So, after an almost 5 year long hiatus from keeping up to date on desktop PC components and building my own PC, I'm starting to get back into it and am looking to build up a PC. The question I have is, what is the best way to reduce depreciation on PC components which are known to drop quickly in price while still retaining a speedy and quick machine that can do regular work and hobby related stuff (architectural drafting and design as well as photo editing, perhaps video editing) as well as take the place of my Xbox360 and PS3. As I plan on doing gaming on it, I will need some sort of decent card-baed GPU solution. Either AMD or Nvidia solutions are acceptable, although I am leaning towards AMD as it seems like Eyefinity is a bit better than Nvidia's multi-monitor setup (I plan on using 3 at the moment). I understand that it will be impossible to fully eliminate depreciation of PC parts, but I would like to minimize it as much as possible while retaining a speedy computer.
Option 1: Purchase used, mid to high-end tier graphics card, perhaps a generation old. Mid-ranged graphics cards are usually the best deal when it comes to price erformance ration, and being used should hopefully bake some of that depreciation in. The highest end graphics cards usually have a huge price premium for the relatively small gains in performance that they bring to the table, so would seem to depreciation quickly, especially when they are eclipsed by the newest generation of high end cards (GTX 590 vs GTX 480 for example). The gamers dropping that type of cash on a GTX 480 probably want the best thing, so are probably dumping these for a decent deal (for buyers) for the 590s, etc. These older, high end cards are still as good or better than newer generation mid-tier graphics cards.
Option 2: Purchase a new mid to high-end tier graphics card with my Mastercard which offers (up to 4 times a year at a max of $250 a purchase) price protection for 90 days. If I find a lower price on the same item within those 90 days, I can get a rebate through Mastercard for the difference. Rebates make this more attractive as those do not show up on the invoice that I have to submit. However, I am unfamiliar with how prices usually fall on graphics cards. I would imagine the price drops are larger on the expensive top tier cards, but don't really know how they fall or when (only when a new generation comes out, or do they fall over time regardless)? If it is per generation, what is that time frame? With 4 price protections per year, I was thinking of a bi-annual upgrade of both my CPU and my GPU.
Option 2 gives me a new card, but I suffer from more depreciation costs and might not get any noticeable return from my Mastercard benefit to ease that pain of depreciating used hardware. It's possible that I could score a honking deal on some used hardware and be able to sell it 6 months from now for what I purchased it for, but I run the risks associated with used hardware.
1) Re: buying used cards. Could get you a fair value. I sell my old cards on e-bay whenever I buy an upgrade. If you deal with an individual with good feedback, you can do OK. A used card will sell for perhaps 80% of the new price, at least for top end cards like the GTX580. If you buy used, you will not usually get any warranty. That is a risk you take, but mostly it is a small one.
2) How much graphics power will you need? A single GTX570 or 6970 will run a 1080P monitor very well for most games. If, however, you are planning on triple monitor gaming, you will need at least two of them to drive three monitors. If you have a game in mind that can use multi monitors(there seem to be not many) then plan accordingly. Regardless, get the power you need. If you don't, you will have spent too much.
3) Next year, the 28nm amd 7xxx series and nvidia kepler cards will show up. Perhaps in 2Q 2012. You can expect them to be stronger, cooler, and need less power. The will be priced according to what the traffic will bear. The graphics card market is very competitive. In general, you get the performance you pay for.
4) Your Mastercard price protection seems like a good deal. But if the price of your purchase goes down, it is likely because there is a better price performer on the market.
Not a bit deal if you are happy with your card, but a bummer if you would prefer to trade up. EVGA has a 90 day trade up program for many of their cards.
5) It is fruitless to agonize over depreciation. Computer parts are on a continuous drive towards better price performance. Usually, you get better performance for the previous price. If you wait for the next best thing, or a lower price, you will wait forever. Get today, what fills your needs for today at a price you are willing to pay. And then don't look back. It has been my observation that old gen parts do not drop in retail price like you think they should. They are sold to a price insensitive replacement market, or to those who must get the same card for a sli/cf upgrade. On the used market, prices will drop to equal their new price/performance level.