Is it worth upgrading an old computer?


One question that we always get asked is ‘Is it worth upgrading an old computer? The short answer is YES – the long one… well – it’s complicated

There are a few factors to consider if this is an idea you have been considering.

When you spend a large sum of money on a new computer, it is natural to want to make sure you get the most out of it. If you invest over $1000 in a new device, you’re going to be concerned about anything that might hamstring your productivity or enjoyment.

Hardware capabilities

The first thing most people think about when upgrading their older system is the hardware capabilities of the two devices. In general, more modern computers will perform functions faster and more efficiently than older models with less capability. This means that everything from opening applications and navigating between menus to playing games and streaming video will require less time on a newer computer, which can be extremely beneficial for someone constantly doing these kinds of tasks. Older systems do not necessarily equate to terrible performance, but there is usually some speed improvement with newer models even in the low end of the price spectrum.

Additionally, the hardware capabilities of new devices are likely to continue improving faster than old ones. Even if your current laptop or desktop is still working fine now, you may suddenly find it difficult or slow to perform common tasks next year when new operating systems come out or software updates are released. This can cause problems if you rely on your device for work or school since an upgrade might suddenly become necessary before you expect it.

Just because new devices are faster doesn’t mean that upgrading your current device will be worth it. If you only surf the internet or edit documents, for example, most new computers may not provide much benefit to you. The most dramatic differences in performance between devices usually appears with demanding tasks like gaming and editing videos.

You’ll be glad to know that speed improvements can make an upgrade seem worthwhile, especially if you have low-end hardware. If your laptop was very slow when you bought it (or has already been upgraded), many newer models won’t offer substantial improvements over what you have now – so it’s definitely worth upgrading to keep up the pace.

Newer Hardware

However, you must also consider that the rapid pace of technological change means that even over just a few years, hardware is likely to become outdated.


Even if new hardware is worthwhile, upgrading your computer means that you have to be able to use it. If you require a certain amount of power for work or study, it can make more sense to buy a new laptop rather than upgrading an old one. As a general rule, people spend twice as much money when they upgrade their computers second-hand compared to buying new devices. This difference isn’t always apparent because second-hand products are often listed at prices which seem very cheap. However, there’s no guarantee that the device will remain in good condition until it reaches you. In some cases, sellers may decide not to mention defects at all. Finally, there’s no way of knowing how long the product will last before failing again.

If you don’t care about costs, upgrading an old computer is probably not worth it. There was a time when it made sense for businesses to upgrade their Windows XP computers with older versions of Microsoft’s OS. However, now that support for the OS has ended, many professionals still using it are putting themselves at risk. As security researcher James Lyne explained to us, it doesn’t matter how strong your computer is if its defences are flawed.


Also, if you’re really concerned about privacy, you might want to consider deleting software which snoops on your activity. This includes popular products like Superfish and VSearch, both of which have been known to install tracking cookies without consent. They also inject content into search engines in order to generate advertising revenue via pay-per-click payments.

However, even armed with the information above, many people will still want to upgrade an old computer. But is this really worth it? After all, PCs contain all sorts of personal data which you would need to transfer – not just pictures and documents but settings for programs such as your web browser and email client. Even if you’ve been diligent about organizing things, it’s often messy. And if not organized properly, things can break during the move – especially if you’re trying to do everything wirelessly.


A better option might be just to buy a new PC. Of course, that could cost even more than upgrading – and then there’s the fact that Windows 8 has been roundly criticized for being unintuitive. If that doesn’t bother you too much though, upgrading your old computer is a great way to save money – plus you don’t have to give it up for newer models with only touchscreens.

Most people nowadays use computers regularly, whether they are at work or school, or just busy surfing the web. And almost everyone knows that even the newest, most powerful computer eventually becomes less useful and starts acting slower than usual because of many factors – not least being due to outdated software. Therefore, this question naturally arises: “is it worth upgrading my old computer?”

This is actually more relevant than ever before since multimedia files are getting larger, video games are becoming more graphically demanding, and there are more ways for average users to simply get more out of their PC. There’s no argument that a new computer is worth the cost, but what about your old computer?

Current computer’s specifications

To answer this question we need to know whether or not your current PC can handle daily tasks and if you want everything faster. Oftentimes and especially with laptops and netbooks (which tend to be less powerful than their full-sized counterparts) it’s hardly worth upgrading because these machines already pack decent performance for their size and weight, which means that there is no point in getting something more powerful… unless you’ll spend most of your time editing videos, playing games or really doing anything else that requires a lot of power.

On the other hand, desktop users can expand their computing experience by adding peripherals such as monitors, keyboards, extra memory modules, etc., increasing the power of their machines in this way.

Keyboard, mouse, monitor and memory increases computer performance but there are situations where it is not worth upgrading an old computer.

Laptop users

The good news for laptop users out there is that their hardware can always be upgraded to keep up with advances in technology; therefore, both manufacturers and third-party companies offer spare parts which you can find on websites, or simply build your own laptop upgrade kit by ordering all available internal components online. When it comes to desktops, adding more modules would improve overall performance at work (and even in video games) but if the case came down to opening your machine’s enclosure and one more module yourself, most likely you would be better off with a new computer.

Before deciding to upgrade your hardware, make sure you fully understand what is inside of your computer and how it affects its speed; there are many different components which may fall under improvement (and which won’t). For example, if you use an old desktop with only 2 GB of RAM memory then most likely upgrading this module alone will not improve performance. That doesn’t mean that changing the configuration for your device’s memory is impossible; on the contrary, it is still possible but upgrading the amount itself won’t matter as much as completely replacing it instead. Another thing to keep in mind is that older devices meant for home usage might have slower processors than newer devices.


There are different reasons why you might want to upgrade this or that component of your old computer, and there is also another question: will it be worth the effort? Modern computers offer a much better performance than older ones and buying one would make sense if you needed a new device, but what about upgrading an already existing one? Sometimes it makes sense as such upgrades can actually improve performance (especially if we talk about processors). But not always; again, let’s take my case as an example: I decided to finally replace parts of my laptop because they were becoming unusable (there was even a time when its motherboard literally broke apart and came out of the screen). It could be said that I definitely made the best decision possible as the laptop now works like new.

Nowadays computers are most often sold as “the whole package”, meaning that you get all accessories included (mouse, keyboard, speakers…). And with desktops this also includes a monitor; you buy them together and definitely won’t have to worry about problems such as compatibility or something like that (you should know that for laptops though), but what if we’re talking about older devices? Buying such a pack might be expensive and it would make more sense if you were to simply buy each element separately; while cheaper, things start becoming annoying very soon: you have to deal with compatibility issues and so much more.

An average laptop/desktop comes with a warranty, usually one year (some might be three); the price will be lower if there is no such warranty, but keep in mind that from your first problem you would start looking for a new device rather than fixing it. In addition, not all problems are repairable; some of them can only be fixed by replacing old devices.

So, should you, or shouldn’t you upgrade an old computer?

I would advise going for an upgrade if there isn’t a good reason for doing so. If something doesn’t work properly, then see what you can do to make it work. If you can’t, then simply replace the device – but keep in mind that there are lots of new devices on the market and most of them come with a longer warranty than your current one, so if you’re not happy with yours then perhaps it’s time for a change.

In fact, if the performance of your machine is slow or unstable, then an upgrade might be worth considering – as I mentioned before – , especially if you have a laptop which is more than four years old.

However, if your PC was built before 2010 and it’s not working because of any reason other than a manufacturing defect (for example, you spilled coffee over it or something like that), then you can get rid of it without losing money.

An old computer does not sound like a good investment to me; since there are lots of better products on the market for this kind of budget, why don’t you try one instead?

But if you’ve already decided to keep yours then I’d recommend that you simply buy some memory or an extra hard drive to upgrade it. If possible, try to increase its speed by cleaning up its data and getting rid of unneeded software – unless you want something bigger and better, of course.

Final Note

After several years of using your old computer, you may feel like its speed does not match your needs anymore. If that is the case then I’d say that grabbing a new laptop might actually be a better choice; after all, it must be easier for you to use something that will fully fit your requirements and speeds. But if you want to update your current device instead, I suggest you get some extra memory (RAM) or at least look for ways to get rid of unnecessary files on your hard drive because they may be responsible for making it work slower than usual. Lastly, if you have a smartphone or a tablet that is fairly new, you could use the content stored on your computer there. That way no information will be lost and maybe you can even store less things on your mobile because of its limited storage capacity.

If you are looking for assistance, you’ll be glad to know that we provide upgrades to computers in Melbourne.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...