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i need a new rig
  • raging+drunk+ladraging drunk lad August 2010
    Posts: 6,459
    It's become painfully obvious that my current computer's specs will be too far below par by next year.

    Here are my current specs:

    Windows HP Home 32-bit SP3
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
    2 GB RAM
    ASUSTeK Computer INC. M2N-MX SE Plus (AM2) motherboard
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 240

    Now I want to invest in a computer that will last me for at least 5 years without breaking the bank. I want to be able to play recent games, but it isn't important for me to be decked out on the highest settings.

    I want to trade up to Windows 7, so that's probably like $150 off the bat.
  • EugeneEugene August 2010
    Posts: 1,684
    Five years is a long haul in the computer world. The problem is that thanks to Moore's Law (which, while broken in "theory" still largely applies to the market from the overview of the average consumer), games coming out five years from now may require hardware that just doesn't exist today. Five years ago, PCI express was just getting started and most users were still buying AGP boards that would be near-useless to them now, just to give one example.

    In my opinion, the average consumer's quest for the "long-lived PC" is a futile one. Any PC you get will last you as long as you wish it to last, provided you can put up with it's getting relatively slower and less capable over time. There are very few tips to overcome that, so instead a consumer should focus on paying *as little as possible* for a computer. The more you pay for a computer, the more value it loses. A $600 computer is not twice as good as a $300 computer. And a $1200 computer is only slightly better than a $600 one. The less you pay the more value you are getting for your money, which is ultimately the point of the whole "I want my computer to last forever" desire.

    The trick is to know what technologies are new and which of those new technologies are likely to be the hinge upon which the future unfolds. For example, those folks who *did* buy a PCIe-enabled mobo five years ago probably felt pretty good about themselves. You want to be part of that consumer base that pays just enough for modern technology without blowing a wad on high numbers, which is what all the manufacturers will try to convince you to do.

    A computer build usually starts with your selection of CPU. I personally feel Intel CPUs, when you buy from their regular consumer line (not their budget lines), pack the most bang for the buck. My Core 2 Duo lasted me three years or so, and could have gone longer but I like upgrading. I feel comfortable saying the i5/i7 line (which I now own) will also be quite successful and will last you years. I'm not as familiar with the AMD world, so I'll leave that in the hands of those more knowledgeable. If my price tag is too high, you might want to look into AMD to cut it down a fat notch.

    $195: Intel i5 Lynnfield: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

    Kind of an expensive start but it's one of the cheapest i5's available. Any lower than this and you're either buying budget i3 CPUs or old Core 2 Duos which are fine at the moment but will not last you five years for sure. But remember what I said... you may be more comfortable buying one of these and then just buying or upgrading in two years, whichever looks more attractive at that time.

    $90-$110: An i5 compatible mobo will cost you somewhere in this range. You may find one for less but I'd be wary. Before buying any motherboard, be absolutely positive you've researched the board as much as possible. Find reviews, preferrably from big-name reviewers like Tom's Hardware or Anandtech. A bad or faulty mobo can really ruin your computer experience. Bad boards are caused by rush-jobs at the factory, and occassionally by chance. Both can be avoided by going with a trustworthy manufacturer. I've switched between various manufacturers but have been a huge fan of Asus and Gigabyte. Try and get a mobo with an Intel chipset, unless you're dure whatever chipset you get is definitely rated high.

    Here is an example, but I have not researched it: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131623

    $82: Memory http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231253

    That's the cheapest paired sticks of 2GB each I could find with decent reviews. Ones with low or few reviews were a few dollars less but it's worth it to spend $3 more to get something 90 customers were happy with. If you want to drop the price of the machine without dropping the cpu/mobo, you can buy ONE 2GB stick, then later buy another one. 2GB will be enough for now but you may find your machine paging (slowing down) when you've got more than one high-memory app open (like two games, fantasy grounds and a game, photoshop and a game, etc). A single stick should be approx half of that. When you buy a second stick, try to buy the same exact one... if it's no longer on sale, try to match the specs (speed, timings) as closely as possible.

    Those are the big three. $365. A few notes on additional things you'll need to buy:

    1) Storage. Hard drives are dirt cheap now, but if you've got the cash, an SSD from Intel will really make your computer fly. Super fast boot/shutdown and loading screens will flash by. They're pricey and don't offer much space. Personally, I'd hold off -- an SSD will be really easy to add to your system later without worrying about needing to upgrade anything else.

    Buy a SATA hard drive that spins at 7200 RPM. Don't get one of the green-sticker energy-savings drives. All hard drive manufacturers are fine, uncluding Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi, and Samsung.

    If you already have a SATA drive, just keep using it. Unless you're buying an SSD, you're not going to notice anything better in a new hard drive except more free space.

    2) Case. You can use your old case most of the time. Contact me for details of finding out whether that's definitely true. Whether you want to is another story. A decent case can cost $40-$100.

    3) Power supply. You want to use a power supply calculator to ensure your old PSU can power your new machine. If not, or if it's close, buy a new one from a reputable menufacturer.

    4) Optical drive. If you just want a DVD burner, it'll run you about $25.

    5) Video card. This makes by far the biggest impact to your gaming performance. I think yours is new, so you'll want to keep that.
  • raging+drunk+ladraging drunk lad October 2010
    Posts: 6,459
    Reading this again... I think my biggest money concern is the fact that I want to trade up to an i7 Lynnfield, which also comes with the added burden of finding a reasonably priced mobo to support it. By comparing prices, it looks like I'll have to spend about $500.00 CAD to get that to work out.
  • Downside-upDownside-up November 2010
    Posts: 1,492
    My computer is six years old. I'm glad it's lasted six years, but it started to show it's age three years ago. I can't imagine trying to keep another one for this long.
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