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When do you upgrade your hardware?

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As the title asks, when do you upgrade your hardware? I have been thinking it would be nice to throw in a second hard drive or more ram, but then I realize that everything I have is working fine for what I do. (I'm currently running a P4 3.4Ghz w/HT, a gig of ram, Geforce 7600GS video card, and a 160 gig harddrive). The only upgrades that I have made to my machine since I have bought it is a new video card, and a pair of LCD monitors (not counting a printer and speakers). I am constantly seeing the latest processors and benchmarks and places like Tom's Hardware or Engadget, and I think how nice it would be to have such hardware. Then I realize what I have is still working nicely. So, when do you guys/gals upgrade your hardware? When it breaks? When it no longer does what you want to be able to do? When the latest-greatest piece of hardware comes out?

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When I first became a hardware enthusiast, I drooled all day over the latest and greatest hardware, and always saved my money for the sole purpose of upgrading my rig.

Then I went to college, got a car, starting paying my cellphone bill, and cut my hours to part-time during the school semesters...

Now, I follow a more moderate approach. I'm actually saving for a completely new rig currently; the last one I built was about 3 or 4 years ago, with a couple minor upgrades. There were a number of factors that ultimately made the decision for me:

1) Everybody else is getting one. You don't want to be the only loser with a slow computer, do you? Har har.

2) On a more serious note, most of the current-generation PC games won't run smoothly anymore. I have to turn most details down to the low settings to get decent frame-rates anymore, and I want to be able to play some of the games scheduled to release later this year. I also want to be able to finally crank up the graphics on games I currently have, but with which I have had to tolerate sub-par performance.

3) Of the three or four categories in hardware life-span, ALL my parts lie in the "old" category, now. When parts are first released (and this is more-so true of video cards and processors), they cost a TON for the top-of-the-line stuff. Then the second tier contains all the newest hardware that has been out for just a little while (long enough for the price to just about cut in half), with still no danger of becoming obsolete (I buy from this category). Then comes the stuff that's "old", and is usually all on sale for $50 or less. My current parts lie in this category, and it's time to replace them.

4) I have a need for another computer. My current rig is needed in the TV room to serve as a Media Center PC, and I need a gaming rig to replace it.

5) Desktop hardware prices are down. laptops are what everyone wants, lately, and this is reflected in the priced of desktop hardware. Everything is cheap right now, so it's a good time to buy.

6) Misc. other necessities. I had 120 gigs of drive space, and in preparation of using it for a media pc, added another 300 gigs. Videos take a TON of space. After downloading about 10 different complete TV series, I'm actually still taxing my drive space.

Hope this helps!

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I usually buy a new computer all together every three years or so, and I rarely upgrade at all. The few times I have upgraded it has been either more ram, new graphics card or monitor.

EDIT: oh yeah, I guess that means "When it no longer does what you want to be able to do" for me

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Personally, even though I'm very much into keeping up with new hardware in terms of reading about it, I'm not the type of person who has to have the latest and greatest 365 days/year. Some people are nuts though... The kind of person who buys the newest video card to replace last month's newest video card because it gets 3 more frames per second. Stupid.

My general approach when buying a PC is A) build my own and B) always buy from the tip of the price-performance bell-curve. You can never really go wrong with 70% of the performance for 40% of the price. Its also worth paying attention to potential performance boosts -- things like Video cards that are known to have unlockable pipelines, or the recent core 2 duos that overclock so well with a nice air-cooler. For the cost of a $50 cooler, you can clock an e6300 up to e6800 or even higher and save hundreds of dollars in the process. Its never a guarantee, but if you're comfortable doing it, and taking the minimal risk, then there are big gains to be had. A PC built using this method usually runs about $1000 bucks and is more than capable for many years of usefull life. I personally feel much better if I were to spend $1000 every 2-3 years; if I spent something like 2-3 grand I think I'd have to go 5 years before I'd feel good about my investment. I guarantee a second or even third generation $1000 PC will be a lot more powerfull than an aging $2500 one. Perhaps I'm just practical, but thats the way I see it.

Computer hardware depreciates rapidly to a certain point, then continues a slower downward trend to near-worthlessness. Buy bleeding edge now and in less than 6 months you'll be lucky if its worth more than 1/3 of what you paid for it. If you buy at the tip of the bell-curve, the burn-rate is much slower since its already expended its rapid-burn cycle. I bet I could sell my PC now for 1/3 (or better) of what I paid for it; difference is, its going on 3 years old. When it comes to computers, to paraphrase, "The better they are, the quicker they fall."

Right now, I'm running a 3ghz P4, 1gig RAM, with an AGP radeon 9800 pro thats going on 3 years or so. I've been planning an upgrade in the fall, once I see how the r600 and K10 core will stack up against the 8x00 and Core 2 duos (and whatever succeeds it if its available in that timeframe.) My PC does basically everything I need it to do now, its not slow, but there are certain hardware advancements I'd like to have at my disposal.

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Nowadays ,only when my computer starts to feel sluggish which is usually about every year.
When I had so money to burn whenever the newest videocard/cpu came out I would buy it just to have bragging rights. For example, I was one of the first people to buy an opteron over 4years ago when hardly anyone had a clue that 64bit cpu's were out. I still have it and it's still faster than 90% of the desktop PC's I see when I go over town fixing computers.
For most people anything over 2Ghz really is adequate especially if all they do is surf the web,check email, use office.
Then there are cases where people really do need to upgrade their computer(trying to use protools audio tracks on old pentium 1ghz with 512ram,etc) but are tight on money that I almost feel like donating my spare parts since I mentioned I have used to buy all the new hardware so I have a 9500,9800,x850 ati and 6800,geoforce 3 nvidia cards I don't even use anymore and are still way better than anything I see in 90% of computers that are using integrated or lowend graphics cards.
Then of course there are still tons of people out there that have/can afford the latest quadcore/dual 8800GTX and never even use them for video encoding or games like oblivion,flight simulator X,supreme commander,etc and just surf the web. It's just as bad like using a Ferrari just to drive to work and back.
Personally, the last particular reason I upgrade to my latest system:
EVGA 7900GTX EGS
Intel core2 E6600 with Asus P5NSLI Nforce 570sli
150gb WD Raptor X
74GB WD raptor newer NCQ drive
2x400GB Segate Barracuda NCQ SATAII
SB Audigy 2
2GB PC2-4300 Kingston DDR2memory
plextor px-740A ide dvd burner
memorex dvd16 ide dvd burner
Antec 550Watt sli certified psu
Samsung SyncMaster 910MP 19" LCD
Antec P180 silent case
dualboot WindowsXPSP2/Vista Ultimate

was due to buying Oblivion and getting jerky movement during gameplay.
I also wasn't happy that my video encoding was taking up to 2hrs in some cases.
Before that I believe it was Quake 4 that caused me to upgrade.
My current system I listed above pretty much solved those problems(encoding rarely takes more than 30min now) am able to play 99% of games with graphics maxed out but now Flight Simulator X making me want to upgrade since it's pretty much the only thing I currently use that makes my system slow to a crawl.
But I'm going to hold off till the end of the year when the new AMD quadcore cpu's come out to see how the performance compares to the current Intel quadcores since I saw a benchmark where someone had overclocked their intel extreme cpu to over 4Ghz and FSX was still slow!

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Quote:
Original post by BTownTKD
When I first became a hardware enthusiast, I drooled all day over the latest and greatest hardware, and always saved my money for the sole purpose of upgrading my rig.

Then I went to college, got a car, starting paying my cellphone bill, and cut my hours to part-time during the school semesters...

Now, I follow a more moderate approach. I'm actually saving for a completely new rig currently; the last one I built was about 3 or 4 years ago, with a couple minor upgrades. There were a number of factors that ultimately made the decision for me:

1) Everybody else is getting one. You don't want to be the only loser with a slow computer, do you? Har har.

2) On a more serious note, most of the current-generation PC games won't run smoothly anymore. I have to turn most details down to the low settings to get decent frame-rates anymore, and I want to be able to play some of the games scheduled to release later this year. I also want to be able to finally crank up the graphics on games I currently have, but with which I have had to tolerate sub-par performance.

3) Of the three or four categories in hardware life-span, ALL my parts lie in the "old" category, now. When parts are first released (and this is more-so true of video cards and processors), they cost a TON for the top-of-the-line stuff. Then the second tier contains all the newest hardware that has been out for just a little while (long enough for the price to just about cut in half), with still no danger of becoming obsolete (I buy from this category). Then comes the stuff that's "old", and is usually all on sale for $50 or less. My current parts lie in this category, and it's time to replace them.

4) I have a need for another computer. My current rig is needed in the TV room to serve as a Media Center PC, and I need a gaming rig to replace it.

5) Desktop hardware prices are down. laptops are what everyone wants, lately, and this is reflected in the priced of desktop hardware. Everything is cheap right now, so it's a good time to buy.

6) Misc. other necessities. I had 120 gigs of drive space, and in preparation of using it for a media pc, added another 300 gigs. Videos take a TON of space. After downloading about 10 different complete TV series, I'm actually still taxing my drive space.

Hope this helps!

Yup with AMD/Intel price war that is going on right now you can't lose if you decide to build a gaming pc right now since the same AMD 3800 cpu I got in my old rig that I paid $230 or more new is now under $99!
Also I've been seeing 500GB harddrive on sale now for close to $100 that's insane considering it used to cost at least $250 when I bought mine.
Only parts whose prices really haven't dropped is Intel Core 2 high end cpu's like mine it's still selling for over $200 like I paid for mine and nvidia 8800 line of video cards but that makes sense since they really are worth every penny since they blow away the competitors by a large margin in most cases.
I'm still waiting on ATI to come out with a new card so I can upgrade to a 8800 vidcard once the prices drop down.

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I generally keep a computer for 3 years or so it seems, however I pretty much constantly upgrade during that time until it's as good as it could reasonably be. I expect my current computer will last a good 3 years or more, there is plenty of room for upgrades.

I guess it's just when my motherboard is so old that there is no point adding to it any more. Still, I'm quite happy playing my collection of old games most of the time anyways. My last upgrade was to mainly to go dual core, and get a PCI-Express graphics card. The two main reasons were that my last pc had intermittent hardware problems that would ruin games (random freezing), and I had a spare £600 lying around from my 21st birthday. Also the fact that I'd just bought Oblivion, and having the pc lock up after ten minutes of gameplay finally got the better of me.

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every 1 to 1 1/2 years a build a new computer. i'm not one for upgrading just little things. but i normaly donate my old computer to either the school or library, or any other org in the area that has need for one.

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I upgrade when my hardware no longer does what I want it to do, which includes "when it breaks" as a subset. My last big purchase was a Macbook Pro as I've been wanting my own laptop for ages. My last PC upgrade was when I needed to upgrade the memory to a gig but screwed something up, frying the motherboard (which has somewhat dampened my enthusiasm for DIY hardware upgrades).

When I do upgrade my PC I tend to replace the whole machine as everything is significantly out of date (I also tend to give the old computer to a family member who could use it). I also prefer to buy around the average point for new PCs - whatever the point in the buying curve where you get the best value for your money. By the time I buy a computer everything out there is signifcantly better than what I've got anyway so whatever I get feels like a significant upgrade.

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