How to Upgrade Your Gaming PC

Knowing how to upgrade your gaming PC becomes an important yet simple skill that you can easily learn for yourself.

You can replace parts and then be able to improve the annoying lags and slowness that make a horrible gaming experience.

Most importantly, you should also know when and how to upgrade your gaming PC to get satisfactory results.

If your gaming PC is not as seamless as it was before and you’re looking into upgrading the parts, the following will help you do a smart upgrade of your device:

Upgrade Storage

Computer SSD Drive

There are games that you don’t want to let go of because of good memories and with so many games that you save comes the cost of decreasing storage capacity.

A game could be between 4 to 100 GB plus the updates. If you’re into playing MMORPGs with a lot of content or AAA games with high graphics, then expect that the game will consume a sizeable amount of your storage space.

If you’re a heavy gamer, you should at least get a 1TB storage capacity. If you’re into streaming your games and want to record and download your game footage then you should consider getting up to 3 or 4 TB of storage.

Upgrade from HDD to SSD

If you have been using HDD for storage, then when upgrading you should look into SSD this time. SSDs are better compared to HDDs because they are faster.

SDDs have faster loading speeds for your games and can save you a lot of time that would’ve been wasted waiting for the game to load.

Aside from that, they also don’t produce any noise because there are no moving parts inside them which is an advantage if you want a quiet environment when gaming.

The downside of upgrading to SSD is that the price can be twice that of an HDD. But if you have the budget you should definitely for an SSD.

Some would even do a mix, part SSD, and part HDD. 1TB of SSD with 2 TB of HDD is an amazing combination that will provide smooth gameplay.

Installing SSD

The following are the steps to install SSD on your gaming PC:

  1. Find a static-free workplace for installation.
  2. Prepare the tools that you need including your newly bought SSD.
  3. Shut down your PC. Make sure to press the power button for more than 5 seconds just to discharge any residual electricity.
  4. Open your desktop’s case. If you don’t know how to open your desktop’s case, check your PC’s manual.
  5. Touch an unpainted metal surface to ground yourself. Doing this will is an extra safeguard from static damage to your PC’s parts.
  6. Check your PC’s storage bay. You can also find the information about your PC’s storage bay in the computer’s manual. Take note of the size and location.
  7. Remove your old drive including the cables and brackets that are attached to it.
  8. Plug the SSD into your system. Please note that there are larger storage bays where a standard SSD size won’t fit and you might need a converter (usually a 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch converter) to have the SSD fit snugly.
  9. Put your desktop’s case back on and screw it in place.
  10. Restart your computer.
  11. Go into BIOS Setup by pressing a key (depends on the manufacturer, but it is usually F2, F10, Del, or Esc) when the manufacturer’s logo appears on the screen after you turn on your PC. If you’re not sure which key to press, it is usually mentioned on the first screen that appears on your monitor.
  12. Select Boot Order and change the priority. The boot order setting tells your PC what devices to check for an operating system when it starts up. You will need to set your SSD as the first boot device.
  13. Press F10 to save changes and exit BIOS Setup.
  14. Your computer will now boot up from your SSD. Install OS on SSDThe next step is to install the OS on your newly installed SSD. The process of installing an OS is easy and you can follow the on-screen instructions.

Installing SSD as a Secondary Drive

Installing SSD as a secondary drive can also help in terms of the speed of your gaming PC.

If you plan to install your SSD as a secondary drive, see the below steps:

  1. Look for an unused SATA data port. You might need to remove a plastic cover from an empty slot to access the SATA data port.
  2. Connect your SSD to the SATA cable and then connect the other end of the SATA cable to an unused SATA data port on your motherboard.
  3. The SATA ports are usually located next to where you plugged in your optical drive. Connect any power cables that your SSD needs.
  4. An SSD that uses a standard 2.5-inch form factor usually gets its power from the SATA data cable so it wouldn’t need an additional power cable connection.If you’re installing a larger 3.5-inch SSD, it is most likely that it will require a power cable connection.
  5. You may then put the desktop’s case back and start your computer.

Upgrade RAM

Closeup of PC RAM

RAM is the temporary storage for your PC’s running apps. Your PC’s performance is greatly enhanced with more RAM.

But, before you do your upgrade, first you have to check your available performance during your normal gaming session.

In your PC’s task manager, check if the available memory is less than 25% of your PC’s total memory.

If your total memory usage exceeds more than 75% or worse is topping off, it’s time for you to upgrade your PC’s RAM.

For gaming, 16GB of RAM is recommended without affecting your gaming performance despite the other applications running in the background.

How to Upgrade RAM

The following are the steps on how to upgrade your gaming PC’s RAM:

  1. Find out the maximum RAM your PC can handle and the number of RAM slots. Today, the common number of slots in a motherboard is four.
  2. Make sure that the RAM you are buying is compatible with your PC. The previous generation RAM is DD3 but the current one is DD4. Make sure to purchase the right RAM.
  3. Know about your PC’s operating system’s maximum RAM. For example, a 64-bit Windows 10 OS can accommodate 128GB of RAM. Make sure to check online.
  4. Once you have purchased the right RAM needed for the upgrade you can now start upgrading your desktop PC’s RAM.
  5. Shut down your PC and remove cables and accessories.
  6. Open your computer’s casing.
  7. Touch an unpainted surface of your PC to discharge any static electricity left.
  8. Find your PC’s RAM with the help of the PC manual.
  9. Remove your current RAM modules.
  10. Insert your new RAM modules into place and push the module into place. Do not touch the gold connectors.
  11. Put your desktop’s case back.
  12. Place your cables and accessories back.

Upgrade Graphics Card

MSI Videocard

Another part of upgrading your PC is the graphics card. Your PC’s graphics card, also known as the video or graphics processing unit (GPU), is responsible for outputting images to your monitor.

A powerful graphics card can greatly improve the performance of games, videos, and other graphically demanding tasks.

When to Upgrade your GPU

Several tell-tale signs will show you when it’s time to upgrade your gaming PC’s GPU. The following signs signals for a GPU upgrade:

  1. Frequent crashes on apps and games
  2. New games are unplayable. Newer games especially AAA games require high graphics and with a GPU that is 3 years old or more, your GPU won’t be able to handle the demand.
  3. Running a high graphics game results in the blue screen of death.
  4. Games can’t be played with high settings.

How to Upgrade GPU

Here are the steps to upgrade your gaming PC’s GPU:

  1. Find a space with good lighting.
  2. Turn off the computer, disconnect it from the power source, and remove all wired connections.
  3. Open your PC’s case. Most likely, you will need a screwdriver.
  4. Once your computer is open, find the PCI-e power connectors of your GPU and disconnect them.
  5. Remove the old graphics card from the PCI-e slot.
  6. Install the new graphics card.
  7. Reconnect your power supply’s PCI-e connectors.
  8. Put your desktop’s case back.
  9. Turn on your PC and install the necessary drivers.

Upgrade CPU

CPU Unit

Upgrading your computer’s CPU is probably the last thing that you should consider as not all motherboard supports all types of CPU.

You might also need to upgrade other PC parts to support your CPU upgrades like the cooling fan and power supply.

During gaming, the recommended CPU usage should max 80% with a leeway to handle spikes in usage.

If you notice that your CPU utilization goes above 90% or more even when you’re not even playing games, then it’s time for you to consider upgrading your CPU.

How to Upgrade CPU

If you’re keen on upgrading your CPU and you have enough budget to do so, here are the steps:

  1. The CPU of your choice should be compatible with your motherboard. There is a good site where you can start to search which CPU is compatible with your motherboard called CPU-Upgrade. You can also get more information from your desktop’s manufacturer.
  2. Before you install your CPU, it is also recommended that you back up your data. It always pays to just be extra careful.
  3. Once you have your CPU ready then you can now gather the tools that you need for the upgrade which include a screwdriver to open your PC’s case, an anti-static band, soft cloth, thermal paste, rubbing alcohol, and paper towels.
  4. Find a good workplace, preferably a hardwood floor or a workbench.
  5. Turn off your PC, make sure it’s unplugged, and all cables and accessories are removed.
  6. Open your PC then start with removing the heatsink or cooling fan.
  7. Remove the old thermal paste using rubbing alcohol and paper towels. Make sure no pieces of paper towels are left after cleaning.
  8. Remove the old CPU under the heatsink or fan. Find the metal lever that will lift the housing off. Once you’re raised the housing, you can remove the processor.
  9. Place your new processor to replace the old one. Lower the housing and secure it with the metal lever.
  10. Apply the thermal paste. Less is more and as the CPU heats up, it should spread the thermal paste too.
  11. Re-install the heatsink or cooling fan.
  12. Close your computer.

Upgrade Cooling System or Heatsink

A man placing a fan on the CPU

The cooling system or heatsink plays an important role in making sure that your CPU does not overheat. Upgrading your computer’s cooling system should be considered as well especially if you live in a hot country or if you’re planning to do overclocking.

Overclocking is the process of making your CPU run faster than its intended speed. While this can give you a significant boost in performance, it also generates more heat and thus, requires a better cooling system.

Also, if you have noticed that your cooling fan is way louder than normal or has stopped, it’s time for you to replace it with a new one.

How to Upgrade the Cooling System or Heatsink

Here are the steps to upgrade your cooling system or heatsink:

  1. Check which cooling fan or heatsink is compatible with your PC. There’s a site called PC Part Picker that can help you find which heatsink is compatible with your PC.
  2. Turn off your computer and unplug it.
  3. Remove the side panel of your computer’s case.
  4. Locate the CPU fan header which is usually found near the CPU itself.
  5. Detach the old cooling fan or heatsink from the CPU fan header. Usually, there are four screws that you need to remove.
  6. If your CPU has a thermal pad, remove it as well. Clean off the old thermal paste from your CPU using rubbing alcohol and paper towels.
  7. Install the new cooling fan or heatsink following the instructions that come with it. Make sure that you don’t overtighten the screws. Connect the new cooling fan or heatsink to the CPU fan header.
  8. Replace the side panel of your computer’s case.
  9. Turn on your computer and check if the new cooling system or heatsink is working properly.
  10. Monitor Your Computer’s Temperature. Once you have upgraded your CPU or installed a new cooling system, it is important to monitor your computer’s temperature to make sure that it is not overheating.

Upgrade Peripherals or Accessories

A gaming setup with various accessories

This one is optional but if you also wanted an upgrade not just on your PC parts but also on your PC peripherals, then now would be a good time. Some popular PC upgrades include buying a new gaming monitor, gaming keyboard, gaming headset, and gaming mouse.

When buying a new gaming monitor, make sure that it has a high refresh rate and low input lag. A higher refresh rate means that your screen will be able to update more images per second which are important in fast-paced games.

As for the gaming keyboard and mouse, it depends on your preference. There are a lot of options in the market so it would be best to try them out first before buying.

If you are into playing MMORPGs you might want to upgrade to an MMO mouse for easy access to game commands and more comfort.

Conclusion

That’s it! Those are the simple steps on how you can upgrade your desktop gaming PC. Just remember that when upgrading your PC, it is important to do your research first and to make sure that the parts you’re buying are compatible with your motherboard. Also, don’t forget to monitor your computer’s temperature after installing new parts to avoid overheating.

If this all seems overly complex, why not consider getting yourself a prebuilt gaming PC and save yourself the hassle of building and upgrading yourself?

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