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Requirements to Upgrade Old PC to Run Windows 10

Your old PC is lagging so much trying to run Windows 10? Depending on your computer specification, you may yet be able to revive it enough to keep it going. So far I have successfully upgraded a few old desktop computers. There was no need to throw it away and buy a new PC. Everything is running smoothly, and I could stream online movies and play some games on it too!

Old HP Pro-3300 PC, salvaged to be upgraded

The old PC that I managed to upgrade, some were already 10 years old. The Windows 10 would lag, and it took time to boot up, run any application or open files. I thought it was time to buy a new PC. After all, it was already 10 years old. And I thought these old PCs should be converted into running Linux.

Though Linux may be fun to tinker around and could do many things, there are still situations where Windows would be the preferred platform to do things. Besides, my main workhorse OS is to use Windows.

To give the old desktop PC a new lease of life, a certain minimum specification criteria should be considered.

  • The CPU should be at least a good capable Intel i3 (2nd Gen). Have not tried upgrading on a 1st Gen desktop PC, so unsure if it would be smooth. So far my 2nd and 3rd Gen Intel i3 has been running superbly after the upgrade. There is no need to upgrade the CPU. And second hand CPUs aren’t that cheap either.
  • Bump up the RAM to minimum 8GB. If you can push to 16GB, even better! However some old motherboards cannot exceed more than 8GB. Since the computers are old, you may have to get your old RAMs from a second hand parts shop. There are many online, and they are rather cheap too!
  • Change the hard drive from the magnetic media type to SSD. If your motherboard has a 6GB speed SATA port, do use that. SSD prices have been coming down. Still I didn’t want to spend too much. 240GB would be a good minimum storage size to run Windows 10. Of course 480GB would be better. Especially if you tend to hoard lots of data! Perhaps using two separate SSDs would be preferred. One for the OS, and one for data storage.
  • Add a graphic card if the computer didn’t have one. This may be optional, but would help ease off the processing load on the CPU. It needn’t be an expensive GPU card. Just a simple graphic card with about 2GB RAM memory should do the trick. Less RAM can be considered, but I think at least 2GB RAM would make any graphic content run smoother.
  • And finally, completely reinstall Windows 10. Cloning the previous old Windows 10 would not be advisable if it was already lagging. Maybe too many leftover data gunk from previous installs and uninstalls. Or the older Windows 10 version couldn’t somehow update to the latest version. Thus a complete fresh install would be better.
MSI Graphic Card

If you have an old Intel i3 laptop, you won’t have some of the options above like adding graphic cards. Though adding RAM and changing the hard drive to SSD might still work. The above worked better for old desktops than for old laptops.

As for reinstalling Windows 10, there is the licensing issue for a successful reinstallation.

If the computer was built using an OEM motherboard, you would need a license to install it. If you didn’t have a Windows 10 license, and have a Windows 7 license, install this first before upgrading it to Windows 10.

Branded computers such as HP or Dell, Windows would detect it and give it a digital license. No need to do the Windows 7 upgrade path to Windows 10.

So far my good old OEM Gigabyte motherboard PC (circa 2012) is running smoothly with 8GB DDR3-1333MHz RAM, MSI NVidia GT-710 DDR3-2GB RAM, Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz (3rd Gen).

An old salvaged HP Pro 3300 (circa 2011) with Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz (2nd Gen), DDR3-1333MHz 8GB RAM, NVidia GT-610 DDR3-2GB RAM. Both computers upgraded with SSD for running Windows 10 and the HP on a Linux dual-boot for added functionality.

I have also upgraded my Dad’s old HP (circa 2016) without adding a graphic card because its CPU was a 4th Gen Intel Core i5 4460T. I just bumped up the RAM to 8GB and changed the hard drive to SSD. Voila! Running as good as new!

My only failure was the old Fujitsu LH-530 laptop (circa 2010) which has an Intel i3-330M 2.13GHz (1st Gen) with a max 4GB DDR3-1066MHz RAM (hardware support max 4GB only). It could not handle Windows 10 at all. The lagging was too great! Besides, the keyboard was dying (the ESC key was dead). Thus I installed Chrome OS Flex instead, which worked out quite well.

It was not too bad. At least most of my upgrade attempts went successfully.

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