How to upgrade a second hand PC to give it a second life

I had recently purchased a cheap Acer Veriton ES2730G desktop computer on eBay (76.50 €). Everything was working fine but I wanted to perform some upgrades to improve its performance and to give it a second life. I decided to share my experience and you will find here a series of tutorials describing how I did it step by step and some advices in case you want to do something similar.

Acer Veriton ES2730G
Acer Veriton ES2730G

The Acer Veriton ES2730G was from 2018 and it had some entry level components:

  • Intel i3-8100 CPU.
  • 1 TB Toshiba SATA Hard Disk Drive.
  • 4 GB DDR4 RAM.

The PC was going to be used for Office Applications, some professional programs, web browsing and eventually some casual old video games, it wasn’t going to be a gaming computer. So let’s see the potential upgrades.

I. Upgrading the CPU ?

The Intel i3-8100 has 4 cores and a base frequency of 3.6 GHz, It is OK for an entry level PC and it is supported by Windows 11 (I checked that the CPU was included in the Microsoft Windows 11 Supported Processor List before purchasing the PC). The CPU had an Intel UHD Graphics 630 iGPU and would therefore not require a graphics card for video output. This configuration would surely not be able to play modern video games in high resolution, but that was not the objective neither. I do not recommend to upgrade the CPU except if you can find a cheap second hand CPU compatible with the computer. Acer sold the same computer model with an Intel i5-9400 CPU, so this CPU could have been a potential upgrade but it was rather expensive on eBay (around 120 € for the cheapest one). The small performance improvement wouldn’t be worth the cost and therefore I didn’t plan to upgrade the CPU here. A new PC would be a better option if I had needed better CPU performances which was not the case.

II. Upgrading the HDD ?

The PC had a 1 TB Toshiba SATA Hard Disk Drive. SSDs are not expensive anymore nowadays and they are far quicker than a HDD. So replacing the HDD by a SSD was therefore one of the priorities. It is cheap and easy way to improve the performance of a PC and to give it a new life. I decided to replace it with a 500 GB Crucial MX500 2.5″ SATA SSD as I didn’t need a lot of storage. The idea here is to replace the HDD used by the operating system by a SSD.  It doesn’t need to have a huge capacity because you can use external drives or an other internal drive (when possible) or even the cloud for additional storage. You can see how I did it on this page.

Crucial 2.5" Sata SSD
Crucial 2.5″ Sata SSD
III. Upgrading the RAM ?

The PC was equipped with 4 GB of RAM. That was ok for a basic usage, but the computer was quickly slowing down when multiple programs were executed simultaneously. Adding more RAM would therefore be an other priority. It is an other easy way to improve the PC performance and I could use a 16 GB Crucial DDR4-2400 RAM module (that I had removed from an other PC after an upgrade) that would increase the amount of RAM to a total of 20 GB.. If you cannot reuse some existing memory. you can easily find a 2×8 GB DDR4-2400 RAM kit for 40 € on eBay. Increasing the memory to 16 GB  is not an expensive upgrade and it will make a huge difference when multiple programs are executed simultaneously. You can click this link to see how I did it.

Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4
Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4

I had also detected a small problem that occurred only after reconnecting the PSU cable: there was a CMOS error message and the BIOS settings were forgotten. I quickly identified the source of the problem from these symptoms: the CMOS battery was dead and it needed to be replaced. And effectively the problem disappeared after installing a new battery. I described how I did it in this tutorial.

The idea was not spend a lot of money for the upgrades, so I ended up with the following costs:

  • 500 GB Crucial MX500 2.5″ SATA SSD: 59,29 € on Amazon.es.
  • 2.5″ to 3.5″ disk drive adapter: 5.99 € on Amazon.es (not always necessary).
  • Corsair 16 GB DDR4-2400 RAM: 0 € (it came from an other PC)
  • CR2032 Energizer litium cell battery: 1 € (3.99€ the pack of 4 on Amazon.es).

Total cost of the upgrades: 66,28 €. Not bad for a giving a second life to the PC. I used an existing RAM module to lower the costs; a second hand 2×8 GB DDR4-2400 RAM kit on eBay would have increased the costs by 40 € more or less. The 2.5″ to 3.5″ disk drive adapter was not an absolute necessity as SSD do not have mechanical parts, so I could have lowered the costs by mounting the SSD inside the computer case without the adapter.

These upgrades were neither expensive nor complex to do and they gave a second life to this computer. It was now loading Windows 10 and programs in seconds. It was far more responsive than before and it could execute many web browser tabs and programs simultaneously without slowing down.

You can see how I did these upgrades in the following tutorials:

One more thing, I was curious about the total power consumption of the computer while it was in use with Windows 10 so I plugged it in into a wattmeter. The power consumption was between 11 W (CPU usage at 0 %) and 75 W (CPU usage at 100 % during the execution of a CPU and GPU benchmark) and typically around 30 W while using some programs. Not bad with the current energy prices. I could barely hear the computer fans even under heavy load so that was an other great news!

I will add additional tutorials here soon so stay tuned!

 

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