Should you upgrade or replace old computers?

Should you upgrade or replace aging computers?

Twice as many IT managers surveyed chose to upgrade – here’s why

When systems slow down or employees complain about old computers, what’s the best way to solve the problem while juggling the natural IT scarcities of time and money? If the root of the problem is hardware and not simply user error, the decision comes down to upgrading or replacing the system. In a new study, more than twice as many IT managers chose to upgrade systems instead of replace them – however, both approaches work … in the right instances. Here’s what over 350 IT managers do and why, plus some tips on how to maximize either approach and get better performance for less.1

Question #1 we asked IT managers:
When a desktop or laptop is slowing down or having performance issues, what do you typically do?

The decision to upgrade or replace computers is often heavily influenced by the constraints of time, budget, or both. System upgrades often involve installing more RAM and swapping out existing hard drives with low-capacity SSDs, such as the 275GB Crucial® MX300 SSD. SSDs are also the ideal alternative to reimaging and redeploying an aging system’s hard drive, since they’re so much faster and budget friendly.

When a desktop or laptop computer is slowing down, is it better to upgrade or replace it?

Question #2:
What are the primary reasons to upgrade or replace desktops and laptops?

Why IT managers typically upgrade or replace aging systems

Cost-effectiveness is the foundational principle guiding IT managers’ decisions, which reinforces why many choose to upgrade instead of replace systems.

Question #3:
What is your organization’s typical refresh cycle for desktops or laptops?

Typical business hardware replacement/refresh cycle for desktop and laptop PCs

The majority of IT professionals surveyed said their typical refresh cycle was every 3-4 years. However, we’ve found that the smaller the business, the longer they tend to use each system, and many opt to run them until they crash. In order to do this, IT managers often upgrade existing systems every few years to enable them to last as long as possible.

Lessons from fellow IT pros: When to upgrade vs. replace client systems


Old computer system in need of a memory (RAM) and storage upgrade

When to upgrade

New computer designed to replace an old system or PC

When to replace

  • Your systems have already been upgraded and/or aren’t worth upgrading. CPUs are Intel® Core i3 or older, memory technology is DDR2 or older, or the system can only accept 4GB of RAM.
  • Your time is more limited and you’ve already budgeted for new systems and/or have enough money to do replacements
  • The computers need to run a new OS or application with increased hardware requirements, and it’s easier to just replace computers
  • You’re able to replace enough systems to take advantage of quantity discounts (or have leverage to negotiate for one)

Upgrade tip
Add both RAM and SSDs, as more RAM will boost in-app performance and the SSD will make everything instant and help extend system life by replacing the component that’s most likely to fail – the mechanical hard drive

Replacement tip
Buy systems with preinstalled SSDs and the minimal amount of RAM, then upgrade the RAM further based on the needs of the end user

The outcome:
Faster performance and increased productivity


The bottom line

What’s your scarcity: time, money … or both? While many IT managers choose to upgrade, it’s a difficult decision filled with variables. In general, when money is limited, it’s best to consider an upgrade prior to replacement. However, when your time is more limited and/or you have budget flexibility, you may want to replace aging systems. And if you’re considering reimaging and redeploying a problematic old drive, it may be the ideal time to replace the drive altogether with a faster, more reliable one. Only you know the nuances that are unique to your organization’s culture and IT. Choose the approach that’s right for you and your users because either way, the outcome is the same – faster performance and improved productivity.

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