Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Ordered a new computer - 2014 edition

Time flies! I used to buy a new computer every 2 years, and now I realized my last purchase is already 3 years in the past. Is it just me or are PCs not aging as fast as they used to? Anyway, here are the specs of the machine I ordered:

An Intel Core i7-4790 (3600GHz) CPU
Vengeance 16 GB RAM (1866 MHz)
Asus Maximus Vi Hero Z87 motherboard
Geforce GTX 770 XLR8 OC PCI-E 2GB graphics card
2 x 250 GB MZ-7TE250BW SSD HD in Raid 0 as boot drive
A Western Digital 3 TB regular HD for data
DVD drive (rarely use them any more) SH-224DB/RSMS DVD/CD/R(W)
1000 W power supply
Corsair Graphite 730T Gaming Case
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

I should get it by end of next week, if everything goes okay. I haven't ordered a new screen yet, but that will probably be the next purchase after that. 22" is considered small these days. When I started this blog I had a 15" screen, 1024×768 resolution, Athlon XP 2000+ CPU, 512 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics card. I have a faint suspicion that today my smart phone has more computing power than that. :)

Looks nice!

And I agree, computers seem to last longer. It feels like hardware takes longer to become obsolete (and advances slower). Luckily, the demands of software also seem to be climbing slower. I have a year old computer that was top of the line when I got it (i.e., fanciest video card, cpu, etc) and now it's ... about one step behind. A 780GTX instead of a 780GTX Ti. That sort of thing. Makes you wonder if hardware companies are going to start seeing some financial problems.
I surmise it's partly due to the tablets emerging as replacements to the traditional PC.

Traditionally, software chases hardware (or hardware leads software at times).

But outside of games, PCs haven't needed to be powerful to run most apps for over a decade now and that's placed the development focus on going mobile and hand-held devices.

We still see hardware advancements in PCs, of course, but since few people are rushing to upgrade, the "average PC" that game devs continue to develop for hasn't improved that much.

Whereas, with the mobile and tablet market, upgrades are very frequent - at most 2 years for most people - and some people have completely replaced their need for a home computer.

The exception for PCs has been the video card -- which is a $100-$500 priced item and something that most gamers feel comfortable swapping out themselves without upgrading the rest of the computer. SSD drives have also gained in popularity for the same reason.

All of this is conjecture on my part, of course, but I think there is truth in this line of reasoning...
You can still get more processing power every other year, there are just too many other bottlenecks standing in the way so that you don't see the big performance boost you used to get back in the late 90s with every new computer. An embarrassing number of apps on my system aren't even multi-processor aware, much less 64 bit.
Sid, if you used an SSD I think you'd get it. Super fast. With streaming all the video these days a terabyte of storage just isn't as cool as it used to be.
Agreed. The *perceived* gain in speed when switching from regular HD to SSD is greater than any upgrade of CPU or graphics card. Especially booting up Windows only takes half the time as before.
I love my SSD. Loading times, especially for zone transitions are massively reduced. Assuming you are operating above minimum specs HDD->SSD it is the most noticeable improvement you can get from replacing a single part.

I was astonished to find my last upgrade was in 2011. It was only to still operates very well on high settings even though it was a very mid-range system back then. I'd of delayed upgrading for another if it hadn't been for the LGA-1155/0 switch over and I wanted one last upgrade before I had to replace the motherboard.
Hi Tobold. I like your proposal. Do you mind if I ask what the cost is? I put it through a spreadsheet and in Denmark I estimate the cost to 2k USD. I find that a lot, even for hobby gaming.
@Mikkel: Even more over here, a bit over 2k Euro, not dollars, including having it built for me (I'm not great at that sort of stuff).

And yes, that is a lot of money. But then, as you can see from my blog, computer games play a major role in my life. And me and my wife can afford a really nice computer. So why not buy one? It's still cheaper than playing golf. ;)
But maybe not cheaper than playing paper MtG --
I spent about $1000 per year on paper MtG when I was still actively playing. So an expensive new PC every three years is still slightly less than that.

Of course then I'm not counting the operating cost for the PC, mostly in the form of paying for a broadband internet connection. But I honestly can't say how much I pay for that, because I have a "quadruple play" contract where I pay one fixed rate for telephone, mobile phone, TV, and unlimited internet (30 MBit VDSL). That's another $1000 per year.
I'm not sure how the exchange rate would affect pricing, but visiting Tom's Hardware and looking at their system builds might be a cost-effective way to get a new computer without spending nearly as much.

I'll say that I'm surprised too at how fine my system- originally built at the end of 2010- does with modern games. I've replaced the video card twice during the time period and increased the RAM, but everything else is still humming along just fine.
Windows 7? Isn't that due to go end of life soon?

I do agree that Windows 8 was a disorganised mess but the its worst features have been patched out by this stage and in my experience it feels a good bit more responsive than Windows 7. It also has excellent compatiblity with older games I have tried.
Found it:

End of Mainstream support for Windows 7: January 2015
Is it just me or are PCs not aging as fast as they used to?

It's not just you. I specced out a new machine recently and was rather surprised how little performance gain I would be looking at, when compared to what I bought about three years ago.

(This was comparing a mid-range setup, aiming for price-performance ratio, to something bought with a similar intent in early 2011).

It was actually disappointing enough that it put me off buying a new PC for the time being.
End of Mainstream support for Windows 7: January 2015

Extended support until January 2020. And I'll be switching over to Windows 9 by then. I don't know why, but every second version of Windows is bad and is better skipped.
I remember when I needed to buy new pc to play the new, my pc is 4 years old and still seem powerful... I don't know what happened..maybe developers don't want or can't use all the power of the new hardware?

It really sad because I play MMOs 90% of my playtime and MMOs are developed to run in a tost machine because there are always that vocal guys who cry out "will it play on my Flintstone machine?".
My PC is embarrassingly old, almost 6 years by now. I've replaced the HD with an SSD, the DVD drive, the video card twice, the OS (from XP to 7), the RAM (it got rid of random blue screen errors), and the monitor (27" 1080P). And I added a USB3 card for faster backups. My old machine has no problems running Final Fantasy 14 (my current MMO of choice). I'd be happy to replace my machine if I found a game worth the upgrade...
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