PC Advisor outlines 50 low-cost upgrades that will boost your PC, from raw speed and graphics performance to wireless, printing and multimedia.

No one seems sure whether we've turned the economic corner or the downturn is here for the foreseeable future. One thing we do know, however, is that we're not as flush as we used to be.

Belt-tightening and thrift have become bywords for all but the most bulletproof politicians and City bankers, and the technology sector is no exception: we're all more inclined to make do with what we've got than throw away last year's laptop or PC. Extending the life of our technology is a much cheaper option than trading it in for a replacement.

So, while you'll be able to drum up a few extra pounds by selling no-longer-needed items on eBay, you'll probably still be faced with the issue of how to improve the gadgetry you need to use on a regular basis.

Part of the answer is to use firmware can fix bugs, improve performance and unlock features in the hardware you own (see The ultimate guide to updating firmware). There's also a lot to be said for lightening the burden on your PC or laptop. A good clear-out of outdated files, a trimming-back on applications that load at startup but needn't do so, and offloading the items you don't need to access all the time - these steps will all go a long way to improving system performance.

Major improvements, minor expenditure

But the next few pages aren't just a new spin on how to declutter and speed up your PC. They're also an acknowledgement that sometimes you need to spend a little to gain noticeable enhancements. And while a whole new laptop - or at least a speedier processor - may be your first-choice scenario, the items we outline here all set you back less than £100 (many cost far less) and each offers benefits and improvements worth having.

In fact, each piece of kit we describe here offers plenty of bang for your buck and will help you get your machine ready for Windows 7. We outline 50 excellent graphics, storage and memory options to suit your ongoing needs.

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  1. 50 excellent graphics, storage and memory options
  2. Software boosters
  3. Graphics and memory
  4. Portable storage
  5. Networking & the web
  6. Optical options
  7. Sound & vision
  8. Better prints
  9. Invaluable extras