This falls under "home repair" very loosely, and asking it in a computer
forum would be a biased arena.
On average, how often do people buy new, or do a major upgrade? My AMD 1.2
GHz home PC is about 2 years old, and I am considering to upgrade to today's
new technology. Then I realized, I had my previous PC for about 2 years
before I got this one.
So if I am like everyone else, 2 years seems like the norm to upgrade. What
does everyone else do?
Trailing edge is cool.
I tend to upgrade when either I can get stuff cheap, or if there is
a really pressing reason to.
Of the last few years, I got a PPRO 160 motherboard (overclocked to 240)
at the time when it would run some things as fast as the fastest lower-end
processors. (at somewhere around 300Mhz).
3 years or so ago, just as the lack of being able to play fullscreen video
easily got a bit painfull, I managed to acquire a bare-bones Athlon 550
Then, just after I discovered movie encoding, and decided that I'd really
like to be able to do it in real-time off-air (at good resolution) I
spotted that Motherboard (K7S5A) and Duron 1300 could be had for around
50 pounds new, and snapped one up.
Disk drives and RAM get upgraded as needed, of course.
My next planned step (barring extreme wealth) is probably to drop in a
2Ghz processor, once they fall to around 30-50 pounds.
The board was bought with specific attention to upgrades, it can take
a much faster processor than the one that's in there.
Is there a pressing reason to upgrade?
This can range from "won't play the latest games that I am addicted to" to
"I'm getting tired of having to re-sort the cards after I drop them".
Faster disks and more RAM can often speed up a slower machine, and can
sometimes be transferred to a newer one.
http://inquisitor.i.am/ | mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org | Ian Stirling.
The same people who used an IBM 029 cardpunch. Back then, timesharing
was rather expensive and could drain your computer account funds fast.
Sixty cents to run a job on the 360, and $24/hour to run timeshare.
I still use the CPU box my 1995 puter came in! Over the years, I have
upgraded motherboards once, monitors twice, keyboard once, and bought more
memory and higher capacity harddrives, and new power supply. All of these
upgrades were way cheaper over the years, by factors of magnitude, than
changing out the whole box. Since most pc's are modular, replacing parts is
easy, especially if you have a roomy cpu box.
This is what I do, too. My wife is still using a huge all-metal tower
case her 1993 Gateway 4D came with, along with the original 2X CD-ROM.
But I've replaced the motherboard twice with newer ones and replaced
the hard drives with larger ones numerous times. It's still an AT
system however, so it is at the end of its upgrade life. I've offered
to upgrade it for her but she is not interested, as it does everything
she wants it to do.
On my own computer, I first replaced its Pentium Pro 200 Mhz CPU with
a 333 Pentium Pro overdrive CPU in about 1999 or so. I also added a
second SCSI drive, a big one. I used that setup until recently, when I
bought a new ATX case and P4 power supply and a new motherboard with a
3.06Ghz Pentium 4. I'm still using my "old" SCSI drives and the 12X
CD-ROM. I got a new nVidia video card too but so far I cannot get it
to install, so I'm using my old one while tinkering with the new one.
The floppy drive is from my original Gateway computer I got in 1991. I
used the Pentium Pro in my business, and only built the new one for
fun when I retired this year. The old one served me just fine for my
graphics design and writing business, despite the heavy CPU
Having a box of parts and drives left over at one point, I bought an
AT tower case for $50 and a Pentium Pro motherboard on ebay for $9.50
and built a nice little computer we use for storage, backup, and as a
printer server. No CD-ROM, no sound card, no internet connection. The
keyboard is also from my very first Gateway computer in 1991.
All these computerss are networked, most using the original Intel
8-bit ethernet cards I bought in the early 90s. I have a nice little
NetBEUI network I built for Windows for Workgroups that is low but
slow, using BNC connections and coax -- thinnet it's called. Of course
it now runs on Win 98SE. Might be the last one in New Jersey! I'll
have to ditch it when I finally upgrade to Windows XP someday.
Finally, I also have a Mac that is also connected to the network. It
is also of mid-90s vintage, a Performa 6400, which I bought on sale
after it had been discontinued. But I hated it because it was soooo
slow, so I got a Sonnet CPU upgrade card for it in the later 90s and a
new video card. Now it is quite respectable. It is connected into the
network using a program called PCMacLan, a very good networking
program that uses AppleTalk. The new version they now sell uses
I figure that by doing it this way instead of buying new computers all
the time, and by using my computers to the maximum capacity before
buying new ones, I not only increased my knowledge of computers (all
self-taught) but I saved around $25,000-$35,000 over the years. More
if you consider what I might have paid in computer consulting fees.
When you own your own business, as I did, this sort of money is
important. Saving like this (in a general sort of way, I mean, not
just with computer hardware) meant that I have been able to retire at
age 61. Also, I actually liked working with the computers, sometimes
more than my real business!
The real overhead expense in our business was in software. Three sets
of QuarkXPress at $900 each, three PhotoShops, two Illustrators,
postscript typefaces for Mac and for PC, etc., etc., and constant
upgrades to everything. Hard to avoid that stuff.
I have the same thing you do and I have the latest at work. Considering the
difference, I'm not even thinking about an upgrade right now. My wife's was
just upgraded with a new MB, but that is because it needed some repair.
Went from a 500mz to a 1.2G and the difference is worth doing. Other
In the past, say from a 386 to a Pentium 90 it was a major improvement, but
the increments are less now.
Three computers: Six years, three years, and two years+.
Computer #1: New in 1992 (PC, cpu = 386). Increased the RAM and added a
modem in 1996 or so. Died in 1998.
Computer #2: Pentium-type. No upgrades. It started failing in 2001. No one I
took it to could fix it. A three-year-life was disappointing.
Computer #3: In 2001, I bought a third new computer. Despite having more RAM
and hard drive memory, for what I do I saw no difference in its performance
and the previous computer's (when new, that is). Oh, except for computer
#3's integrated modem. It hasn't always worked in the places I've lived.
Gateway agreed to buy me a new external modem in the first month after I
said I would have to return it, per the terms of the warranty, since their
modem was not working in my home. So "upgrades" are not at all necessarily
so. I figure it's more Bill Gates and his software and hardware compadres at
work making money with these alleged "upgrades."
The only thing I really want now is a flat-screened monitor, to have more
deskspace and for portability. But these older monitors often tend to be
workhorses, so I can't easily justify spending money on a flat screen.
At least the prices on the flat monitors have fallen precipitously and seem
to still be falling. :-)
I happily forego high-speed internet access and enjoy not having to worry
about viruses, for the most part.
I have three computes at home, all networked. I upgrade when it will
not do something I want to do. That seems to work out about every four
years. When I upgrade, most of the time it means I get a new computer and
the one I was using is downgraded a notch and the one on the bottom gets
removed from the system. The oldest one works as a server.
A local PC company offered an 'upgrade kit' that was a new
MB,case,PS,RAM,CDROM,floppy for $300. All I had to do was add a new
HD,display card,and use my old KB;presto,'new' 900Mhz PC.
New SW would add newer drivers and use more RAM.
Jim Yanik,NRA member
You could let money be your guide.
Decide how much you are willing to
spend, and design your "dream machine"
with custom components (e.g. flashcard
reader for digital camera.) When the
price of the dream machine falls to your
spending target, buy it. In the mean
time, ignore it.
Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
I upgrade, as in change out system parts, whenever I have the funds
to. I replace the system, when the system can no longer be effectively
upgraded to modern components The replacemet process usually entails
stripping some upgraded components from the old for the new, with the
old getting "downgraded", unless it is shot.
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