Sustaining PC hardware for 7 years is not an impossibility as computers being machines, they can probably last forever under optimal care. The downside of holding on to a system for too long is cutting it close to the point where it becomes severely outdated.
PC hardware evolves at a blistering pace and there are significant gains in performance and efficiency with each generation of products. Therefore, no hardware configuration, irrespective of the cost, is exactly future-proof.
Keeping that in mind, feel free to use your current system as long as it provides you with satisfactory levels of performance. Computers are expensive after all, and these points will help prolong your systems usability:
- Opt for a custom-built PC: The added benefit of getting yourself a custom PC over an OEM prebuilt desktop or a laptop is the complete independence of choosing all your components. This is beneficial in the long run because:
- Many OEM systems use proprietary components whose specifications are unique to the brand itself and therefore are not standardised.
- The non-standardization severely limits the upgrade path of your system and makes replacing faulty parts difficult once the warranty period is over. OEMs typically discontinue producing spares soon after the product gets discontinued. Non-standardised components cannot be swapped out and easily replaced with readily available standardised components. The only option remaining is to scour for parts in the second-hand market, or watch your system turn into e-waste.
- Most prebuilds are manufactured with the aim of hitting the advertised specs and do not provide headroom for upgrades. You will need to spend extra to swap out a working component in order to upgrade another. For example, a low-capacity Power Supply may hamper your upgrade to a more powerful graphics card, processor, or both.
Try to buy the highest-performing components from the latest generation that is within your budget especially if you do not have an upgrade path or you want to save the hassle of periodic upgrades. The latest hardware usually tends to age better thanks to generational gains achieved in performance.
- Keep your PC free from dust and humidity: Premium high airflow cases tend to suck in a lot of dust despite having an ample amount of dust filters, so expect standard cases and laptops to fare worse. Dust accumulation in the fans hampers cooling and increases the operating temperature. Try placing your PC on a desk or an elevated platform if you have a carpeted floor or if you have pets. Carpets suffocate the Power supply air intake located underneath the case and draw in excess dust while pet fur aggravates the dust issue.
Clean dust using a microfiber cloth, air duster/compressed air cans. Avoid using any solvents or wet agents.
For humid environments, try placing silica gel packets in your case to reduce moisture. In the case of water-cooled parts, perform periodic checks for coolant leakage.
- Perform a thermal re-paste as required: It is a good practice to clean and reapply CPU thermal paste once every year or so as it degrades and hardens with time. This can also be performed on your Graphics card every 2-3 years.
Doing it at the cost of voiding your warranty is not recommended and ideally should be done post-warranty expiry. In the event of observing unnaturally high temperatures prior, contact customer service.
Thermal throttling of performance is undesirable and poor heat dissipation reduces the lifespan of components.
- Use a surge protector: It detects surges in voltage and neutralizes it, providing clean, consistent power to your PSU. This prolongs its life and prevents random shutdowns and loss of data when the PSU abruptly cuts off supply in the event of a major surge.
- Install an SSD: The most effective way to revitalize an older system with a mechanical drive is to install an SSD. The user experience becomes drastically snappier.
Also, never completely saturate a drive with files as it stresses out the drive every time you retrieve data and slows it down overall.
- The Softer side of things:
- Turn on notifications for Windows updates but choose to install them manually. Not all updates are essential, and windows update consumes significant resources as a background process.
- Antivirus Software for malware protection malware slows down your machine by hogging system resources, eating up disk space and corrupting system files. Bitdefender discounts are currently live so do pick up a suitable subscription for a reasonable fee
- Install free software such as CPUID HWMonitor which provides accurate, detailed real-time status of your system parameters such as temperature, fan speeds, power consumption and resource utilization for every component. CPU-Z and GPU-Z are also recommended for CPU and GPU specific monitoring respectively
- Go with a fast VPN service and be protected against insecure connections without compromising on speed. Encrypted browsing helps you maintain online anonymity.
So, in conclusion, following these methods will definitely help your system perform better for a longer period of time as well as boost your user experience. Have a great computing experience!