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Computer/tech hardware lifecycles

Discussion in 'Tilted Gear' started by Baraka_Guru, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    There have been a few threads in Titled Gear lately about folks getting new hardware. It's always pretty exciting. In my own case, it's particularly exciting because I take forever to buy new hardware. This is partly because of my income, but it's also because I like to use things up as much as possible. (You should see my wardrobe!)

    How long do you use your computer hardware before you upgrade? Replace?

    • My current work computer is the Macbook2,1, which consists of late 2006/mid 2007 designs.

    Some specs:
    Intel Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz
    2 GB DDR2 SDRAM 667 MHz
    Intel GMA 950

    I bought this in late 2007, so I've had it for five years I guess. (Wow, really?) It has many miles on it. I did upgrade the RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB, which extended the machine's lifecycle considerably. I use it for basic office productivity and design: Adobe Create Suite, Microsoft Office, etc. I don't do anything particularly heavy, such as video rendering. The system is most taxed when I use Dreamweaver and Photoshop simultaneously. It gets the job done. For now. It can run the most current OS, but I'm one version back.

    I don't have any current plans to replace this machine, but I'm prepared for it to perhaps die on me one day over the next year or two (or more!).

    The funny thing about this machine is that Apple discontinued the entire product line about this time last year. If I need to replace mine, I will be replacing it with a Macbook Pro if not a Mac Mini or iMac. I'm not so sure about the Macbook Air. I'm afraid I'd break it or something, and I'm not sure about its performance for what I do.

    • My current desktop/entertainment computer is a Dell Vostro 410, which is a first-gen "phase 2" minitower design from around 2008.

    Some specs:
    Intel Kentsfield Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2.4 GHz (from 2007)
    2 GB DDR2 SDRAM 800 MHz
    Intel G33 Express, 1333 MHz bus
    ATI Radeon HD 6850, 1GB GDDR5
    Windows Vista

    I bought this on clearance for like $800 in around 2008, so I've had this for around four years. I've upgraded the video card once, and I now can run most games, though maybe on medium settings on average. I've used this machine to play hours and hours of game such as World of Warcraft, Civilization III, Team Fortress 2, Tropico 3, Left 4 Dead 1 and 2, and the Total War series.

    So I'm not playing Crysis or Call of Duty or Skyrim or anything crazy like that. It's not worth it on this hardware.

    So for gaming, I'm using hardware from a few years ago, generally. Now that I have a PS3, I'm not so concerned about my aging PC hardware. (Though it would be nice to run Star Wars: The Old Republic and Age of Conan way better than I can...!)

    How about you? How long do you use your hardware typically?

    Overall, I tend to get a least five years from my hardware before I give up the ghost. I've already started to see some signs of that on the PC (re: Conan and Star Wars), but I will still likely hold off and get more use out of it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  2. Speed_Gibson

    Speed_Gibson Hacking the Gibson

    Location:
    Wolf 359
    My last computers were all custom built jobs I did and used for 8 years until they quit on me. Fairly certain the motherboards finally died. I did a major upgrade to my current dual core 2.7 Ghz system then.
    My stereo equipment is 10-11 years old and not getting replaced anytime soon, the same is true for my soundcard with the breakout box. I use that constantly and am not prepared to spend the money necessary to buy a new option that has the same connections.
     
  3. Stan

    Stan Resident Dumbass Donor

    Location:
    Colorado
    I build my own PCs and replace or upgrade them when I have a reason to do so. Historically, that means a new video card every two years and processor/MB every 3 or so.

    I'm presently using a 2 1/2 year old overclocked I7 920 and Radeon HD5870. I haven't found any justification to upgrade, yet.
     
  4. Zweiblumen

    Zweiblumen Slightly Tilted

    Location:
    Iceland
    In short, I use computer components until the smoke escapes out :)
     
  5. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Location:
    Mars
    Funny that this thread came up today. According to Purolator, most of my new machine is currently in New York, with the GTX 670 in Los Angeles.

    I was going to say that I replace stuff when I feel it's not fast enough, but then I realized that historically that hasn't been true. In the early 2000's I had an Athlon XP 1700+ on an Asus A7N8X. I used that system until about 2006, when the motherboard blew a cap. After that it was a Pentium D 2.4 GHz, which lasted until 2010. When the hard drive crashed I used that as an excuse to gut the badly aging system and built in a Nehalem core I5 with a GTX 460 on an MSI motherboard. The motherboard shit the bed a couple of months ago (that's what I get for buying MSI), but I couldn't replace it immediately due to a number of other expenses -- now I've got a grand to spare so I'm moving up to a Core I5 Ivy Bridge with the aforementioned GTX 670 and on an Asrock board.


    What's changed now as opposed to the past is that I have discretionary income. For most of my adult life I've lived alone on a budget of around $20 000 per year, or sometimes less. It didn't leave a lot of money lying around and so I had to get the most out of what I had. Now I've got more cash and find myself eyeing new hardware as it comes out more frequently. We'll see if this leads to a change in my spending habits, I suppose.
     
  6. Auriga New Member

    Location:
    Here and There
    I usually replace hardware when the software upgrades won't run on the platform anymore, after doing everything possible to endure and ensure the machine isn't getting slower and slower because of things I can control. Once it won't upgrade anymore or won't run basic security upgrades, I let it go. My current desktop PC is 2007 and still holding in there with XP. But it won't upgrade beyond IE8 without breaking.
     
  7. Speed_Gibson

    Speed_Gibson Hacking the Gibson

    Location:
    Wolf 359
    IE8 is an upgrade? Any version of IE is an upgrade?
    On a slightly more serious note, my desktop is running Vista currently and as discussed elsewhere on here, I am upgrading my laptop from Win7 to linux with a new drive.
     
  8. highjinx

    highjinx "My phobia drowned while i was gettin' down."

    Location:
    venice beach
    it really depends on your applications. as a gamer, my baseline has been alternating new components and outright replacement every 3 or 4 years... so 4 years ago i got a new gpu and upgraded my ram, and last year i put together a new gaming rig from scratch. my latest is a quad core phenom with a gtx 460 768mb (not the 1gb) and it's held up admirably the last year and a half with everything i throw at it, including chuggers like skyrim and swtor.

    after all the rebates came back it cost me under 500$ so i think i'm coming out ahead.

    sidenote- i highly recommend putting your own rig together nowadays. it's evolved a long ways since the early nineties when a motherboard instructions were all in asian languages and most hardware was super finicky in terms of being compatible. now as long as your power supply is up to snuff, installing a motherboard into a case and a cpu onto a motherboard is basically paint-by-numbers now.

    the computers at my work on the other hand only run quickbooks and ms office and do some light web stuff, and we haven't really touched them since i started working here ~7 years ago.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Until I either can't get acceptable framerates anymore or I get a deal too good to pass up. So far each has happened once, which basically puts me at 5+ years easily with minor tweaks. I tend not to upgrade until a couple socket changes have passed and it's time to replace more or less every core component.
     
  10. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    I'm in an odd spot with my machine. According to Windows, my weakest link is RAM, but I've heard that Windows Vista 32-bit has issues with using more than 3 GB of RAM. I'm currently sitting at 2 GB. Everything else is passable for the time being.

    By the time I get a new PC (if ever), it will be like night and day. That's been the case ever since I've owned computers.

    My previous chip was 90 nm, while my current chip is 65 nm. It looks like my next chip will be 32 or 22 nm, if not 16 nm.

    They're really starting to pack those things full, eh?
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  11. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    The built in "your computer sucks because XYZ" thing is actually pretty terrible so I wouldn't trust it ordinarily... but like all painted clocks it's right at least once a day and in this case you are pretty low on RAM.

    The 32-bit thing is a bit different than what you're thinking though. The problem is inherent in 32-bit operating systems in general. Firstly they more or less can't recognize more than 4gb of ram and on top of that any other memory in your box is basically "cut out" of that space from 3-4 gigabytes because of another computing kludge. That's why when you get a videocard with 512mb of memory and 4gb of RAM in your computer you see 3.5gb when you check your specs in the OS. 64bit fixes the 4gb hard cap and between a few built changes and most modern motherboards automagically rearranging things at a very low level those two problems arent as big as they used to be. The only other issue to worry about is whether you're using dual or triple channel so whether to go for multiples of 2 or 3 when buying sticks.



    Disclaimer:that's not exactly how things actually work, the real explanation is more complicated, but that's pretty much close enough for anyone not planning to code their own OS.
     
  12. cynthetiq

    cynthetiq Administrator Staff Member Donor

    Location:
    New York City
    I go until it doesn't perform for my requirements. Thus games push it to the limits, WOW is a good example of this that each patch pushes the graphics engine that much more. Go back and visit some of the old lands that weren't redone, at this point that's just Outland, but before Vanilla was interesting to see how it evolved graphically.

    Because 25 man raids in Cata were dropping to 7-10 FPS skogafoss was complaining every single time she was in a raid. We were waiting patiently for the 600 to be announce and available. We got them on Thursday and installed them the same night. Man it is beautiful.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Zweiblumen

    Zweiblumen Slightly Tilted

    Location:
    Iceland
    First of all Shadowex3 answer is right on, a 32bit Windows can't normally access more than 3 Gb of memory. What I wanted to add is that this performance index in Windows (Windows Experience Index) has to be taken with a grain of salt. It can point out what component/subsystem has the lowest performance in measured values. Those values don't have to translate to reality. In your case, it's the speed of the memory that it's pointing out, not the amount. The speed doesn't have to that important. As an example I have a machine I thought I had to replace but I added some memory I had lying around to it and that made all the difference, now that machine can handle it's tasks even though the module I added is slower than the what was installed. When memory modules of different speed are mixed the slowest speed will be used.
    Increasing the speed of the memory isn't trivial as the motherboard supports only memory of specified type up to certain speed and most computer come with the fastest memory modules that the motherboard supports. So often the only way is to replace the motherboard and that's usually not worth it only for faster memory.
    In my experience the most common bottleneck in computers are disk access and transfer rate. A high performance CPU and memory will often spend most of their time waiting for data from hd.

    In your case the best performance gain could come from reinstalling Windows (or clean install of Windows7).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Hm. Interesting.

    My system can support up to five hard drives. Are you saying that if I drop a faster one in and reinstall Windows that I'd have much better performance?

    I'm actually pretty terrible when it comes to that kind of maintenance. I never bother reinstalling Windows. It seems like a chore, and I kind of resent "having" to do it. (I have been tempted more than once to just drop the nearly $200 on Windows 7 to be done with Vista.)

    Does it really make that much of a difference? Hard drive performance and/or reinstalling Windows?

    My HD specs are below:

    500 GB
    16 MB Cache
    7200 RPM
    Serial-ATA 3.0 Gbps
     
  15. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    I generally replace my hardware on a large scale every 3-4 years. I may replace smaller components of the computer in that time. Last summer, I purchased a computer for very cheap from a coworker--AMD Athlon 64 Dual-Core 4600+ (2.4 GHZ), 2 GB of RAM, and a 1 GB PNY nVidia GEForce 9400GT--because she wanted to upgrade to a more gaming-oriented rig, saying that her present computer was too slow. I reformatted the HD, installed Win7, and voila, perfectly fine, fast computer. I've added 2 GB of RAM since then, maxing out my mobo's capacity. World of Warcraft is very pretty, and Skyrim is beautiful--not as beautiful as on my husband's brand-spanking new machine, but considering I spent less than $100 to get this computer where it is, I'm very pleased.

    Don't underestimate the power of a simple reformat and reinstall, Baraka_Guru.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Yeah, I know. It just seems like such a chore.

    I should probably just shut up about my hardware until I reinstall... *shudder*.... Windows Vista....
     
  17. Zweiblumen

    Zweiblumen Slightly Tilted

    Location:
    Iceland
    Well that HD should give you a decent performance so reinstalling Windows should improve your experience. I have never had Vista but I went from XP to Win7 on few computers and that was an improvement in every case.
    If you are focused on hardware upgrade then an SSD is probable what will give you the most improvement but it ain't cheap (per Gigabyte).
     
  18. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    7 makes it really easy. You'll be done in no time. Seriously. You need to take the plunge. Ditch Vista. DO IT.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. highjinx

    highjinx "My phobia drowned while i was gettin' down."

    Location:
    venice beach
  20. Innocentmiss

    Innocentmiss Getting Tilted

    Until a few months ago my main machine was my 2003 Acer 17" laptop (not really a laptop at all! It used desktop components and weighed a ton!) I got the laptop since I was a student and it was easier than transporting a tower and crt back n forth. I upgraded it as the years went on, until it had 2gb ram and an Athlon 3.6ghz processor. I only upgraded because I had the opportunity to purchase a 'broken' Acer Z5600 all in one touch-screen. It cost me £30 and all it required was the removing of a metal plate in the back which was stopping the fan and a reinstall of Win 7. I also got an acer netbook simply because it was 'gadegty' and I wanted one, and after watching one on ebay for a week no one bid on it so with one second to go I bid and got it for £100 when at the time the rrp was £699.95! Again it was 'broken' with a virus so a reinstall fixed that!

    I guess I upgrade when a bargain comes along! I also sold my old 17" laptop for £200!!!!!!