A few years back, we replaced our aging Windows PC with a newer system, figuring on using it mainly for office-type applications, casual games, and kids’ games. (Both of us had drifted out of playing the sort of game that really pushes a system’s specs, largely because there was a small person in the house who needed a lot of attention.) So we bought a Dell Inspiron, and it did its job for quite a while.

But eventually that small person discovered Minecraft. And Youtubers who play Minecraft. And the other games that those Youtubers play that need stronger hardware.

OK, it was old, it could use upgrading anyway. I didn’t want to flat-out replace the system, because it was still quite usable otherwise. And I hate moving data from one computer to another, because there’s always something that doesn’t transfer, and there’s always something that you forgot, and so on.

So we’ve been upgrading things bit by bit over the last few months.

Widescreen monitor so we can see everything when playing multiplayer. (Yeah, we still had an old 1280×1024 monitor on that machine.)

Upgrade to Windows 10 so that he can play Bedrock Edition Minecraft as well as Java Edition (and so that we can all get some experience using the current version of the OS).

New RAM and CPU. Not only was it hard to verify what CPU models would work with the motherboard, but I had to deal with limited power. The case and power supply are nonstandard, so I couldn’t just replace the power supply if, as has happened with several upgrades to my Linux box, I got everything put together and discovered that it drew too much power. Fortunately, I found a blog post by someone who had upgraded the same model, and listed the CPU, RAM, and video card he used.

New video card, complicated by the fact that I can’t turn off the onboard video, which means the BIOS and initial boot process all happen on another display until Windows takes over, so if anything goes wrong during boot, we have to unplug the monitor, get a VGA adapter and plug it into the old port.

Finally I installed the last upgradable component: An SSD hard drive. The board only had two SATA ports, so I had to disconnect the CD/DVD during the data transfer. But I was really impressed with Acronis True Image, which can clone a live operating system to a new drive without shutting down or booting from an alternate source! I disconnected the old drive, verified that the system could boot from the new one, then shut it down to swap them out…only to discover that the mounting bracket I had for the SSD was too short to fit in the housing. So after all that, I still had to make another trip to Fry’s!

The computer does run a lot better than it used to, especially after swapping out the old spinning drive for an SSD. (I want to do the same with my main desktop now!)

But I sort of felt like maybe I should have just bought a new system in the first place.

And I will definitely be looking at upgradability when we do eventually replace it.

Or possibly just build one from scratch.