Hardware Upgrades to Speed Up Your Computer: A Guide by Your Managed IT Services Experts

Are you frustrated with your slow computer? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Many people face this issue, but the good news is that there are simple hardware upgrades that can make a world of difference. Whether you’re using a laptop or a desktop, these improvements can help speed up your device and enhance your overall computing experience. As your trusted Managed IT Services Company, we’re here to guide you through the process. We’ll cover the basics so you can understand how to boost your computer’s performance, even if you have no prior technical knowledge. Let’s get started!

how to speed up your computer

For Laptops

Replacing RAM in a Laptop

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A small Phillips head screwdriver
  • An anti-static wrist strap (optional but recommended)

Steps:

  1. Turn Off and Unplug Your Laptop:

    • Shut down your laptop and disconnect it from any power sources. Remove the battery if possible to ensure there is no power running through the device.
  2. Ground Yourself:

    • Static electricity can damage computer components. Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity from your body.
  3. Access the RAM Compartment:

    • Flip your laptop over and locate the RAM compartment. This is usually a small panel secured with one or more screws.
    • Use your Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws and take off the panel.
  4. Remove Existing RAM:

    • Locate the RAM sticks. They are typically held in place by clips on either side.
    • Gently push the clips outward to release the RAM stick. The stick should pop up at an angle.
    • Carefully pull the RAM stick out of the slot.
  5. Insert New RAM:

    • Take your new RAM stick and align the notch with the slot in the RAM compartment.
    • Insert the RAM stick at a 45-degree angle and then press it down until the clips click into place.
  6. Close the RAM Compartment:

    • Replace the panel you removed earlier and secure it with the screws.
    • Reinsert the battery if you removed it.
  7. Power On Your Laptop:

    • Plug in your laptop and turn it on.
    • The system should automatically recognize the new RAM. You can check this in your system settings to ensure the upgrade was successful.
Windows Updates

Upgrading to an SSD or NVME in a Laptop

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A small Phillips head screwdriver
  • An external drive enclosure or a USB-to-SATA/USB-to-NVME adapter
  • Cloning software (e.g., Macrium Reflect, Clonezilla)

Steps:

  1. Back Up Your Data:

    • Before starting, back up all your important data to an external drive or cloud storage.
  2. Choose the Right Drive:

    • Ensure your laptop supports the type of SSD or NVME you plan to install. Check the laptop’s manual or manufacturer’s website for compatibility information.
  3. Clone Your Existing Drive:

    • Connect the new SSD/NVME to your laptop using an external drive enclosure or USB adapter.
    • Use cloning software to create an exact copy of your existing drive. Follow the software instructions to clone your data to the new SSD/NVME.
  4. Turn Off and Unplug Your Laptop:

    • Shut down your laptop and disconnect it from any power sources. Remove the battery if possible.
  5. Ground Yourself:

    • Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity.
  6. Access the Storage Compartment:

    • Flip your laptop over and locate the storage compartment. This is usually a small panel secured with screws.
    • Use your Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws and take off the panel.
  7. Remove the Existing Drive:

    • Carefully disconnect and remove the old drive. For SATA drives, this may involve sliding the drive out of its connector. For NVME drives, unscrew the drive and gently lift it out.
  8. Install the New SSD/NVME:

    • Insert the new SSD into the same slot as the old drive. For NVME, align the drive with the slot and insert it at a slight angle, then secure it with the screw.
    • For SATA drives, connect the SSD to the SATA connector.
  9. Close the Storage Compartment:

    • Replace the panel and secure it with the screws.
    • Reinsert the battery if you removed it.
  10. Power On Your Laptop:

    • Plug in your laptop and turn it on. The system should boot from the new SSD/NVME.
    • Check your system settings to ensure the drive is recognized and functioning properly.

For Desktops

Replacing RAM In A Desktop

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • An anti-static wrist strap (optional but recommended)

Steps:

  1. Turn Off and Unplug Your Desktop:
    • Shut down your computer and unplug it from the power source.
  2. Ground Yourself:
    • Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity.
  3. Open the Case:
    • Remove the screws from the side panel of your computer case (usually the left side when looking from the front).
    • Slide off the panel to access the interior of your computer.
  4. Locate the RAM Slots:
    • Find the RAM slots on the motherboard. These are long, usually located near the CPU.
  5. Remove Existing RAM:
    • Push down on the clips at either end of the RAM slot to release the RAM stick.
    • Gently pull the RAM stick out of the slot.
  6. Insert New RAM:
    • Align the notch on the new RAM stick with the notch in the slot.
    • Insert the RAM stick into the slot, pressing firmly until the clips snap into place.
  7. Close the Case:
    • Replace the side panel and secure it with the screws.
  8. Power On Your Desktop:
    • Plug in your computer and turn it on.
    • The system should automatically recognize the new RAM. Check your system settings to verify the upgrade.

Verifying the Upgrade

After installing the new RAM, it’s important to ensure that your computer recognizes it:

  1. Windows:
    • Right-click on “This PC” or “My Computer” on the desktop or in File Explorer.
    • Select “Properties.”
    • Under “System,” you should see the installed memory (RAM).
  2. Mac:
    • Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen.
    • Select “About This Mac.”
    • You’ll see the memory information displayed in the overview.
  3. Linux:
    • Open a terminal window.
    • Type free -m and press Enter.
    • The total available RAM will be displayed in megabytes.

So… Why’d We Do This?

Upgrading your RAM can significantly enhance your computer’s performance, making it faster and more efficient at handling multiple tasks. Whether you’re using a laptop or a desktop, the process is straightforward and can be done with minimal tools. If you have any concerns or prefer professional assistance, our Managed IT Services team is always here to help. Reach out to us for expert support and ensure your computer gets the boost it needs!

Upgrading To an SSD or NVME In a Desktop

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • An external drive enclosure or a USB-to-SATA/USB-to-NVME adapter
  • Cloning software (e.g., Macrium Reflect, Clonezilla)

Steps:

  1. Back Up Your Data:
    • Back up all important data to an external drive or cloud storage.
  2. Choose the Right Drive:
    • Ensure your desktop supports the type of SSD or NVME you plan to install. Check your motherboard’s manual or manufacturer’s website for compatibility information.
  3. Clone Your Existing Drive:
    • Connect the new SSD/NVME to your desktop using an external drive enclosure or USB adapter.
    • Use cloning software to clone your data to the new SSD/NVME.
  4. Turn Off and Unplug Your Desktop:
    • Shut down your computer and unplug it from the power source.
  5. Ground Yourself:
    • Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity.
  6. Open the Case:
    • Remove the screws from the side panel of your computer case (usually the left side when looking from the front).
    • Slide off the panel to access the interior of your computer.
  7. Remove the Existing Drive:
    • Locate the existing drive and carefully disconnect the power and data cables.
    • Remove any screws or brackets securing the drive and slide it out of the drive bay.
  8. Install the New SSD/NVME:
    • If installing a 2.5-inch SSD, place it in the drive bay and secure it with screws or brackets. Connect the SATA data and power cables.
    • If installing an NVME drive, locate the NVME slot on your motherboard. Insert the drive at a slight angle and secure it with the screw.
  9. Close the Case:
    • Replace the side panel and secure it with the screws.
  10. Power On Your Desktop:
    • Plug in your computer and turn it on. The system should boot from the new SSD/NVME.
    • Check your system settings to ensure the drive is recognized and functioning properly.

Conclusion

Upgrading to an SSD or NVME is a highly effective way to boost your computer’s performance, making it faster and more efficient. The process is relatively straightforward, but if you have any concerns or prefer professional assistance, our Managed IT Services team is always here to help. Reach out to us for expert support and ensure your computer gets the boost it needs.

Upgrading Your Graphics Card In A Desktop

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • An anti-static wrist strap (optional but recommended)

Steps:

  1. Choose the Right Graphics Card:
    • Ensure the new GPU is compatible with your motherboard and power supply unit (PSU). Check for the following:
      • PCIe slot compatibility (most modern GPUs use PCIe x16 slots).
      • Physical space inside your case to accommodate the new GPU.
      • Power supply requirements (wattage and power connectors).
  2. Back Up Your Data:
    • Although upgrading your GPU doesn’t usually affect data, it’s always a good idea to back up important files before making any hardware changes.
  3. Uninstall Current Graphics Drivers:
    • Before removing your old GPU, uninstall its drivers to avoid conflicts.
    • On Windows, go to “Device Manager” > “Display adapters” > right-click your current GPU > “Uninstall device.”
  4. Turn Off and Unplug Your Desktop:
    • Shut down your computer and unplug it from the power source.
  5. Ground Yourself:
    • Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity.
  6. Open the Case:
    • Remove the screws from the side panel of your computer case (usually the left side when looking from the front).
    • Slide off the panel to access the interior of your computer.
  7. Locate and Remove the Existing GPU:
    • Find the PCIe slot where your current GPU is installed. It’s usually located near the bottom of the motherboard.
    • Unscrew the bracket holding the GPU to the case.
    • Release the PCIe slot clip (if there is one) by gently pressing it.
    • Carefully pull the old GPU out of the slot.
  8. Install the New GPU:
    • Remove any protective covers from the new GPU.
    • Align the new GPU with the PCIe slot and gently insert it. Ensure it is fully seated in the slot.
    • Secure the GPU to the case using the screws you removed earlier.
    • Connect the necessary power connectors from the PSU to the new GPU. Most modern GPUs require additional power, typically via 6-pin, 8-pin, or multiple connectors.
  9. Close the Case:
    • Replace the side panel and secure it with the screws.
  10. Plug In and Power On Your Desktop:
    • Plug in your computer and turn it on.
    • The system should recognize the new GPU. If the display doesn’t come on, double-check that the GPU is seated properly and that all power connections are secure.
  11. Install New Graphics Drivers:
    • Visit the GPU manufacturer’s website (NVIDIA or AMD) to download and install the latest drivers for your new graphics card.
    • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
  12. Verify the Installation:
    • After installing the drivers, restart your computer.
    • Check that the new GPU is recognized and functioning correctly by going to “Device Manager” > “Display adapters” and confirming the new GPU is listed.

Additional Tips:

  • BIOS/UEFI Update: Sometimes, a motherboard BIOS/UEFI update is needed for compatibility with newer GPUs. Check the motherboard manufacturer’s website for any updates.
  • Clean Installation: When installing new GPU drivers, choose the “Clean Installation” option if available. This ensures any remnants of old drivers are removed.
  • Performance Monitoring: Use software tools like MSI Afterburner or GPU-Z to monitor the performance and temperatures of your new GPU.
  • Cable Management: Ensure all cables are neatly managed and do not obstruct airflow. Good airflow is crucial for keeping your components cool, especially high-performance GPUs.

Wrapping It All Up

Upgrading your graphics card can breathe new life into your desktop, providing a significant boost in performance for gaming, video editing, and other graphics-intensive tasks. While the process is straightforward, taking your time and following these detailed steps will help ensure a successful installation. If you need any assistance or have concerns, our Managed IT Services team is here to help. Contact us for professional support and enjoy the enhanced capabilities of your upgraded system!

4. Upgrade CPU and Cooling (Advanced)

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • Thermal paste (if not pre-applied to the new cooler)
  • Isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth
  • An anti-static wrist strap (optional but recommended)

Steps:

  1. Choose the Right CPU:

    • Ensure your new CPU is compatible with your motherboard. Check the socket type and the motherboard’s CPU compatibility list.
    • Consider the power requirements and ensure your PSU (Power Supply Unit) can handle the new CPU.
  2. Back Up Your Data:

    • Although upgrading your CPU doesn’t usually affect data, it’s always a good idea to back up important files before making any hardware changes.
  3. Gather Necessary Information:

    • Download the latest BIOS/UEFI update for your motherboard if required. Some CPUs need the latest firmware to work correctly.
    • Check your motherboard’s manual for specific instructions on CPU and cooler installation.
  4. Turn Off and Unplug Your Desktop:

    • Shut down your computer and unplug it from the power source.
  5. Ground Yourself:

    • Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity.
  6. Open the Case:

    • Remove the screws from the side panel of your computer case (usually the left side when looking from the front).
    • Slide off the panel to access the interior of your computer.
  7. Remove the Old CPU Cooler:

    • If you have an air cooler, unscrew the cooler from the motherboard.
    • If you have a liquid cooler, disconnect the radiator and pump. Be careful with the liquid tubing.
    • Gently twist and lift the cooler to break the seal of the thermal paste. Avoid pulling straight up to prevent damage to the CPU.
  8. Remove the Old CPU:

    • Lift the retention arm on the CPU socket to release the CPU.
    • Carefully lift the CPU out of the socket. Avoid touching the pins on the CPU or the socket.
  9. Install the New CPU:

    • Align the new CPU with the socket. The CPU will have a marking (usually a triangle) that matches a marking on the socket.
    • Gently place the CPU into the socket. Do not force it; it should drop into place easily.
    • Lower the retention arm to secure the CPU in place.
  10. Clean the Old Thermal Paste:

    • Use isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth to clean any old thermal paste from the CPU and the base of the cooler.
  11. Apply New Thermal Paste:

    • If the new cooler doesn’t have pre-applied thermal paste, apply a small amount (about the size of a pea) to the center of the CPU.
  12. Install the New CPU Cooler:

    • If using an air cooler, align it with the CPU and screw it into place. Ensure even pressure by tightening the screws in a diagonal pattern.
    • If using a liquid cooler, attach the pump to the CPU, secure the radiator to the case, and connect the fans and pump to the appropriate headers on the motherboard.
  13. Connect All Necessary Power Cables:

    • Ensure all power cables (CPU power, cooler power, fan headers) are connected properly.
  14. Close the Case:

    • Replace the side panel and secure it with the screws.
  15. Plug In and Power On Your Desktop:

    • Plug in your computer and turn it on. Enter the BIOS/UEFI to check that the new CPU is recognized.
    • Monitor the CPU temperature to ensure the cooler is functioning properly.

Additional Tips:

  • BIOS/UEFI Update: Sometimes, a motherboard BIOS/UEFI update is necessary for compatibility with newer CPUs. Check the motherboard manufacturer’s website for any updates and follow their instructions carefully.
  • Cable Management: Ensure all cables are neatly managed and do not obstruct airflow. Good airflow is crucial for keeping your components cool, especially with a new, more powerful CPU.
  • Performance Monitoring: Use software tools like CPU-Z or HWMonitor to monitor the performance and temperatures of your new CPU.
  • System Stability: Run stress tests (e.g., Prime95, AIDA64) to ensure system stability and proper cooling after the upgrade.

Conclusion

Upgrading your CPU and cooling system can provide a significant boost in performance, but it requires careful handling and attention to detail. Following these steps will help ensure a successful installation. If you need any assistance or prefer professional support, our Managed IT Services team is always here to help. Contact us for expert guidance and enjoy the enhanced capabilities of your upgraded system!

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5. Upgrade Motherboard (Advanced)

Tools You’ll Need:

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • An anti-static wrist strap (optional but recommended)
  • Thermal paste (if you need to reinstall the CPU cooler)
  • Isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth
  • Your new motherboard’s manual

Steps:

  1. Choose the Right Motherboard:

    • Ensure the new motherboard is compatible with your CPU, RAM, GPU, and other components. Check the socket type for the CPU and the form factor (ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX) to fit your case.
  2. Back Up Your Data:

    • Back up important files before starting, as you’ll be disconnecting multiple components.
  3. Gather Necessary Information:

    • Download the latest BIOS/UEFI update for your new motherboard if required.
    • Check your new motherboard’s manual for specific instructions on component installation.
  4. Turn Off and Unplug Your Desktop:

    • Shut down your computer and unplug it from the power source.
  5. Ground Yourself:

    • Wear an anti-static wrist strap or touch a metal object to discharge any static electricity.
  6. Open the Case:

    • Remove the screws from the side panel of your computer case (usually the left side when looking from the front).
    • Slide off the panel to access the interior of your computer.
  7. Document Your Current Setup:

    • Take pictures or notes of your current setup to remember where each cable and component goes. This will help during reassembly.
  8. Remove Existing Components:

    • Graphics Card: Unscrew and remove the GPU from the PCIe slot.
    • RAM: Press down on the clips at either end of the RAM slots and remove the RAM sticks.
    • Storage Drives: Disconnect the power and data cables from your HDDs/SSDs and remove them from the case if necessary.
    • Other Expansion Cards: Remove any other expansion cards (sound cards, network cards) from the PCIe slots.
    • CPU Cooler: Unscrew and remove the CPU cooler. If it’s an air cooler, you may need to remove the fan(s) first. For liquid coolers, detach the radiator and pump.
  9. Remove the Old Motherboard:

    • Disconnect all power cables, data cables, and front panel connectors from the motherboard.
    • Unscrew the screws securing the motherboard to the case standoffs.
    • Carefully lift the motherboard out of the case.
  10. Prepare the Case for the New Motherboard:

    • Compare the standoff positions with the new motherboard’s mounting holes. Adjust or add standoffs as necessary to ensure they align with the new motherboard.
  11. Install the New Motherboard:

    • Place the new motherboard into the case, aligning it with the standoffs.
    • Secure the motherboard with screws to the standoffs. Do not overtighten the screws.
  12. Install the CPU and Cooler:

    • CPU: Lift the retention arm on the CPU socket, align the new CPU with the socket, and gently place it into position. Lower the retention arm to secure the CPU.
    • Thermal Paste: If your CPU cooler doesn’t have pre-applied thermal paste, apply a small amount (about the size of a pea) to the center of the CPU.
    • CPU Cooler: Install the cooler according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For air coolers, align it with the mounting brackets and secure it. For liquid coolers, attach the pump to the CPU and secure the radiator to the case.
  13. Reinstall RAM and Graphics Card:

    • Insert the RAM sticks into the appropriate slots, ensuring they click into place.
    • Insert the GPU into the PCIe slot and secure it with screws.
  14. Reconnect Power and Data Cables:

    • Connect the 24-pin ATX power cable and the 8-pin CPU power cable from the PSU to the motherboard.
    • Reconnect the storage drives with SATA data cables and power cables.
    • Reconnect the front panel connectors (power switch, reset switch, USB, audio) to the appropriate headers on the motherboard.
    • Reconnect any additional fans or other components.
  15. Close the Case:

    • Replace the side panel and secure it with the screws.
  16. Plug In and Power On Your Desktop:

    • Plug in your computer and turn it on. Enter the BIOS/UEFI to check that the new motherboard is recognized and configured correctly.
    • Set the correct boot order if necessary.
  17. Install New Drivers:

    • Install the motherboard drivers from the manufacturer’s website. This includes chipset drivers, audio drivers, LAN drivers, and any other specific drivers.
  18. Update BIOS/UEFI:

    • If there’s a BIOS/UEFI update available for your new motherboard, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to update it.

Additional Tips:

  • BIOS/UEFI Update: Perform this update with caution, as an interrupted or failed BIOS update can render your motherboard unusable.
  • Cable Management: Ensure all cables are neatly managed and do not obstruct airflow. Good airflow is crucial for keeping your components cool.
  • System Stability: Run stress tests (e.g., Prime95, AIDA64) to ensure system stability after the upgrade.

Conclusion

Upgrading your motherboard is a complex process but can provide significant benefits by supporting newer components and enhancing overall performance. Following these detailed steps will help ensure a successful installation. If you need any assistance or prefer professional support, our Managed IT Services team is always here to help. Contact us for expert guidance and enjoy the enhanced capabilities of your upgraded system!

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Wrapping Things Up

Upgrading your computer’s hardware can transform a sluggish device into a fast and efficient machine. While some upgrades are simple and affordable, others may require more expertise and investment. If you’re unsure about performing these upgrades yourself, our Managed IT Services team is here to help. We can ensure that your computer is upgraded safely and effectively, so you can enjoy a smoother, faster computing experience. Reach out to us today for more information and professional assistance!