Upgrading your PC piece by piece
Increase the performance of your PC, one part at a time.
1. The hardware market and how to keep up.
Upgrading your PC takes a lot of reaserch, technology is constantly evolving, corporations such as Intel or AMD are competing on who will be the one to reach the next breakthrough which will allow them to be on the top. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on R&D (research and development) and have as goal to deliver new and upgraded products or an improved version of what is in the market right now.
PC gamers usually try to keep up with new hardware that is being released and usually pick parts along the way. You will need a minimum of $1200 to build an average gaming PC but what happens when you have not upgraded anything in 3-4 years? That is usually the case when the current PC does not have any usable parts and have to build a new one from the beginning, since that technology is most likely outdated.
Assuming that you have a screen and peripherals, you will need the following parts for your Tower. Motherboard, CPU, RAM, GPU, HD, Power Supply and a case. Now out of the 7 categories 3 are sort of independent and the rest are linked with one another.
2. Identifying what you need.
The case is something that you can change at any given time, normal cases with out any RGB lights, cost between $50 – $90 and for as long as they have space and the slots to add more fans, you could be set for 5-10 years with the same case. In case you want the futuristic look that the RGB lights provide and you already have a case, you can simply get RGB fans to install inside your case. If now a gamer has the option and can afford it, there are the high end cases with unique designs and a price range of $100 to $800.
Hard drive (HD) prices have decreased dramatically in the past few years, whether that is a regular HDD or an SSD. It is common practice to have 2 Hard Drives in your PC, an SSD which has your Operating System (OS) and an HDD with lots of free space usually over 2 TB for back ups and additional storage (i.e music,movies, photos, etc). In 2012 the average price for SSD’s was $1.2 per GB, so a 120GB SSD would cost around $140, now you can buy a 1GB SSD for less than $90 and a 3TB Sata HDD for less than $50. You can always get the same items with better specs for more or even get better ones depending on your budget.
Now for the Power Supply, although these components are universal, very often they can be tricky. If you have and older PC and plan on upgrading then this should be your first priority for the simple reason that newer components usually need more power and there is a good chance that your power supply cannot handle the newest additions.
We are talking about Gaming PCs which means that we need a power supply with at least 850W and 80+ Platinum, the first part is the amount of Watts it can provide and the second part is the quality. Power Supplies are divided in 4 categories Bronze,Silver,Gold & Platinum, with Platinum being the best. The price range for a 850W is around $170 but with the Nvidia RTX 30 series released it would be a good idea to get 1000W at around $230-$270.
All these components can be upgraded at any given time and so far we are at roughly $350 with a case 2x HD’s and a power supply, lets go deeper in the core parts of the PC.
3. Parts that need quite a bit of research.
One of the key components in a Gamers PC is the graphics card, if you have a rather new CPU then you setup will most likely be able to handle a new and more powerful GPU but there are a few things that you need to check first before actually purchasing the new GPU.
a) Can your Power Supply handle the new GPU?
b) Is your CPU compatible with the new GPU? For that there are online “bottleneck calculators” that can help you out.
Once you get these 2 out of the way, you will need to check the market for the best possible upgrade, again Nvidia will be releasing the new RTX 3070 in October for $499, the specs and price make it the only suitable option for a decent upgrade.
Finally the last 3 remaining parts, RAM – CPU and Motherboard
The motherboard is where the “magic happens” so selecting the right one is a process that may take some time, the socket also dictates which CPU is compatible so in some cases if you are looking for a better processor you will have to pick the motherboard based on the CPU’s socket.
Intel’s new 10th generation processors came with a new socket LGA1200 however there are top performance models that use the previous one LGA1151 and are powerful enough to meet the needs of a demanding gamer. An average-to-high-performance CPU is estimated between $290 and $450, a motherboard to go with it, is anywhere between $90-$140 so an estimated price for the both of them should be around $400.
4. Completing the puzzle & conclusions.
Completing the puzzle with the final piece, looking a few years back, RAM was a very expensive component, DDR3 was released in 2007 but even at 2012 to 2014, 16GB of DDR3 RAM @1333Mhz was about $200 to $240, nowadays the current DDR4 RAM is way cheaper and much faster. All new motherboards support DDR4 so the question is how much RAM do you need? 16 GB should be plenty but people still go out of their way and add a total of 32GB or 64GB.
There is a max of 4 Dimm slots on every motherboard and the least available RAM in the market is 4GB with the max being 32GB, this means that if you already have 8 GB RAM (DDR4) 2x 4GB, the easy solution would be to add another 8GB for a total of 16GB but now comes the “complicated” part. In order for the additional 8GB to work they need to have the exact same serial number and since prices fluctuate depending on Supply and Demand, it might be a good solution to get 2x brand new 8GB Dimms that will for sure be faster at a fair price. 2x 8GB DDR4 RAM @3200Mhz is roughly at $75 while 2x 4GB DDR4 RAM @2666Mhz is close to $55 the difference is price is so trivial that the purchase of new RAM seems to be a smart choice.
Summing everything up a budget gaming PC should cost around $1350 but remember that gamers also spend money on games which makes it harder to collect a certain amount to go all out and buy a Top tier Gaming PC that would cost around $2000 or more.
Unless you are an AMD fan!