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Nov 16 2013

Upgrading or Building Anew?

I have been doing some thinking about what to do with my desktop computer as it has served me well since I first built it back in 2009. Aside from a minor hiccup here and there it has strode on through the years quite admirably however I have recently run into some bottlenecks.

Firstly, 12GB RAM is just not enough for me anymore. With regular Windows fired up with numerous browser with a myriad of tabs open in each one running alongside productivity software a decent chunk of RAM is used up. Once I fire up a virtual machine with 4GB RAM dedicated to it I find myself getting rather close to the maximum memory available. This is unfortunate as I am now needing to run two or more VMs in tandem which starts to affect the otherwise silky smooth performance of the machine.

Fortunately, the Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME motherboard inside does support a maximum of 24GB DDR3 RAM in triple channel configuration. However, this means I will have to replace my 6 x 2GB sticks with 6 x 4GB sticks consisting of two kits of three sticks each. Ideally, they should be one kit of six matched sticks in order to ensure that all modules can scale should I wish to overlock but I probably won’t be doing that anyway. Looking at around $300 for that upgrade.

The other bottleneck are the video cards. The twin GTX 295 cards just don’t cut it anymore for the latest games at 2560 x 1600 resolution. I’ll want a single GPU card solution this time around and power consumption will be a key consideration. I am perhaps leaning more towards the NVidia GTX 780 / 780 Ti at the moment over the AMD R9 290X on that front but I do have some time up my sleeve to review benchmarks as drivers for these cards continue to mature. Cost would end up being between $600 to $800.

This brings up the total spend to $900 to $1200 for what I hope would see another three or maybe four years out of this machine before I would look at a new build. I’m still happy with my Apple Cinema HD screen but once 4K resolutions hit the mainstream in a big way I could be tempted to give that a shot but I reckon that will still be a little while before it is more affordable.

I am fine for storage with my two SSDs and a 1.5TB hard drive and my peripherals are still going aside from my original Logitech G9x mouse which died and was replaced by the Logitech G700 which is doing a fantastic job. I reckon an average of $300 to $400 over three years is not a bad outlay to keep things going particularly as I built this desktop of longevity in the first instance.

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