Should I upgrade my graphics card or CPU?


I often get asked ‘Should I upgrade my graphics card or CPU?’ Let’s dive in…

Are you totally unsatisfied with your computer performance? Wish you could play the latest games without it looking like a slideshow on some of the lowest settings just to keep up frames? Or do you just not have enough power to edit large video files, render out projects or even run multiple programs at once smoothly. If your answer is yes then this article may be able to help. See below for what is essentially an easy way to upgrade either your CPU or GPU which will effectively turn the performance of your computer around.

So first I should mention that if you are happy with how your computer performs now, don’t touch anything! You may break something important and things can become costly or not worth it so this guide is for those who want better performance and don’t mind spending a little money.

When upgrading graphics card matters

So I would recommend upgrading your graphics card if you play games and edit lots of video/photos and want to be able to do more than one thing at once, but I wouldn’t bother upgrading if all you do is browse the internet or write essays in Word. The price difference between builds with different CPUs or GPUs will typically be around $100-200 (and that’s without an operating system). What makes this such a hard decision is that people often ask themselves ‘Can my computer run “x” program’ and sometimes not knowing the answer doesn’t help either because they assume it’ll work fine when in actuality it doesn’t perform well or at all. Now, this isn’t to say the CPU/GPU doesn’t make a difference but what I’m trying to say is you should figure out what you do with your computer before deciding on whether or not it’s worth upgrading.

You can check to see if you actually require an upgrade.


The first thing that comes into mind when looking for a new graphics card upgrade is the games. If you’re playing demanding games, if you want better FPS (frames per second) then pick up a new GPU. It won’t help if all you play are e-sports titles like CSGO, Overwatch or Dota because these games aren’t very demanding so even the lowest tier GPUs will be able to run them fine. But nowadays it can be hard to tell whether or not your PC will be able to run the newest game without spending £60 on it. Luckily there are sites like Can You Run It that will check your PC and recommend you on whether or not it can run a game. If you’re planning to upgrade then at least you won’t be wasting money on buying games that your computer can’t even run.


When upgrading CPU matters

However, if what you want is more CPU power then the games shouldn’t matter because all they do is take advantage of multiple cores (the number of cores depends on the game). If you’re just browsing/office work/watching movies etc… having 12 threads instead of 4 could make a huge difference in performance because now the system doesn’t have to share resources between each thread which speeds up everything whereas 2 extra cores wouldn’t make much difference at all if that is the only thing the system has to do.

The most important thing, however, is to think about your use case and what you will be using your new CPU for. If you don’t have a very high budget or just want a little bit more power then going with an i5/i7 quad-core would probably be fine but if you’re doing some serious video editing/rendering then it might be worth looking into an i7 six or eight-core (or more).

Final Note

If buying a new computer isn’t on the cards right now though there are many things that can improve performance without having to upgrade anything. First of all make sure everything except for your games (web browsing, office work, etc..) is running off an SSD. If you can afford it and have the space in your computer, upgrade to a larger capacity HDD and run games off that instead. This will massively improve loading times and in some cases might increase performance in certain games due to having lower access times than an SSD.

If you don’t already use them make sure to install the latest drivers for your graphics card (if you own one) and if there is any overclocking software like the AMD Ryzen Master available make sure you give that a go too!

If you have a PC that requires some TLC, we offer computer hardware upgrades to Melbourne homes and businesses!

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...