• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

Philosophy of upgrade cycles... cutting-edge, mid-range, or trailing-edge?

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,947
6,894
126
I was debating what sort of PC to try to sell my friend's GF, she mostly browses, web-chats, and video watches. Her BF watches game streams, and movies. Neither one of them (nor myself, for that matter) have much money.

I was thinking, what sort of PC would be most appropriate? It's similar to the story about vehicles, do you buy the newest or nearly-newest PC that you can, and then ride it until it's obsolete, or do you "surf the wave" of upgrade cycles, and if so, do you try to time it to hit always the newest tech, or mid-range (up to 3 years old) tech, or trailing-edge tech (5 years or older).

So, for example, she has an FM1 APU rig, of which she was using a dual-core APU for the last three years. (I donated the parts for free, a few years ago, for her BF, my friend, to build it for her, to replace her five-year-old Core2 dual-core rig with a HDD that I built and sold her back then, for like $300 - at cost.) While the raw CPU performance wasn't much better than the Core2, honestly, I also gave her 2x4GB DDR3, or 8GB, which is twice the RAM that she had in the Core2 (also DDR3), and an SSD, instead of a HDD. So she got a side-grade of CPU power, better iGPU by far (than a Core2 chipset iGPU like GMA X3100 or something like that), and double the RAM and an SSD. I mean, at the time, it seemed like a 'win' to me, and I already had the parts. (FM1 stuff was cheap on ebay, even "new".)

So, at this point, she's open to upgrading to a new platform or PC. I could sell/give her a Haswell G3258 @ 4.0Ghz on an H81 overclocking board, with 8GB of RAM and an SSD. (Not an upgrade in the RAM or SSD dept. for her, but it would be a CPU upgrade, and probably a newer iGPU.)

I also have a slimline Acer i3-4160 Haswell rig, with 8GB of RAM and an SSD (what I consider minimal specs for decent web browsing today), for a similar price. ($250-300)

But then, I've got this i3-8100 Coffee Lake quad-core, with 2x4GB DDR4-2800 and an M.2 NVMe SSD (I would include my 512GB Adata SX6000 SSD, brand-new, to go with it, with a fresh install of Windows 10.) That's in an ITX board, in a very small case, no DVD drive, but takes up very little room. (Her monitor is connected via VGA currently, so that could be an issue, she might need an HDMI / DP monitor.)

But anyways, parts-wise, that's $500 altogether. (Not including the cost of Windows 10.)

I mean, a "current" desktop PC from an OEM name-brand is around $400-500. (Although, now that I think about it, she could get one of those Acer desktop tower i3-8100 rigs, for $379.99 new on sale some times. The ITX form-factory, or smaller, does carry a bit of a price premium, though. And for that price, she wouldn't get a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, she would get a 1TB HDD.)

Is it better, for someone on a budget, to "surf" the upgrade cycle, at mid-range tech points, or try to go for "current" tech, and then "ride it out" until obsolete or broken-down?
 

HutchinsonJC

Senior member
Apr 15, 2007
452
185
126
I think in this day and age, where most computing hardware for most people is good enough, there's not a lot of point to go for the top of the line, regardless of your upgrade cycle period.

If you need a particular hardware set (for efficiency, productivity, commercial, game play-ability etc), you'll buy that hardware at minimum with maybe a lot less care for pricing, though not necessarily dismissing pricing.

As far as relating it to cars and saying buy new, most people should probably almost always buy new for computers just on the merit that you definitively know what you're getting, you have return/warranty options, etc. That doesn't mean you have to buy high-end.

It really doesn't sound like either of your friends needs a whole lot.

In your case, the friends sound like they could be getting something that someone in the circle knows exactly what the machine has done over the course of it's life and how old it is. So if the machines you're contemplating giving them are machines that they can expect to be reliable for the duration that they expect it to be reliable, and the machine can do what they need it to do, I don't see any reason not to sell/give one to them if it's an upgrade for them and you need the cash or just want to get rid of one.
 
  • Like
Reactions: VirtualLarry

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,099
591
126
For that type of usage on a desktop, I suggest something in the ballpark of a PassMark score of 5000, with hardware video acceleration.

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/mid_range_cpus.html

Even 3000+ can be OK, as long as the video is hardware accelerated. Below maybe 2500 can be more problematic.

For someone buying a new machine, a reasonable solution would be an i3-8100, and that would last a very long time (with a PassMark score of over 8000).

I suggest no overclocking.
 
  • Like
Reactions: VirtualLarry

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,947
6,894
126
Yeah, I was leaning towards giving / selling cheap an i3-8100 rig for her.

Sadly, it seems that I've fried it. Plugged in power brick, noticed sparks, tried to turn on, no go, took off cover, fan twitches when I press the power button, LED on PSU miniboard inside blinking, then POW! Something on the PSU board goes.

Don't know if the spider webs on the board shorted it out (there were a few, not a huge amount), or just unlucky, or if I static-zapped it.

Tried transplanting board/CPU/RAM into another case/PSU, a brand-new Logisys case/PSU (yeah, not great either), but that just made the PSU smell warm and strange, no power-on. Found the speaker for the case in the accessories, plugged it in, removed RAM and all of the other cables, plugged in bench-test PSU, used screwdriver, no fan spinup, no beeps, just dead, Jim.

Sigh. So much for that. Should I try picking up a cheap H310 board, and reviving it? What's the odds that the CPU survived?
 

moinmoin

Platinum Member
Jun 1, 2017
2,767
3,657
136
Personally desktop/laptops already lost me for simple browsing, chats, watching streams and videos. I prefer doing such consumer activity on (by now rather cheap) tablets/phablets. As an improvement to this use case I'm now using Miracast/Chromecast for any big screen needs. (Any prosumer/professional activity is still firmly on desktop/laptops.)
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,947
6,894
126
Pretty good. Mobos are waaay easier to fry than CPUs.
Thanks, that gives me some hope for those parts.

Given your experiences buying older refurb quad-cores, do you care to comment on the over-arching topic? I would guess you would probably advocate for surfing the upgrade wave at the mid-range or trailing-edge level, vive your professions of interest in Sandy and Ivy rigs.

I mostly build, or used to, low-end rigs, based on the newest platforms. One thing that I fear, well, dislike, I guess, is when platform iGPUs get made obsolete, by the removal of software support for trailing-edge platforms, on the newest OS releases. Most rigs, you can sill get single-slot, low-profile cards to fit and upgrade them, but I wonder for how much longer.
 

HutchinsonJC

Senior member
Apr 15, 2007
452
185
126
Personally desktop/laptops already lost me for simple browsing, chats, watching streams and videos
I feel like I can put myself in the shoes of people that share this opinion, so it's pretty readily understandable. Not saying I can walk in those shoes beyond trying to understand it.

For me, I just love the productivity granted by a mouse/keyboard the moment any kind of content creation comes into play as compared to a touch screen. And content creation for me could be as simple as typing up a reply on a comments section, forum, or whatever, or even opening up a notepad and doing some scratch paper thoughts, notes, temporary copy/paste. Not to mention 2nd screen and how that plays into things.

buying older refurb quad-cores
If you can get them from a business or office style of employment, I'd say go for it. Odds are they aren't over clocking.
 

escrow4

Diamond Member
Feb 4, 2013
3,333
113
106
Personally desktop/laptops already lost me for simple browsing, chats, watching streams and videos. I prefer doing such consumer activity on (by now rather cheap) tablets/phablets. As an improvement to this use case I'm now using Miracast/Chromecast for any big screen needs. (Any prosumer/professional activity is still firmly on desktop/laptops.)
A tablet will never match a desktop/laptop even for basic usage. It is simply much easier to work a keyboard and mouse than pecking at a touchscreen.

I'd say an i3 8100. An ASRock H310M-HDV would be on of the cheapest mobos for it that are OK.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,099
591
126
As I've said elsewhere, CPU performance is no longer an issue for most office applications. Speed is totally fine.

The big problem is the interface. Personally I find an iPad basically unusable for many office applications. Even with a full-size keyboard, it's an exercise in frustration.

And if you're going to carry around a full-size keyboard, you may as well get a proper laptop.
 
  • Like
Reactions: whm1974

Jan Olšan

Senior member
Jan 12, 2017
266
258
106
Go with the Core i3-8100*, or better said, some quadcore. That is the least that makes sense buying now. If you want to spend less, then it is much better to get some refurbished CPU/box IMHO, It's a waste of money to buy any sort of dualcore new these days. Generally I try to spend as little as possible but when I do buy, it needs to be a good value. So something with good bang for buck and not a "total lemon but at least I got high quality case and it is new!" thing.

* Since you have it already, that is. If you didn't have the i3 already purchased, I would tell you to go Ryzen 3 2200G, because better MSRP and Intel CPUs are way too overpriced now, in addition.
Besides these, there are the obvious "next levels" like r5 2600/1600, R7 1700 (if there is a dedicated gpu)... I would normally say "or Intel i5-8400" etc, but there is the "+20% price lol" problem again.
 
  • Like
Reactions: VirtualLarry

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,947
6,894
126

SgtSpoon

Member
Dec 25, 2007
69
2
71
Neither one of them (nor myself, for that matter) have much money
There are so many people that sell their old pc's, in perfect working order, for some fancy upgrade that they dont really need. My old i5-750 can transcode 1080p without a hickup, so its actually still overkill to just browse the web or watch some videos, but still i have an itch to upgrade to some fancy 6 or 8 core cpu. If i had to sell my i5-750, i wouldnt be able to get 100€ for it, so why not look at 2nd hand pc's? A new pc is the worst possible investment ;)
 

moinmoin

Platinum Member
Jun 1, 2017
2,767
3,657
136
A tablet will never match a desktop/laptop even for basic usage. It is simply much easier to work a keyboard and mouse than pecking at a touchscreen.
That may well be the case. But a desktop/laptop is also much less flexible to take along and be used ad hoc on the go and in/at odd places. Simple browsing, chats, watching streams and videos are activities that I'd do on the side, to fill gaps of boredom, like during commuting, on the toilet, outside or whatever.

I guess it's all down to the definition, it's just that for me most of the leisure use of electronics (and to me the activities in the OP looked like that) is no longer fixed to one place and time.

The big problem is the interface. Personally I find an iPad basically unusable for many office applications. Even with a full-size keyboard, it's an exercise in frustration.
I think nobody will disagree with that. Though you are also the first in this thread to mention office applications.

(As I'm clearly OT in the discussion looking for adequate low cost PCs I'll refrain from continuing my discussion thread. Sorry for the distraction.)
 
Last edited:

Arkaign

Lifer
Oct 27, 2006
20,681
1,227
126
There are so many people that sell their old pc's, in perfect working order, for some fancy upgrade that they dont really need. My old i5-750 can transcode 1080p without a hickup, so its actually still overkill to just browse the web or watch some videos, but still i have an itch to upgrade to some fancy 6 or 8 core cpu. If i had to sell my i5-750, i wouldnt be able to get 100€ for it, so why not look at 2nd hand pc's? A new pc is the worst possible investment ;)
Lol you're not kidding.

For myself, I built up this :

8086k @ 5Ghz / 6C/12T
Gigabyte Aorus 5 Mobo
32GB Patriot DDR4 3733@4000
Asus 1080ti ROG Strix
256GB m.2 nVME SSD (boot)
1TB Samsung 970 SSD (games)
4x4TB WD Red Pro (bulk)
1200W PSU
BDRW, Hot Plug 3.5/2.5 SATA tray, yadda
34" Asus Ultrawide Gysnc
Marantz 7.2 Surround Audio

I don't really know how much it all cost. Some of it obviously came from my last rig.

But I gave a buddy my previous 27" 1440p monitor, and for $300 we bought on eBay a Xeon E5-1660 v2, which is a 6 core 12 thread 4Ghz Ivy EP with 15MB cache. It already had 32GB of Quad Channel DDR3 1600, which benches as well as my previous DDR4 3200/Ryzen 1700X did. We added his previous 860 Evo SSD, and bought a used RX580 Nitro. All in, he was under $500 for the rig. And in actual use, he plays his favorite Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 incredibly well, even at 1440p with most settings max, only slightly dialing back AA and shadows. Just superbly smooth. At probably a fraction of what I've got invested. Hell, he does better in BF1 than I do lol.
 

Denithor

Diamond Member
Apr 11, 2004
6,300
23
81
Just looked today for another thread, there are Haswell i7 4790 machines from Dell on eBay going for <$300. Buy, drop in SSD and maybe more RAM, send her away happy on the cheap.
 

whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
9,460
1,566
96
Just looked today for another thread, there are Haswell i7 4790 machines from Dell on eBay going for <$300. Buy, drop in SSD and maybe more RAM, send her away happy on the cheap.
That would be the best bet for her if she doesn't need the latest and greatest.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY