PC Desktops and All-in-Ones:Maintain and Upgrade Your System

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PC Desktops and All-in-Ones: How to Maintain and Upgrade Your System

While laptops and, more recently, tablet PCs have made a dent into the desktop computer market, single-location personal computers remain a common sight in many households. Not only are desktop PCs more affordable than tablets and laptops, but they also offer more options in terms of capacity, speed, video, and audio capacity and functionality. Another advantage to desktop PCs, both component and, to an extent, all-in-one models, is their ability to be upgraded.

Throughout the United Kingdom, in excess of 500 million PCs are sold annually. In the name of convenience and affordability, many buyers have turned to all-in-one models to get everything they need in an attractive single package. Although these buyers may be investing less money up front, the opportunity to upgrade at a later date is an attractive option. Following a thorough review of the features and upgrades of PC desktops, including all-in-ones, eBay buyers are better able to make informed decisions, thus obtaining a computer they can use for many years.

Personal Computers

The personal computer entered the market in the 1970s. Before then, computer size vastly exceeded the space of a desk, making them impractical for home or office use. PCs progressed from early model BASIC and Wang operating systems, to Windows and Macintosh options.

Before portable laptop models entered the market, personal computers were built for single-location use. Size was not as much of a consideration as performance. As advances in technology and file size progressed, PCs began to have increasingly more memory while growing smaller in size. Early personal computers came with central processing units, or CPUs, that lay flat on the desk; soon, however, these hard drives took more of a tower appearance, enabling them to be moved from desk to floor, thus saving space.

A desktop PC has four separate standard components: CPU, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Often, these items come as part of a package, although separate pieces can be acquired, too. While some units also come with add-on speakers, other peripherals are available, including printers, flatbed scanners, backup hard drives, webcams, microphones, and more.

All-in-One Computers

An all-in-one computer consolidates the CPU and the monitor into a single unit. Early examples of this would be the classic Macintosh computers of the 1980s, and iMac machines a decade later. Beyond purchasing convenience, all-in-one PCs generally occupy less space than their dual-component counterparts. Portability is increased, too, as relocation is as simple as unplugging the unit and carrying it to the desired location.

With the computer’s hardware incorporated into the visual display unit, the ability to upgrade an all-in-one is somewhat limited, especially in early models. These days, though, the convenience of an all-in-one is more often matched by the availability of improvements. Other advances found in some newer all-in-one PCs are touchscreen monitors, surely a sign of more things to come.

Upgrading a Computer System

While some people can afford to upgrade their computers with every new burst of technology, most of us need to make our investments last. Upgrading a computer is a great way to stay abreast of faster processors and increased hard drive capacity without breaking the bank. Thankfully, a number of improvements are available, and many of them can be made at home by the computer user.

Those who use their PCs for gaming are especially familiar with this routine. Each year, new video games hit the market requiring faster graphics cards, more RAM, and more processor speed than those from the year before. If they want to keep up with their friends, videogame enthusiasts must learn the art of the upgrade.

Current State Assessment

The first step in upgrading a computer is to take a current-state assessment. Until PC users know what they have, they cannot review what is available and make proper upgrade choices. Assuming they have not previously advanced their system, a quick glance at the user manual should reveal much of this information. Another way to ascertain this information is to download a free diagnostic software program from the Internet and run a system summary.

Whichever source is consulted, users should take note of such information as processor model, speed, total memory, video system adaptor, bus speed, chipset, and physical storage devices. The physical memory bank reveals how much space is available for memory chips, and the AGP bus current data transfer rate the speed of the video card. Some final important information pertains to the hard drive, CPU type, motherboard, and speed figures. These latter numbers appear on screen when the computer is booted up.

Additional important information is available by viewing the computer’s system properties; this includes not only the operating system the computer is running, but also the type and speed of its processor (Gigahertz or GHz) as well as the amount of installed memory, or random access memory (RAM).

Common PC Upgrades

Depending on a computer owner’s needs, wants, and technological comfort, there are a number of upgrades to consider. Amongst the more frequent upgrades undertaken are improvements in the PC’s memory, hard drive, optical CD drive, and CPU. Those looking to make their desktop PCs more current may also look to modify the power supply, mother board, video cards, or fan.

Memory

When purchasing a new computer, buyers know to get a unit with a minimum of 512MB or RAM. For computers running Windows 2000,, XP,, or newer, even more memory is recommended. While the amount of RAM does not affect the hard drive capacity, it does directly correlate with the program speed while a user is working. Virtual memory, by extension, is the temporary information a computer stores on the hard drive until it can catch up with the operator. It follows logically that, the more virtual memory being used, the slower the computer’s operation.

RAM upgrades are dictated by the mainboard; a quick check with the manufacturer should reveal the unit’s available amounts. As a variety of RAM types exist, it pays to do this bit of research to ensure a compatible memory purchase.

Hard Drive

A computer user has a choice when it comes to adding extra storage space: Either the computer’s internal hard drive may be updated or a backup drive can be added to the current set-up. While this addition does not improve the PC’s processing speed, it does allow a user to load more programs and store more files. The choice between internal and external hard drives may come down to the age of the machine being upgraded, as older motherboards do not always recognise all aspects of newer hard drives. In this arena, buyers should first verify that the new hard drive’s jumper settings are compatible with other drives in the computer.

Optical CD Drive

The act of adding an optical DVD or CD drive is similar to making a hard drive upgrade. If a DVD drive is on the menu, the first step is ensuring the existing system has enough horsepower to play the video. When in doubt, a minimum processor speed of 400 MHz is recommended. Computer speed is an important consideration when installing CD-RW drives,, too, as a faster drive requires a faster computer. Prior to making a purchase, the computer user should first review the new CD drive’s specifications. The addition of PCI expansion cards and video cards may be necessary, as well.

CPU

While a processor upgrade does not definitively necessitate a CPU replacement, it may be necessary to upgrade both mainboard and CPU for optimal results. Of course, an all-in-one CPU upgrade is not possible without replacing the entire unit; however, those with desktop computers may want to keep this option in the back of their minds. Still, upgrades in this area can be tricky without knowing exactly what is needed; for this reason, upgrading a CPU may not be worth the effort.

As mentioned, not all upgrades can be made with all-in-one computers. For this reason, the all-in-one route may not be appropriate for gamers or others who wish to remain one step ahead of technology. Of the four most basic PC upgrades a user can make, only two are amenable to change in an all-in-one. The below chart is a head-to-head comparison of desktop and all-in-one PCs with regard to their ability to be upgraded.

Feature to Upgrade

Desktop PC

All-in-One PC

Memory

x

x

Hard drive

x

x

Optical CD drive

x

CPU

x

Other areas of inflexibility with all-in-one PCs include the fan, motherboard, power supply, and video cards. Of course, many who opt for all-in-ones over standard desktop models are not concerned with rapid advancements in gaming or memory capacity, in which case taking proper care of their all-in-one computer maintains it for many years.

How to Buy PC Desktops and All-in-Ones on eBay

Anyone who has ever visited eBay knows it is a technology lover’s paradise. There, computers and peripherals abound, with something for everyone, and then some. Arming yourself with a solid understanding of your computer needs makes your shopping experience enjoyable and fulfilling, no matter if you are buying a new PC or looking to upgrade one you currently own. A broad search of the site’s personal computer offerings allows you to view both desktop and all-in-one models. Take a look at the photographs to give yourself an idea of the items for sale, or click on the photo or product title to view more information about a specific item.

On the individual listing page, you should take note of the many variables of each computer and component. Remember to review such figures as processor speed, installed memory, virtual memory, hard drive capacity, and more. Check the seller’s satisfaction rating and the return policy, too, as you want to be sure the product you buy works with the system you have.

Conclusion

If there is one constant in life, it is change. Though variations of this truism have been attributed to theorists who lived long before the computer age, it seems never to have been more applicable than in the rapidly advancing technology climate. Advances in computers, including processing speeds, operating systems, CPU sizes, and video capacity, mean that one’s system is outdated not long after it is taken out of the box. Thankfully, there are a number of relatively simple and inexpensive upgrades that can bring an older computer up to speed with the current available offerings.

Although maintaining and upgrading a desktop or all-in-one PC is not rocket science, it does require a bit of awareness. Prior to heading to eBay, computer users should know the capacity of their current system, both in terms of capabilities and limitations. This is important not only to identify areas of improvement, but also to ensure compatibility with their current computer. Thanks to eBay&’s vast inventory and attractive prices, the site has earned the trust of billions of computer shoppers worldwide.

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