I currently use a 10-year-old Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 primarily for Linux (email, Personal Information Management, personal financial management, plex server) with ability to dual-boot to Windows 10 for some windows only applications that I haven’t been able to get running in Wine. Over the years I have upgraded to a 500GB SSD with a 1tb secondary hard drive and 2 USB 3.0 external hard drives. Should I try to get more speed out of the external drives by installing a PCI express USB 3.0 expansion card or save my money for upgrading to a new computer?
How much are you using these external drives? USB 3 is not exactly that slow… unless you’re using them constantly, it seems unlikely they’re the reason you might be find the PC slow. It seems likely a ten year old computer is with a SSD is pretty decent for “average” computing. I am working on a 2014 4th gen Intel and its more than fast enough in general for most things, even some light casual gaming. The one thing than can help is RAM. If your PC only has like 4G of RAM, then upgrading to 8G or 16G (as this one of mine has) can certainly help a bit. If you have lots of content for your Plex and that’s what’s on the drives, you might be a good candidate for a small NAS that can run Plex and host all the content. (Or you might consider something cheaper like a Nvidia Shield to run Plex and access one of those USB drives with the content.)
Tough to make a recommendation either way without knowing what challenges you’re experiencing with your current system.
What makes you think you need more speed from your externals? Plex shouldn’t be using all that much disk bandwidth unless you’re hosting a bunch of concurrent streams (assuming you have Plex content on the external disks).
I did get an increase in the bootup speed after upgrading to the SSD. I’m using the Seagate 2TB external drive for holding the plex library and the 4TB external drive for backup. The computer is currently only able to support USB 2 speeds and memory maxed at 4GB of RAM. Really notice it when backing up to the 4TB external drive. By using parallel rsync in my cron batch file able to get the daily incremental backup down to 1 hour. Have been considering building a raspberry pi plex server.
Ah okay, well then I would definitely consider a new PC eventually. These days you really do want 8G of RAM if you can manage it, and 16G is a cheap enough upgrade in most cases that you say “why not?” USB3 is quite a big improvement over USB2… although before long USB4 is due to come out, and that might be worth waiting for depending on whether delays happen or not. (Covid seems to have had weird effects on schedules, so who knows when to expect new designs to become mainstream, and maybe being on the cutting edge isn’t always worth the problems that come with being an early adopter.)