Hardware Longevity

Finding out your current rig won’t play the latest game can be depressing to the point of console gaming looks attractive. Well, OK, not really but close. To make matters worse, your hardware might only be 2 years old and it only just cuts the mustard. What went wrong? Aren’t all motherboards, CPU’s, Memory modules and graphics cards created equal? Obvisouly not.

I used to be a cheapskate with my hardware – $20 PSUs’, $69 cases, $120 graphics cards and the “neutered” CPU models – all in the name of saving a few bucks. What actually happened was that I wasn’t saving money in the long run as I’d ended up replacing blown PSU’s, running RMA’s for faulty video cards and maxing out my CPU within 6-12 months and of course wasting my time in the process – not to mention game-down-time. Frustrating stuff. I finally relented and found that if I buy quality components, ie. quality brands (trusted brands and not nasty ripoffs) and middle-to-high-end components I found that even a 2+year old rig will eat games for breakfast that come out even today.

That’s obvious, you say? Well, yes but whilst knowing that high end products may give you better performance overall, money can still play a big part in decision making.

The lessons I’ve learn’t is that you don’t need to spend money on the best “Extreme” model CPU, or the top-end latest graphics cards or a $400 motherboard – generally middle-ground products more than rip things up. Remembering that processing power increases over time and that, for example, GTX690 graphics card will be supersceed with a cheaper and more powerful model in 12 months. But don’t spend money on the stuff at the opposite end as they will cause you grief – especially if you’re into overclocking or flogging the buggery out of your rig 24×7 – you’ll quickly find the kit will only be good for <12 months in terms of processing power and maybe less in terms of durability.

I figuire its all about the ‘gaming experience’ at the end of the day. I found that the cheap stuff will allow you to play games at lower-medium settings and make the game look “OK” but middle-to-high end products will allow you to experience what the developers intended, well past 12 months of ownership.

My tips when buying hardware: 

•  Research! There are a myriad of hardware forums and websites that test the hardware. So check out CPU and GPU performance graphs to determine what you can expect for the price. Ask questions.
•  Buy reputable brand names – like XFX, Intel, Gigabyte, Asus, Corsair, Noctua and the like – these products are created for longevity and are quality hardware
•  Overclocking later on can get that little extra bit of ooomph out of the old darling before having the need to upgrade – providing you have quality cooling (see Noctua)
•  Increase RAM as required – Buy enough memory to begin with, say 12GB/16GB by today’s standards will keep you going for a long time; but you might find that as time goes, games will need more and more resources so ensure your Mobo can support 16GB +
•  CPU’s are not created equal – if you want to overclock, buy the “unlocked” version; this will allow flexibility later if you wish to overclock
•  Quality RAM – surprisingly, quality RAM these days is fairly cheap and in large quanties – Corsair/Kingston are a safe bet (and educate yourself on the latency figures)
•  Invest in a quality motherboard – good motherboards allow large RAM sizes, support for newer USB3 ports, usually have quality components and more tuning options. Even go a “SLI” version if you can afford it, even if you don’t use it now you might in the future
•  Go a mid-range audio card – onboard is fine but for a better experience and gaming support go a separate card

That’s it, I hope these tips are useful. If you read some of my gaming articles where I list my gaming rig – its actually quite old however still is able to play todays games without a struggle.



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