Budget PC upgrades every student needs
Back to school better than ever.
If most of your schoolwork is done from a PC, you'll want to check out these affordable upgrades. Many students preparing for a new academic year aren't necessarily flush with cash, but you can find improvements on a budget if you know where to look, and luckily we've done the searching already. Our roundup of PC upgrades can help streamline your studies and turn hectic back-to-school preparations into a stress-free shopping list.
Microsoft Office has been the staple for coursework, presentations, and student collaboration. Some schools offer free licenses or discounts on cloud-based Office 365 subscriptions or the fully fledged Office 2021 suite, or you can still pick up a permanent copy to keep forever.
Spending full days studying at your PC can quickly become uncomfortable. Give your joints a break with the Microsoft Bluetooth Ergonomic Mouse and free yourself of trailing cables. It feels great to use and stands apart from most budget mice with its solid performance.
Take care of your hands and wrists when typing those lengthy essays with the official Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard. Offering tremendous value for money, it features a row of helpful shortcut keys perfect for any productive student.
The Crucial P2 M.2 solid-state drives are best for affordable high-speed storage, with speeds of up to 2100MB/s read
and 1150MB/s write. M.2 drives provide a considerable performance jump over SATA drives, but you'll need to check your motherboard for a compatible slot.
If you don't have a spare M.2 slot or prefer to stick with traditional SATA solid-state drives, the Kingston A400 is perfect on a budget. Sizes range from 120GB to 2TB for unbelievably low prices and provide rapid storage to save your work.
Studying at home is great until you need to travel with your work, and not every campus has reliable cloud storage. The SanDisk Ultra Flair flash drives have been an affordable choice for years, available from 16GB up to 512GB.
Students taking a creative course like photography will use external memory cards, and few desktop PCs have built-in readers. This UGREEN portable card reader supports full-size and microSD cards without the need for an adapter, perfect for easy transfers.
HD video calls
Officially designed for live streaming, the AVerMedia Live Streamer Cam 313 is an affordable Full HD webcam well suited to video calls and group lectures. A privacy shield will put you at ease, and full 360-degree rotation means it's easy to mount anywhere.
The Razer BlackShark V2 features excellent passive noise cancellation and a detachable microphone. This comfortable headset allows you to switch from video calls back to uninterrupted studies with ease, and it's great for gaming in your downtime.
Choosing the best budget PC upgrades for students
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Heading back to school can be a little less daunting if you're well prepared. If the majority of your studying is done on your PC, then our roundup of upgrades can improve your productivity and comfort. Peripherals like the official Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard and Bluetooth Mouse can take some strain off your hands for extended sessions of research and typing.
For internal hardware, high-speed storage is widely available in this modern age and for a fair price. Springing for a Crucial P2 M.2 or Kingston A400 2.5-inch SSD upgrade over a mechanical hard drive with speed up boot times and make for snappy file transfers, perfect for managing your work.
If you're looking to start over from scratch but don't want to break the bank, check out our collection of the best budget PCs less than $500 to get started. You can always come back here to make some upgrades later.
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Ben is the channel editor for all things tech-related at Windows Central. That includes PCs, the components inside, and any accessory you can connect to a Windows desktop or Xbox console. Not restricted to one platform, he also has a keen interest in Valve's Steam Deck handheld and the Linux-based operating system inside. Fueling this career with coffee since 2021, you can usually find him behind one screen or another. Find him on Mastodon @email@example.com to ask questions or share opinions.