How To Build A Pc: What Is Easily Upgradeable, And What Isn't

Upgrading your own PC can save you a lot of money. Find out which upgrades you should be doing yourself.

No need to run to your local computer repair store every time you need to upgrade your PC. There are lots of enhancements you can make on your own with little more than a screwdriver and a little patience. But don't get too cocky, there are still a few jobs that you may want to leave to the experts. Here's some advice on what PC components are easily upgradeable, and which ones are not:

Easily Upgradeable

Memory

Placing more random access memory (RAM) in your PC is probably one of the simplest upgrades you can make. Of course, you'll have to open up your computer case, but once you do, it's just a matter of removing the old memory module from its socket and replacing it with a new one. Just make sure you purchase the RAM that's right for your machine.

Expansion Cards

If you want to increase the abilities of your PC, you may have to install an expansion card inside your computer. An expansion card will allow a piece of equipment such as a video camera to connect to your machine, and communicate with your computer through a port located on the card.



And don't worry, installing these cards are really no more involved than installing memory. You just open up your computer, remove the screw and plate covering an empty expansion slot, and slip the expansion card into the slot. Secure the card with the screw and you're finished.

Floppy Disk, CD-ROM, and DVD Drives

Adding a new drive to your computer is a bit more involved, but it's still pretty simple. Your old drive will probably be held in place with screws, so make sure you have the right screwdriver handy. After you remove your old drive from its bay, you'll insert the new one. Slide the drive into position, and attach it to the computer with ribbon cables. When you have the drive in place, secure it with the screws, and you're pretty much done.

Keyboard, Mouse, Joystick, Printer, and Monitor

These upgrades can be done in your sleep. They usually just involve connecting the peripheral to a spare USB, parallel, or serial port.

Not Easily Upgradeable

Hard Drive

Installing a hard drive is the same as installing any other drive, but that's only the beginning. Next, you must format the drive, then partition it. Finally, you need to install an operating system. Because of the amount of work involved, it's not unusual for you to be unsuccessful on your first attempt. But hang in there. After some trial and error, your hard drive will be working just fine.

CPU

Upgrading your central processing unit (CPU) may not be possible (due to your motherboard's design), or necessary (the difference may be barely noticeable), but if it's suitable for your particular machine, it should be a fairly easy procedure. Many CPUs can be delicately removed by hand using a little lever; others must be extracted using chip pullers. You can then install the new chip depending on the type of CPU socket you have.

Motherboard

The motherboard holds all of your PC's external components, including the power supply, CPU, RAM, and slots for expansion cards. It's probably the most time-consuming of all upgrades, and probably the most difficult. Numerous wires and cables have to be unconnected and properly re-connected, so it's quite common to make a mistake or two. This type of upgrade will take several hours to complete, especially for the first-timer, so make sure you get some rest before attempting.

Your PC is designed so you can expand many of its capabilities on your own, but some upgrades are more challenging than others. If you're really uncomfortable with handling the insides of your computer, you may want to leave most upgrades to the professionals. But if you feel you're up to the task, carefully read all of the documentation included with your computer, and always use appropriate safety measures.

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