Custom Built Computers

Upgrades

Upgrading your existing computer?
I've got a computer that I'm fairly happy with - but I'm running out of disk space. Can you help?

Certainly can! An new disk is a fairly common requirement. A few caveats: if you have a "brand name" computer, then you may not be able to fit another disk in the case (they perversely seem to do this exactly to prevent you upgrading). You could just swap out your existing disk though. The other thing to think about is power. A brand name computer will have a power supply designed just for the PC you have now - that excludes an additional disk. If it transpires that you don't have enough room or power we can simply move all the components of your existing PC into a brand new PC case (very cost effective) and then fit the new disk.


I only want a bigger monitor. Will it still work with my existing PC?

Yes, all CRT monitors will work with whatever computer you have now. The only ones that won't work are TFT flat screen monitors that only have a DVI (Digital Video Interface) socket instead of the usual D-Sub socket. All other flat screen monitors will work without a problem.


Can I upgrade the processor in my current PC to make it go faster?

Oh, dear, I was afraid you were going to ask this! "Maybe" is the only answer I can give you, because it depends so much on what processor you have now, and the motherboard. The newer your existing PC the more likely you can upgrade. If you are running a 486 processor then we can still upgrade but it will require a new motherboard too. Quite cost effective nonetheless.


My printer has died. Will a new one just plug into its place?

More than likely. Just make sure your new printer has the same connection as your current one (parallel) unless your PC supports USB in which case it doesn't matter - they will all work OK.


My PC speakers sound like a really cheap transistor radio. What can I do?

Just replace the speaker set. But if your current PC only has provision for stereo speakers, don't go and buy a surround sound set of 5 (or more) speakers - there will be nowhere to plug in the extra speakers! To cater for those extra speakers we would fit a replacement sound card (even if your current sound is 'onboard').


Can you quote me for an upgrade to my PC - I can't afford a new PC

Of course. We can discuss what is important to you and then use as much of your existing PC as possible. OK, so you won't benefit from advances in technology since the time you bought your current PC but it would be very cost effective to re-use as many components as possible, if it's technically possible to do so.


What about just replacing the 'motherboard' and processor?

It might be an option, and value for money it is too. It depends on how old the rest of the bits in your computer are (technically speaking) before we can determine whether we can just plug everything else back in.


Stop avoiding the subject of prices - give me an example or two!

Printers: the cheapest one we've ever seen that we would personally buy costs less than 40 inclusive of VAT. By "that we would personally buy", we mean a printer that has separate black and colour ink tanks. Trying to print black from just a single 3-colour tank means you end up with a muddy brown (and a rapidly dwindling supply of colour ink), so cannot be recommended. If you pay more, the printer will be quicker, quieter and have better print capabilities, such as being optimised to print photos.

Scanners start at about 50 for perfectly acceptable scans, especially if you're just going to use it as a photocopier. If you have very definite plans about scanning in your wedding photos you may have to go higher, but no more than 100.

Speakers start for under 10, but if you're serious about listening to music on the PC then consider 30 to be your starting point for a stereo set with separate subwoofer. Paying more gets you more speakers (eg for surround sound) and higher volume but not necessarily better quality. It's all a bit subjective, sound, so read reviews before buying (or even go to a superstore and listen to them!).

Monitors: you sit watching your monitor for as long as the PC is doing something useful so get a good one. Whilst you can get perfectly usable 15" monitors for less than 100, you should really consider 17" as being the starting point for an upgrade. But if you're thinking of paying 150 for a high-end 17" TV-style monitor, then for a few pounds more you can get a flat thin 15" TFT monitor. Size-wise (the actual viewable area) it sits between the 15" and 17" CRT (TV-style) monitors. TFTs are the way to go, especially if you're upgrading.

Keyboards and mice. Not exactly an upgrade option unless you're going cordless (and maybe optical in the case of the mouse). A cordless keyboard and mouse set can be had for well under 50 - did you say your birthday was coming up soon?

More? Email me via the link on the left hand side and I'll do my best to advise you.

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