Get your hands dirty, and you can get a lot more from your PC hardware. We look at how to tweak a processor, install a faster CPU, switch to a more powerful graphics card or cool things down for improved efficiency.
The technology products you own can do much more than you think. Your PC or laptop is just waiting for you to push it that little bit further. Whether you want to add more disk space or RAM, or need a radical overhaul in the form of a processor or motherboard upgrade, the following pages will provide the advice you need to prepare properly and step-by-step instructions on how to make the hardware changes.
We'll also look at some free options for improving your existing hardware setup. Your RAM, processor and graphics card can all be tweaked. Some of the performance tricks we cover involve delving into parts of Windows you perhaps didn't know existed; others involve routine house-keeping. And what you'll learn from our look at system-scrubbing utilities is that spending money to improve performance can be counterproductive. We offer some cogent alternatives.
Some of the upgrades we outline involve digging around in the innards of your PC or laptop and should be attempted only if you're confident about fixing things that could go wrong. System Restore is your friend if you happen to install a dodgy program, but you can't so easily roll back a major component change. You should also take care to keep even the smallest screws and pieces of plastic supplied with your upgrade components – the tiniest items are often critical.
Here, we'll show you how to unlock features in your hardware and coax out every last processor cycle of your PC. Note, however, that some hacks we list here could void your PC's warranty.
How to upgrade a PC:
And before you start...