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
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.