Buy New or Upgrade?

When your desktop computer or laptop starts to slow down and becomes a burden to use, you have a couple of options. You can upgrade your existing machine with new components, or you can scrap your old machine and buy a new one. There are a few things that you should examine before you make a decision.

How old is your current system?

The lifespan of a typical desktop computer these days is 3-5 years, depending on how “new” your system was when you bought it. Laptops tend to last 2-4 years because of the faster degradation of parts caused by higher internal heat and less effective cooling/ventilation. If your system is over the higher range, you may consider purchasing a new system rather than repair your current one.

Are your internal components upgradeable?

Desktop computers allow for easy replacements of processors, mainboards, and memory. With these three items replaced, you can essentially have a brand new computer – assuming you can reuse your existing hard drive, case, and optical drives. Laptop computers are a little more complex. You can add a newer processor and additional memory if your mainboard will support it, but if it will not, the cost of a new mainboard will likely exceed the value of the entire laptop.

What is your budget?

If you are looking for lower cost options, then the upgrade path may be the way to go. Memory will usually provide the biggest bang for your buck. Typical off-the-shelf desktop systems older than two years came with 1GB of RAM or less. An upgrade to 4GB (allowable by most mainboards) will give a significant boost in speed and cost less than $100. Some laptops older than two years came with a measly 256MB or 512MB of memory. An upgrade to 2GB (allowable by most laptops) will give a significant boost in speed and cost less than $100.

If you have a more flexible budget, you can look at upgrading the entire insides within your desktop computer, usually under $300. This will essentially give you a new machine that is comparable to the current systems on the shelf. If you have a similar budget for your laptop, you may want to investigate buying a new one. New laptops can be purchased from us for $400 or less.

In summary, you should look for a possible upgrade route to give moderate speed enhancements to a desktop or laptop that may only be a few years old. If your system is older than that, you should look at either doing a complete overhaul to your desktop or purchasing a new laptop. These are general suggestions and do not apply to all situations. If you are going back and forth on what to do, visit your local computer store (the little ones in the shopping centers – not the mass retailers)… they will assess your situation and give you the best options for you – most likely at no charge.