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Future-proofing for the long haul

Last response: in Systems
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August 31, 2011 12:19:40 AM

First off, I love this site! I've been a lurker for years, and slacking off reading up at work has saved my company (and the IT department) many dollars. I've always found the answer to my questions just by surfing about the site, and the forum in particular. I have a new one that I haven't seen addressed & seek the Collective's Wisdom.
Background:
My home PC tactic, since about 2001 (after being badly burned buying a *NEW* $1,000 Compaq running Win ME), has been to rescue abandoned screwed up, infected, or damaged 3 or 4 year old systems from friends or family, clean them up, maybe add some memory & bits I have laying about, and run the thing til it's so obsolete that no amount of cleanup will make it friendly to use. I've got, on average, 2 years' use before they become so besotted, so aggravating, that I have to search out a new crappy (slightly obsolete, usually just ill-cared-for/bloated/infected) system to replace it. Their carcasses are shoved into the closet until I need a mouse/ hard drive/ P/S /IDE cable-- yeah, they're that old). Or I pass them off on friends, so their toddlers can use MS Paint or something and play around.
Technology marches on. My latest acquisition, a 5 or 6 year old Dell Dimension with a 2.4Ghz Celeron, has been maxed out. I loaded it with 2GB memory (max for the mobo), replaced the crappy 40GB 5400rpm HDD with a 160GB 7200rpm Seagate. Reformatted XP to remove bloatware. It's slow. It's plodding. It drives me mad. It sits and thinks for a while about the spreadsheets I just tried to merge. It makes me throw things when I try to run Netflix. BTW, internet connection is consistently 8.9Mbps down/ 1.3 up. Should be fine for my current porpoises, but the poor old PC just can't hack it.
Before I delve into another hunt for a semi-crappy replacement (maybe something with a dual core processor) I had an almost-epiphany. Here lies the question:
For a semi-geek like myself, who surfs the net, runs giant spreadsheet applications (Access, Excel mostly) and wants to watch movies in full 1080p on a 65" LCD TV, without interruption, is it possible to (economically) future-proof a PC build? If I spend ~$1,000, the thing has got to work (plus $$ for occasional hardware failures/upgrades/replacements) 8 or hopefully 10 years to make it economically viable. Is it possible?
Other notes on desired performance:
--not going 3D (see games, below)
--not a gamer (unless you count Redneck Rampage as a modern gaming app)
--plugged into HDMI and anticipating advances in online-based movies/TV/video/ media/ internet speeds

I have done a little preliminary research, whattaya think about these fundamentals:
--Intel i7 2600 cpu
--Asus P8P67 B3 mobo
--Crucial C300 128GB boot drive
--Seagate Sata3 1TB HDD
--video card: TBD
--memory: TBD
--case: TBD
--P/S: TBD
--O/S: Win7 64 bit (premium? Pro? Does it matter?)

I'm not afraid to spend money down the road on upgrades to keep it current-- but I hate the idea of tossing the thing in 5 years because it can't be upgraded. Thanks for all your idears, I look forward to the challenge!

Jim

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August 31, 2011 2:53:15 AM

I wouldn't spend anywhere near $1000 to get what you want. I'd go with either 1155 or FM1. Ivy Bridge will use 1155 and FM1 is a new socket. In either case get the lower end chip expecting to upgrade next generation (Ivy bridge/trinity if it is FM1) Stick with a major brand motherboard like the one you have as you'll get firmware upgrades. Go to the m4 rather than the c300, you'll want sata3 for the long hall.
I like seasonic supplies for longevity. Try integrated graphics first, and if needed step up to a low end mobo. I'd get win7 home premium. and any case that suits your fancy. I'd get 8gb ram right away, and expect to go to 16gb at some point.
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August 31, 2011 3:42:28 AM

ETK,
Thanks for the info! Regarding the mobo with 1155 socket, I'm assuming you mean I'd be okay (to start with) running one of intel's i3 cpus? I'm not familiar with the FM1-- been out of the game too long to keep up!
The mobo is really my biggest concern for longevity as far as upgradeability goes-- it'll have to support the most recent standards (now) so that it'll support the average/ basic standards later. If I go Intel (most of my experience is with their gear anyway) my primary concern would be that a year from now they'd unleash the "Socket 3199" chipset and I'd be left looking at yesterday's lunch. If Ivy Bridge is gonna be a 1155 socket, I'm sitting pretty for at least a couple years!
We've had very good results at work with Asus mobos, if the price & feature set is right I'd like to stick with them. Plus their-- ATX at least-- architecture is predictable to me.
The Asus mobo referenced is, as much as I've read anyway, wicked good as far as its integrated graphics go. Being able to upgrade CPU & add video later if needed is very appealing-- spend on a few fundamentals up front so I'm not building a new rig 3 years from now.
Good catch on the SSD-- hopefully I'd've caught it before I clicked "buy", but...well, probably I wouldn't've.
Thanks for your advice, I'll be scraping cash together for the build over the next few weeks. Further input/criticism/suggestions will be well-received!
Once the build is cobbled together, I'll share what "hell hath wrought!"

Jim
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September 4, 2011 1:31:47 AM

Graphics are on the CPU now, if you are concened about them, get the i3 2105 over the 2100, it's negligbly more expensive.
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September 6, 2011 10:09:15 PM

etk, thanks for the info!

JB
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September 15, 2011 4:48:24 AM

Best answer selected by jimmyangst.
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