Time to Upgrade? A New System Perhaps?

Many of us have come to that point where we look at our computers and start to seriously consider upgrading. Maybe it’s been awhile since you payed much attention to the market(s) and now find yourself suck between a rock and  a hard place. You have the money to upgrade your system but you’ll end up spending more then you planned due to supply and demand driving the prices of older hardware up over time. Once you factor in time spent tracking down parts and a few other things you may start to wonder if it’s really worth the hassle…maybe rebuilding the system from the ground up will end up saving your some green down the road.

There are a number of benefits to upgrading as opposed to a full rebuild such as: a lower up front cost and increased system longevity. When looking at the opposite end of the ring you’ll quickly find that a partial or full system rebuild may be in your better interest. Not only do you boost performance across the board but you have the potential to save a great deal of time. Compare the hour it takes to build a computer with the potential days spent dealing with possible days or weeks you might spend figuring out why your system isn’t taking to the new parts. I don’t want to make it seem as though new builds are immune to component conflicts, but you have the advantage of being able to find hardware combos that have worked for others and all but eliminating your chance compatibility issues.

Obviously, it all comes down to money. Rebuilding a computer doesn’t HAVE to mean chucking out your current system and starting from scratch. Typically the contributing factors to compatibility issues are you processor (CPU), motherboard (MB), and memory (RAM). A great example of this trifecta is wanting to make the jump to a faster CPU, only to realize that your motherboard no longer supports the CPU’s available today. Most components aside from the CPU/MB,RAM are fairly standardized and can often be “transplanted” into a new system with relative ease.

One critical point I wanted to re-iterate is the importance of your power supply (PSU). When upgrading your CPU, MB and/or video card you should really stop and take a look at your PSU. Depending on the age of your system/components you may find that newer video cards and motherboards require cables not available on your current power supply. Take a minute to go over my article “The Power Supply Problem” for a bit more info (and some product recommendations) on the topic.

What would I do in some of these situations you might be wondering. Well, if money was not the limiting factor I’d go for a new system or partial rebuild any day of the week. If you shop smart enough, the performance-per-dollar value of your purchase will almost ALWAYS be higher with a new system or rebuild. If you find yourself sporting a system less then a couple years old it may very well make more sense to grab a beefier PSU and a new video card or add more memory for the time being. Anything and everything I’ve brought up needs to be carefully evaluated on a case by case basis, there simply isn’t a black and white answer or solution.

Hopefully this gets some of you thinking a little more about how to best spend your money or re-evaluate a purchase you had planned. Remember to check back often or subscribe to the RSS feed, I’m planning on launching a series of posts on a 2-4 week basis laying out a few system configurations in a number of price points and I plan to make it worth your while. 😉

– Cornelious

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