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Making the upGrade
Following the upgrade trail part three

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Looking for upgrade components?  Get them here...

Never buy another new computer

swapping parts to building a complete system is just a matter of degree, and even then there are gradations.  Once you're familiar with the various cables and components, it's really no big deal to connect and disconnect, remove and insert, install and configure all the parts involved.

Although it's sometimes possible to use your existing case, you'll probably want a more spacious one that's easier to work with.  Aside from raw space issues,  mass market cases sometimes have proprietary mounts and connectors which make replacement of the motherboard problematic.  As if that weren't enough, a stronger power supply is usually required, and a case with power supply is about the same price as a power supply alone.

A typical 'brand name' mass market case: cramped and limited.
Spacious replacement cases are inexpensive and readily available.

So-called "bare bones" kits make it easy to move your drives and RAM into a new case preconfigured with a motherboard and processor at a fraction of the cost of a complete system.  Some of these kits even include the RAM, so all you really have to do is swap the hard drive and CD.

If you can't find the right kit, you may want to get the case, motherboard, and processor separately. 

As with attempting to upgrade the CPU in an existing system, it's essential to get a proper match between the CPU and motherboard.  You cannot assume that a given processor will function with a given motherboard just because the sockets match.

CPU manufacturers certify motherboards for each model of their processors.  Go to the technical support section of the CPU manufacturer's web site and verify that you're making the right choice.

With the modern zero insertion force (ZIF) CPU sockets, mounting the chip is very easy.  This is offset though by the spring clip arrangement that secures the cooling fan.  A slip here can ruin the processor and/or the motherboard.

It's much easier, and even sometimes cheaper, to take advantage of the "bundled" CPU and motherboard combinations offered by major parts houses.  These are matched, with the CPU and cooling fan typically premounted so you won't have to handle these most delicate components.

Moving on up

Once your new system is assembled, you can take the hard drive from your old one, install it, and fire it up.  If all has gone well, Windows will start up, detect the new hardware, and finish booting to the desktop with generic drivers.

Note: when moving a hard drive to a new system, it's recommended to remove the old system board drivers.  Before shutting down the old system for the last time, open the device manager and remove all com and parallel ports, USB hub components, and every device under the "System" header.

Insert the CD that came with your new motherboard, then follow the instructions to install the specific drivers it requires for optimal performance.

Once that's accomplished, you can install any add-on cards like a modem, sound, or network device and you'll be good to go with a brand new system that you built yourself. 


Our favorite source for upgrade components has an excellent selection of parts, processors, RAM, components, bare bones kits, motherboards and bundles, and whatever else you may need- all at some of the very best prices we have seen.  We suggest you check the bargains online now at the link below:


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