Tuesday, 12 June 2012

What is the best upgrade I can make for my PC?

What is the best upgrade I can make for my PC?

Whether you have an old PC or a new PC what is the best upgrade you can make? I would say that if you are looking for something to increase the overall performance of you PC then look no further than a solid state drive SSD.

A solid state drive is in my view the single most cost effective upgrade you can make to your PC, Laptop or Mac.

Example of PC Upgrade with Solid State Drive.

Like many people out there I have a desktop and a laptop. I don't use my laptop that often so it is old, specs below.

This is an old laptop not very fast, with a slow processor (remember although old and new processors may have the same GHZ rating, the newer ones are nearly always faster its to do with front side bus rate). I dropped the laptop and needed a new hard drive and so decided on an SSD. I went for a kingston SSD now 16GB (go for 32GB for windows 7), which was small, but I don't store stuff on my laptop so I went small to keep it cheap.

I was surprised to notice that my laptop now boots quicker than my desktop;

HP XW8400

WHY? because of the SSD, at that moment in time I was using a standard SATA drive in my desktop.

So a solid state drive at £35 / $70 turned my oldest PC in to my fastest PC. This is great at boot because it gets you up and running so quickly. With a laptop you also notice massively extending battery life which is great.

So I rest my case some puritans may say that RAM is more important but I would even say that with an SSD your page file will become nearly as good as RAM, and so an SSD is still the best upgrade you can make.

If you have an old PC you would like to upgrade, and make it snappy again, then get a solid state drive. You can use disk cloning software such as EaseUS copy your old drive on to your new one.

If you have a really old PC be sure to buy a convertor so you cabn use a SATA SSD with your IDE mother board. Don't buy an IDE solid state drive as you will not be able to swap it in to newer PCs in the future. An IOMAX convertor works very well, and is super easy to setup.

I mentioned I purchased a 16 GB STA drive above, which in hind sight is not a good idea, get at least a 32GB drive, as you will need a drive this size if you want to run windows vista or 7. At the time I was running XP and I thought 16 GB was enough.

What is the best upgrade I can make for my PC?

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XW8200 vs XW8400

I have owned both of these rather chunky HP desktop computers, both of which would be certainly capable of being used as a server, they both can take 4 internal hard drives, and run dual processors. They both have 3 full length 5.25" drive bay at the front end.

But from there on in they are rather different.

Feature XW8200 XW8400
Processors 2 x Xeon 2 x Xeon
FSB 800 1066 / 1333
Processor Tech Hyper Threading Cores
Max Freq 3.8 3.0
Max Cores 2 (4 Threads) 8

SATA Ports 2 4
SAS No Yes
IDE Yes Yes

PSU 650 W 900 W

PCI 4 4
PCI x 8 1 1
PCI x 16 1 3

XW8200 Pros / For

might have a vote for its quietness (so long as you swap out the rear fan).
wide choice of storage controllers

XW8200 Cons / Against

The old style xeons run soooooo hot, which heats the room (seriously) annoying in summer.
Limited to 2 cores all be it with HT (4 threads).

XW8400 Pros / For

Pretty quick.

Up to 8 cores.

true 64 bit

masses of SATA storage up to 8 drives using SAS controller.

processors run nice and cool

XW8400 Cons / Against


memory runs hot and will need a RAM fan (comes supplied with one of these)

Power Consumption running 2 processors, SSD and 1 TB store is around 200W.


XW8400 every time, unless you have some older drives you would like to use.

More details on XW8200

More details on XW8400


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