PC Hardware

Lesson Summary: Upgrading a Computer

The following points summarize the main elements of this lesson:

  • Performing upgrades is one of the computer technician's most commonly performed tasks.

  • Good documentation (before and after) is an essential requirement for upgrading.

  • A computer technician should be familiar with the steps required to upgrade memory, CPUs, expansion cards, hard drives, and motherboards.

Tutorial Summary

The following points summarize the key concepts in this tutorial:

Computer Disassembly and Reassembly

  • Preparation is the key to a successful upgrade or repair. Document the system setup, including hardware and software, using a computer configuration sheet before you begin the project.

  • Prepare a plan of action before beginning a project and stick to it.

  • Make sure you have an adequate toolkit, including a bootable floppy disk and any utilities you may need.

  • Always create a complete backup of the system you are going to be working on before you begin.

  • Implement safety precautions, including ESD prevention.

  • Follow the steps for disassembly and reassembly.

Upgrading a Computer

  • Memory upgrades are probably the simplest and most common upgrades performed by a computer technician.

  • Installing a new CPU is a common way to upgrade older computers. Installing a new expansion card is another common upgrade.

  • Before installing (or purchasing) new parts, make sure the parts will work with the system you intend to upgrade.

  • Installing a new hard drive is not difficult. However, certain procedures need to be followed.

  • Installing a new motherboard is one way to completely overhaul a computer.


  1. Describe a basic sample toolkit for the computer professional.

  2. What is a Torx driver used for?

  3. How many bootable floppy disks are needed for a computer professional's tool kit?

  4. You are only going to check the memory chips. Do you need to follow ESD (electrostatic discharge) safety practices?

  5. SIMMs are available in two physical configurations. What are they?

  6. You have an extra 16 MB of RAM on a single 30-pin SIMM, and a friend has a computer and needs more memory. What do you need to check in order to determine if this memory module can be used on your friend's computer?

  7. What is parity? Can parity chips be mixed with nonparity chips?

  8. Can L1 cache memory be upgraded?

  9. Your client wants to install an internal modem. How would you determine whether this internal modem could be installed on your client's machine?

  10. A friend just got a bargain on a new Plug and Play sound card and wants to install it on her 486SX computer. Will it work?

  11. How do you determine whether to upgrade the CPU or install another motherboard?

  12. What is the advantage of Plug and Play?

  13. What are the four requirements that must be addressed before installing a new drive in a computer?