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Upgrade or
not to upgrade


One major issue confronted by most old computer users is whether to upgrade or not to upgrade.  We will try to help and guide you to the proper decision. The factors you have to consider are

  • Do you have a good size hard disk, good CD ROM and most of the other things like floppy drive in good working order. If you need to upgrade the hard disk, Upgrade the memory and upgrade the speed or upgrade the processor as well it may be better to buy a new computer excluding the monitor, keyboard, mouse and software which save you up to $500

  • Is it NOT a brand name machine like  IBM, Compaq, Packard bell, HP etc?. Then you may incur some additional charges as those machines are not designed with the upgrade in mind. (They are designed to throw away after use .. and buy a new machine) One work around is to replace the casing of the computer which may be about $ 60.

  • Is your computer less than 3 years old?  If it is an old 386 machine or early 486 there may is nothing much you can recover form the old machine except the monitor and the floppy drive. We suggest you consider buying a computer excluding the monitor, keyboard and mouse.  You may be able to get up to $150 discount for excluding the above.

  • Have you already invested in the machine during the recent past, like putting a new large hard disk or installing a new CD ROM drive. In that case it may be a good idea to continue investing in the machine.

  • Do you want to spend in steps instead of  paying $1000 or more for a new machine

If you answer yes to most of the questions may be you should consider an upgrade.

What is the best upgrade for your PC.

First you need to decide what kind of upgrade you want.  Answer the following questions and it will help you decide.

  1. Is your computer running slow after running a good defrag program?

  2. Does your computer often tell you that there is to many programs open and ask you to please close some to execute program you just tried to open?

  3. When you check you free space on your disk it says you have a 1gb or more of free space?

  4. Is your computer running on 64 mb of RAM or less?

  5. Is your computer a Pentium 1 class or better? 

If you answered yes to 4 out of 5 of these questions then consider a memory upgrade.

  1. Does your computer have 128 mb of RAM or more?

  2. When you check you free space on your disk it says you have less than 1gb or more of free space on the drive with your operating system loaded to it?

  3. Does your scan disk program report that you have bad sectors on you hard drive?

  4. Are files starting to become corrupt?

  5. Is your Hard Drive Larger than 10 gb?

If you answered yes to 3 of the above 4 questions then consider upgrading your hard drive.

  1. Is your computer a Pentium I Class or older?

  2. Is the processing speed of your computer to slow?

If you answered yes to the above questions then consider upgrading you mother board and processor.

Memory upgrade

This is the easiest way to get more out of your computer.  The hardest part is determining the proper RAM to buy.  Different computer systems require different type of RAM.  Here is the basic run down.  

  • A Pentium I or older will use DIMM which requires to 2 sticks of equal RAM per Slot.  The highest you want go on these motherboards 32 mb sticks.  Some of the later motherboards in this class will allow SDRAM discussed next.  I have a Pentium 166 with 128mb of RAM and it works fine even in 2002.  It surfs the internet runs office software fine.  These are truly great computers for children's and there learning software.  To purchase RAM for these computers is surprisingly high.

  • When you start talking about a Pentium II and Pentium III then you will need SDRAM which only requires 1 stick per slot.   You will also have to determine the whether you will need PC100 or PC133.  PC100 can be used in computers with a front buss speed of 66 hz or 100 hz speeds.  PC133 should only be used if your mother board supports PC133.  Some Motherboards support PC100 and PC133,  the front buss speed of 100 or 133 will be determined by the processor.  You can purchase SDRAM in increments of 32, 64, 128, and 256 mb sticks.  A 256 mb stick can purchased for around 50 dollars unlike the $180 in 2000.

  • Later Athlon and Pentium 4 motherboards require the newest type of RAM the Rambus 184 pin Memory (RDRAM).


Hard Drive upgrade

The easiest way gain more storage space is to upgrade your hard drive.  You always want to ensure that the drive containing the Operating System (OS) never gets full.  As a rue I try to always have a minimum of one Gigabyte of free space on my C drive.  If the drive containing the operating system gets full it will crash your computer and crash it hard.  You will most likely not be able to restore the information on the drive.  If your system slows down and a defrag does not help check to ensure that you still have plenty of free space on your primary drive.  Especially in a Windows 98 environment the OS uses the free space on the primary drive as a virtual memory drive and as this space shrinks to critical levels the OS slows down and runs sluggish.  As a General rule I always give my primary drive about four gigabytes of free space.  I also partition my Hard drives.  It is always good to dedicate a partition for the storage of all data files.  This comes in handy if you have to format and reinstall the OS because if you forget to backup your information before reformatting you will lose it forever.  Another good tip is to always ensure you have all current drivers before reinstalling the OS.  With HDD you have two approaches.

  • You can purchase a HDD and install it as a slave drive and transfer a lot of the files and installations to the slave drive.  To do this all you have to do is change the jumper settings on the current drive to master and the new drive to slave.  You will have to purchase a tape ribbon that has plugs for two drives.

  • You can purchase a new HDD and opt to make your primary drive.  If you chose to do this  I recommend that you back up all you info from you existing drive and get all the needed drivers before starting.  I also recommend that you partition the drive as I mentioned above.


Motherboard and processor upgrade

If this is your choice then I recommend you do your research before you purchase your mother board.  There are many brands of boards out there and different processors to choose from.  Whenever someone asks me what they should buy I always ask them "What do you intend to use the computer for?".  I ask this because there are different levels computers you can buy for different prices.  If all you are going to do is work in programs like MS Office and surf the internet then you can build a cheaper computer using Celron, low end Pentium, or low end AMD.  If you are going to be doing intense graphics or gamming then you would want to go with the fastest Pentium or Athlon you can afford.  For more on processors click here.  Here are some things to look at in a mother board:

  • How much RAM can it hold and what type of RAM does it take?

  • Does it have intergraded sound or video?  Stay away from these if you are going to be gaming.

  • How many expansion slots?  (ISA, PCI,)

  • What is the Front Bus Speed?

  • Will it fit in your current case?

  • What many volts does it require in a power supply if you intend to use you existing case.

  • Purchasing in a bundle of motherboard and processor is usually cheaper.

AMD -K6, K62-3D and 686- K6 and other Pentium I level upgrades

  • Select the motherboard and the CPU (Processor of your choice ) & installation.  If you are upgrading from old system with 72 pin memory  you may need new memory for this upgrade.

  • Please note : Alternative processors including AMD- k6, K62 3D and 686 may not be recognized by most programs and software as Pentium processor. This may cause some programs not to function altogether.   Alternatively you may upgrade to an intel processor


Processor upgrade or the upgrade of the brain is the best thing you can do to bring life to your old machine.  Processor upgrade, that is installing a faster processor will improve the overall speed across the board.  Games will run faster and applications will load quicker and you can save the waiting time.  But there is a catch. If you have a brand name machine like IBM, Compaq , HP or other there is no easy way to upgrade the processor.  The motherboards and power supplies are designed only with the current processor in mind. There is no easy way to replace the motherboard as well. Why ? the mounting holes and the riser card designs does not allow to use a generic motherboard.   But if you have Pentium II or Celeron based no name brand  computer, You will most likely be able to upgrade to a faster Celeron processor.  Check with your motherboard manual for the fastest processor it can take.   Check their web site for up to date information  and  manufacturer for an updated bios, if necessary. (BIOS upgrade may void your motherboard warranty ) That is the best way to get more life out of your computer. What you need is

1. New Intel Celeron  or compatible processor (Currently available in speeds of  600..  700 +  etc.. )

2.  Slot1 to FCPGA adaptor (if your motherboard is slot1 and you are installing a FCPGA (socket 370) processor.

3. Bios upgrade (if necessary ). Remember if BIOS upgrade is not done correctly it can damage your motherboard.

If you have a old Pentium machine ie. Pentium 200+ MHz machine you may consider Upgrade to Cyrix P333 or  AMD K6-2- 500 processor.  You need to get the expert advice on the suitability of this type of solution.  Have your motherboard manual handy when looking for advice.

New upgrade packs.

We have two new upgrade pack which suits everybody. It include a new ATX case (Most new motherboards are ATX style so it it time to throw away your old case) new motherboard and a new processor and fan assembled.

You need to transfer your hard disk, CD ROM and floppy drive and connect it the new motherboard which is easy. If your existing memory is 100MHz or faster DIMM (You can identify DIMM memory as they are about 14cm long) you can use that memory. Otherwise buy the memory as well.

Two options are

AMD Athlon Thunderbird / Duron upgrade packs

Intel Pentium III and Celeron upgrade packs.

For prices and ordering visit shop



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This page last 
revised on 04/29/2009