Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Budget upgrade of an old computer: where to start


The modular structure of the PC allows both the flexibility to select components and upgrade them as needed. We figure out how to start upgrading your retirement computer if you are not ready to immediately lay out a couple of monthly salaries for this, sell a car or get a loan.

The concept of “old computer” is very arbitrary, because there are a lot of system configurations. Therefore, for example, we will choose a couple of running “configs” 7-8 years ago. For example, typical system computers of those times: i3 second / third generation, or FX 4000 series from the AMD camp, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, HDD as a system disk, no M.2 ports, and sometimes even SATA3 and USB 3.0.

Let’s try to consider how to still try to upgrade your PC when the budget is limited.

Let’s make a reservation right away: if you want to play the most modern and demanding games, and at maximum speeds, then there can be no question of any budget upgrade. Buying components of this level has always been a costly affair, and even more so at today’s exchange rate.

But it is quite feasible to assemble a computer inexpensively for standard tasks of a modern person (Internet, multimedia, undemanding games).

Processor, motherboard

Updating a multimedia / office / gaming computer (the latter is not always the case, but more on that later) with modern components, it is better to start by buying a set of processor , motherboard and RAM . Why do you have to buy all three components at once? Compatibility. Old motherboards are not compatible with the new generation of processors, RAM. The old RAM will not work with your new board, and so on. You can not purchase immediately, but, for example, every month one component, although this is not always convenient due to the length of time and the banal lack of the ability to check the performance of what has already been purchased.

Already at the start, we will get a good springboard for further upgrades if you need it, acceleration in everyday tasks (especially if you previously had little RAM), support for modern interfaces/ports M.2, SATA3, USB3.0 and technologies.

Motherboard ASRock B450M-HDV R4.0

[AM4, AMD B450, 2xDDR4-3200MHz, 1xPCI-Ex16, Audio 7.1, Micro-ATX]
4 499 *
326 82
Stores: 27 stores

Motherboard GIGABYTE B365M H

[LGA 1151-v2, Intel B365, 2xDDR4-2666MHz, 1xPCI-Ex16, Audio 7.1, Micro-ATX]
4 799 *
115 19
Stores: 26 stores
For an inexpensive PC without heavy loads, a modern dual- or quad -core , four-thread CPU is enough. For a modern gaming configuration, it is better to look at models that offer from six cores and twelve threads.

AMD Athlon 3000G BOX Processor
8 999 *
Processor Intel Core i3-9100F OEM
8 999 *
AMD Ryzen 5 2600 OEM Processor
17 599 *
With a budget upgrade, users often do the following: they take an inexpensive processor at the beginning, and after a while replace it with a more powerful / necessary / suitable one. This option allows you to gain time to raise funds for the desired CPU, but almost always due to the fact that the “old” processor will need to be put somewhere. And, of course, almost always it is a resale, in which you will lose one or another part of its original value. So this option is far from ideal, but sometimes quite working.


Modern realities are such that there is no such thing as a lot of memory, but not enough – completely. Buying a 4 GB module is practically meaningless even with the further purchase of another module. First, two 4 GB sticks will cost more than one (in most cases). Also on inexpensive motherboards with two slots for RAM, this will be the limit of increasing volume. A more reasonable option would be to purchase one, but more voluminous module, with a possible subsequent purchase of a second one. For example, 8 GB .

RAM Goodram Iridium [IR-X2666D464L16S/8G] 8 GB

[DDR4, 8GBx1 pcs, 2666MHz, PC21300, 16-18-18-35]
2799 *
288 eighteen
In stores: in 107 stores
For simple work, Internet surfing and multimedia, 8 GB is enough. Dual-channel mode, if set to 2 * 4 GB, will not bring noticeable improvement here. But also, we have the opportunity to increase the volume to 16 GB, if the need arises. Given the extreme reluctance of Windows 10 to clean up memory by inflating Shared memory during prolonged operation, it can come faster than it seems. And for games, 2 * 8 GB is the de facto standard.

RAM A-Data XPG Gammix D10 [AX4U266638G16-DBG] 16 GB

[DDR4, 8GBx2 pcs, 2666MHz, PC21300, 16-18-18]
238 12
A larger volume can take place in the assembly if any professional tasks are implied – 3D modeling, CAD systems, video and audio editing, etc. But then talking about some kind of budget upgrade is hardly appropriate.

video card

If your goal is to play modern games, then you, like air, need to replace the video card with a modern gaming version. Games are quite complex software, and they depend on different components (processor, RAM, system drive speed), but to a greater extent, nevertheless, on the video card .

PowerColor AMD Radeon RX 570 Red Dragon OC [AXRX 570 4GBD5-3DHD/OC]
Video Card GIGABYTE AMD Radeon RX 5500XT OC [GV-R55XTOC-4GD]
Video card KFA2 GeForce GTX 1660 [60SRH7DSY91K]
39 999 *
For configurations that do not involve demanding games, the power of integrated solutions, which are equipped with most modern processors, may well be enough.

Here it is worth making a reservation. If you want to play modern games, and your configuration is more powerful than our original “reference of antiquity”, then you can start your upgrade by installing a new, more powerful video card. For example, if you already have at the start, for example, an i5-2xxx, FX-8xxx and higher processor, and 8 GB of RAM. Such an improvement will be fully justified for the next year or two. However, this is where the potential for improvement ends. You can try to find a more powerful processor in the secondary market (if you do not have the top one) supported by your board, or increase the amount of RAM, but in the long run this is a road to nowhere.


An important component is the system disk. Solid state drives have become so firmly established in everyday life that it is quite difficult to imagine a modern computer or laptop without an SSD.

Installing an SSD as a system drive to replace the HDD will bring with it a performance boost in the most everyday tasks – loading the operating system, launching programs, copying files. It will be banal more pleasant to work at the computer than before.

The actual amount of solid-state drive for the system, taking into account the size of the programs, the OS at the moment and the reserve of free space, starts from 240 GB . More – already based on needs and prices.

256 GB 2.5″ SATA Drive DEXP L3 [SSB256GHLCHSB2CD-DR0G]
Maxtor Z1 480GB 2.5″ SATA Drive [YA480VC10001]
Hard driveif it is working, it is still not worth throwing away. It is perfect for storing your photos, movies and music. However, we have a separate detailed material on the application and selection of SSD and HDD .

2 TB Hard Drive WD Blue [WD20EZRZ]

[SATA III, 6 Gb/s, 5400 rpm, 64 MB cache]
269 6

When buying a processor, you have two options: you take the BOX version with a complete cooler (be careful, not all processors in the BOX version are equipped with it), or you take the OEM version without a cooling system and buy it separately according to your needs. Well, or use your old cooler if it fits in terms of mounting and efficiency.

Which version to choose? It’s up to you to decide, let’s define just a few points: OEM is usually cheaper, but the magnitude of this difference can vary greatly up to about zero. It is also limited in warranty to one year versus three for BOX. Therefore, even if you have a good cooler from an old system, and it is compatible with the new processor socket, it is better to look at the boxed version.

On the other hand, a complete cooler will ensure the normal performance of the processor. Yes, perhaps at the cost of higher temperatures or higher noise during operation, but your build will be workable. And if you have extra money for the cooling system , then you can always replace it.


[base – aluminum / copper, 1800 rpm, 26.5 dB, 4-pin, backlight, 125 W]
1550 *
102 12
In stores: in 1 store
Power Supply

Along with the replacement of previous components, you may need to replace the power supply , because new components can easily consume more power than your old unit gives out.

The choice of BP must be approached quite seriously. Many users downplay the role of the power supply (it does not affect the speed), and take it “for change” from the rest of the hardware. And this is fundamentally the wrong approach.

be quiet! SYSTEM POWER 9 400W [BN245]

[400W, 80+ Bronze, EPS12V, APFC, 20+4 pin, 4+4 pin CPU, 5 SATA, 6+2 pin x2 PCI-E]
3 599 *
109 21
In stores: in 21 stores
The stable operation of the entire computer will depend on the power supply, and for the correct selection of power, there are various calculators that will help calculate the consumption of a future assembly. This detailed calculator guide will help you calculate the required PSU power in detail .

Power Supply Cougar VTE500 [CGR BS-500R]

[500W, 80+ Bronze, EPS12V, APFC, 20+4 pin, 4+4 pin CPU, 5 SATA, 6+2 pin x2 PCI-E]
3 599 *
162 17
In stores: 56 stores
In any case, it is not recommended to take a power supply that will only cover the power of your components with a minimum margin. Firstly, in such modes, the efficiency of the unit and the temperature of its components decrease. Second, be aware of the natural wear and tear of components over time. As the block wears out, the power output of the block will decrease, and the lack of a supply will not lead to anything good.


And finally, the body. Replacing the case is not seen as a priority when upgrading, if all the components can be placed in the existing one. For budget PCs, the problem of overheating is not particularly acute, unlike gaming computers with powerful components that generate enough heat. But as a temporary measure to reduce the temperature of the components, you can simply remove the side walls of the case. As they say, cheap and cheerful.

Housing ZALMAN Z1 black

[Mid-Tower, Micro-ATX, Standard-ATX, USB 2.0 Type-A, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A]
4 250 *
139 8
Stores: 6 stores
However, for a small amount it is quite possible to get hold of a good case with good ventilation or even a fashionable RGB backlight .

So, we summarize the most basic points in the phased PC upgrade scenario:

Replacing the processor, motherboard and RAM is the first and big step in the upgrade.
Buy at least 8 GB of memory modules.
SSD for the system – faster and more convenient work.
When choosing between BOX and OEM processor, take a closer look at the first one.
Do not buy a power supply “for change”.
For office assembly, most likely the case will not need to be changed.
To play, sometimes it is enough to replace only the video card.
Top games at maximum speed are not about a budget upgrade.
Recall that this material outlines only the general path in the phased update of your system unit. There are a huge number of nuances in this topic, and if you doubt your abilities in choosing components, then you can always use the materials on assembling at a certain cost or ask your question on our website, in the “ Communicator ” section.




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