If you haven’t done this before or you’re not sure exactly what the title of this article refers to, go to your Start button, click on Control Panel and then click on System and Maintenance. After you do that, click on the link labeled Performance Information and Tools. If you happen to be on Windows 8, open up your Control Panel, click on System and Security, click on System and you’ll see the Windows Experience figure pop up. You can click on the link labeled Windows Experience Index to bring up the following screen, which will break down where your numbers are coming from. Note how the major hardware components of the computer are listed. On this particular PC, scores over 7 are listed for every piece of hardware except the hard disk, which came in at 5.9. Windows takes the lowest score and uses that as your Windows Experience Index. The Windows Experience Index gives you an objective measure of how good your hardware stacks up and how much of the operating system’s benefits you’re actually getting based on what your hardware can handle. This really is useful information. When people upgrade their computers, they are oftentimes guessing as to what type of an upgrade they need. They may decide to add RAM to their computer, as it’s very easy to add RAM and just about every tech site out there – whether the person who wrote the site really knows what they’re talking about or not – will tell you that you need more RAM. Using this Figure Using the figure above as an example, it would be obvious that, if the owner of this computer wanted to improve their experience a bit, they would want to add a hard disk with a higher data transfer rate. If you really want to max out your computer, you can look at these figures this way. Whatever is lacking or whatever scores the lowest you can endeavor to make higher by getting new computer hardware. The other way to look at this is actually a bit more intelligent. What Do You Do? This article on Lifehacker brings up an important point. What you upgrade should depend upon how you use your computer. Look at the scores in the figure above and you’ll get an idea of what this computer is actually used for. It has very high scores in terms of graphics, processor and memory. That graphics number makes it pretty obvious that the computer rated on that screen is a gaming machine. If your graphics score comes out very low and all you use your computer for is working on spreadsheets and typing documents, you really don’t need to worry about that. If you want to upgrade something, upgrading the RAM would probably be better for you, even if the number is already acceptable. Be Smart One of the real dangers of giving concrete numbers to the performance of a computer – at least for everyday users – is that it sets up a situation where the user may feel that making that number higher means that your computer will just be better all around. This is the more is better fallacy. This isn’t actually true and, in some cases, if you feel that your Windows computer is running acceptably fast and that it doesn’t need any more hardware at all but the Windows Experience Index tells you differently, trust your own judgment on this. You should be aware that a computer that scored a 10 on every single one of these measures would be an incredibly expensive computer. Think of it like a very high-end sports car. You may only drive that sports car at 30% or 40% of its potential performance, provided you don’t drive like a maniac and you aren’t taken with speeding at every opportunity. Even though that is the case, you may love the sports car and the experience of driving it, even though you never top it out. Think of your computer in the same way. Your computer may be capable of doing a lot more with Windows, but Windows may be doing plenty for you already without spending money on expensive hardware.