Over time, as we gain access to new technology, computers tend to get faster and more efficient. CPUs and GPUs get faster and heavier-duty, and components get cheaper and easier to mass manufacturer. Accordingly, even cheap and low-end products today are faster than the best computers that came out a decade ago.
Software companies tend to increase the performance and capabilities of their products to stay in line with modern standards. For example, the best-in-class 3D modeling and rendering applications are designed to be run on modern machines. If you have an older computer, or one that’s performing sluggishly, you may struggle to keep up.
Fortunately, there are a few tweaks to your existing computer that can help you 3D render optimally—and perform more efficiently overall.
Invest in or Upgrade Your Graphics Card
Depending on what you’re working on, investing in a new graphics card or upgrading your old one can make a big difference. Your GPU (graphics processing unit) is exceptionally good at performing certain types of tasks, like rendering graphics and performing complex calculations, and it can do them faster than your CPU (central processing unit). If you’re working with 3D rendering software or you’re trying to play graphically intensive video games, this is one of your best bets.
There are many GPUs to choose from, and even the best options only cost a few hundred dollars.
Invest in or Upgrade Your RAM
Random access memory, or RAM, works as if it were your computer’s short-term memory. It stores information temporarily, so it can be used more efficiently in your application. For example, if you’re streaming a movie from Netflix, RAM will play a major role in how much video you can temporarily store for easy retrieval. It’s super important for streamlining certain functions, and can make your computer better at multitasking overall.
Check your current RAM usage, and what type of RAM you currently have. Upgrading to something bigger, like 16 GB or even 32 GB of RAM, can make your computer much faster in certain situations.
Uninstall Unnecessary Bloatware
One of the best things you can do with an old PC, assuming your hardware is still functional, is uninstall unnecessary “bloatware.” Modern computers often ship with dozens or more programs pre-installed by vendors, manufacturers, and carriers—often as an attempt to get you to buy or use said software. These programs are often not useful to the end user, but they take up disk space and computing resources anyway—hence the “bloat” in “bloatware.”
Over time, you may also acquire unnecessary programs on your own. Spend some time reviewing the programs currently installed on your machine and uninstall them, one by one. You’ll likely be surprised at how many programs are eating up space unnecessarily.
Limit the Number of Startup and Background Programs
While you’re at it, try to limit the number of programs that startup with your computer, and the number of programs working in the background. If you’re on Windows, right-click the Taskbar and click Task Manager. From there, you’ll see a list of the Applications currently running and the Processes running in the background. Pay attention to the Memory being allocated to these Processes; are there any programs that seem to be hogging resources for no good reason? Get rid of them.
Check for Malware
If your computer is running exceptionally slowly, you might want to scan it for the presence of malware. If you’re not careful, your computer could easily be infected with a worm, a virus, or another type of software or program. This malware, depending on its nature, could be slowing down your computer tremendously. Fortunately, simple cases are easy to remove with a malware tool. In more advanced cases, you may need the help of a professional.
When to Get a New Machine
It’s important to realize that if you’re working with an older machine, there’s only so much you can do to improve your performance. Eventually, you’ll reach a hard limit, and you won’t be able to boost your performance any further. This limit is different for each computer, and will vary depending on what types of applications you’re using.
Generally speaking, if you’ve tried most of the strategies above and you still aren’t seeing results, or if your best option now looks like buying hundreds of dollars’ worth of new cards and upgrades, your best course of action is to buy a new machine altogether. Make sure you do your research and invest in a new computer with the hardware necessary to run what you want to run efficiently. Better yet, buy a machine with more capabilities than you currently need, so you have plenty of room to grow.