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I've advised a lot of other people on what to get here, so I thought I'd see what others thought about my own system.
I built my current computer in October 2009, first using it on the launch day for Windows 7, which I had pre-ordered. It hasn't been upgraded since, apart from replacing a couple of things that broke (speakers and a video card fan). My current hardware:
Intel Core i7-860
ATI/Sapphire Radeon HD 5850, now with an aftermarket Zalman cooler on it
4 GB G.Skill DDR3 memory, currently clocked at 1333 MHz and 1.5 V (nominally rated at 1600 MHz but 1.65 V)
120 GB OCZ Agility
Enermax 82+ Pro 525 W
Antec Three Hundred Illusion
LiteOn iHAS something or other DVD burner
Thermaltake Silent 1155 CPU cooler
Windows 7 Home Premium, with the latest patches
Two monitors, both 19", 1280x1024 resolution
CyberPower Systems 810 W UPS
Cheap wired keyboard, mouse, and speakers that work
I bought my computer at the perfect time for it; the key components listed above were very new and a considerable improvement over what had come before. Thus, my system has aged well, and needing more CPU or GPU performance is not driving an upgrade.
So why am I thinking about upgrading? Three reasons, really:
1) I want more storage space. I've only got about 25 GB of space still free.
2) I want more monitors. Shortly after I bought my second monitor (a few months before I bought this computer), I thought it was so nice that maybe I'd like to have three monitors. But there wasn't room on my desk. I've since moved, and made sure to get a bigger desk that would have room for at least five monitors if I someday want to go that route.
3) Aging hardware brings reliability concerns. I value reliability more highly than most people on this forum (hence my UPS, among other things), and the SSD is the component that has me the most concerned. OCZ never was a good brand for reliability (the options were rather narrower when I bought the SSD), and early SSD controllers had problems that newer controllers have fixed. As I got one of the early "good" SSDs, 4+ years of daily use on an SSD is well past the warranty period and basically uncharted territory. We don't know how a good SSD will handle 5 years of daily use because it's never been done.
But it's not just the SSD; various fans or other components can easily fail, too. I've treated my system well, never overclocking it, so it doesn't have years of abuse supplementing the normal wear and tear.
So what are my options on an upgrade and/or replacement of my current system?
1) Replace just the SSD, while leaving everything else alone. Four years of Moore's Law-style advances means that a 480 GB SSD today costs barely more than my current 120 GB SSD did when I bought it. Upcoming Black Friday sales could easily bring discounts that make quadrupling my capacity cost less than the original SSD. This would completely address issue (1) and help substantially with issue (3).
2) Replace my computer outright. If I go this route, I'm currently undecided as to whether I'd go with a Core i7-4770K or a Core i7-4930K. I don't regard AMD as a serious option for the processor, as that's lower performance. Wanting more monitors means going with AMD rather than Nvidia for a video card, but I don't regard the reference Radeon R9 290X as a serious option, as I don't trust the high GPU temperatures on reliability grounds. Rather, I'd wait for an Radeon R9 290X with a better cooler and optimal ports for several monitors to launch. Asus has done the monitor ports configuration that I'd want on the last few generations of cards, so they'll probably do so again this time. I'd add three 1920x1080 e-IPS monitors that I'd run in portrait mode, a ~480 GB SSD, 16 GB of memory, and various other components to fill in the rest of the system. Total cost would be in the ballpark of $3000.
3) Wait two years or so for the next really revolutionary hardware and then replace everything. Around that time, we'll see the launch of Intel Sky Lake, some upcoming AMD stuff that mixes the GPU with the CPU a lot more (I have the impression that they're going to have the CPU use "GPU shaders" for some SSE- and AVX-like instructions), and AMD and Nvidia cards with massive amounts of GPU cache on TSMC's 16 nm FinFET process.
I have a better job now than when I built my previous computer, so I can afford to buy whatever I decide to buy. But I don't want to be wasteful, and very much like timing my purchases to the ideal time to buy everything right after a bunch of good stuff has launched rather than right before. I skipped the last such time (Spring 2012), as my current computer wasn't old enough to be worth replacing, but the next one is about two years away still. So, what would you advise me to do?