Standard obsolescence has been rated at 18 months for a number of years.
Functionally speaking, most systems purchased in the last few years work
admirably for most tasks.
The key determining factor in upgrading is whether or not the unit supports
your needs. If all you do is surf the 'net, do e-mail, word process, and
balance your checkbook (with maybe a little solitaire here and there) then
you're fine -- don't bother as the bang for the buck would be limited at
best. You'd be better off buying some additional memory, a larger hard
drive, or a bigger monitor. Another option to consider is to do a clean
install of your operating system (Windows for most folks).
If you do high end work such as CAD or other heavy graphics design then
you'll want to upgrade every year or two most likely. If you are a gamer
and you REALLY get into the latest and greatest then you'll want to get up
to around a 2.4GHz system and the latest and greatest video card.
In my case, I'm a major technophile -- it's my business as well as my hobby.
My way of upgrading is a bit atypical though -- since I build all of my
systems, I upgrade in parts. For example, I just replaced my CDRW with a
new Sony DVD -/+ RW drive but nothing else was changed. At the moment I
think I'm running either 1.8GHz or 2.0GHz -- can't recall which offhand --
with a gig of memory, a 30G and 60G hard drive, Sony DVD +/- RW drive, the
latest MS Internet ergonomic keyboard, latest MS trackball, 17" monitor
(yeah, just waiting for prices on flat screens to come down a little bit
more than I'll get a 21" flat screen), XP Pro and various peripherals. With
the exception of the DVDRW, the last upgrade I did was a reinstall of the OS
to XP Pro back in December 2001 -- I'm still flying though. :)
Bear in mind that the CPU is just one factor in the overall system. You
also have memory, hard drive, CDRW/DVDRW, monitor, keyboard, mouse, video,
sound, and so forth. That's what's nice about building your own system --
you can upgrade piecemeal and get the latest and greatest with what you have
instead of doing a full upgrade (which won't give you ALL of the latest and
greatest anyway). Since technology has outpaced function for most users,
you can get by for longer then buy at less later.
I'd upgrade when your PC can not run the latest software efficiently,when
the BIOS cannot support replacement HDs,when you cannot expand RAM to
effectively use new SW,when new accessories will not function with your PC.
It all depends on what you DO with your PC. Graphics? DVD movies?That and
CAD/CAM is the highest demand for PC HW/SW.
If you just roam the Net,read Email,and post to NGs,then 1.2 Ghz is plenty
Jim Yanik,NRA member
1.2 Ghz would be close to a 3x speed upgrade for me- for casual web surfing,
word processing, etc, my 450Mhz 256mb ram runs win2k quite well. Until I
move somewhere where I can get more than a 28,8 dialup (much less DSL or
cable modem), a faster machine would be utterly pointless for me. My pipe is
the speed bottleneck. I tend to buy my machines by the pallet at auctions,
or even pull them out of the little gray stores scattered around the
apartments here. Next machine, that I haven't bothered to move into yet, is
a 750 that a neigbor threw out because they crashed the software load, and
were clueless how to recover it from the 'restore' image buried on the
semi-hidden D: drive. Took me about an hour to nuke it and throw a XP image
on it- runs fine.
(and to think we all used to do productive work on 8086s hot-rodded to a
screaming 8Mhz via a V20 chip, with non-gooey green-screen text interfaces
and 2400 dialup connections- my first few years on the Net were on a box
like that, still sitting out back somewhere, dialing into the UNIX box at
work, back when the traffic volume was still so low it got lost in the
noise, and management didn't even know they were running a news server...)
i'm in the computer biz.. and early in my career i "had to have" the
latest stuff. finally.. when I started having other hobbies ;-) i had
to decide if having the latest/greatest was worth the premium
my home machine is a p166 (166 not 1.66!), but it's moslty used by my
wife for browsing/email.
i have a work laptop that is a 500Mhz.. and does an OK job for the
kinds of apps I run
It comes down to what do you need it for. My 166 is very adequate for
browsing/email. My 500 (w/ 256MB ram) is most adequate for running
Office 97, a slew of computer admin type apps, and some app
I would suggest going with 12mo old or older technology and getting
the big price breaks. If you really need a newer machine, IMO, you
get a better benefit/cost ratio by looking at the price curve of older
to newer systems and buying the one just ahead of the rapid increase.
cpu costs will generally drive the overall costs. I'd guess right
now, a 1.8-2.2 Ghz would be a good deal. Greater than that and you
pay a premium. (Do the comparison yourself, I've not done it lately).
Once you have that machine, try to get 2+ years (as long as it does
what you want) out of it. I think you are better off.. buying a
"middle of the road machine" and getting 2-3 years, then buying the
top end and getting 3-4 years. You save 500-1000 and probably will
find out you did not need it anyway.
There are exceptions.. you are into high-end graphics; you use you
computer to generate income and time saved = more revenue; etc.
I upgrade whenever I feel that I need to. I just completely upgraded
all the computers in the house within the past month because my old
motherboard developed a habit of blowing DIMMs. Every DIMM that got
dropped into the system stopped working so I replaced my board/CPU,
upgraded the memory, and while I was at it, replaced my wife's
board/CPU/memory since I had blown most of it while testing anyhow.
I rarely replace an entire computer, I build all of my own and the
case/PS on both computers is still fine, as are the drives/CDs, etc.
Probably the next thing on the agenda is to get 200gb drives for both
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