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Worst time to upgrade a PC

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August 4, 2006 8:59:36 AM

I see looking around that most people see this as the best time to uprade an aging PC.

I have an old Pentium 2.8 with a GeTi4400 card and I would like to upgrade.

A decent choice seems something like a Core 2 Duo E6600 with a 7600GT or a 7900GT.

Now my problem with this is that for the 1st time in a long time I see this as actually the worst time to upgrade. This is because we have such a clear picture of what's comming up.

Vista - DivX10 - The whole new graphics card design.
Intel's quad-core, tone better then the core 2 duo.

And this is not 3-4 years away but maybe as soon as 3-4 months.

Now yes I agree that all the new technologies will need toime to stabilise but the way I feel is that if I buy either a core 2 duo or any of the 7 series cards I'll be buying outdated/old technology.

Now am I completely wrong or would life be so much better if it was actually August 2007 and we already had all the new stuff. (well except for being year older that is :) )

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August 4, 2006 10:35:15 AM

I do not think there is ever a good time to upgrade in the PC world now.

If it was me I would wait for a few months and see what happens with Core 2 Duo, Pentium D, and AMD AM2 prices. IF you build a new system using one of those it should still give you a "chance" of upgrading the processor later. I would make sure the motherboard allows at least 8 Gig memory, and a good few SATA II connections (i.e. at least 4). There do seem to be quite a few AM2 boards out there with just 2 Gig max memory, and only 2 SATA II.

I've just had a quick look at a few UK online stores. Motherboards with support for Core 2 Duo seem a little thin on the ground, and also quite expensive. I think over the next 3-4 months there will be more choice of motherboards that support Core 2 duo, and there will be updates to existing chipsets from VIA, Nvidia ect to support the new CPU. If you want to go for an Intel CPU I would suggest you wait for a good choice in motherboards, then go for your upgrade.

IF you picked a good motherboard you could use one of the Pentium D processors for 6 - 12 months and change it for a Core 2 Duo latter. Just make sure the motherboard supports both. If the PSU and and case cooling works OK for the Pentium D then it will work fine for the Core 2 Duo. There is also the cheaper option of using one of the new Celerons with 512K cache (e.g. D 356), but this is only £15 pounds cheaper than the D805 or £25 cheaper than the D820.

As I'm not a gamer I'll leave the single/dual graphics cards and Nvidia/ATI debates to the rest of the panel.

Just my 2p worth

Robert Murphy
August 4, 2006 11:58:10 AM

I say you go for it now. Why? Unless you plan on spending HUGE mark-ups for the new cutting edge stuff as soon as it comes out, it would make no since to wait. I have heard this though process for years now. You will never be able to stay on top of whats going on in the computer industry. Just as soon as you have the best stuff in your system, 3-4 months latter there is somthing better.

I say you go for a basic system that you can live with for about a year, year & half. That will allow all the software to catch up two the hardware! Vista is gonna be great, but it's just an OS, and if the programs you have now don't work right or work at all, what good is going to do you? This time next year when the dust clears, from Intel, AMD/ATI, Vista, and Nvidia, you will have a much better ideal what to upgrade and what not to.

Everything you buy now will work just fine with XP!
I am not going to jump right on Vista when it comes out. I did that with XP and was pissed off at what programs would not work! so I'll be waiting about a year untill all the programs Katchup to the OS.

I would go crazy myself if I could not play the all the hot games like (Oblivion) right now. My system is just fine as it is, I don't have to upgrade for another two years or longer if I wanted to wait that long. I wount wait that long, but you get the picture.
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August 4, 2006 12:12:39 PM

Why bother with quad core? There really isn't anything out there for the average enthusiast that needs it. You'd do fine with dual core as most programs barely take advantage of that. Now, the videocard is a different thing as the upcoming DX10 cards will demand investment. Don't forget that you'll need a better PSU as well to power these new technologies - GPUs with 200 - 300 watt demands.
August 4, 2006 1:03:22 PM

My point was to wait a few months for a better choice of motherboards that support Core 2 duo. CPU prices may have settled down by then and you will be in a better position to chose Intel/AMD. Buying a CPU when it has just come out is likeley to cost more as you are buying at the "bleeding edge".

Many of the socket 775 motherboards do not support Core 2 Duo at the moment. Many of the chipsets used on these motherboards will be updated/revised to add Core 2 duo support. Once these motherboards arrive you will have a better choice.

A good mothboard with: decent DDR2 memory, decent PSU, and Core 2 duo support will give you a system that you can add a new CPU to later.

Make sure that the DDR2 memory you buy will work at the speed needed by the Core 2 Duo. This may allow for some basic overclocking on the D805 or D820 processor, but I'm not sure what FSB the D805 and D820 use. For the moment the system can run D805 or D820.

You may well find that in a few months you can by a reasonable motherboard and the D805 for the price of the E6300. 12-18 months later if you want you can just add one of the Core 2 Duo cpus. This will just be a simple CPU swap as the power used by the Pentium D processors is more than the Core 2 duo.

Again just my 2p worth.

Rob. Murphy
August 4, 2006 1:06:18 PM

I agree with the other people. If you wait for new technologies to come out in the computer market, you'll never end up buying a PC. I personally am going to build a new system around the core 2 duo processor. I, being a gamer am not going to wait for dx10 cards, because to use them I would have to buy a couple hundred dollar copy of vista. I personally like to give the new versions of windows a few years to mature, and when that happens with vista, the dx10 cards will be a lot cheaper anyways.
August 4, 2006 1:35:48 PM

The thing for me is not so much games but multiple apps.

I want to run VStudio, Oracle, Oracle App Server, MapGuide, IIS (ASP.NET) all at the same time. This is for dev purposes.

On the other hand in the evening I'd like to fire up one of my fav games which will need a good GPU.

So I'm in the worst possible buying position as the upgrade has to help GUP and CPU
August 4, 2006 1:47:08 PM

I definitley agree with what the others have said here. With computers, there will always be the same thing for cheaper tomorrow, and new tech is constantly coming out. Remember that computer power doubles every 18 months, right? (or so it is said....) You have to just buy now and enjoy it, it will get outdated no matter what you do.

What happens once you wait for quad-cores (and anything that makes use of them?). Do you use the same logic then and say, "well I may as well wait for DDR3!" If the computer you buy now does everything you want, and is somewhat future-proof, that's all you can hope for. Tx...
August 4, 2006 2:06:56 PM

You requirements are similar to mine. I'm looking a getting another machine myself.

Whatever you get check the memory support and SATA II on the mother boards. The good AM2 motherboards support upto 8 Gig memory. Quite a few only support 2 Gig, and those motherboards only have 2 SATA connections.

With the multitasking you are doing being able to add more memory will be usefull. being able to have more than 2 hard disks will be a bonus too.

For Myself I will wait as I said for an better choice of motherboards with Core 2 Duo support. I may go for a core 2 duo, but more likely will go for a Pentium D series. As I have AMD socket 939 at the moment I will look at the situation with AM2 at the time. Idle power consuption does matter to me as I'm away from home for long periods (weeks), but the machine is still on to allow remote access.

Rob. Murphy
August 4, 2006 2:08:58 PM

Quote:
Now yes I agree that all the new technologies will need toime to stabilise but the way I feel is that if I buy either a core 2 duo or any of the 7 series cards I'll be buying outdated/old technology.


I used to think this way too. But then I realized I was just buying into the "bleedin edge" hype. My current system is quite obsolete. It's 5 years old, 1.3 P4. Not worth much at all. But it still works for what I need. Hearing about all this new technology is great and makes me think, "Well I can't wait to buy it!" But I realized that pretty much any upgrade I make will be a good one. I will see a huge difference. And a Core2/DX9.0c system will last me a long time. I don't need the bleedin edge that's been pounded into my head over and over. I just need an upgrade, period. I think now is a great time to buy AM2 Athlon64 X2 because of the price drop. I think 3-4 months from now will be a great time to buy Core 2 Duo (hopefully they will be more in stock and our motherboard options will be much better/cheaper).
August 4, 2006 2:26:24 PM

Quote:
Now my problem with this is that for the 1st time in a long time I see this as actually the worst time to upgrade. This is because we have such a clear picture of what's comming up.

Vista - DivX10 - The whole new graphics card design.
Intel's quad-core, tone better then the core 2 duo.

And this is not 3-4 years away but maybe as soon as 3-4 months.


Give the price drops and new releases, the is an excellent time to upgrade...I would not let Vista, quad core, or DX10 in 3-4 months influence your upgrade decisions today...the most you can do it purchase the "best" components that are available at the present time.
August 4, 2006 2:38:19 PM

i agree with rob. The second you upgrade your computer something new and better will come out a few months after. Even if you get it just as its brand new and everybody wants it. If you want then congratulations you got a better system later. But unfortunately something is going to replace its supremecy again. So really there is no "great" time for upgrading. I would howeve say that this is a point in time where upgrading is a bit cheaper than usual. Who knows how much those quad cores are going to cost? I bet they will cost an arm and a leg when they first come out. Remember the amd dual cores when they first came out. The x2 4800+ was $1000 less than a year ago! And now its only $350.
August 4, 2006 2:39:35 PM

I was in a similar situation to you about 2 months ago.

I had a 1.5ghz pentium m, with 512 meg ram, and was trying to run photoshop cs2 on 11megapixel files. not a good combination.

after struggling with the same issues you are, i came to this decision for the reasons in parentheses

asus p5w dh (expensive top notch mobo, but built around an existing, proven chipset. built in support for core 2, and from what i hear kentsfield if i choose to upgrade when price and availability are reasonable).

d805 (cheap, dual cores, nearly twice the clock speed of the pentium m i had)

2 gigs ram (a must for photoshop, and definately helps when running multiple apps)

7600GS (less than $100, plays 1 and 2 yr old games at max settings)

I cannot tell you how much of an upgrade this was. in terms of percieved performance, i EASILY tripled what my pentium m was able to do. would a conroe or kentsfield have increased my performance a bit more? sure...but, in a year when the prices for them come down a bit, i throw in a couple more gigs of ram, and a midrange dx10 gpu....maybe i will get another big boost.

unless playing the latest, and greatest games at the highest settings is of paramount importance to you, id recommend taking a couple of steps back from the bleeding edge and build a value computer, with a mobo that has and upgrade path.

when im ready to upgrade, im going to take my d805 and the 7600gs, and build a file server out of it with and a (by then) clearance priced LGA775 mobo.

thats my 2 cents. im sure others will have differing opinions.
August 4, 2006 2:48:05 PM

Quote:
I was in a similar situation to you about 2 months ago.

I had a 1.5ghz pentium m, with 512 meg ram, and was trying to run photoshop cs2 on 11megapixel files. not a good combination.

after struggling with the same issues you are, i came to this decision for the reasons in parentheses

asus p5w dh (expensive top notch mobo, but built around an existing, proven chipset. built in support for core 2, and from what i hear kentsfield if i choose to upgrade when price and availability are reasonable).

d805 (cheap, dual cores, nearly twice the clock speed of the pentium m i had)

2 gigs ram (a must for photoshop, and definately helps when running multiple apps)

7600GS (less than $100, plays 1 and 2 yr old games at max settings)

I cannot tell you how much of an upgrade this was. in terms of percieved performance, i EASILY tripled what my pentium m was able to do. would a conroe or kentsfield have increased my performance a bit more? sure...but, in a year when the prices for them come down a bit, i throw in a couple more gigs of ram, and a midrange dx10 gpu....maybe i will get another big boost.

unless playing the latest, and greatest games at the highest settings is of paramount importance to you, id recommend taking a couple of steps back from the bleeding edge and build a value computer, with a mobo that has and upgrade path.

when im ready to upgrade, im going to take my d805 and the 7600gs, and build a file server out of it with and a (by then) clearance priced LGA775 mobo.

thats my 2 cents. im sure others will have differing opinions.



I hear ya.
I just upgraded to a x2 and very happy. My single core would not allow me to multi task(serious multi task). As soon as I got it I encoded video and played games at same time and that all I realy needed. $145 well spent. As for vista and dx10, it will be about 3+ years before I upgrade my comp for them. My x800gto for $80 is doing just fine.
August 4, 2006 2:54:55 PM

Your looking at the maturity of the product, when all the bugs are worked out. Granted when things first come out, there are always bugs, but then again at no time in the market there aren't any bugs. I decided to go with the Opteron because of maturity of the product, but then I also got a 7600gt when it first came out. It all depends on the quality and your comfortability with the manufacturer of the product. If you feel that Core2 isn't ready for you, or that the motherboards aren't quality enough then don't buy. If you like what you see, then take a chance on it.

Its called Moore's Law, technology squares every 2 years. I'm sure everyone here knows that M$ already has the next OS, after Vista, in the works, or is being designed on the table as we speak, prob. dealing with 128bit. That is the nature of technology, love it or leave it. Either way you'll be outdated as soon as you buy, and if you don't, your just further behind. If your computer does what you want it to do, great; if it doesn't, fork up the money and buy things that do what you want it to do. Either way you have to deal with what you have.
August 4, 2006 3:32:54 PM

Isnt' this the age-old problem with this technology? I've struggled with this question so many times over the years that I've lost count! :D 

In my situation, I have a fairly fast PC that I use for my home business. However, I'm interested in putting together an HTPC. So, since the power and heat problem is so much less with the new Core 2 Duo, I've decided to go ahead with an ASUS P5B, E6700, 2 G Ram, etc, etc, for the business PC and use my Northwood 3.06 G processer and it's MB for my HTPC "experiments". What the heck: Whatever we buy today will be obsolete in a few months anyway. That's just how it is!

--Bob Harris
August 4, 2006 3:34:52 PM

i was very close to going with a tyan dual socket mobo and an pair of 2 series opty's for the very reason you state. no one (no matter much of a fanboy they are) can debate the quality of the opteron products.
August 4, 2006 3:40:50 PM

Fox_granit: Its called Moore's Law, technology squares every 2 years.

Close. It says transistor counts double every 18 months.
August 4, 2006 4:40:18 PM

Ahhh but I'm applying it to technology as a whole. And if were really going to get technical, this would not just apply to electronics, look at technology as a whole throughout mankind. We always have had an exponential growth in knowledge, except for the dark ages.
August 4, 2006 4:48:45 PM

Everything is up for debate, esp. with fanboys, but yeah with a 939pin opty dualcore, that can overclock easier than a 3800 x2. At the time, it was close to the same price as a 3800 X2, easy choice, now with the lower price difference, i dunno. Still its all up to what you want it to do, and how much your willing to spend to do it. The same was said for the steam train in the early 1900's when converting to diesel. All about what your getting for your investment, and how far you can go with it.
August 4, 2006 5:06:58 PM

Quote:
Fox_granit: Its called Moore's Law, technology squares every 2 years.

Close. It says transistor counts double every 18 months.


Was he calling me a tech square?
August 4, 2006 5:34:01 PM

I think the only worst time to upgrade is when you are flat broke!
August 4, 2006 6:22:30 PM

There is never a best time. No matter what you buy, it will be obsolete tomorrow. Don't count on what might be made in the future, cause that future might not happen. Look how many times that Microsoft has announced a release date for Vista, which is required to run DX10. Then it gets delayed. If you want to live in the future, you'll never get to live in the today.

Your old Pentium is clearly in need of updating if you want to run today's programs. Sure, something's always going to come out that's better. So what? If you decide to wait until 2007 to update, remember two things; in 2007, newer and better technology will be waiting in the wings, so do you continue to wait for the better stuff or what? Second, who knows if Vista/DX10 will actually be out this time next year. Microsoft could suddenly announce that its waiting for the following Christmas season, and then announce that its going to wait until 2008 because the computer companies can't ramp up in time for the Christmas season, add nausium. Personally, I'll believe that Vista is out when I see it on the selves and not a second sooner.

As Chuck said, the worst time to upgrade is when you're broke. Other than that, just do some research, buy the best hardware that you can, and be done with it.
August 4, 2006 7:42:49 PM

if i was it would have been 69 squared lol :lol:  :wink:
August 4, 2006 10:27:53 PM

I've decided to get 2 new HDDs and split the workload betwen 3 old PCs in that way freeing up my current PC a bit. So it gives me a U$160 upgrade :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
August 4, 2006 11:13:59 PM

overclocking anyone? that 2800 will surly goto 3400's and maybe a new video card and that will put some life into it for the next ~6 months

otherwise the core 2 duo's are the way to go and fork out the extra $$$ for the 7900GT
August 4, 2006 11:14:41 PM

I'm just trying to get the most out of the PC I already have. It's pointless (unless you are swimming in money) to upgrade all your components everytime something better comes out. I'm perfectly content to make the most of what I have, upgrading my GPU every year or two until my computer is totally obsolete. After 2 years with my 9800 pro, I finally upgraded my GPU and RAM to last me for another year or so. It seems to me that this is what most of us are doing. Am I wrong?
August 4, 2006 11:17:58 PM

The key, and this applies to a lot of things, not just technology, is to buy just behind the bleeding edge where bargains can be had.

Not a X2 5000+ but maybe a 4200+. Not a nForce 590 but maybe a nForce 4. Not a X1900XTX but a X1900XT or X1800XT

All fully functional and still blazing performance, but just 10% off the fastest stuff out there for $30 or 40% savings.

I buy cars that way- 1 year old and about 10k miles. Still has a ton of warranty but I save a lot from new (I saved almost $21,000 from MSRP when I bought my SUV a couple years ago- so in reality $7-8k by picking one that was 9 months old and fully loaded)

Using the same philosophy, I picked up a Athlon64 X2 4200+, an Asus A8R-MVP, and a X1900XT for about $525, all brand new though. Just not the bleeding edge gear. I probably saved $500+ from going with a 5000+, A8R32-MVP,and X1900XTX. And I lose what? 5%? 10% performance? I can live with that.
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