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Durable computer parts?

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January 8, 2010 12:00:50 PM

What are the economically durable parts of a build? Let me clarify what I mean by economically durable.

Back in Econ 101, durable goods were those products which have a long service life; they sustain usefulness which in turn justifies (sometimes) a higher initial investment. Take for instance a car, would you spend $40,000 if the car lasts a year? Most people expect their car to be around in ten years or more, thus justifying the cost. Cars, fortunately, are not computers… yet—solid state engines?!?

Computer parts seem to become obsolete before their time… they don’t physically fail, as much as fall behind the technology curve and therefore must be replaced. So then, what part(s) on a computer will last? What components, if a proper investment is made, can I expect to carry forward to a new build?

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a c 103 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 12:51:36 PM

Case and Power supply. Optical drive over a period of time used to be CD then DVD now Blue ray. Hard drive over period of time used to be IDE, Sata 150, SataII, SSD lot of progress in size as well. The rest of the system is over the hill in two years!
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 12:52:05 PM

Case, optical drive (though you don't have to spend more on this), monitor, speakers, keyboard/mouse, PSU (maybe).

Other than the parts outside the tower, the case itself is easily the most durable. Case prices don't really change, and there isn't an obselesence factor. It's not like the technology change. If you're looking for specific parts, I would suggest the HAF 922. Right now it's $80 after rebate, and it's a huge case that will fit most everything.

Second after the case is the optical drive. The only reason you would need to buy a new one right now is the newer ones use SATA connectors instead of IDE and the IDE is diappearing. IDE has been around forever. The only reason opticals may not be durable is the new SATA III ports coming out. If this drastically changes opticals (which isn't likely), regular SATA drives may be obsolete in the essence that they aren't as powerful. Older drives could still be used. Right now, the best bet is to just buy the cheapest one. There isn't really a performance difference among the different models.

The PSU is a maybe because they can in fact wear out and become less powerful as time goes on. If you buy one now with lots of rails and 6/6+2 pin connectors, it should be good to go for a while. You won't need to get a huge one, as new tech generally uses less power than old tech, at least it does right now.

I'm also inclined to mention motherboards here as well. If planned right, and researched properly, with some luck, a single motherboard could last you through 2 builds. For example, if you were to have bought an LGA1366 board when the socket was first introduced, assuming you got one that supported 16x/16x Crossfire/SLI, you could potentiall upgrade in a few years to the upcoming Intel CPUs for a discounted price as they move into obsolesence. This would allow you to use the same board over probably 8 years. It is questionable that you could do the same thing now with the new USB 3/SATA III boards. I personally think you can. So a $300 investment now could still be used in 3-4 (or more) years.

If you're more of a pessimist, I would only count on being able to use the case, PSU and optical in your next tower.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 12:57:19 PM

I suppose that really depends on how often you build a new system. If you build every couple of years, then you can probably bring forward the case, power supply, optical drives and hard drives. Maybe the memory.

If you build once every five years, the probably only the case and power supply. Maybe the hard drives and optical drives.

If you build once every ten years, then you'll probably want to replace the entire system.

-Wolf sends
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:05:08 PM

Just so people are aware, IDE was developed in 1986. So it's taken 23 years for the technology to technically be obsolete. I'd say that's durable...

@Wolfshadow: You don't think in 10 years you'll be able to use the case?
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a c 103 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:09:56 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Just so people are aware, IDE was developed in 1986. So it's taken 23 years for the technology to technically be obsolete. I'd say that's durable...

@Wolfshadow: You don't think in 10 years you'll be able to use the case?

Yes but IDE33,66,100,133
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:18:44 PM

All of which can still be used, until they stop putting the connector on all motherboards. It has started, but it's rare to not see it on a board.

Introduced 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2005 respectively.

And do you really think SATA II is going to be incompatible in the next several years?

@OP: Technically, "durable" is a relative term. To be applied, a good just must be able to be reused. Thus, anything you use twice could be called a durable good. A "perfectly durable" good is one that never expires, as can realistically be said to not exist.

Realistically, the requirement to be offical considered a durable good is 3 years of use. Therefore, computers are considered durable goods. Any computer CAN be used for an extremely long time. For example, my Dad still uses an Apple IIe (26 years old).
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:28:14 PM

Quote:
@Wolfshadow: You don't think in 10 years you'll be able to use the case?


The full tower case I bought 12 years ago has a single small fan for cooling. While that may be sufficient for some uses as is, I'd probably need to modify it (add fan mountings) if I were to cram it full of today's components.

Me+Power tools=DOOM!!!

So, no. The case doesn't last more than 10 years, IMO. ;-)

-Wolf sends
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:31:46 PM

Made you just bought a bad full tower. Can you seriously say that one like the HAF 932 would be unusable in 10 years? It has 4 huge fans, and the tech is getting more efficient and running cooler.
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a c 103 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:44:58 PM

MadAdmiral said:
All of which can still be used, until they stop putting the connector on all motherboards. It has started, but it's rare to not see it on a board.

Introduced 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2005 respectively.

And do you really think SATA II is going to be incompatible in the next several years?

@OP: Technically, "durable" is a relative term. To be applied, a good just must be able to be reused. Thus, anything you use twice could be called a durable good. A "perfectly durable" good is one that never expires, as can realistically be said to not exist.

Realistically, the requirement to be offical considered a durable good is 3 years of use. Therefore, computers are considered durable goods. Any computer CAN be used for an extremely long time. For example, my Dad still uses an Apple IIe (26 years old).

My point is that even though the tech is there and is still compatible you will not use it because there are bigger better things out! My last IDE 66 drive was 40GB (big for its time) and 5400rpm do I still use it No!
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a c 103 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 1:50:33 PM

I actually have a box full of HDD from 8GB to 60GB and optical drives from CD-rom,DVD-rom, combo CDwriter DVD-rom. Why am I not using them because I have bigger and better things.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 2:01:53 PM

The point of durable goods isn't that you don't use them, it's that you could. Could you use the old IDE drives in current computers? Yes. Is it recommended? Of course not.

The question isn't about what older parts you should use in a new build, it's about what you COULD use. In the main example of cars, a Model T could still be drivent. It's definitely not better than any new car today, but it's usable. Since it's usable over a period of time, it is a durable good. It's just not a high performance good.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 4:09:33 PM

Quote:
Can you seriously say that one like the HAF 932 would be unusable in 10 years? It has 4 huge fans, and the tech is getting more efficient and running cooler.


If a new motherboard or power supply specification comes out, sure it would be unusable. Look at how much has changed in the last 10 years. Who can say what will happen over the next 10 years. Is it likely to happen? I doubt it, but then I would have said the same about IDE or AGP 7 years ago.

-Wolf sends
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 4:27:39 PM

They did try to come out with BTX. They may come up with a new standard and make it stick.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 8, 2010 7:37:00 PM

For a lot of components, I think it honestly depends on the timing of when you're buying a part as much as anything else.

Like, for example, if you bought a couple sticks of DDR3 RAM when it first came out, you could probably expect it to still have wide support (and be relevant) if you built a new machine a couple years from now. If you bought DDR3 for a new system right now, there's a good chance it'll be on its way out by your next build.

Or, in the case of graphics cards ... if you built a NEW system with a top-of-the-line card like a 5870 right now, chances are it won't be worth carrying over to a new build. If you upgraded a system in the MIDDLE of its life, chances are it will still be useful.

Other than that, like everyone says, cases, PSUs and maybe optical drives are the only things that you should expect to be relevant indefinitely. RAM, GPU and motherboards if you get lucky and buy them exactly at the right tipping point. And if you're carrying over the CPU, you're usually not building a "new" system anyway (and if you are, you probably should consider a new CPU!)
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