Upgrading the Windows OS PC?

#1
I stuck a new graphics card (Nothing fancy, a Sapphire with 256Mb DDR3) up the user port of my less than one year old PC yesterday. This also forced me to replace the power supply. Well, I'm done rewiring and setting up now, and dear me what a difference. :agree1: When I'm buying a computer I don't go for the fanciest new stuff: I buy medium range and pay a lot of attention to the potential for upgrading... Then, as the prices come down, I keep adding stuff until I hit the roof so to speak. Anyway, this got me thinking:

What are you lot putting into your machines to prolong their life spans?

/Claes
 
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Marc

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#2
Re: Upgrading the Windoes OS PC?

Right now the lifespan of a Windows OS PC is estimated at about 3 to 4 years according to what I've read, especially on SlashDot (aka /.).

Personally I bought an iMac because it's set. No upgrades. I set the life to 3 to 4 years but the last one, my Mac Powerbook, is almost 6 years old and I use it every day as a PVR for TV programs and such. Yet it's set up so I can throw it in a bag and take it on a trip - Email and everything is set up and ready to go.

If you're thinking of a new computer, ask yourself what you plan to use it for. To me it's 'all about' video now. That's the most processor intensive thing I work with on any of my computers.

Really it's the same in upgrading. Why are you upgrading? These days video cards are the 'hottest' item. Again, you have video whether for TV, movies, etc. or for games.

What do you mostly use your computer for, Claes?
 

Colin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
Re: Upgrading the Windoes OS PC?

I've all but given up trying to prolong the lifespan of PC's. I agree with you Claes, I never go for the latest technology, I don't need it and I refuse to pay the price premium for being an 'early adopter'.

I tend to buy just after the hype has died down and when I think I need a boost in performance. I just put in a new sound card (Creative X-FI) that cost me under £25 ($50 ish) and what a difference over the on-board sound. I also pay a bit more for a very good mouse and screen as they tend to make a difference to my everyday use.

An update on my Vista experience - I will not be bothering moving over just yet. It looks nice and loaded great but there really is no obvious benefit to me and a few drawbacks with drivers etc.
 
#4
Re: Upgrading the Windoes OS PC?

What do you mostly use your computer for, Claes?
Being the nerd I admittedly am: Just about anything I can think of... :lol: But these are the main areas:
  • Work
  • Web stuff (obviously)
  • Games (Yes, that is why I chucked the new graphics card in)
  • Photography (Currently converting old paperbased pictures to digital - Follow this link for examples)
  • Music (Slowly converting a great heap of vinyl and tape based music to mp3)
My 11 yo daughter is on the same track: She is writing a book right now, btw, and is currently at 270 pages in word, showing no signs of slowing down... :notme:

/Claes
 
M

Martijn

#5
I've upgraded my gfx card twice, first I've tried a SLI setup where you can use two identical gfx cards at the same time. Performance increase was good, but I lost some functionalities I used (watching cpu on my tv screen for films), so I've decided to get one newer gfx card. SLI is not worth it IMHO, since gfx cards make so much development, you're better of getting a new one instead of an identical old one.

And I've double my memory from 1 to 2 gig, also helped quite a bit

And bought new harddrives & put them in RAID, which is a bit quicker me thinks.

All in all upgrades to your cpu are very limited to what your motherboard can handle. I think memory & gfx cards are about all the possibilities you have, unless you want to start overclocking your processor, that's a third option, albeit quite a bit more advanced.
 
#6
SLI is not worth it IMHO, since gfx cards make so much development, you're better of getting a new one instead of an identical old one.
I agree. The alternative would be to buy two identical cards right away, of course, but I think it must be better to get a single card with more power. Incidentally, the trouble with recent graphics cards is that they often require so much so much more juice from the power supply that you have to upgrade it as well (like I did).
And I've double my memory from 1 to 2 gig, also helped quite a bit.
Yes, 1Gb is definitely bare minimum these days. I had 2Gb from the start, and there is room for another 2.
And bought new harddrives & put them in RAID, which is a bit quicker me thinks..
Yes it should be.
unless you want to start overclocking your processor, that's a third option, albeit quite a bit more advanced.
Well, maybe not so advanced, but the results are not always worth the effort (nor the risk, even if it is small). Besides, there was a time when processors could usually be overclocked like crazy, but I think that is in the past.

/Claes
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
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#7
:eek: I'm embarrassed to say that I buy whatever is on sale at wally world and replace it every two to four years. The last two have been e-Machines, I just rotate them down the pecking order at home and drill the oldest hard drive before taking it to the recycling center. Right now, I'm working on getting everyone updated to flat panel monitors as nobody is complaining about needing a new CPU. I'm sorry to say, I am not a techno-geek, if it works I don't care.
 
B

Benjamin28

#8
I never purchase a pre-made computer. Typically what I concentrate on is purchasing a solid mother board and cpu, a few extra dollars on the mb goes a long way for keeping your machine up to par in the years to come. For example the motherboard I installed...about 4 years ago I think, is still able to utilize leading edge memory technology, supports leading edge graphics card technology...it unfortunately does not support duo/quad core cpus however.

I've gotten a great deal of use out of my current machine and I foresee it lasting at least another few years before I consider a new mb and cpu. The nice thing about this is, when you do replace the motherboard/cpu you can simply transfer all the other components over so you get a PC which falls into the mid to high grade area for about 400-500 dollars. Typically I upgrade one component at a time when the necessity comes up.

I don't chase down newest technology components until they've become mainstream. Some people have to have the newest stuff and this is fine but you can count on spending a premium to have those newest gadgets.
 
W

wmarhel

#9
For about $1200, you can build a high performance system which would beat just about anything Dell can offer.

Key things to focus on as far as PC longevity are the case, power supply and cooling. Heat is the ultimate killer of a PC. The case is important because that affects the cooling aspect. Look for something which supports 120mm fans. Two case fans at a minimum (this excludes any fans from the power supply). This configuration is typically one in the front at the bottom, and the second fan to the rear. Buy Thermaltake fans, they are less than $10 each and are very reliable (some models also come with a fan controller so you can adjust the speed manually or have it change speed automatically as the need arises). A case with a side vent directly over the CPU fan (don't use a dinky little processor fan if you can help it) is another nice aspect. I also like ULTRA cases.

I would recommend at least a 500w power supply with twin 80mm fans. Buy a name brand power supply such as ULTRA with their flexible. cabling system. At the very least, buy the next size up from what is recommended. This is especially important if you want to run a SLI set-up (for SLI, 550w is the minimum I would use). A little more is better as this won't cause the power supply to work as hard and as a by-product, shouldn't generate as much heat.

I always look for video cards with a fan versus passive cooling such as heat sinks. Also, ignore overclocked pc cards, in fact, ignore overclocking in general.

On a side note, with the increased number of fans, you may notice an increase in sound from the PC. Also, please don't stick the PC case inside of a cabinet, as that will drastically reduce the amount of airflow.

Wayne
 
D

Dave Dunn

#10
Re: Upgrading the Windoes OS PC?

Personally I bought an iMac because it's set. No upgrades. I set the life to 3 to 4 years but the last one, my Mac Powerbook, is almost 6 years old and I use it every day as a PVR for TV programs and such. Yet it's set up so I can throw it in a bag and take it on a trip - Email and everything is set up and ready to go.
On the other side of the coin, Marc, that's one of the reasons I prefer to go with a Windows PC, because it's not set. Along with computer gaming, I've enjoyed being able to upgrade my PC whenever I like and put in the hardware that I want. Not that I'm anti-Mac. I think they're great computers - they just don't satisfy the needs of my gaming hobby.

The ability to upgrade is what makes the PC a great platform for those that like to poke around under the hood, as well as for those that don't want to go to the expense of a whole new computer when the performance of theirs isn't keeping up with what they want. Want better video performance? Just go get a new card. Low RAM resources causing your computer to thrash the hard drive swap file? Go get more and put it in.

Of course this infinite variety of PC configurations is one of the biggest causes of headaches for the users, but that's the tradeoff.
 
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