I've been building/upgrading my own computers since I got my original IBM PC many many years ago. That is the only computer I've ever purchased new, but also many years ago I did buy a used 386DX/25 system once. Otherwise I've always just replaced the parts that I wanted to or needed to.
So- how do you guys do it? Do you get tired of your computer and build a whole new box? Do you just replace CPU/mobo? Upgrade individual components one at a time?
I just realized that my current computer CPU/mobo is nearing 7 years old. (I don't do any gaming, but I'm starting to run Photoshop.) The OS and hard drives in the machine are newer, maybe a few components are even older. I don't like to push my hard drives beyond a couple of years so I'm thinking about upgrading them, and now with Photoshop I really need more RAM and processor power. There's not much in the current machine I could keep, so for only the second time in my life I'm faced with possibly replacing the whole thing at once. (Wow, I could just call Dell and order one, but what would be the fun in that?)
I started with the IBM 4.77MHZ PC, upgraded hard drives in several steps from 20Mb up to 60Mb. Sold it and got the 386DX-25. Upgraded hard drives through IDE, ESDI, and ATA up to about 20Gb, and CPU's through 486DX2/66 and a Cyrix Pentium clone, to my present AMD (Sempron?). The last upgrade a couple of years ago installed twin 250Gb WD drives and upped the OS to WinXP.
I usually build a whole new box.
I am reluctant to dismantle my working PC until The replacement is good and ready.
I will dismantle my backup PC and reuse common parts like the case, psu, dvd, etc.
Put in the new mobo, cpu, hard drive, etc and build the OS.
When the new one goes into production, the old one becomes my backup. It is nice to have a working repository of files which I might have forgotten.
If one of my kids has a need for a new PC, that accelerates the process, and they get my last, best PC.
In the past, if I wanted to upgrade, I'd give my current system to a family member and then build new. Now, there's no one left in my family who needs a computer, at least not one like my current rig.
I am beginning to consider a GPU upgrade, but I'm trying to resist, at least until / unless I discover that Guild Wars 2, Diablo III, Dragon Age: Origins, or some other title I want would really benefit from it. Then I'll probably get a 4850.
1. Try to sneak up on it and slip in a new part without the rest of the PC finding out.
That method never works for me. What happens is next week or month the PC will find out you tried to sneak one in and it will start rejecting other components at random. Just like fixing the plumbing under the sink. By the time your done you have replaced everything.
2. Buy everything new. Keep old PC for back-up or give to a needy person.
> Try to sneak up on it and slip in a new part without the rest of the PC finding out.
I am the MASTER of my PC- it knows not to pull that on me! I and only I know where the screwdrivers and wirecutters are! Seriously I have decided to upgrade a part and had to upgrade 2 or 3 more just so everything would work together, like 7 years ago when I upgraded mobo and my PCI video card wouldn't work anymore.
I've done a lot of upgrading, and sometimes I look around and realize if I only had one or 2 more parts I could build a second PC, so I buy the parts and complete that machine, then sell it off. I end up with very few spare parts laying around that way. A year ago I noticed a computer setting in my closet and opened it up, it was pretty complete except for hard drive. I dug in the drawer and found a small hard drive, put it in and the machine booted Dos 7.0!
This time I'm going to build a whole new system. Cause I realized that most of the time when you keep upgrading parts you'll eventually has spent half the cost of your current build.
My next build will be a total of $1,300, my current build was $702 and my previous build was $548. Three PC in the past 3.5 years, my wife has stopped trying to make sense of it all.
Anyway, I'll try to maximize this next build so that way I won't have to upgrade/ make a new custom built PC for three years. The only parts I need to finish the new build is:
a full ATX case,my 2nd Seagate 7200.10 hard drive, a 790 FX mobo, a 9850 BE or 9950 BE, my 22" widescreen monitor and a HD4850 or HD 4870.
I already have a: 950 watt (100% modular) power supply, 4GB of DDR2 1066 RAM (two sticks), two copper heat spreaders, 80 GB SATA-I Maxtor HD, 250 GB Sata-II Seagate 7200.10 hard drive, one 120mm blue led thermaltake fan and three 80mm Black fans
If you must upgrade I would spent the money on a GPU and a PSU. If you buy the right gpu/psu it can last you almost 3 years. I have friends who are still using there 2900 XT, 7950 GX2 quad SLI and 7900 GTO sli to play today's games.
I go for what gives me the best performance V price. If it makes sense from a cost standpoint to upgrade, then I upgrade whatever the weakest component is...CPU, videocard, etc. I stay somewhat behind the tech curve and wait until prices drop to a reasonable level and usually upgrade a component every six to eight months. My systems never get too far out of date, so I usually only build a new one when it makes sense to do so (that is, no more viable upgrade paths). As an example, both my systems are E2180's OC'd to 3GHz and work well for my needs. When the price of the E5200 drops to the $70 price point early next year, I'll likely pick it up and OC to 3.6GHz or so. That should hold me for another year anyway...then it'll be time for a new box, as dual core and socket 775 will be dead by then. As for hard drives, I replace them every three years and also image them with Ghost.
I love just upgrading random parts on a whim, I never really have top of the line, but it always works for me. This next time, I am doing a complete overhall though, Going quad core when i upgrade next time.