7 ways to upgrade your gaming PC other than buying a new graphics card

Graphics cards are one of the most popular upgrades nowadays. Those who want to improve their gaming abilities generally look at GPUs as their first purchase.

However, graphics cards are also very expensive. So, if you want a better gaming experience but can’t afford to spend money for this hot commodity, consider upgrading these other components instead.

We’ll list these upgrades from the most expensive to the most expensive. So if you have some cash to spend but not enough for a GPU, be sure to read to the end!

1. Gaming mice and keyboards

Redragon gaming keyboard and mouse

One of the best ways to improve your gaming experience is to have a decent keyboard and mouse. If you don’t have a good pair yet, you should consider this upgrade. After all, you need these peripherals to use your computer.

You can get a premium mechanical gaming keyboard for less than a hundred bucks and match it with a lightweight gaming mouse for less than half that. You also get a wired and wireless connection to both. Some keyboards and mice offer customizable keys, allowing you to create shortcuts to your most frequently used commands.

Related Topics: Best Mechanical Keyboards for Writers and Gamers

This basic upgrade will significantly improve your PC gaming experience. Its influence is so great that you can find many social groups dedicated to mechanical keyboards, some users have at least three or more keyboards.

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2. Gaming headphones and speakers

Gaming headphones on a desk with keyboard

Most gamers focus on visual quality – 4K screens, crazy refresh rates, and powerful graphics cards. However, they lose half the experience if they don’t invest in sound. While you don’t need a sound card if you’re not streaming or recording, a premium headphone or speaker system will significantly improve your gaming experience.

This is especially true for tactical games, such as first-person shooter games, when hearing your opponents footsteps can allow you to set them up in an ambush. If you have a dedicated gaming space where you won’t disturb your neighbors or housemates when playing, consider getting a high-quality 5.1 surround sound system.

But if you have roommates or thin walls where loud sounds affect others, you should choose a gaming headset. You can get a good pair for under $30, but if you want to splurge, you can get a top-notch model that goes for more than $200.

3. RAM

TridentZ RGB RAM sticks

If your computer is at least three to five years old, you should consider getting a RAM upgrade. If you are a gamer, the minimum you should have on your system is 8GB. The ideal current setup should have at least 16GB to run the latest games.

Those with modern computers should also look at the speed of the RAM. You have to look at your motherboard’s specs for that, but you want to have RAM that matches its performance. The latest motherboard technology now supports up to 3600MHz, so if you’re running a slower RAM chip, you should consider upgrading that.

You can also add additional RAM if your computer has available slots. It’s best to have an even number of RAM modules installed, so you can take advantage of the dual channel mode. This ensures that your system runs as efficiently as possible.

Related Topics: Faster RAM vs More RAM: Which is More Important for Performance?

Two 8GB 3200MHz RAM from popular brands like Corsair and Hyper X with a retail price of $75-$125. However, if you want more and faster RAM, you may have to shell out a bit more.

4. Solid State Drives

NVMe SSD Drives on PCIe Adapter

Old and high-end computers seem slow when compared to current systems. However, upgrading your hard drive to an SSD will give it a new lease on life. A solid-state drive can turn an old computer that takes five minutes to boot into something that feels like new, with boot time dropping to less than 30 seconds.

An SSD is an important upgrade for any computer that doesn’t have one. And if you already have a small SSD for your operating system, you should probably consider upgrading your data drive to an SSD as well. Alternatively, you can add an additional SSD if you have an available slot.

You will improve your computer’s loading speeds if you run your games from an SSD. This is because it takes much less time to read and write the data, allowing you to set off races in much less time.

1TB NVMe M.2 SSDs generally sell for over $150, but if you have an older system that doesn’t have this port, you’ll have to settle for a SATA SSD. Although they are slower than NVMe models, they are also more affordable, with 1 TB models generally costing less than a hundred dollars.

5. Game screens

Best Tripods

If you’re saving for a brand new GPU, consider getting a better monitor that can take advantage of all that power. And since monitors are generally cheaper than most graphics cards at the moment, you can buy them first while you’re saving, waiting for the GPU retail price to drop, or both.

You should consider the capabilities of the GPU you are targeting when choosing a new monitor. For example, if you’re getting an RTX 3090, you’ll want to have a 4K monitor capable of refresh rates of 144Hz or more. Those who want a more reasonable RTX 3060 Ti or RTX 3070 may have to settle for a 1440p and 144Hz gaming monitor.

But whether you’re buying the most powerful GPU or just aiming for entry-level options like the RTX 3050, you should at least get a 24-inch Full HD display. This is the place to go for most PC users and helps reduce and prevent eye strain, as most new monitors apply technology to reduce it.

Related Topics: Best 1440p Gaming Monitors for All Budgets

You can get off-brand screens starting at $150. But if you want to stick with the popular brands, they usually start at $200. However, you have to fork out a bit more if you want better features like faster refresh rates, DisplayPort compatibility, and built-in speakers.

6. CPUs with integrated graphics

AMD processor and Intel processor side by side

Processors that integrate a GPU are fast processing units, or APUs. While most people associate it with low-performance integrated graphics, AMD overcame that with their own Ryzen chips.

These APUs contain AMD’s new RDNA architecture, which allows them to integrate high-performance chips into their CPUs. Even Intel is entering the game, with the latest Intel chips featuring UHD Graphics or Iris Xe Graphics.

While these built-in chips can’t run the latest games at the highest settings, you can still use them to play your titles at lower quality and lower but acceptable frame rates.

These chips start at $250 if you want to upgrade. However, you have to consider the motherboard socket. If it is not compatible with the latest APUs available, you will have to upgrade that as well. This can double your cost.

7. Laptop games

Acer Predator Helios 300 PH513-35-79C4 Keyboard and RTX Sticker

This is a controversial topic, especially for hardcore desktop gamers. Desktops already have an advantage over laptops. That’s because desktops can draw more power and cool more efficiently. Their cases usually have larger areas to improve airflow, and high-performance desktops can benefit from liquid cooling.

However, the price of the high-performance parts – specifically the graphics processing unit (GPU) – sometimes makes it impractical to use a desktop computer. For example, the RTX 3080 Ti has an MSRP of $1,199 but is currently selling for over $2000. These prices can give you a complete gaming laptop with an RTX 3070, a Ryzen 9-5900HX chip, and all the bells and whistles.

Related Topics: Why Laptop Games Are Taking Over Desktop Games

Another advantage of having a gaming laptop is that you can easily bring it anywhere. So if you frequently commute between your parents’ house and your college dorm, it’s no hassle to bring your computer with you.

The GPU is just part of the whole

Graphics cards are great if you are a gamer. The RTX 3080 Ti lets you enjoy the latest gaming titles in the best possible quality while maintaining fast refresh rates. However, it is not all PC games.

If you’re willing to compromise some of your visual quality, you’ll still be able to spend hours upon hours enjoying playing games with your friends. So, if you don’t have the budget to spare for a graphics card, consider some of the above alternatives instead.

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