Smatterings: Upgrading Your Windows PC

When you find yourself in need of extra memory, another hard drive, a scanner, or a printer; life just got more complicated. Here are some techniques and resources to cope.

The first step of solving any problem is to gather as much information about the given subject that is available.


Windows PC Upgrading Links

So you want to upgrade your PC or one of its components....

Computer technology changes too fast for me to keep up with it. So I collected some links of people who do.

AnandTech Independent hands-on reviews of computer hardware such as motherboards, graphic cards, and CPUs, digital cameras, multimedia and memory.
the Inquirer computer hardware news from Europe.
Tom's Hardware Guide Motherboard and video card reviews
Trish's Escape from Hardware Hell Thrish has an awesome collection of everything you always wanted to know about computer.
Motherboard Home World "Linking the motherboard community together."

Purchasing Computer Stuff through the Internet

Once you have decided what you are going to do, you need to find the best solution to buying what ever you need to purchase.

Many times the part you want for your computer can only be purchased by ordering it.

In the beginning; computer companies misused, abused, and totally disregarded the common meaning of the word "compatible".

Read the companies return policy. Many companies have a restocking fee if the part you ordered just is not what you thought it was. Sometimes the new part works fine, but it is not compatible with something else in you computer. You no longer want the part because it does not work. The company you bought it from will charge you a restocking fee because according to their tests the part works.

Amazon will return items if they do not work and is very helpful in figuring out if you should order it or not with its user reviews and questions.

Every computer manufacture is required to have one thing that is unique about their computer part in order to call it their own. This unique part sometimes conflicts with some other manufacturer's unique computer part. Unless you find the part you want to buy listed as being compatible with the computer part you already own, by a computer reference source that you trust, avoid computer companies with restocking fees.

Price Grabber A place to do price comparison shopping.
Nextag Another place to do price comparison shopping.
Reseller Ratings User evaluations of computer hardware vendors.

Purchasing Computer Stuff Locally

Thanks to Office Depot, Office Max and Best Buy, this is still possible in Western NY. Sometimes they can save you two days shipping or the cost of overnight shipping if they happen to carry what you happen to want. On the other hand some shops that can brag about how long they have existed, are now run by sons. We have a shop called local Computer Discount Center in our area, who use to be a great local place for parts and service, but the father retired, and the son "works for a living", and refuses to answer what should be simple tech questions. Then to add insult to injury, while his father always had a no return policy, his father always tried to make sure you bought the part you thought you were buying. His son sadly tried to sell me a power supply incompatible with my system. So be careful out there. Good business always goes hand in hand with good customer service. Check the reps of companies before buying anything. You too work for a living.

Installing Your New Toy

If screwdrivers bring terror to your heart, coax someone who is either technically inclined, or a computer guru to hookup whatever you finally decided to purchase.

Upgrading your System Software

Perhaps all you need to do is upgrade your existing drivers. The last driver released is usually the one you should be using. Hopefully you saved the manuals or boxes that came with your computer cards and motherboards. You need these for identifying the correct component inside your computer to choose the right files to download. If not don't worry. Freeware programmers wrote some awesome programs to rescue you. The programs below work well as your hardrive. If your hard drive failed before you obtained a printout of what's inside-- start looking for those boxes.

Computer Software and Computers has the latest information about computer and software changes.

Slimware Drivers Saves from the uncertainty of trying to figure which drivers our Sony Laptop needs as their site offers multiple possibilities since they assembled the same model with the same parts from multiple manufactures. Simplifies updating drivers for our Windows 7 tower. Can now say with certainty, "Yes all my drivers are updated." Only usable with an Internet connection installed. Does not identify drivers your system hasn't already identified. Simplifies keeping drivers updated only.

CrystalCPUID Freeware program that reports motherboard, bios, cache, chipset and cpu info on your system. Runs from extracted zip file.

SIW (System Information for Windows), freeware tool, that gathers detailed information about your system properties and settings including detailed specs for CPU, Network, TCP/IP, Memory, and Hardware. Lists hardware info under their PCI heading.

System Ninja is a cleaner that rids your system of unneeded junk. This freeware program includes a tab labeled PC Analysis that will display the info that's needed to document your current drivers.

Win Audit freeware program quickly identifies all hardware and software installed in your system. Shows details on installed software, license information, peripherals, memory usage, processor model, network settings, startup programs and more.

Optimizing your PC Smatterings: Registry Editing for Performance has directions on the bottom of the page on how to install Windows and tweak it so it works better than it might otherwise work.

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