How Often do Gaming PCs Need an Upgrade?

The stress of the current chip shortages across the globe is causing panic amongst those responsible for office automation and gamers. The shortage seems like it has no end in sight and wreaks havoc amongst people who need to upgrade their PC for gaming or office work. It has many gamers asking whether or not they are overdue for an upgrade. So, how often do you need to upgrade your PC?

It is generally recommended that you replace your gaming PC at least every six years. Each component within your gaming PC can be upgraded at different times except for the motherboard and CPU. Those need to be upgraded together every six years to keep up with advancements made by applications and games.

In the rest of this article, we are looking at how often you should replace the main components of your PC. Each part has its life span, and so, we do need to talk about them individually. So, for everything you need to know about when to upgrade your PC, whether for gaming or office use, I highly recommend that you keep reading this article.

How Often Should You Replace Your CPU and Motherboard

When it comes to upgrading your motherboard and CPU, it is something that you want to do at the same time. It is the reason why we included these two pieces of hardware under the same subheading. You can upgrade your CPU and motherboard separately. However, it really isn’t recommended.

It will help if you upgrade your CPU and motherboard at least once every four or five years. Around this time, applications, especially games, demand more from the CPU than your current one can deliver. Please, don’t get me wrong, you can use old CPUsto run brand new games, but you won’t get the performance you desire.

As an example, we will use Microsoft Flight Simulator. I had a friend complain that he is running the latest GPU, an RTX 3070, but the game is not performing as it should. Well, it turns out he was still running and i7 6700k. In comparison, the CPU can handle pretty much any game thrown at it today and perform well, while Microsoft flight simulator is a different type of game.

It is a game that is CPU intensive, more so than it is GPU intensive. While the graphics are great, many calculations are running in the background that requires CPU power.

Every few years, a CPU will get launched. That CPU will have a specific socket. These sockets will have specific connection types that need to match. All you need to know for this article is that these sockets are not backward compatible.

What this means is, if you have gone out to buy a new CPU using a newer socket than your motherboard, it will not work, and if you try and get a new motherboard with an old CPU, again, it will not work.

How Often Should You Upgrade Your GPU?

Your GPU is responsible for rendering graphics on your machine. Every year graphics are improving, and I don’t want to do something disingenuous by pointing back to the mid-2000 to make my comparison because anyone can do that. We need to look at current advancements in graphical fidelity, but first, let’s be precise and talk about how often you should upgrade your GPU.

To maximize the performance of your machine, you want to upgrade your GPU about every two or three years. Now, you can extend this lifespan to around five years if you run the premium versions of GPU generations. For example, if you bought a 1080TI in 2017, you don’t have to upgrade that as soon as you would a GTX 1070. The 1080TI can still deliver more than 100fps on most modern games at ultra settings. However, we need to consider what the 1080TI can’t do. Trust me; this is where things get interesting.

Up until the 10xx series of GPU, Nvidea called their gaming cards GTX. With the launch of the 20xx series GPUs, they switched to naming the cards RTX. The reason for this shift was because of a new technology known as RayTracing. I love RayTracing; it simulates how light works and can transform how a game looks and feels.

So, in a nutshell, upgrading your GPU every two to three years helps with staying up to date with new technologies in terms of how graphics are rendered.

How Often Should You Replace Your RAM?

When it comes to upgrading your RAM, things get tricky because it is not something you necessarily need to upgrade at specific intervals. However, there are certain times when you want to upgrade your RAM.

With your Motherboard: As we discussed, certain chipsets are not backward compatible with your CPU and your motherboard. For example, if you currently have a motherboard that supports DDR4 and you decide to go up to a DDR5 motherboard one day in the future, you would need to upgrade your RAM.

Another reason you would want to upgrade your RAM is when you want more speed. In fact, many people start with DDR4 Ram that runs at 2666 MHz which does the job, but it isn’t exactly top of the range. Ideally, you would like 3200mhz or higher, so an upgrade is warranted if you have low-speed RAM.

How Often Should You Replace Your Liquid Cooling

Liquid cooling is the best way of ensuring that your PC stays within optimal temperatures while running some of the more graphically intense and CPU-intensive games out there, such as flight simulator and good old CRYSIS.

However, many people have reservations and understandably so about liquid cooling. I am a massive advocate for liquid cooling, and the fact that they can last up to seven years is more reason to use them. With that said, I have a little bit of a controversial opinion; however, it is an opinion formed out of experience.

You should try and replace your AIO liquid cooler at least once every five years. If you have a DIY tube liquid cooler, how often you replace it depends on you so long as you keep replacing the liquid every 12 months.

How Often Should You Upgrade Your Hard Drive?

Hard drives hold all of our valuable information and data. They have a lifespan of around seven to eight years. However, it would be best if you never let the hard drive run for that long without having all of your data backed up on a spare hard drive.

I recommend changing your hard drive once every four or five years. During those years, you should always have a backup that you replace at the same time. I know that sounds costly, but you need to ask yourself how much you value the information, such as photos, records, statements, and much more.

How often should you upgrade a laptop?

Laptops have very little customizability compared to their desktop counterpart. However, there are a few things, such as the hard drive and RAM, that you can easily upgrade, at least in most laptops. It is important to remember that your laptop is restricted to the socket that the CPU and motherboard are using, much like with desktops.

So, if you are using a laptop with DDR3 RAM in it, you can’t upgrade to ddr4. It is impossible. But, if you are currently using ddr4 RAM and want to increase the capacity, you can do so at your own time but be sure to check how much RAM your motherboard supports and what speed.

As for when to buy new laptops, if it is for office use, you should replace the laptop at least every six or seven years or when you feel it is necessary.

For gaming laptops, you want to replace your laptop at least every four years. Remember, laptops are not as powerful as their gaming desktop counterparts, and therefore, they become outdated a lot faster than desktops.

Final Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this article. Hopefully, we have answered all of your questions. What I would like to add is this:  In this current chip shortage, don’t panic. The shortage will end, and you will be able to upgrade your PC without having to pay increasingly higher prices for items such as your CPU and GPU.

David Sacks

I have worked in the IT industry since 2011 and have been an avid gamer my whole life. My first consoles were the sega genesis and the Nintendo SNES. I play both console and PC games, I love both. I decided to become combine my passion for gaming with my passion for writing.

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