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Time to upgrade?

QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic

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

Asus P7P55D

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?



  • XthosXthos Columbus, OHPosts: 2,630Member Uncommon

    Sounds like #1, replace the SSD....Sounds like if you buy a new system, then all the new stuff comes out in a couple years, you will be kicking yourself...Unless you don't mind doing this again then, and maybe selling what you do this time around to help afford it.


    I guess it is how badly do you want the 3-5 monitors and such now...  I know you don't want to be wasteful, but if getting a new computer is going to make you happier for 2-3 years, till they come out with the next big advancements you are eyeing, I think it is worth it...Can't take it with you.



    If you aren't going to get the new system, then look for black Friday stuff, like the SSD, and since you value reliability, maybe try to look for a good power supply, if you are worried about it being a little older?  I have never checked it out too much, but I also know that sites sell lightly used stuff from people that need to have the newest stuff, so you may be able to find a couple items to throw in for a bargain price to get a little more new with your old.


    I personally would upgrade, even if stuff is coming out in 2-3 years, you may want to wait 3-6 months after it does, for the prices to come down, so 2.5 - 3.5 years makes upgrading now not so bad?  Make yourself happy.

  • JeardawgJeardawg Nunya, Damn BusinessPosts: 31Member Uncommon

    What are you playing?   SSD cards are supposed to last forever, I bought my computer around the same time and it  has the original hard Hard drives in them, (not ssd)  Don't take it personal because I do it too, but it sounds a little to me like you have the itch, and the only thing that will scratch it is some new hardware...


  • jdnewelljdnewell Spring Hill, TNPosts: 2,151Member Uncommon

    You could always

    - Upgrade / buy a new SSD

    - Buy a new Monitor or two

    And roll with what you have for another year, upgrade PC next xmas.

    IMO if your fairly happy with the system then upgrade the monitors and maybe throw another SSD in there if you are worried about reliability.

    If your needing to scratch that itch some new monitors would probably do it. Get a nice setup of 2 or 3 monitors going =)

  • miguksarammiguksaram Fort Meade, MDPosts: 827Member Uncommon

    First let me start with a thank you for all the advice you give on these forums.  I may not always see eye to eye with you but that is generally based on opinion rather than fact so it's quite alright.


    Given that you are as knowledgeable as just bout any other hardware guru on these boards giving advice on what exactly to but seems a bit pointless.  Rather I think it would make more sense to take a deeper look at what is more import to you in the near term.


    Unless your position on how much space you need on a SSD has changed it would appear you are a very light user in terms of storage/program usage.  If your position has changed then I would suggest you approach your storage upgrade in the same fashion you advice most others, consider a solid HDD for the short term (next few years).  You can back up anything important on that drive and continue to use your current SSD until such time as it actually begins to fail or it's time to upgrade your entire system anyway.  The only scenario where this wouldn't seem prudent, given you don't want to waste money, would be if you actually need more than 120Gb's of storage for all active programs you actually need on an SSD for daily use.


    The monitor situation is less a case of necessity and more a case of desire or "the itch" but again that is perfectly ok but because we all succumb to it at least once in our lives (or just about every time in my case).  You need to evaluate just how much GPU power you need to run the games in the resolution you are looking for (as an upgrade) and then decide if that is something you either can't or don't want to live without for the next couple of years.  The simplest solution (if you could find one that wasn't stupidly overpriced which is unlikely) would be to just add a second GPU to Xfire with your current card which would give you the ability to add those monitors and most likely provide the power needed assuming you aren't trying to run the lastest games at max resolution and high/ultra GFX settings.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess you probably wouldn't entertain this option even if the above caveat was met as you, like I and many others, don't seem to be a fan of xfire/sli setups.  That of course leaves you with only one real option which is to upgrade to the current generation of AMD's cards.  Given this is an upgrade you desire rather than have an actual need for combined with not wanting to waste money I'd just suggest you take your own advice often given to others and just bank that money for a single upgrade (monitors/GPU) later when you actually replace the rest of the system.


    EDIT:  Forgot to mention you might want to consider, since reliability is a big factor for you, picking up a new PSU.  I personally look at a PSU as a maintenance cost in any system I've had over 4 years.  It's just not worth the potential loss of the rest of the hardware for less than $100.

  • CleffyCleffy San Diego, CAPosts: 5,405Member Rare

    On the internal hardware there really is no need for upgrading. Nothing is pushing the 5850 or Core i7 of any generation yet; maybe in a year or two it would be a good idea to upgrade these components. If your SSD is not full all the time, then you should probably wait on that as well.

    Simply its probably time you upgrade your interface devices. 19" monitors are pretty small even if they are 4:3 ratio.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,548Member Rare

    I'm in a similar situation - i7 920. I bought it in late 2008 I believe, and running it on the original x58 Asus Workstation motherboard.

    Here's the route I took

    I replace the hard drives every 3 years, no matter what. That has me with a Crucial C300 right now, and it's maybe 1.5 years old. I've also got a 2TB WD Red in there now that's only about 6 months old (I didn't buy it for this computer, it was for another NAS, I had it left over when it was time to replace a Seagate 1TB data drive, so it got stuck in here). I kept my older OCZ Agility in the rig, but it's been relegated to the F: drive, and I throw games on it occasionally from the data drive.

    When I originally built this machine, it had an nVidia GTX260. I played with SLI for a bit, after around 6 months of fooling with profiles I decided I hated SLI, and when the 6790's came out I snagged one.

    My entire rig is water cooled, with a custom built cooling circuit (I do a lot of thermodynamics at work, the computer cooling is a hobby for me). It doesn't need to be, and I admit it was expensive and doesn't add a lot over air coolers, but it's for fun.

    So, apart from the fact that I've got newer hard drives and a more recent video card, similar situations. My power supply is older than the rig (by about a year, a Corsair 750). The case, fans, and water pump are all several years old as well.

    I skipped Sandy as well - it wasn't enough of an upgrade. I had my eye on Haswell, I was hoping the lower power use would help with the overclock aspect, but it really didn't (I did just jump on Haswell for my latest laptop, which was 5 years old).

    From an upgrade standpoint: I'd say definitely go for a more modern video card, the 5850 is really nice, but mid-tier current generation cards are a whole new level. I've been eyeballing upgrading my 6970 lately... although nothing is quite there yet for the price I want to spend.

    Hard drives, really, if you have the money and reliability is a concern, there's every reason in the world to just put those on a 3 year schedule. >3 years the reliability drops off the cliff. Even with my NASes and backup strategy I still rotate my hard drives out after 3 years.

    Now, as far as the rest of the system. I have a very good argument as to why now is a good time to upgrade. The next big breakthrough is in around 2 years, true, and that's a case for waiting. But build your rig for an expected 3 year cycle (what most gamers do).. and then in 3 years, not only do you catch the wave of the next generation of hardware (which has a decent likelihood of being delayed by months as it is), it's possible you catch the second generation of that, or you catch it after it's been around and established a few months and the premium price of newness has worn off. Building for 3 years, really the only difference in the build would be the video card; instead of spending $550+ on a video card with a 4-5 year life cycle, drop down to a $300 level card -- which won't have a huge impact today (unless your planning on taking those extra monitors and pushing Eyefinity, in which case, yeah, go back to the upper tier and then expect a 2-3 year playability anyway).

    As to why I haven't upgraded my own rig; it still performs admirably and I have a hard time justifying it. I will probably run it until the pump or power supply burns out (or some other major component), at which point I'll just replace the entire thing. That, and I just blew my computer money on a new laptop for work -- while the desktop and laptop aren't mutually exclusive on my budget and income (particularly since I get to write off the laptop purchase), it's justifying it to the wife that makes it a bit more difficult ("Didn't you just get a new computer?")

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,548Member Rare

    And yeah, what Cleffy said:

    Definitely go up to at least a single 24".

    I use a 24 + 19 and it's nice. The 24 is almost too big for as close as I sit, the 19 on the side is perfect for keeping a web browser open. The nice thing about the 24 + 19 is they are about the same height, you just get a bit more width on the 24 (which is nice for MMO UIs), so they sit side by side pretty well.

    When I'm doing development stuff a third monitor would be handy to keep reference material on, but I usually just have my laptop and use it as I would a third screen anyway.

  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,666Member Rare
    I'd say we're on the cusp of 4K resolution and it will take at least a couple years before developers feel comfortable optimizing their product as they tend to look at the average computer when working on requirements.
  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,548Member Rare

    I share a similar sentiment about the R9 290/290X

    The 290 hits a nice price and performance point. But 95C is hot. Maybe aftermarket coolers will "fix" that - the TDP isn't so much a problem, because it's the same TDP as nearly every other top-end card, it's just a crappy reference cooler (combined with a smaller die size, so there is a large thermal concentration, I have to admit).

    And nVidia products don't quite have the same price/performance in that bracket right now. So I'm holding off again. Although I have been looking at the 780, and if I see a good buy on one for Black Friday I may snag it (although chances of that are slim, that's still a fairly upper tier card).

    So maybe if I can catch a 780 on sale, or the better 290's come out I may break down and bite, but I have to admit my 6970 still does the job pretty well and I'd mostly just be upgrading for the sake of having something new and shiny.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,548Member Rare

    Originally posted by Rusque
    I'd say we're on the cusp of 4K resolution and it will take at least a couple years before developers feel comfortable optimizing their product as they tend to look at the average computer when working on requirements.

    4k will be nice. It does take a decent DPI adjustment, unless your looking at 30"+ monitors, but it is a noticeable improvement in visuals.

    The monitors will be expensive for a good while though, and we are just starting to see a generation of cards that can drive them adequately.

  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,439Member Uncommon

    1) A bigger/newer SSD is very affordable and much less than 3k, so if space is the primary concern it may not justify the purchase of a new system.


    2) More monitors or larger monitors.  It might make sense to get 2 24"+ monitors.  The cost of those will be under $500 and would give you about the same amount of screen area as 3 19"s without the extra break. I think the best question to ask here is do you want more monitors or more screen space?  How much of it do you want and would it be better to just buy two larger monitors now?


    3) Not going to comment because I don't know what is coming in 2 years.


    I am going to be real honest.  This seems like someone who is trying to rationalize a new rug because they can afford it--even though it is not needed.  Everyone makes purchases out of want.  If we only bought things out of need the economies of the world would be in great trouble. 


    You usually ask what people want to play and can their PC play the games they want.  Can your PC play the games you play?  Do you have a need for more power.  Can you solve your screen want with bigger screens?  If you just want a new PC, then buy a new PC. 

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic

    4K monitors are still awfully expensive.  New Egg has one in stock right now, and it's $3500 for a 31.5" monitor.  Add in televisions (which I wouldn't trust to be suitable for gaming due to latency and frame rate issues), and the cheapest is $3000.

    For comparison, it would be vastly cheaper to buy three of these:

    Or five.  Or twelve, even though I'd have no use for twelve.  But it would still be cheaper; my point is that 4K monitors are still very expensive.

    I wanted an Eyefinity setup in 2009, too.  But I decided that things just weren't ready to do it properly.

    I'm after both more pixels and more inches--especially vertical.  Moving to a 24", 1080p monitor gets me about the same vertical height and barely more vertical pixels, making it not much of an upgrade.  Most programs that I use wouldn't benefit from more horizontal space all that much; Excel and Eclipse occasionally would.  More vertical space, on the other hand, would be useful in just about everything.

    If I upgrade monitors, the plan is to either get three 23-24" IPS 1080p monitors in portrait mode and keep my two current monitors to put on the far sides, or else get five new monitors and not use the old ones anymore.  Either way, the three monitors in the middle would be used for a single program in Eyefinity (often but not always games; I think Excel and Eclipse would get substantial benefit out of the extra size, too).  The two monitors on the far sides would mostly be used for other programs, though I might try a 5-monitor Eyefinity setup now and then.  But probably not very often; I usually need something else running on a side monitor.

    A monitor upgrade would necessitate a video card upgrade.  My Radeon HD 5850 has plenty of performance for gaming at 1280x1024.  For 3240x1920, not so much.  The nominal resolution might be a little larger than that to account for bezels, though I suspect that video drivers are clever enough to not run pixel/fragment shaders on stuff inside the bezels, so for performance purposes, it's essentially 3240x1920.

    Furthermore, my current video card only has the monitor ports available to run three monitors at a time.  If the point of the upgrade is five monitors, that means a new video card is absolutely necessary.

    A new video card would be fairly tight on whether it fits in my case; my current case only has about 11" of video card clearance.  Going from a ~150 W video card to a ~300 W card would mean a lot more strain on my power supply, too; not something I'd want to do on a 4+ year old power supply.  At that point, I'd be replacing enough stuff that I might as well upgrade everything internal to the computer, too, and get PCI Express 3.0, USB 3.0 (nice for faster backups), and so forth.

    A second 5850 in CrossFire isn't a serious option.  For starters, it wouldn't have the proper capabilities to run enough monitors.  CrossFire on a 5850 also doesn't work well at ultra high resolutions, as the CrossFire bridge simply doesn't have enough bandwidth.  That's why AMD switched to using the PCI Express bus for CrossFire instead.  AMD has made a number of improvements to Eyefinity in subsequent generations of cards, too; the reason I passed on it in 2009 is that I thought it wasn't really ready yet.


    On storage, I basically don't have bulk data of the sort that you normally want to put on a hard drive.  It's not that I don't have any such data at all; rather, if I needed a separate drive for such data, a $50 hard drive makes no sense, as it would probably get under 1 GB of use.  So if I bought a hard drive to supplement my SSD, I'd be putting real programs on it.  I don't want to do that.


    Part of the argument for upgrading now is that there isn't going to be much better hardware for a long time.  AMD and Nvidia just recently launched their first gaming-focused huge-die cards on TSMC's 28 nm process node, 21-22 months after the Radeon HD 7970 launched.  20 nm is probably going to be a short-lived process node and not get such huge die chips, so the top video cards on 20 nm probably won't be all that much faster than what you can get today on 28 nm.  16 nm will be a huge deal, but that's two years away.

    For CPUs, it's entirely possible that the next CPU that is markedly faster in single-threaded performance than what we can buy today will launch sometime around never.  It's very plausible that the maximum clock speed attainable on subsequent die shrinks will go down rather than up; that certainly happened on Intel's transition from 32 nm to 22 nm.  I think that's part of why AMD's first 28 nm high-performance CPU will be about two years later than their first 28 nm GPU, and more than half a year after their first 28 nm low-performance CPU.  So for gaming use, a nice CPU today might well be nice for a very, very long time.  If Sky Lake clocks 10% lower than Haswell, for example, then it's entirely plausible that it will be a downgrade for desktop use.

    So the argument basically goes, if waiting a year and a half to buy something new would get you about the same hardware as today, why not buy today and get that higher performance for the intervening year and a half?


    One argument against upgrading now is that memory and SSD space is still relatively expensive.  New Egg had a Black Friday special of 16 GB of memory for $50 last year.  I don't expect to see that repeated this year.  8 GB for $50 is more likely.  SSD prices are also a little higher for a given capacity than they were a year ago.  Of course, that can readily change over the course of a few months, and I already have to wait for Radeon R9 290X with better coolers to launch.

  • IchmenIchmen Winnipeg, MBPosts: 1,228Member Uncommon

    frankly i am no where as knowledgeable as you on pc hardware now days, but honestly give the rig, and the specs most games require now days. the only thing that sounds remotely a decent thing to upgrade is the SSD :/ cause frankly the gpu and even cpu are still pretty beastly for todays spec needs.. hell my current i7 is about the same gen as yours i think and it still plays all the newer games. 

    so unless you are going to be doing something like video editing where you need like insane graphic bandwith or super system speeds. the only thing i would even consider upgrading right now (at this moment) would be the ssd. who knows next year something better might come along out of left field and you will kick you self for buying something that would be considered "worthless" compared to it.


    have you considered trying for 20"+ monitors? not that that will really improve much :/ higher res maybe will make it worth while.


    the only 3 things i could even consider as worthwhile investments right now for that system would be 

    +2gb of ram (i know 4gb is all you need but some days having 6 isnt bad)

    better monitors maybe (IMO i have never seem the real draw for 2000x+ res my 1680 does just fine for me :/ )

    better ssd (seeing as you are mostly looking at storage needs over anything else. that would be my main pick the rest would be a "WELL why the #@$@# not".. if you had the cash and a decent deal/sale was on)


    lolol though it feels odd giving you advice Quizzical seeing as i tend to get advice from you instead haha

    CPU: Intel Core i7 CPU 860 2.8GHz
    Evga GeForce 670 FTW
    Evga P55 SLI


  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,548Member Rare

    I used to have an itch for EyeFinity. Then I saw one at Frys.

    The game looked impressive enough, but the bezels absolutely killed it for me. Some people can get around it though, and if it works for you, awesome. Same kinda went for 3D - it sounded really cool until the reality of wearing those glasses set in...

    Also, if your looking at 24'ers - 1200 is a lot nicer vertically, even in landscape orientation, than 1080. And while they are more expensive, it's not that much compared to jumping to 27" or ... yeah, you found out why 4k will be a while. I think my IPS 1920x1200 was $250ish? If your running it vertically the extra pixels will make a good bit of difference, especially if you are coming from 1280x1024 monitors -- you only lose 80 pixels across rather than 200 pixels.

    I was going to mention monitors that have automatic orientation detection, which would be nice to flip them back around for excel or whatnot, but if your planning on eyefinity, you aren't going to use that anyway as your going to have them bolted up next to each other and immobile.

    500G+ SSDs now cost about the same as your OCZ vertex did originally - so there really isn't any reason to not do that.

  • BarbarbarBarbarbar Posts: 269Member Uncommon

    What stood out to me, was the 2 1024 screens. The only place i thought; how can he have put up with that. The rest of your setup, namely the cpu can keep on trucking I'm sure. Keeping the SSD backed up on an old hardrive can't be too hard either, if you continue with that.

    We who read here, know that you are knowledgeable with an emphasis on budget, to make the right buy. And as such your advice has been much appreciated.

    The setup you have, has proven itself, and as such, I think you should allow yourself, to help yourself to a new rig. Quite simply because, as you get new screens (which you need), you'll need a new GPU. And then why not get more RAM, new RAM. You mention the SSD yourself, it could be 480 gb by now. 250 is probably fine though.

    Anyway, a new rig.

    On a personal level, if you have been budget minded out of necessity, and now have come into a bettered financial position. The risk is you go out and get all the nice hardware you have been scrutinizing and dreaming about. Without respecting the price/performance ratio that has always been important to you. But at the same time I think you should treat yourself to a setup you'll be happy with for the next 4 years.

    So, you don't need 12 Ultrasharps, but 3 would probably be very nice for you. Or an Ultrasharp 1440 screen if that's more interesting to you. I've had 1440 for years, and asides the premium price for it, there's also the problems connected to being ahead of a given standard. Like icon size in windows, browsers you always need to resize. And in games it's worse, UI that are too small and can't be resized. Text that's so small you can hardly read it, in some games. These nuisances would be magnified on a 4K screen, so I think there's a point there, in advicing against getting too far ahead of the bell curve. 1440 is fine though, but as you see the hardware reviews are more and more often testing on 1440, it's becoming the mainstream slowly.

    So go with what you want, without letting your self getting carried away. I'm sure that if, you spend too much money for your comfort, regardless of whether you can afford it or not. If you spend too much you won't be really happy about your purchase.

    And on the other hand, you should satisfy your passion for hardware and buy what will put you up front in terms of performance, longevity and future proofing.

    About the nice things to come in 2 years. I'm afraid you are going to become 2 years late for them, but such is life. Unless you have come into an even better job in a couple of years, and you let the pig dance.

  • syntax42syntax42 USAPosts: 1,374Member Uncommon
    It seems you just need your system to last until the next generation of hardware is released, unless you are feeling the performance is too low for current games.  If I were in your situation, I would put in a larger SSD (maybe 240GB?) and overclock the CPU/GPU while relying on the aftermarket coolers to keep the system stable.  The goal is to make it last a few more years, not ten or twenty.
  • 13lake13lake Posts: 644Member Uncommon

    1)DDR3 ram will never be cheaper again, either fill up to 8GB if u need it, or wait until DDR4 comes down to atleast the current DDR3 prices for same RAM ammount.

    2)290x is a waste of money to buy compared to 290. 290 is relatively within 5-7% worse than 290x, for wastly less money, and will run 3-5 monitor setups easily with 4GB. (Only buy 290 when you can get one with an aftermarket cooling solution)

    3)Your 5850 is still "good enough", it will run 3x23/24 inch monitors for non-intensive tasks.

    4) Your cpu is past "good enough" , but upgrading to ivy bridge, haswell is pointless, not enough gain.

    5)SSD prices are going down but very slowly, they drop has effectively been "leveled" Which means it's left to your personal preference. And SLC ssds last longer than MLC, unless it's Samsung 840 Evo which is a combination of SLC and MLC cells.


    There will be two jumps in pc requirements, one as the new console gen progresses, regardless of those consoles specs, and one when GlobalFoundries and TSMC go into full 14nm/16nm production. However those are probably gonna artifical requirement rises, if the intel trend to 22nm and to 14 nm with power saving and idle power orientation happens with GF and TSMC. (Similar how to Call of Duty:Ghosts doesnt want to start without 6GB ram while it uses 2GB)

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic
    Originally posted by Ridelynn Also, if your looking at 24'ers - 1200 is a lot nicer vertically, even in landscape orientation, than 1080. And while they are more expensive, it's not that much compared to jumping to 27" or ... yeah, you found out why 4k will be a while. I think my IPS 1920x1200 was $250ish? If your running it vertically the extra pixels will make a good bit of difference, especially if you are coming from 1280x1024 monitors -- you only lose 80 pixels across rather than 200 pixels.

    I used a 1920x1200 monitor at work for a while.  I hated it.  It's not that the monitor was bad; it's that I only had one monitor.  I'm so used to having two monitors that trying to do anything on just one is awkward.

    Though you do make an interesting point that 1200 pixels wide is a lot more than 1080 if running a monitor in portrait mode.  Even so, nearly all web pages seem to be designed for 1024 pixels of width or less.  1024 pixels of column width for text is plenty, and you can spread a spreadsheet across multiple monitors and it's fine.  My plan with Eclipse in three monitors was to put the source code on the center monitor, and space things such that the sidebars were on the side monitors but a lot wider than they are now.

    I don't think that the bezels will bother me in an Eyefinity setup.  They don't bother me now with multiple monitors, though I typically have a more bezel-friendly approach of having different programs on different monitors.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic
    Originally posted by 13lake
    1)DDR3 ram will never be cheaper again, either fill up to 8GB if u need it, or wait until DDR4 comes down to atleast the current DDR3 prices for same RAM ammount. ... 5)SSD prices are going down but very slowly, they drop has effectively been "leveled" Which means it's left to your personal preference. And SLC ssds last longer than MLC, unless it's Samsung 840 Evo which is a combination of SLC and MLC cells.   There will be two jumps in pc requirements, one as the new console gen progresses, regardless of those consoles specs, and one when GlobalFoundries and TSMC go into full 14nm/16nm production. However those are probably gonna artifical requirement rises, if the intel trend to 22nm and to 14 nm with power saving and idle power orientation happens with GF and TSMC. (Similar how to Call of Duty:Ghosts doesnt want to start without 6GB ram while it uses 2GB)

    I do think that DDR3 memory is going to come back down in price.  A year ago, it cost about half of what it does today.  While that was very low for its time (and helped drive Elpida into bankruptcy), the general trend toward cheaper memory of a given standard doesn't end until the next standard comes out.  And we're still not there yet with DDR4.

    Samsung's 840 and 840 Evo use TLC NAND flash, which is lower quality than MLC.  It's not a mix of MLC and SLC.  SLC = 1 bit per cell, MLC = 2 bits per cell, and TLC = 3 bits per cell.  While SLC has more write endurance than MLC, it's not something that matters for consumer use.

    I don't see consoles pushing PC requirements upward.  Very few of the games I play are also available for consoles.  Consoles might lead to newer APIs being utilized, but I'm already set there, as my Radeon HD 5850 supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.3.

    Die shrinks aren't a big deal for desktop CPUs anymore, but they sure matter for GPUs.  When you're largely limited by power consumption rather than die space, a die shrink means you can get the same performance with less power--or more performance with the same power as before.  That's what leads to increasing performance.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic

    For what it's worth, I decided to replace the SSD for now:

    That's a LAMD controller, so its only real flaw is using about 1 W at idle--which doesn't matter in a desktop.  It's also been around for a while, and Seagate has plenty of experience with testing and validation of SATA storage devices.

    That doesn't rule out the possibility of replacing the computer in a few months anyway.  But I decided that a new, more reliable SSD was worthwhile even if I do replace the computer and relegate this one to backup duty.  An unreliable backup defeats the point of having a backup.

  • aspekxaspekx Brandon, FLPosts: 2,167Member Uncommon

    i am in no position to advise you technically, but as mentioned by others, after all you've done i would like to toss in one recommendation.

    i have always been a fairly frugal person in that i willingly give up quite a number of 'luxuries' in order to have one or two really high quality core items. in recent years however my age has begun to show in that having very basic amenities seems to improve my overall life.

    all of the above to simply say, if you're going to wait or not, might i recommend that you find a really comfortable mouse and keyboard to add to your setup? it doesn't seem like much, but i have really begun to find that these small things can really add to the overall experience one has in many areas of life.

    "There are at least two kinds of games.
    One could be called finite, the other infinite.
    A finite game is played for the purpose of winning,
    an infinite game for the purpose of continuing play."
    Finite and Infinite Games, James Carse

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic
    Originally posted by aspekx all of the above to simply say, if you're going to wait or not, might i recommend that you find a really comfortable mouse and keyboard to add to your setup? it doesn't seem like much, but i have really begun to find that these small things can really add to the overall experience one has in many areas of life.

    I already have a mouse that I really like.  It's lightweight, comfortable, and just works right, every single time.  Much of the paint has worn off over the years, but that's fine, because that doesn't affect the functionality.  The mouse was $14 before shipping, too; I've used more expensive mice, but didn't like them nearly as well.

    As for the keyboard, I've used a lot of keyboards, but never one that made me say, this is better than most keyboards.  Some keyboards find creative ways to be worse than most others (the most common are wireless and the fraudulently-named "ergonomic" keyboards), but I'm not aware of any ways to meaningfully improve on what you could get 20 years ago.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic

    I just got my new SSD today.  So far, I'm not impressed.  It feels slower than my old drive, but that's probably mostly it is installing a ton of Windows updates in the background, so I'm not concerned about that.

    But there are other issues that I am concerned about, however.  Most pointedly, every time the computer boots, my motherboard stops to insist that the SSD has failed a S.M.A.R.T. test, which indicates that the drive is about to fail.  It won't continue booting until I press F1 to continue.

    When I first installed Windows on the SSD and tried to boot to it immediately afterwards, it simply wouldn't boot to the SSD.  The BIOS insisted that I needed to insert a valid boot device.  I reinstalled Windows a second time, and now the BIOS does accept that it's bootable, at least.

    I went to Seagate's web site hoping for some tech support.  Unfortunately, they barely acknowledge that Seagate even sells SSDs.  I did download their SeaTools diagnostic while there.  It runs the S.M.A.R.T. test and reports that the drive passes.  But it also reports that a brand new SSD has only 39% of its total lifetime write endurance left.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,548Member Rare

    RMA - it shouldn't be doing that.

    Also, check to make sure you have the latest BIOS - odds are you do, but it could be old SATA firmware just freaking out with a new drive.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 17,379Member Epic

    I tried updating the motherboard BIOS.  That made no difference.

    What I find strange is that the motherboard says that the SSD failed a SMART test while SeaTools says that it passed a SMART test.  The SSD passes the other three tests in the SeaTools suite, one of which is a very in-depth test that takes about half an hour to run.  

    I tried using the SMART monitoring in SpeedFan, and it says everything is wonderful, just as it should be on a new drive.  For comparison, it says that my old OCZ Agility has 16126 uncorrectable sectors and should therefore be replaced.  CrystalDiskInfo also says that the new SSD is fine.  So does HD Tune--and with a test that scans the entire SSD and takes over 20 minutes, no less.

    I looked into it somewhat and it seems that what SMART attributes drives support varies wildly from one drive to the next.  The newest BIOS available for my motherboard predates the launch of the first SSD on a LAMD controller by about a year and a half, so the motherboard BIOS writers had no way of knowing what SMART values the SSD would offer or what the normal range would be.  A lot has changed since then, too; when the motherboard launched, nothing supported either TRIM or SATA 3.  On that basis, I'm inclined to say that the motherboard BIOS test is simply wrong.

    I figured out how to disable the motherboard BIOS check of the SSD.  That would at least get the BIOS to stop complaining.  I just don't want it to be akin to disabling an annoying fire alarm when there is a real fire.

    As for the claim of 39% write endurance, write endurance is hard to measure and plenty of vendor-provided tools that expose some numbers on it have been wrong.

    I submitted a ticket with Seagate support last night and am hoping to hear back soon.

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