Upgrading your CPU is among the costly parts of your computer maintenance. As such, it is important to know when the time is right for you to make the investment. Even more important than that, it is important to know which CPU to spring for once you have decided that an upgrade is necessary.
We have compiled a list of tests that indicate when to upgrade your CPU. If it does turn out that it is time for you to ditch your CPU, then we also tell you how to upgrade your CPU as well as certain issues that you need to be aware of.
When to Upgrade your CPU
The best way to determine whether your CPU is in need of an upgrade is by using it for your everyday tasks. The casual internet browser has no need for the fastest machine and should be fine with a low-end processor, but a person who wants to play Cyberpunk 2077 at the highest settings should probably start looking at the latest Intel or Ryzen processors.
Here is how you can ascertain whether your CPU requires an upgrade:
You can stress test your CPU and benchmark its performance to see how it holds up. However, this method will only really be beneficial for the computer enthusiast who knows the kind of performance that he requires from his machine.
If you are not well-versed in computer technology, we recommend you avoid stress testing and instead look at some of the easier indicators to decide if you should upgrade your CPU.
The easiest way to determine if your CPU is in need of an upgrade is by monitoring the temperatures while performing your daily tasks. Whether it is gaming or video rendering, make sure your temperature is optimal by following our complete guide to CPU temperatures. If your CPU still overheats after following all of our guidelines, then it might be time to upgrade.
Bottlenecks are one of the most common ways to determine if your CPU needs an upgrade. In the simplest of terms, you experience a bottleneck when your computer randomly freezes for a short duration during high-intensity tasks.
The cause for a Bottleneck can be anything from an old CPU to an outdated GPU to slow RAM. As such, it is important to monitor your CPU usage to make sure it is your CPU causing the bottleneck. You can also follow our guide on lowering CPU usage to see if it has an impact on your bottleneck.
Check Requirements of Software/Games
If you are someone who uses a lot of robust software or plays a lot of games, then they can be a great indicator of when to upgrade your CPU. If you notice that the vast majority of modern applications recommend CPUs far newer and powerful than yours, then it is time for you to purchase a new one.
Do remember that upgrading your CPU can be a slightly complicated process. Although we guide you on how to upgrade your CPU, it might be best for novice computer users to leave the upgrading part to a professional.
How to Upgrade your CPU
Since upgrading your CPU can be quite expensive, remember that overclocking is a viable alternative. We have a comprehensive guide on how to overclock your CPU which can be of immense help. If you find that overclocking your CPU is still not enough for your needs, then you can begin shopping for a new CPU. Here is a small list of things to watch out for.
Always go for maximum future-proofing
You may be tempted to get the bare-minimum model that is enough for your current need, but that is not the way to go. Since CPUs are so much more expensive than most other equipment, it is best to go for the most high-performance model that you can afford.
This way, you do not need to keep on spending more money every year or two. For example, you should go for the latest generation Core i7 or Core i9. You can also go for their AMD equivalents if you prefer.
Remember the additional costs
Once you have decided which processor you want to buy, remember that there are other costs associated with it too. For example, you will certainly need to upgrade your motherboard along with your CPU as well. On top of that, you may require new RAM since your old RAM might not be compatible with your new motherboard.
That is not where the list ends either. A new motherboard will probably require you to format your hard drive (or at least a part of your hard drive), which will, in turn, mean that you need to back up your data. For this reason, you should only upgrade your processor when it is absolutely necessary and go for the best one that you can afford to delay future upgrades.
Replacing a CPU can be a tedious job which requires you to open up your PC and replace numerous components. It is also quite probable that you will fail to install the unit properly if you do not know what you are doing.
Taking your PC to a professional may cost a little bit more, but it is worth it. A professional will make sure all the components on your PC such as the heat-sink and the thermal paste are in place and functioning properly.
If you do plan on upgrading your CPU yourself, here is a detailed video by PCGamesN which explains the whole process quite well.
Now that you know how to upgrade your CPU, all you need to do is to perform the associated tests to determine if an upgrade is necessary. Once you have an idea on when to upgrade your CPU, you can select the perfect model and begin assembling it along with all the other hardware.
Of course, remember to follow all the guidelines mentioned above when selecting a new CPU so as to minimize your costs in the long run. Once you have set up your new CPU, you can stress test it again to see how much better it is than your previous rig!