I have 3 things I'm considering at the moment. The first is upgrading my temporary 2 GB 1333 RAM and CPU fan. The second is upgrading my video card as I can't play back H.264-encoded 1080i video at 29.97 in Virtual Dub for editing (my system just can't decompress fast enough). The third is replacing my rather old 4- to 6-year-old 500-watt power supply with 7000 to 11,000 total hours of use (the latter case is a calculated estimate).
As to the second case (the first is low priority at the moment), currently, I'm using the GeForce 7600 GT video card, quite dated and seems unable to play back 1080i HD video in Virtual Dub at true speed (it can't decompress H.264 video fast enough). Thus, I'm looking into upgrading it as I otherwise cannot reliably edit such video. I've been searching and doing research and I'm leaning toward the GeForce 550 Ti. About 2 to 4 years down the road, I may get into some mid-range 3D game design (instead of my current 2D). According to this site:
My target video card uses 152 watts of power at peak load which is 12 2/3 amps on the +12V rails (versus 36 watts for 3 amps with my current card). I have 2 hard drives (both SATA and 7200 RPM) as well (watts or amperage unknown). Given I have 44 total amps available on the 2 +12V rails, I should be fine with the 550 Ti.
However, another much more critical component, the power supply, may be a limiting factor and one aspect makes me wonder if I should upgrade it first - it's 4 to 6 years old with about 7000 to 11,000 total hours of use. Some days see only 10 total minutes of use, others get 12 to even 18+ hours in a single day depending on whether or not I'm playing my console games. I don't know what the longevity of power supplies is so I'm wondering if the age and usage are a problem that should be addressed first. I do have 2 hard drives, both of which are SATA 7200 RPM and I may get a 3 TB SATA 6.0 Gb/s hard drive later on down the road (video files are monsters and I have a lot of them). I have 5 criteria for choosing power supplies. The first and most important to me is efficiency. The second is safety features. The third is that it has very low noise. The fourth is that I get a single +12V rail. The fourth is that, obviously, it needs to work with my hardware and provide room for future upgrades. The fifth and least important is that I get a single +12V rail. This is why I'm leaning toward a 750 watt power supply.
To fill in the basics on the items themselves, this is what I have or what I'm considering:
The current PSU will welcome the GTX 550 just fine, no problem at all.
but if you wanna hook up more PCI cards,fans, HDDs, OC or upgrade to a high end GPU in future the Hale 90 is your best option.
Besides, +1 for your choose on the NZXT, a lot of people recommends the known brands such as Corsair and Antec and forget this great one.
I only have 2 fans - the power supply fan and the CPU fan, both standard. The only PCI card I have is the SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum (without the bay used - I never have a need for it). I also use a TV tuner (for recording my console game play with). I do tend to overclock my processor later on (when I upgrade the RAM and fan), though not much (from 3.4GHz to about 4 GHz is what I intend on though I'd rather raise the turbo boost cases instead to 4 GHz (or even 4.3 GHz), assuming that turbo boost kicks in when 100% CPU usage is encountered for extended time, such as encoding a long or complex video).
I generally don't care much for brands or even the looks. It's the function and quality that I care for the most. That video card's brand, ZOPAC, is a complete unknown to me along with the NZXT. It wasn't until I saw them while browsing Newegg that I found these and much of what I see are unknowns.
ZOTAC and NZXT are relative unknowns to me as I'm not familiar with them.
I'm leaning mostly toward replacing my power supply. This is mostly for the security of eventual future upgrades that I have in mind rather than the high total usage. However, there is one thing that bothers me with that power supply - will it work with my case? I don't know exactly what case I have, but this one on Newegg is almost identical to what mine is (there are a few slight differences, though only what the front part looks like though):
I can't tell if the fan is on the top of the power supply or the bottom. If it's on the bottom, then it should work. That power supply suits all my needs plus a bonus - it's modular so I can use only which ever wires I need rather than have extras hanging around inside the case (I don't really like that much).
I got a second look at the power supply and ran some angular calculations and I realize that the fan in this power supply points down which means it will definitely work with my case. Thanks for the answers. When funding becomes available again, that video card is next on my list. At least this way I can future-proof my system for another half decade (and the price of that video card will likely be considerably lower which is one reason why I leaned more toward upgrading/replacing the power supply).