Upgrade your hardware to significantly improve your computer’s performance resulting in a much better gaming experience. While this document is meant for gamers, some of the tips would work for computers that are not used for gaming.

Why is My Computer Slow?

Have you ever had a computer that was fast when you bought it but it then slowed down over time? There are several reasons that can explain this. Here are a few:

  1. There are too many programs loading automatically when the computer boots
  2. The software you’re running now is more demanding than the software you were running when you bought the computer. Eg. The Operating System, games and other software
  3. Windows is not optimized properly for performance
  4. Bugs in applications or Windows
  5. Drivers are out of date
  6. A background program is incompatible with the foreground application(s)
  7. The hardware is inadequate

How Do I Speed Up My Computer?

As you can see in the list above, there are many possible causes of a slow computer. Before considering a hardware solution, you should explore all possible software solutions. See “Speed Up My Computer for Free” in the Tips menu for more information or click here to go there now. The problem of a slow computer has three possible hardware solutions. The following hardware tips apply to PC gamers.

Hardware Solutions

If software changes did not result in improved performance, it means that you have inadequate hardware. Fortunately, you can upgrade hardware to significantly improve performance. A computer’s ability to play a particular game is usually determined by 3 components: main memory (RAM), the video card and the processor.

Upgrade Main Memory (RAM)
Increasing a computer’s main memory has traditionally been the cheapest and easiest way to improve performance (with the current low price of most hardware, this may no longer be the case). This is true for any computer whether you use it for gaming or not. The more memory a computer has, the faster it runs but only to a certain point. For example, if your computer has 2GB of RAM and you double it to 4GB, it might make the computer run twice as fast. That means an increase of 100%. Doubling it again to 8GB might only increase the speed another 25% and doubling it to 16GB might only increase the computer’s speed an additional 5%. These percentages are not meant to be accurate and are only used as examples. My point is, the more memory you add, the less of a difference it makes.

Whether or not you see an increase in speed depends on what you’re doing. For certain tasks you won’t see a difference between 4GB and 16GB but if you’re playing a modern, demanding game, you would definitely see a difference. To repeat, adding more RAM can definitely speed up your computer but eventually, you would reach a point where adding more RAM accomplishes absolutely nothing. Keep in mind that the amount of memory your computer has is much more important than the speed of your computer’s memory. Look at your game developer’s recommended requirements (not minimum requirements). Ideally, you want your computer to have more main memory than the game manufacturer recommends. If that is already the case then your problem is not caused by a lack of memory.

Read more about choosing the right memory in the “Research Tips” menu. Click here to go there now.

Replace the Video Card
If adding more memory is not the solution, consider replacing the video card. A better video card only improves performance of games and other graphic-intensive programs. As with main memory, the amount of memory a video card has is much more important than the speed of the memory. When playing demanding games, a good video card is crucial. Look at the game manufacturer’s recommended requirements (not minimum requirements). Ideally, you want your computer to have a video card with more memory than the game manufacturer recommends. If that is already the case then your problem is likely not caused by the video card.

Read more about choosing the right video card in the “How I Research” menu. Click here to go there now.

Replace the Processor (CPU)
The final hardware solution to a slow computer is to replace the processor. A faster processor would speed up any computer, whether it’s used for gaming or not. However, you might not notice an increase in performance unless you’re doing something CPU-intensive like playing demanding 3D games. Look at the game manufacturer’s recommended requirements (not minimum requirements). Try to buy a faster processor than the one recommended by the game developer. It might be that you already have the fastest processor available for your motherboard (the component to which all other components connect). If that’s true then you need a new motherboard and processor in which case you should just consider buying or designing a new computer.

Read about Intel vs AMD processors in the “Research Tips” menu. Click here to go there now.

Click here to go to the next tip “How to Clean Up a Computer”.

12 Responses

  1. Rico Hanes

    Thank you ! That was extremely informative and obviously EVERYONE with a computer can benefit from your basic tips. The one thing I was never aware of was that by increasing your Memory two fold and then again, you only actually increased by 1/4 and then 1/20th. Fascinating ! I guess video gaming is the biggest culprit for every one. That issue will never change ! Your various HELP Center posts are greatly appreciated !

    • Peter

      If you look at that paragraph you’ll see I said “These percentages are not meant to be accurate and are only used as examples.” So the percentages aren’t accurate. I’m just saying that the more memory you add, the less of a difference it makes. Eventually, adding more RAM makes no difference at all.

  2. Latricia

    This is an excellent article. My computer is slow at times and any of these tips could be helpful. I am not an intense gamer, but I do buy PC games. I believably need more GBs.

    • Peter

      More memory could be the answer but it could also be that a new video card would do a better job. Look at the game’s recommended requirements. If you have enough main memory but your video card is weak, adding more main memory won’t help.

  3. Dave Thomas

    Thank you for your blog. I didn’t realise it was so complicated. My computer seems to be getting slower as the months pass but I use a MAC. Any pointers on how I could speed it up?

    • Peter

      The concepts are exactly the same. The 3 most important components for determining a computer’s speed are the same whether it’s a Mac or a PC but unless things have changed, Mac’s are not user-upgradeable. So if you’re gaming, look at the recommended requirements of your games, look at the specs of your Mac and see where things can be improved. Stick to the 3 areas I mention in this article. If you’re not gaming or using some other type of graphic-intensive program, you don’t need a video card. You then need to take your Mac to an Apple dealer and have the hardware upgraded. Before doing that, though, you should look at software solutions. Windows can be optimized for performance. It should be possible to do that with a Mac so ask the Mac dealer about that before telling him to upgrade hardware.

  4. Luna

    I always thought that if I increase the memory on my computer than it will be much faster. I can see that I have a lot to learn. I know that viruses can also mess the whole thing up. Since I am not as knowledgeable as you are about computers I usually just change the processor when things got out of hand.

    Your post is quite informative and helpful.

    • Peter

      As I said, increasing memory will speed up your computer but only to a certain point. Beyond that you would be wasting money by adding more memory. If you’re not gaming you don’t need a video card unless you’re using some other kind of graphic intensive program. If you’re gaming, a video card is as important as main memory or CPU.

  5. Zaid

    Hi Peter, what about SSD for storage? Does it make much of a difference for gaming?

    Also, I finally ditched Windows and I’m experimenting with gaming on Linux. The selection is limited, but these days I barely have time to play.

    Windows has become too heavy for gaming, but as long as the publishers target that platform, we will always have to spend more money on hardware.

    • Peter

      As you said, SSD is for storage so how that makes a computer faster is whenever there would be reading from or writing to a HDD. Reading from or writing to a SSD would be much faster but how much reading from or writing to a drive do you when you run any program? Once the program is in memory, there won’t be much HDD / SSD use. The only time there would be HDD / SSD use is when you load or save a data file (eg. word processor document) or if Windows needs to use virtual memory (the swap file). So it’s not going to speed up gaming because when you play a game you usually don’t spend time saving or loading data files.

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