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Upgrading Processors

Two common questions asked of technicians are “Can a computer be upgraded to a higher or faster processor?” and “Should a computer be upgraded to a higher or faster processor?” Whether or not a computer can be upgraded to a higher or faster processor depends on the capability of the motherboard. When a customer asks if a processor should be upgraded, the technician should ask, “What operating system and applications are you using?” The newer the operating system, the more advanced a processor should be. Some games and applications that must perform calculations, as well as graphic-oriented applications, require a faster, more advanced processor. The motherboard’s documentation is very important when considering a CPU upgrade. Read the documentation to determine whether the motherboard can accept a faster processor.

Throttle management is the ability to control the CPU speed by slowing it down when it is not being used heavily or when it is hot. Usually this feature is controlled by a system BIOS//UEFI setting and the Windows Power Options Control Panel. Some users may not want to use CPU throttling so that performance is at a maximum. Others, such as laptop users, may want to conserve power whenever possible to extend the time the laptop can be used on battery power.

Upgrading components other than the processor can also increase speed in a computer. Installing more memory, a faster hard drive, or a motherboard with a faster front side bus sometimes may improve a computer’s performance more than installing a new processor. All devices and electronic components must work together to transfer the 1s and 0s efficiently. The processor is only one piece of the puzzle. Many people do not realize that upgrading only one computer component does not always make a computer faster or better.

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