When Replacing Faulty Components, Don't Feel Obligated to Stick with the Same Make and Model

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A reader who goes by the name "gib_84_here" wrote to ask about replacement computer parts. Specifically, if your keyboard needs to be replaced, is it necessary to "obtain a replacement from your computer's manufacturer, or can any old keyboard work?"

Quick answer: any old keyboard will work. Keyboards, mice, and even monitors are pretty interchangeable, meaning as long as the replacements have the same kind of connectivity (USB for mice and keyboards, VGA/DVI/HDMI for monitors) as the originals, you can swap in virtually any make and model.

That's a good thing, as it gives you the opportunity to replace a dead or defective part with something better. For example, if you used a wired keyboard before, why not try a wireless model this time out? If your mouse goes, consider replacing it with a heated mouse designed to keep your hand warm. And if you suddenly find yourself in the market for a new monitor, go bigger!

Of course, there's one exception to this advice: if the defective part is still under warranty, obviously you'll want to contact the manufacturer about getting a replacement. More often than not it'll be an identical item, though if it's a discontinued item, the company may send you something comparable--or, if you're lucky, an upgrade.

Another exception: RAM. Although you might look upon a faulty RAM module as a great opportunity to add extra memory to your PC, make sure to obey the rules of RAM upgrades.

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