Very early on in the “Working from Home” new normal, I realised that it was time to upgrade my Desktop PC. It’s an aging iCore 5 machine that has continued to cope with multiple software updates, successfully graduating from Windows 7 to Windows 10! However it really had slowed down considerably and I knew that it would be a struggle for it to cope with ICT tutorial and webinar, support work that was coming my way from my two local Education Centres.
Due to lockdown restrictions the option of purchasing a new PC wasn’t that viable, choices were extremely limited and so I decided to upgrade as many internal components as possible. The desktop had multiple, free expansion slots as well as spare bays for disk drives.
My first stop was Crucial for a memory scan to determine what my upgrade options were. I knew that the motherboard had two empty DIMM slots and I was able to upgrade the memory from the existing 8 to 16 Gb. The additional memory would make a huge difference to the performance of the PC.
Twin 1TB hard drives had always provided me with ample data storage space however I knew that transferring the Windows OS to an SSD would mean a much faster boot time as well as better read/write access. I settled on a 1 TB Western Digital internal 2.5 inch SATA drive.
As space between the expansion slots wasn’t that great I had to settle for a low profile graphics card; an AMD Radeon R200 was added to the shopping list! A USB 3.0 Type C expansion card rounded off the upgrade purchases.
I needed to purchase a decent web camera and microphone so that Google Meets or Zoom webinars went smoothly. A Roffie HD 1080p Web cam, a Marantz Professional MPM-100 studio recording condenser microphone and an Ammoon 2-Channel Digital Audio Mixer with Phantom Power for the microphone were added to my shopping basket!
All the deliveries arrived by their promised dates and the various upgrade components were successfully added to the desktop one by one. I left the SSD for last and to make life easier for migrating the OS, I chose a free software program called MiniTool Partition Wizard. It has a simple to use “Migrate OS to SSD Wizard” and it was crucial that this operation went effortlessly and without any hitches. The tech blurb promised that, once completed, my PC would boot to the new SSD and that all my software programs would work flawlessly!
The whole process was left on auto pilot and after several hours my PC did indeed reboot to the new SSD; the upgrades have made a fantastic difference! The boot time is so much faster than before as is the response time when opening Word, PowerPoint or Excel and my other main stays! I also have to add that the sound quality from the microphone is amazing. I did have a moment of panic when I first used it, as there was a very annoying interference hum; however I traced this to me using a multiple USB port power adapter. Once I put the mixing deck on its own individual power plug, the interference disappeared!
All round, a successful upgrade for a lot less than the cost of a new high end PC or equivalent Laptop and a rewarding technical experience as well! None of the upgrades required any great techie know-how and a little bit of research on installing an SSD made short work of that part of the upgrade.
At a time when it seems that desktop PCs are being replaced by iPads and Chromebooks I think schools could consider the “Upgrade” route before tossing out what are quite possibly perfectly good ICT resources.
While it’s understandable that quite a few Post Primary schools have repurposed PC labs as classrooms in these difficult times, the value of the humble desktop and its place in a classroom should not be overlooked!