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QOTD: What Determines Your Upgrade Cycle?

Keeping your PC up to date is expensive, which is why most of us choose to build a new PC at a specific point in time. Throughout its lifetime, we may perform CPU, GPU and RAM upgrades, but at a certain point we decide that it's time to start completely fresh with a brand new box.

At which point do you decide that it's time for an upgrade, either a full overhaul or just a simple drop in/swap part?

In other words, for our QOTD, we'd like to know from you exactly what determines your upgrade cycle?

Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • the_one111
    If I can play games at "medium" settings and have no lag than I am good. When my system is unable to play games at medium settings it is time for a upgrade.
  • dravis12
    My current/future financial situation.
  • Irrenhaus
    Other than been able to play games at a normal or decent resolution....Having The Money To Upgrade....:')
  • First!
  • mcnuggetofdeath
    Whether I really and truly want to play a game well. At the moment, nothing intrigues me and I can play 90% of what I play at or close to max settings. Since there havent been any major releases recently that i wanted, Its been awhile. Also not having money puts a damper on that sort of thing. Currently waiting for DX11 cards.
  • MartenKL
    New Windows OS and old hardware >3 years old, i.e. for me this october (earliest). Have pentium 4 3.2 GHz and Radeon 800 series. Getting i7 and a DX11 graphics card below 200$, 12GB Ram (at least). No new drives or monitors.
  • GuyAmI
    2 -> 3 year cycle
  • dzeric
    Money, but in terms of when I "need" to upgrade: Full system every 4 years or so, or an upgrade every other year if I don't need a complete system overhaul to do the upgrade.
  • mcbowler
    If there is a great game that can be made better with better gear.. then I will upgrade. I think the next revolution for PC gaming will occur 2010 or 2011.
  • helios2052
    I usually build a system and its total life is usually about two years. After the first year, i will usually do a GPU and harddrive upgrade. A year later I usually build a new system and repeat the cycle.

    I only do the GPU upgrade if a new architecture has been released, or if I am adding a second card.