Buying a computer system/Future-proofing my PC


Hi There,

I have a question. I currently have a PC with the following statistics, bought from amazon in c.August 2013:-

Operating System
  Windows 8.1 64-bit
  Intel Core i7 3770 @ 3.40GHz   40 C
  Ivy Bridge 22nm Technology
  16.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 798MHz (11-11-11-28)
  ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. CM6870 (LGA1155)   35 C
  V275HL (1024x768@75Hz)
  1023MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 (ASUStek Computer Inc)   32 C
  931GB Seagate ST1000DM003-1ER162 (SATA)   36 C
  29GB SanDisk SSD U100 32GB (SSD)
  3725GB Seagate ST1000DM003-1ER162 (USB (SATA))   34 C
  58GB SanDisk pSSD 1 USB Device (USB (SATA))
  1863GB Seagate ST2000DM001-9YN164 (SATA)   37 C
  7452GB Seagate ST1000DM003-1ER162 (USB (SATA))   42 C
  14GB USB Flash Memory USB Device (USB)
  117GB Disk drive (USB)
  58GB SanDisk Extreme USB Device (USB)
Optical Drives
  EVQJ 27OL2JG ATA Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  JODQZI 9EVW5M7416VW SCSI CdRom Device
  Realtek High Definition Audio

Now, I am reading about 32GB "DDR4" RAM and "4K" generation monitors etc. My PC is doing fine for now and mostly I find it does well as regards watching dvds, playing PC games(mostly 10+ years old) and surfing the Internet.

(Well, there is one flaw, I only have 1 (30GB) SSD drive which therefore is way too small to have the Operating System and PC games  migrate there.This means that it still takes a few minutes to boot up sometimes, rather than the few seconds an SSD drive with Operating System would need.Oh, and I find that the minor programming I do takes longer than I think it should).

However, I do like the notion of future-proofing my PC at some stage so as to be always ahead without breaking the bank, but am unwilling to spend more than the equivalent of c.2500 US dollars on a desktop PC plus Monitor plus oerating system. Is there any point in switching to a different, more advanced PC at this stage?If not, when, roughly, should I switch? Perhaps you have heard of new groundbreaking technologies coming in, say, 2+ years etc.  that will make computing even faster/better etc.? Also, what type/brand of PC would you personally recommend? I have heard of some PC repair shops in my local area offering  to set up a PC as long as you buy all the required parts beforehand - they then add 50 euros or more for the service plus extra for insurance. Is this practice usually reliable? I know my limits and there is no way I could set up my own PC. Thanks for answering such an awful lot of questions! Geoff

The easiest and most direct answer I can give you is that quite simply, there is no "future proof" - everything will eventually become outdated, unsupported, depricated, etc and need to be upgraded or replaced. That having been said, the last few years have seen a significant period of stagnation (for lack of a better word), wherein the system requirements for many applications really haven't changed much. Historically, if a machine could run whatever program you wanted to run "today" then it will do it "tomorrow" as well (as long as nothing breaks). However there was always the concern of a new version of a given program coming out that would have higher system requirements (e.g. the system requirements to run Microsoft Office 2000 and Office 2016 are quite different, even though both suites do largely the same tasks). In the last few years (say, since around 2009), that hasn't been as much the case, and generally any semi-modern PC will be quite capable of "keeping up" with modern applications. Your PC easily fits into that category. The biggest "left behind" piece would be if you wanted to play very modern games, where the GTX 650 simply won't be as fast as may be desirable or required - this isn't really a matter of age so much as the GTX 650 itself was never a powerhouse of a card (its certainly a good price/performance part though). If that's not providing any deficiencies (e.g. you can play whatever games you want at settings you like), there's not much to bother with upgrading or replacing either today, or in the near future. There is always going to be "something right around the corner" from Intel, AMD, nVidia, Broadcom, etc but whether or not it impacts your usage is the more important question, and in the contemporary era of stagnant system requirements for many applications, newer is not often better.

The move to DDR4 is largely a matter of new platforms from Intel and AMD that rely on the newer memory, but the performance change from DDR3 is largely insignificant. Basically let the platform dictate the memory, and let the applications dictate the memory capacity - if you aren't hitting your head on 16GB I wouldn't bother upgrading, and since your platform uses DDR3, keep what you've got.

The question of a 4K display is a bit of an interesting one though - "4K" refers to a much higher resolution (3840x2160, or thereabouts; some other resolutions are described as "4K" as well), which offers significantly more workspace for PC use. It also presents a significantly larger workload for the graphics hardware to drive, both in terms of the connector requirements to even achieve that resolution (many older connectors, like VGA, are incapable of sending such a high resolution) and what the GPU itself can do. The GTX 650 will support 4K via HDMI, at 30Hz (which is on the lower side for gaming, but perfectly acceptable for movies or desktop use), so if you have a 4K TV (or are thinking of getting one) it would be compatible. Do keep in mind, however, that for gaming the GTX 650 will be woefully underpowered for 4K in many titles, and that many older titles won't support (or won't properly support) such a high resolution, so it may not be the best upgrade. It's nothing that, at least from a current perspective, is going to become a requirement anytime in the near future - the standard itself is only recently finalized, and hardware that supports it is still relatively new on the market, so apart from viewing 4K Blu-ray discs there isn't really a mainstream usage scenario for 4K displays.

If you have further questions or need more clarification, feel free to ask in a follow-up.


Buying a computer system

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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