buying a whole new PC. Besides, it will probably save you money as well. Just make sure that the part that you want to upgrade is compatible with the rest of your system.

  • RAM should be compatible in terms of DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, or DDR4. If it is not the same as the old memory you had, the motherboard will not support it.
  • The Graphics Card needs to fit in your case, usually newer cards are bigger. Make sure that it fits.
  • If your CPU needs upgrading, make sure that the socket model is the same as your old one, or the motherboard will not play nice with it.
  • Drives such as HDD, SSD, or NVMe storage is usually fine to upgrade. A best practice is to reinstall Windows on the new drive, make sure to backup everything important on your old drive. It can serve as a second drive for bigger files.

Advantages of Upgrading vs. Buying a New PC

Replacing parts of your PC can be the better choice economically, but there are also advantages of buying or building a new PC. Thus, it can be tricky to fully know just what to do. Luckily, for those of you that are still unsure, I will explore the pros and cons of upgrading your PC vs. buying a new one.

Advantages of Upgrading Your PC

Let us be real, upgrading your PC usually is the most cost effective way to go about upping your PC performance, but there are other advantages as well. Let us explore them.

Wide Range of Choice

If you do not want to build a new PC, you would have to settle on what is available. But when it comes to upgrades, you have numerous choices. You could, for example, get a better monitor, power supply, memory, or larger hard drives. You, and only you, decide on what parts to upgrade.

Focus on What You Need

You can focus on the essential upgrades that you need while ignoring what is not necessary (what you want). For instance, let us say that you often run out of disk space. Looking at new computers can be tempting, but you could upgrade your PC to get a disk with a large space at a fraction of the cost.

Conserving the Environment

Environmental concerns should be considered when thinking about upgrading or buying new (especially when buying new is not necessary). Many computer parts consist of metals, mined deep down in mines, often far away, and transported to wherever you are. Therefore, upgrading can be an environment-friendly choice in comparison to buying all new.

Cheaper and Easier

Upgrading what needs to be upgraded is cheaper than buying a new PC, the reason is that the new PC will probably consist of a few parts that did not need upgrading on your old PC. If none of your current parts could be sufficient to use in a newer build, ignore this point.

Advantages of Buying a New PC

Here is just what you need to know if you are, deep inside, already decided that you want that new, shiny PC.

Reduced or No Repairs

If your computer is four years or older, it may be time for you to replace it if you feel that the performance is limiting what you can do with the computer. Even after getting rid of a bottleneck, there will be another one soon enough. Thus, it becomes more economically viable to purchase a new PC that will last for a longer period of time.

Warranty Is Included

Repairing computers can cost a lot. However, when a new computer does not work as expected, you benefit from a warranty. That does not really apply to the same extent when you upgrade a few parts and the computer does not turn on. You will have to prove that the part causing it was one of the new ones, and that you did not destroy it when installing the part in question into your existing rig.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if some of your current parts are still going strong, buying a new computer might not be your best bet. Upgrading parts are probably smarter and more economically viable. You could also choose to wait a few more years until that is no longer the case and buy a new computer and skip the upgrading.

Furthermore, if none of your parts could be reused, buying a new computer is probably the way to go. However, if you intend to build a new computer, saving your current case for the next build could be smart if:

  1. It is the right form factor for the CPU that you have.
  2. It is an adequate size for the graphics card that you want.
  3. It has the right hard drive bays for the drives that you want.