It’s frustrating how our computers never seem to be as fast as they were when we first bought them. It’s even more frustrating that documentation (both the Windows manual and the docs that come with your hardware) never makes mention of improving performance. And certainly, no manual will tell you how—and when—to upgrade.
A computer is ultimately the sum of its parts, so any discussion of improving performance starts with each component. You’re not likely to see any such discussion in Windows’ documentation, and the documentation that comes with most components is pretty pathetic, to say the least.
Some parts, such as hard disks, can be optimized to your heart’s content, potentially with substantial performance gains. On the other hand, when it comes to such components as your processor or motherboard, there’s not much you can do to them short of replacing them entirely. In the rather special case of memory, an upgrade usually consists of simply adding more memory modules.
When I am asked which of the components mentioned here is the most important in a system, the answer is both easy and impossible. On one hand, all of the components work together to form a complete system and therefore are equally important to a well-tuned computer. On the other hand, the quality and speed of certain components can affect overall system performance and efficiency more than others. Additionally, certain parts that are important to some users are ...