If you built a budget gaming system in the past four or so years, you’re likely running into issues now and then. Loading times are getting longer, settings have to be lowered, and choppiness is getting old. It’s high time to start looking at upgrading. The first stop is looking at what to prioritize and get the best bang for your buck.
Picking out new parts can be a stressful and confusing process. There are some basic minimums that can help with picking and choosing. Past those, there are a few tools to help determine what parts need special attention. After problems are identified, there are a few tips to keep in mind while shopping as well.
If you use your computer for anything involving media or heavy gaming, there are a few things that would be considered a baseline requirement. While 8GB of memory is still good enough for most games, newer ones are pushing that boundary, and 16GB has become the new standard. Hard Disk Drives will do their job just fine, but a Solid State Drive is recommended. Sadly, there aren’t any quick and easy rules for CPUs or graphics cards.
The fastest way to get an overview of performance is to open Task Manager. Under the Performance tab, there is an overview of the work your system is doing. CPU, memory, and disk are three major items to look at. It’s not the perfect solution, but it’s a good start. If the CPU, memory, or drive utilization is topped out while running your program of choice, there is your performance bottleneck.
As long as you have a second screen available to watch it on, you can see live performance stats. If not, running applications in Windowed mode is the only way to watch the stats in real time. From there it’s simple.
One important component missing from the Task Manager check is your graphics card, and the answer for that is HWMonitor. This is a third-party program that gives some valuable system information including utilization and temperature. The same process applies to check your utilization for CPU and GPU here, but not for your drives. If utilization is capped out while you experience frame rate loss, the component being stressed is the problem.
Shopping For New Parts
Take your time when it comes to shopping for new components. Keep in mind that reviews are not all of the same quality depending on where you shop. Even if you plan on making your purchase on Amazon, it’s best to look elsewhere for reviews. There are a lot of tech sites out there that have much more reliable information. Some online retailers like newegg.com cater to more of the tech crowd. In those instances, reviews are a bit more trustworthy.
Once you’ve found the part you are looking for, it’s a good idea to do more digging. Searching for problems people have had with pieces of hardware can help avoid some major pitfalls. A part that seems perfect might end up not working with what you have in mind. Forums are generally the best place for anecdotal reports of problems.
If you are using a budget system from years ago, it’s probably time to upgrade. This may seem like a daunting task, but luckily there are resources out there to help. Keep an eye out for future articles where we will go over individual parts, and what to look for when replacing them.