How to speed up your old Windows 10 PC or Mac
Got an old PC that’s feeling old and tired, and you’re thinking that it might be time to buy a new one?
Here are two things that you can do to turbo boost your PC, and it both will cost you a lot less than buying a new PC.
See also: How much RAM does your Windows PC really need? (August 2019 edition)
Let’s take a look at how to breathe new life into your old PC.
#1: RAM upgrade
If your PC has less than 4GB of RAM, upgrading this — if it’s possible — up to 4GB is a worthy upgrade. RAM upgrades are quick and easy, and also pretty cheap. If you already have 4GB then the gains you get from pushing this higher have diminishing returns unless you are into high-end gaming or have specific workloads such as video rendering.
Not sure if your PC can take an upgrade? If it was made by one of the major OEMs then a RAM vendor like Crucial or Kingston (or for Macs, you can check out OWC).
#2: Upgrade your storage from a hard drive to SSD
While a RAM upgrade offers good bang-for-the-buck, if you already have 4GB of RAM then then the next best upgrade you can do is swap out your hard drive (HDD) for an SSD.
- An SSD.
- Depending on your PC, you may need a 5.25-inch or 3.5-inch tray to fit in a bay designed for a hard drive or optical drive (some SSD kits come with these parts).
- A #1 Phillips screwdriver.
- A tool for carrying out the migration (I used the free MiniTool PartitionWizard Free Edition, which performed flawlessly).
- A basic understanding of how to fit and remove storage drives.
- A knowledge of how your BIOS works, specifically setting which drive the system boots up from (there are so many different kinds that I can’t help, so find do a web search for the manual for your motherboard).
Tip: A quick way to find out what your motherboard is to fire up a Command Prompt and use the Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line tool. To do that, type:
wmic baseboard get product,manufacturer,version
The process is pretty simple:
- Open up the PC and fit the new drive.
- Fire up the Windows Disk Management tool (press Windows Key+R on your keyboard to launch the Run dialog box and then type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter).
- Find the new drive, which will be marked as “unknown” and “Not initialized” in the listing of drives at the bottom of the Disk Management window, and then right-click on where it says “unknown” and choose Initialize Disk and then follow the prompts.
- Download, install, and then launch MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.
- Click on Migrate OS to SSD/HD in sidebar and follow the prompts.
- When the migration process is done — this will take some time, maybe as much as a few hours — then you will need to set the system BIOS to boot up off the SSD.
- You can, if you want, remove the old drive, or keep it in the system, wipe it, and use it for storage.
Tip: Swapping a drive will not trigger a Windows reactivation.
Is an SSD upgrade the best option?
Having tried it with a range of SSDs (ranging in performance from basic to high-end), and across a range of systems (from dual-core to dual-socket), I’m pretty confident that anyone moving from a hard drive to an SSD will see serious performance gains, even when RAM is down at the 2GB levels (below that and RAM does become quite a limiting factor, but if you’re running Windows 10 then you ideally need 2GB).