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7 Ways to Add Oomph to an Aging Windows System

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A lot of readers here use Macs, but many use PCs, and if you’ve got an older system it can be very inexpensive and easy to tune it up for much better performance, instead of buying a whole new computer. In this post, I’ll go over some good ways to do this well for very little money, including using freeware.

Upgrade Your RAM. Memory has an enormous impact on how today’s operating systems and applications perform. If you’re running any recent version of Windows, try to get to at least 2GB of RAM. Going with 1GB results in serious performance hits, and the old benchmark of 512MB is completely archaic and unworkable.

Upgrade Your Processor. Processors aren’t the towering drivers of overall system performance that they once were. If you have an older one, though, consider upgrading. Here’s an easy tutorial.

Update Drivers. With Version Tracker, a free online tool, you can do a free scan to see if any of your drivers are out of date, which some of them probably are, and get recommendations for which driver updates you need.

Clean Your Windows Registry.
If you don’t clean out your Windows registry regularly, booting your system and other tasks can become painful. Glary Utilities is freeware with a very automated registry cleaner. (Make sure to make a registry backup first.)

Upgrade Your System’s Wi-Fi. Especially if you are using Draft-N Wi-Fi already in your house, it makes sense to upgrade older systems to be able to take advantage of it. Prices for Wi-Fi adapters fall under $50 in many cases.

Upgrade Your Graphics Card. Many older systems have graphics cards that are seriously behind the times. Here’s a good tutorial on doing an upgrade and you can look to graphics card providers such as nVidia for excellent cards that don’t cost too much.

Don’t Forget Tweaks. You can do a lot of easy performance-enhancing tweaks to your system and Windows if you use Tweaking Companions as your guide. Check it out.

Do you have any favorite upgrades for an older PC?

10 Responses to “7 Ways to Add Oomph to an Aging Windows System”

  1. VersionTracker is ok, but its much better for software updates than for drivers. DriverMax is a step down — it’s only for vista and doesn’t support XP, so not really an option when you’re talking about an older PC. The better option is the free RadarSync, which is easier to use than VersionTracker and just as reliable, without the fee. Just my 2cents.

  2. Although some of the recommendations are good there’s only so much you can do with an old system (besides installing Linux). If Linux is not an option and your system is more than 3 years old it makes much better sense to buy a new one.

    The good news is that you can get a very decent system for just $500-$600 nowadays using your current monitor, mouse and keyboard. Of course, the more you can spend the better but unless you work editing video, rendering 3D animations and things like that, that money will get you good performance for everyday tasks. It’ll run rings around your old system.

    Given that generic intel boxes are so cheap I think an article on how to get more oomph from an aging Mac system would be much appreciated. Their replacement cost is higher.

  3. …also VersionTracker is garbage. I’d recommend DriverMax over it any day of the week, even if it was a day that I was dead and couldn’t recommend anything.