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Why do people upgrade so frequently? Even lowend CPUs are fast enough!

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April 14, 2009 12:36:47 PM

HEADS UP: THIS TOPIC IS ABOUT CPUS ONLY.

Why do most people get the upgrade itch so often?

Nowadays there is such an immense variety of CPU power, that even for people who render video/graphics an ultra-fast CPU is more of a luxury than a necessity.

I think this happens because people don't realise they DON'T have to upgrade. Most people are driven by the "OMG IT'S NEW AND SHINY!" argument. Some people just gotta have the latest and greatest.

Those people don't realize that in the long run, they are throwming money away.

For example, I spent money on a whole new system back in October 2008. I went with an E8400. I'm really, REALLY happy with it. Do you even think i'm considering upgrading in the next 2 years? Of course not! I want this CPU to exhaust its horsepower, I want to get to a point where I can say "ok, this CPU has served me well".

Core i7, or Core i5 simply isn't on my upgrade path. My E8400 will gladly carry me along until the next big thing comes (sandy brigde, most likely). This way, I will allow my current CPU to make up for the money I spent on it, I just think of it as an investment, and I want to milk it till its dry.

I'm a gamer, and I consider myself a gamer even if I don't have the latest and greatest. And I honestly don't believe that my current E8400 will leave me dry in the next 2 years. Especially when overclocked.

This may be just a matter of mentality, but it doesn't make any sense to me spending hundreds of dollars (euros in my case) on a computer, only to be upgrading in the next few months to a new CPU that may be newer, but isn't all that fast over the one you had.

Just let your hardware live its lifecycle.

Nowadays it seems people don't even keep their hardware long enough to enjoy it.

It boggles me why people with high-end Duos and Quads want desperatly to move to i7 for example. Don't they realise that their current CPUs is more than enough anything? This complements what I said earlier: a faster CPU is most often a luxury rather than a necessity. Unless you're a speed freak, I guess.

Opinions?
April 14, 2009 12:47:21 PM

Controversial.....

Look at it this way. There are 4 kinds of PC / CPU buyers:

1. People who replace when their systems are getting too slow to comfortably run new software. They buy around every 4 years. That's about right.

2. Hobby buyers. People use PCs as a hobby. And why not? Cheaper than cars any day of the week and yet that's seen as normal.

3. Upgraders: Mid way to replacing. Use their PCs heavily and want / need better performance.

4. Professional users - who need permanent performance increases. If someone is spending day in day out rendering and a CPU upgrade knocks 20% time off each process then over a year they'll save a fortune in time and it becomes cost effective.

None of the above categories should be told 'not to buy another cpu or pc'. It's their right!

That said I would say that in some cases better maintenance of their equipment may negate the need to upgrade.....
April 14, 2009 1:02:56 PM

We are all different creatures with different habits. For the most part I am with you, that most upgrades are not really necessary. There's not much gain in speed and speed alone has never been enough for me to upgrade. I always look for features in either the CPU or sub-components like the GPU. Therefore I might complete an upgrade cycle every 1.5 years Mobo/CPU & RAM, I try to carry where I can and half way along the track the gpu. Although with the new tech the upgrade cycle is stretching out as like you said everything out in the past year and a bit is in reality plenty fast enough. I to could put a Deneb in to replace the current X2, but this cpu is just mollesting Vista 64 and is having absolutely no trouble with any games or any software. Might not be as fast as some, but i'm hardly growing grey hair while i'm waiting either. So no upgrade for me in the short term either, although I will replace a GT8800 with a 4850 which sounds a bit iffy, but this relates to an issue I am having with Far Cry 64 graphic texture breakup that I can't seem to fix plaguing me on the green deamon, that I hope team red can fix. Same problem does not exisit on the 3870 so here's fingers crossed and hoping i'm on the right track with this one, tried just about everything else I can think of.
April 14, 2009 1:17:07 PM

harna said:
We are all different creatures with different habits. For the most part I am with you, that most upgrades are not really necessary. There's not much gain in speed and speed alone has never been enough for me to upgrade. I always look for features in either the CPU or sub-components like the GPU. Therefore I might complete an upgrade cycle every 1.5 years Mobo/CPU & RAM, I try to carry where I can and half way along the track the gpu. Although with the new tech the upgrade cycle is stretching out as like you said everything out in the past year and a bit is in reality plenty fast enough. I to could put a Deneb in to replace the current X2, but this cpu is just mollesting Vista 64 and is having absolutely no trouble with any games or any software. Might not be as fast as some, but i'm hardly growing grey hair while i'm waiting either. So no upgrade for me in the short term either, although I will replace a GT8800 with a 4850 which sounds a bit iffy, but this relates to an issue I am having with Far Cry 64 graphic texture breakup that I can't seem to fix plaguing me on the green deamon, that I hope team red can fix. Same problem does not exisit on the 3870 so here's fingers crossed and hoping i'm on the right track with this one, tried just about everything else I can think of.



I agree with upgrading the GPU along the way. That's what I plan to do.

But GPUs become obsolete much faster than CPUs.

Right now I have an E8400 paired with an 8800GT on the rig I built last October. Until I replace this machine as a whole somewhere in 2011, this CPU will have seen many GPUs.
April 14, 2009 1:54:33 PM

Well yes, upgrading from an E8400 to anything isnt cost effective. E8400 isnt 'low end' tho. Pentium Dual-core, Celeron, and old Pentium D are low end. The performance gain from upgrading one of those chips to i7 would be quite significant.
April 14, 2009 2:01:47 PM

Trouble is though Nightsilencer, that we are still waiting for proper multi-threaded 64 bit optimised software that is promised to run better on these cpus than today and yesterdays software. Vista 64 has demonstrated to me just how much more power can be extracted from todays cpu's. Most games are bottlenecked in the ultra hi res's by the GPU anyway. I like to screw the graphics up to top delivery to see what i'm missing. If i'm missing fun bits I load up on a new gpu/system or both if need be, I earn good money, so if I like I can blow a bit. In fact I have back-graded from a quad to X2 contrary against advice from popular reviews, slotting the X2 in, no other changes, no re-format, I actually nearly doubled some frame rates in some games I was playing. They just were not optimised for quad, the lower MHz hurt the performance. I have seen Far Cry 2 running full tilt on a faster quad, I built it for a family member and bought him the game, and guess what I'm still not missing anything on the X2, slightly lower graphics maybe, but not detail. I'd really like to see software that can really use todays setups much better, this benchmarking on optimised software and drivers is starting to get dangerously misleading IMO.
April 14, 2009 2:07:24 PM

I think some people do it for bragging rights and some people do it due to peer pressure, for instance just some months back the core 2 quads were the creme de la creme of the cpu's and then the i7 came out and many core 2 quad owners felt that their system was obsolete (even though it really isn't) and thus the cycle begins again, soon the i5's will come out and people are gonna rush there too ("whhoo ahhh a nehalem chip for 200 + dollars) then a new set of amd chips will come out and people will move there and then the six core 32 nm chips will come out and the cycle will start again,it takes a certain level of maturity to understand that computing and gaming does not require you to have the latest and coolest but some people don't see it that way.
April 14, 2009 2:16:58 PM

rooseveltdon said:
I think some people do it for bragging rights and some people do it due to peer pressure, for instance just some months back the core 2 quads were the creme de la creme of the cpu's and then the i7 came out and many core 2 quad owners felt that their system was obsolete (even though it really isn't) and thus the cycle begins again, soon the i5's will come out and people are gonna rush there too ("whhoo ahhh a nehalem chip for 200 + dollars) then a new set of amd chips will come out and people will move there and then the six core 32 nm chips will come out and the cycle will start again,it takes a certain level of maturity to understand that computing and gaming does not require you to have the latest and coolest but some people don't see it that way.


My point exactly! Excelent reply.

a b à CPUs
April 14, 2009 3:32:08 PM

I'm sticking with my OC'd QX9650 until the next socket, which will probably be the arch AFTER Sandy Bridge.
a c 100 à CPUs
April 14, 2009 3:51:18 PM

nightsilencer said:
HEADS UP: THIS TOPIC IS ABOUT CPUS ONLY.

Why do most people get the upgrade itch so often?


Here are a few reasons I can think of:

1. It's their hobby and they enjoy building machines, so they work on theirs a lot. Like another poster said, it's just like the people who are constantly working on/adding things to their cars, houses (re-decorating/renovating), etc.

2. Bragging rights

3. They run software that is very bloated (Adobe applications, Crysis) and does not run very well on current CPUs, so they upgrade whenever they can to make the software run less poorly.

4. They are starting to do different things with their computer from when they originally built it. For example, a guy with a single-core P4 isn't even going to try to transcode HDTV into H.264. But if he got a Q6600 in an upgrade over the old P4, now he can do that and may spend a lot of time doing that new activity. The Core i7s are much faster at that than the Core 2 Quads, so he very well might upgrade his Q6600 to an i7 920 to get a decent performance boost. Or, perhaps somebody decided to turn their desktop into a Media Center-type machine and needs to get a new case and power supply to support the extra hard drives required. Or the person needs more RAM than their motherboard supports because of a new program. Etc. etc. etc.

5. They run high-performance computing applications that run for days or weeks on end, so small performance increases result in a non-trivial amount of time saved. I guess this also goes along with the encoding example in #4.

6. A main component or multiple components in their setup broke or was destroyed, such as what might happen when a power supply dies, there is a big power surge, or a watercooling setup has a massive leak. If core parts of your system are gone, you're going to buy new.

Quote:
Nowadays there is such an immense variety of CPU power, that even for people who render video/graphics an ultra-fast CPU is more of a luxury than a necessity.


It depends. I'll use rendering as an example. If doing CG work is your job, you will need to meet deadlines and you very well may have to upgrade one-year-old chips to brand-new ones to meet them. Ditto for people compiling ever-bigger software that they're working on. People who play computer games frequently need to upgrade their hardware to even play the games they want to play if their machines are more than a couple of years old. I'll grant you that most home users and office users do not need to upgrade very frequently, but there are some legitimate needs for upgrades of still-relatively-new parts.

Quote:
I think this happens because people don't realise they DON'T have to upgrade. Most people are driven by the "OMG IT'S NEW AND SHINY!" argument. Some people just gotta have the latest and greatest.

Those people don't realize that in the long run, they are throwming money away.


That is true in some cases, but you can't paint everybody with the same brush.

Quote:
For example, I spent money on a whole new system back in October 2008. I went with an E8400. I'm really, REALLY happy with it. Do you even think i'm considering upgrading in the next 2 years? Of course not! I want this CPU to exhaust its horsepower, I want to get to a point where I can say "ok, this CPU has served me well".

Core i7, or Core i5 simply isn't on my upgrade path. My E8400 will gladly carry me along until the next big thing comes (sandy brigde, most likely). This way, I will allow my current CPU to make up for the money I spent on it, I just think of it as an investment, and I want to milk it till its dry.

I'm a gamer, and I consider myself a gamer even if I don't have the latest and greatest. And I honestly don't believe that my current E8400 will leave me dry in the next 2 years. Especially when overclocked.

This may be just a matter of mentality, but it doesn't make any sense to me spending hundreds of dollars (euros in my case) on a computer, only to be upgrading in the next few months to a new CPU that may be newer, but isn't all that fast over the one you had.


Your system is still very new and can easily run most software you'd want to run on your computer. If you want an example of keeping hardware a long time, look at my machine. It's a socket 939 Athlon 64 X2 4200+ with 4 GB RAM that I got more than three years ago. The only upgrades I did on it are to stick in an additional, bigger hard drive and swapped out the original graphics card for a Radeon 3850. That last upgrade was only done so I could put the original and *far* quieter card in a machine I built for my parents. If you want to know how it performs, it just barely gets by with playing YouTube HD video and over-the-air MPEG-2 files. I can't play much of anything H.264/MPEG-4 that's bigger than standard-definition. Transcoding video is a leave-it-overnight affair and compressing backup snapshots using a multithreaded compression tool (pbzip2) takes many hours as well. And that is running on 64-bit Linux where my CPU gains a bit in performance over the standard XP 32-bit setup that others would have put on my machine when it was built.

Quote:
Just let your hardware live its lifecycle.

Nowadays it seems people don't even keep their hardware long enough to enjoy it.


Absolutely. This machine will become my HTPC when it gets replaced in another two years. By the way, my HTPC is powered by an Athlon XP 3200+ on an ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe, both of which are over five years old. That CPU and motherboard were a friend's that he was giving away and replaced my original HTPC setup of a 900 MHz Pentium III-based Celeron on an AOpen Socket 370 board with 256 MB RAM. I got the K7 stuff a few months ago, so I was running some ~10-year-old stuff until just recently.

Quote:
It boggles me why people with high-end Duos and Quads want desperatly to move to i7 for example. Don't they realise that their current CPUs is more than enough anything? This complements what I said earlier: a faster CPU is most often a luxury rather than a necessity. Unless you're a speed freak, I guess.


Apart from what I said above, I can easily understand somebody wanting to move from a high-end Core 2 Duo to a quad-core Core i7. The reason people got high-end Core 2 Duos is because they want good single-threaded performance without shelling out a bunch more money on an equivalently-clocked Core 2 Quad, which very well may have to be a Core 2 Extreme to reach the same clock speeds. If they start running new applications that are more heavily multithreaded than before (such as a new game), then the doubling of cores can yield a performance increase that's greater than the single-threaded performance increase from a five-year-old CPU to a brand-new CPU. However, if you're upgrading from a Core 2 Quad to a Core i7, then it really only makes sense if you run applications that the i7 is significantly faster than the C2Q and your CPU spends a lot of its time fully-loaded. Video encoding and rendering would be an example.
a c 83 à CPUs
April 14, 2009 3:59:51 PM

Well I've got 2 computers and have managed to purchase 3 motherboards and 4 processors in the last 13 months for them.

Initially I replaced 2 socket 754 builds with a 780G/Athlon X2 and 790GX/Athlon X2. My 780G board was an early version and the northbridge ran ridiculously hot and gave me problems overclocking, I sold it and one of my Athlon X2 and picked up a 7750 and new 780G board. I have since decided to go quad core because I do a lot of 3ds max rendering so I picked up a Phenom 9850 and it easily cut my rendering time in half. I'm thinking of turning my current gaming rig into a workstation since it's used as one regularly anyways and build myself a new gaming rig based on AM3 using the Phenom II 955. Depending on the price of the upcoming Athlon II X4 I might throw one of them into my HTPC just because I can.

My upgrades at this point really aren't needed, most everything I do I can still do on my 3 1/2 year old laptop. I guess I'm just impatient or enjoy playing around with computer hardware too much.
April 14, 2009 4:28:37 PM

I've managed to strech the life of my Q6600 with upgrades over time, can't see any point in upgrading till software catches up. I've found that incrimentally upgrading the rest of a PC and overclocking is usually the best way of staying relatively up to date without spending too much money.

CPU Q6600 2.4Ghz -> 3Ghz -> 3.2Ghz
MOBO P5K-E
HSF Blue orb2 -> Hyper TX2
RAM 2GB -> 4GB
HDD 250GB -> 2X 250GB -> 2X250GB & 1TB
PSU 530w Hiper -> 700W Thermaltake
GPU 8800GTS 320 -> GTX260 216
April 14, 2009 8:33:30 PM

" I guess I'm just impatient or enjoy playing around with computer hardware too much."

so this a best answer for the topic question: it applies to most of us :D  who can deny ??
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2009 8:38:16 PM

I upgrade CPU's only when they become the bottleneck on my GPU solution. For example, most SLI/CF setups bottleneck on everything up to i7 (i7's huge lead in mult-GPU configs is clear proof of this). For a single GPU, that bottleneck occurs somewhere around a 2.6 Duo, give or take depending on the exact setup.

Hence why duo's are near dead in my opinion. Starting with the next generation of cards (6 months), I expect Duos to bottleneck all new single GPU solutions.
April 14, 2009 8:41:30 PM

gamerk316 said:
I upgrade CPU's only when they become the bottleneck on my GPU solution. For example, most SLI/CF setups bottleneck on everything up to i7 (i7's huge lead in mult-GPU configs is clear proof of this). For a single GPU, that bottleneck occurs somewhere around a 2.6 Duo, give or take depending on the exact setup.

Hence why duo's are near dead in my opinion. Starting with the next generation of cards (6 months), I expect Duos to bottleneck all new single GPU solutions.


the i7's huge "lead" in multi gpu solutions is actually somewaht overhyped in most benchmarks the lead is not so huge over phenom 2's or high end core 2 quads and duos,it is a better cpu at handling demanding applications and multi threaded programs as well as multi tasking but when it comes to gaming and scaling with graphics card the lead is soooo huge at all
April 14, 2009 8:41:50 PM

gamerk316 said:
I upgrade CPU's only when they become the bottleneck on my GPU solution. For example, most SLI/CF setups bottleneck on everything up to i7 (i7's huge lead in mult-GPU configs is clear proof of this). For a single GPU, that bottleneck occurs somewhere around a 2.6 Duo, give or take depending on the exact setup.

Hence why duo's are near dead in my opinion. Starting with the next generation of cards (6 months), I expect Duos to bottleneck all new single GPU solutions.


the i7's huge "lead" in multi gpu solutions is actually somewaht overhyped in most benchmarks the lead is not so huge over phenom 2's or high end core 2 quads and duos,it is a better cpu at handling demanding applications and multi threaded programs as well as multi tasking but when it comes to gaming and scaling with graphics card the lead is soooo huge at all
April 14, 2009 8:57:59 PM

nightsilencer said:
HEADS UP: THIS TOPIC IS ABOUT CPUS ONLY.

Why do most people get the upgrade itch so often?

Opinions?


cuz it's fun to buy new stuff !

it's an adult toy that doesn't vibrate & doesn't need AA batteries. :pt1cable: 
April 14, 2009 9:12:53 PM

gamerk316 said:
I upgrade CPU's only when they become the bottleneck on my GPU solution. For example, most SLI/CF setups bottleneck on everything up to i7 (i7's huge lead in mult-GPU configs is clear proof of this). For a single GPU, that bottleneck occurs somewhere around a 2.6 Duo, give or take depending on the exact setup.

Hence why duo's are near dead in my opinion. Starting with the next generation of cards (6 months), I expect Duos to bottleneck all new single GPU solutions.



Sooner or later even Quads, especially those with lower clocks, will start to bottleneck single GPUs.

However, I think that is still a bit far. Even for a speedy Duo, a single GPU solution won't be bottlenecked anytime soon; at least not in 6 months certainly. If you use multi GPU though, you're better off with an i7, no doubt.

But people with (fast) Duos and single GPUs don't need to worry for at least another full year.

And even then. just OC the CPU and most bottlenecks will be eliminated for another significant amount of time or at least become seriously less noticeable.

P.S:

Since I have a Duo myself, I am very interested in knowing how much time of "useful life" I can expect from my E8400 in terms of gaming.

Give me a realistic prognosis: don't forget multi core support has been taking way too long to become a standard. And there are no signs that it is speeding up. I think Even a duo will be fine a couple of years from now.


What do you think?
a c 100 à CPUs
April 14, 2009 9:53:55 PM

gamerk316 said:

Hence why duo's are near dead in my opinion. Starting with the next generation of cards (6 months), I expect Duos to bottleneck all new single GPU solutions.


The bottleneck is only important if the CPU can't feed the GPU to deliver playable framerates at your monitor's resolution. Who cares if your CPU is only fast enough to load the GPU to 80% if you're pushing 100 fps? My system is very much CPU-bottlenecked as I've never seen my HD 3850 exceed about 75% load no matter what I do, although my stock X2 4200+ is frequently pegged at 100% on at least one of its cores. I don't care as it is still good enough to do a minimum of 40 fps at 1920x1080 in the most demanding game I play (Enemy Territory: Quake Wars).

The point is that you're going to always have a bottleneck somewhere. You just need to upgrade when the bottleneck becomes tight enough to result in too-low overall performance. I suppose a better way to put what you are saying is that it would not be smart to upgrade the GPU any further without upgrading the CPU once you have identified the CPU as the bottleneck...but keep the system as a whole until the performance of the entire system is too low.
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