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How to speed up your PC

Technology keeps evolving, whether you have a Desktop or Laptop, ensuring that it can run the applications you need today and the next version of your accounting or office software can be tricky, especially on a budget.

The speed of your PC is determined by both hardware and the software you run on your device.

Hardware factors

The hardware factors include:

CPU

Intel generally releases a new version of its CPUs each year and they work with the bus motherboard technologies to improve the throughput of the CPU.  Each CPU generation may run at a higher clock speed; will have more CPU cores and have a higher number of transistors circuits that are closer together than before.

Upgrading a desktop’s processor is sometimes possible within the same generation of process.  If you currently have an i3 processor and want to install an i5 or i7 processor.  This works well if you can obtain the processor from old, discounted stock or from another doner pc.

RAM

The amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) installed can have impact on your PC’s performance.  The speed of the RAM or ensuring you have a match memory modules in pairs to take advantage of dual channel is important however, the more memory you have installed will save the operating system having to save part of the memory to disk.  This saves time as when the applications need to read the data stored in memory again, the PC does not have to load it again from the disk which is slower.   The amount of RAM can be increased by installing additional modules.  Most motherboards have 2 or 4 memory slots and the maximum memory will depend upon the CPU and motherboard bios. 

Hard disk

The storage location for all your data has traditionally been a spinning platter which stores the data magnetically.  A head within the hard disk reads and writes the files which can be in sequential order or randomly placed in different sectors or platters.  When you read the data, there is a slight delay as the head moves to the right location and the disk platter spins.  Even at 5400RPM every nanosecond counts.

Solid state disks (SSDs) have vastly improved the performance of PCs.  The existing hard disks can be upgraded in most cases by imaging the files from the existing HDD to the SSD.  The capacity of SSDs are generally smaller due to the cost of the components used. 

SSD technologies continue to develop.  The interface which connects the SSD to the motherboard initially matched the Hard disks – SATA III has a maximum throughput of 6GB/s which provides sequential read/write speed of up to 550Mpbs. 

crucial ssd

M.2 PCIe SSD’s utilise the high-speed bus which connect to the CPU more efficiently.  These can read at 7000MBps and write at 5000MBps.    PCs which have been released in the last 2 years may have the M.2 slot required for this type of SSD. 

Product GenerationTransfer RateThroughput
SATA 1.01.5 Gb/s150 MB/s
SATA 2.03.0 Gb/s300 MB/s
SATA 3.06.0 Gb/s600 MB/s
   
PCIe NVMe 12.5Gb/s250 MB/s
PCIe NVMe 24.9Gb/s500 MB/s
PCIe NVMe 37.9Gb/s3.9 GB/s
PCIe NVMe 415.8Gb/s7.8 GB/s

GPU

A Graphics Processor Unit is used mostly for gaming or CAD or Graphic packages such as Photoshop or Autocad.  The GPU is an additional processor which offloads some CPU tasks and has additional RAM which is faster and dedicated for graphics. 

Software factors

The applications you run on your PC is known as software.  The software generally is made up of:

Operating System

Windows 10 is the current version of Windows operating system.  The OS controls the way you interact using its graphical interface and how the applications which run can interact with each other and the hardware they are connected to.   It is important to keep the OS up to date as this can cause issues which result in a slower system.

Device Drivers

Each device you have in your PC uses a device driver to allow the operating system to talk to the device.  These are usually developed by the manufacturer and should be updated regularly.   Windows update sometimes updates these automatically but if you have a graphics card or specialist hardware, the drivers can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.

Application Software

These are the programs which you on top of the operating system.  They may include Microsoft’s office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook or Adobe Acrobat reader or a web browser such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Firefox.  Each software developer will provide the initial recommended minimum hardware requirements for each application.  This will recommend the CPU, memory and disk space required.  These requirements are important especially if you are running applications such as AutoCAD or Photoshop.    As these are the minimum requirements you should always try to exceed them so that the product will operate correctly.   Most of us have more than one application open at the same time.  Even applications such as Chrome can use lots of your memory when you have multiple tabs open. 

What can you do to speed up your PC?

Update the software

Ensuring you are running the latest version is not always required however, ensuring you have the latest updates or patches can help improve your PCs speed and security.    Search “Check for Update” – this will let you know when the last updates were installed, click on the “Check for Update” button and Windows will search for any new update.  Follow the instructions on the screen to install and restart if required.

Clear out temporary files

When applications run, they typically store temp files in the temp folder.  If the application shuts down normally these should be cleaned up automatically, however if you have had a power cut or an application crash then these can be left behind.  These can be cleaned up using the Disk Cleanup tool within Windows

Select the Temporary files checkbox from the list and click ok.

Uninstall programs

Some hardware manufacturers install additional software with a new PC which are often unused.  These applications may run automatically and use some of your PCs CPU, RAM and Disk space.  If you are not using them or you have another application which you prefer, uninstall the application.   Check if you are running multiple antivirus applications – sometimes manufacturers will supply a trail version of an antivirus application.  If you are not using it, or have installed another product, ensure the old version has been uninstalled.    Warning – Uninstalling an application can cause problems – Please ensure you have backed up your PC or have the application installer so you can reinstall.

To uninstall an application search “Apps & features” and a list of the applications will be displayed.   

Select the application and click Uninstall. 

Hardware upgrades

If above software suggestions have no – Installing or upgrading hardware will require the correct parts for your current PC.  Some Manufacturers require specific parts and upgrading the PC may void your warranty.   

Establishing the current hardware. 

Most PCs will have a manufacturer make and model number on a label in the device.  Once located, these can be search for on the manufacturers website or google to obtain the original specifications and some will list the options which can be upgraded.  RAM could be increased to 32GB

If you cannot find this, you can confirm hardware via the Windows Task Manager Performance Tab. 

This will show the CPU

Memory

The Disks installed

 This shows the disk type SSD or HDD

You can also see the disk drive model number.  This information can be googled to confirm the technology being used. 

Other websites such as Crucial.com have downloads which allow them to confirm the hardware you have and which of their products can be used to upgrade your current device.   

Installing the new hardware

We recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions, disconnect hardware from all power sources and ensure you wear electrostatic protection when installing any hardware.

RAM installation is generally can be completed easily.  Locating a spare memory slot and installing should take a few minutes.

Upgrading the CPU is harder as the CPU cooler must be removed as well as the old CPU.  When installing the new CPU, sufficient thermal compound should be applied, and the cooling installed before powering on.  Failure can result in a blown CPU which would need to be replaced.

Upgrading the HDD to SSD also requires some hardware and software image the existing contents of the Hard disk to the new SSD.  This process can take several hours depending upon the amount of data on the hard disk.   Note: if there are corruptions on the hard disk it may not be possible to image or if the disk is encrypted, the disk would need to be decrypted and then imaged and then re-encrypted. 

Measuring performance

Whether you are making software changes or upgrading the hardware, you will need to establish a way of recording the changes you have made and the difference they made. There are some benchmark tools however most of these concentrate on the graphics performance.

If you have installed an SSD then you should notice the start-up speed difference for Windows or applications.

For accurate throughput of your disk we use Crystal Disk Mark which has a range of disk tests. This can be found at their website.

Our engineers have upgrade thousands of devices.  If you find your PC is running slowly then speak to one of our sales team who would be happy to discuss your needs.