A Case for Desktop Computers

By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO

I’ve worked on hundreds of computers during my career.  One immutable problem with most laptops is that you can’t upgrade the processor.  Maybe you can upgrade memory, if it isn’t soldered on the motherboard.  More likely you can upgrade from a hard drive to a solid state drive or even a NVMe drive to speed operations, but the processor is part of the motherboard and can’t be changed.

No, in order to upgrade a processor you need a desktop.  With a desktop computer, depending on size and ports, you can upgrade from a weaker processor to one with more power.

A Desktop Upgrade

Recently, I upgraded a customer from a desktop computer with AMD A6 processor to a mini computer.  There was some sentimental value to the A6 computer as his son built it for him over 10 years ago.  But this customer loved watching music videos and the A6 struggled with the modern graphics needed for today’s browsers.  We tried to use Linux Mint for a while, but he needed more power.  Finally, I found a mini computer at a great price that would serve his needs with an updated processor, graphics and 16 GB of RAM.

He didn’t want the A6 anymore and he also threw in his son’s older, larger (and heavy) desktop with a Radeon Graphics card.

I wasn’t going to try and resell the computer with the A6 processor unless I could upgrade the processor at a reasonable cost.  But first it was time to do some research.

I always look up the possible processors that will run on the motherboard.  This happened to be an ASRock FM2 motherboard and one of better processors is an A10 5800K.

My search on eBay showed that I could upgrade the processor for under $20.  And I could also upgrade the RAM from 4 to 8 GB using a matching memory module for $12.

While the processor and memory were being shipped, I opened the case and removed the old processor, cleaned off the old thermal paste and vacuumed out all the dust.

I removed the Radeon Graphics Card, a massive full sized PCI-e card that took up two slots, from the other desktop and cleaned it up as well.

The Experts

Ask any computer tech on their computer work preference and they will tell you: a desktop.  It is much easier to open the case of a desktop.  Laptop cases are most often made with plastic with tabs that hold the case together.  You can only open laptop cases a few times before the tabs become damaged.  Desktops are made to be opened for easy cleaning.  Moreover, desktops are larger with easy to identify components.  Also, desktops last longer and are less likely to be damaged.

Parts Arrival

The processor came in first.  I applied a fresh coating of thermal paste to the A10 processor, latching it in the correct orientation and installed the cooling fan – a perfect replacement for the A6. The memory arrived a day later.  Referring to the user’s manual for the motherboard that I found online, the optimal placement of the memory is in the first and third of four slots.

My plans for the desktop included adding the Radeon Card for more graphics power, but that would wait until later.

The First Test

It was time to test the computer.  There’s always a bit of tension when you replace computer parts.  Will the new processor and memory be recognized by the BIOS and operating system?

Only one way to find out.  I pressed the power button and…SUCCESS!

The Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop came right up.  After I logged in, I opened the System Info app and saw that I had an A10 processor and 8 GB of RAM.  I can now shutdown the computer.

Graphics Card

Now I will add the graphics card, removing two expansion slot covers, pressing down into the PCI-e slot and sliding the lock into place.  I take note that I have a 430 watt power supply which is enough to drive the 80 watt card as well as the rest of the computer components.  There is an auxiliary PCI-e cord that plugs into the graphic card coming from the power supply.  Finally, I start the computer and press F2 to get into the colorful ASRock BIOS.  I change the preferred graphics adapter from internal to PCI-e, save the changes and reboot.  Linux Mint Cinnamon sees the hardware change as it comes up and substitutes the correct driver.

Now I have a complete computer more than capable of handling advanced graphics.


We all know that laptops are portable and convenient, but it seems that computer manufacturers are making them to last a few years and then they are disposable.  A desktop, however, can be readily upgraded and will last a lot longer.  Ultimately the consumer will have to choose.  If the computer is relatively stationary, I suggest a desktop.  If computing needs are on the go, I will suggest a laptop or Chromebook – just be aware of the limited life expectancy.