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Old May 1 2012, 03:25 PM   #1
jefferiestubes8
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Location: New York City
life expectancy for a desktop computer

Hey guys what is the typical life expectancy for a typical prebuilt store-bought mainstream desktop computer?
No not for the enthusiasts who will change out their motherboard, CPU, and RAM but for an average Joe who works a 9-5 Mon-Friday job and is a non-gamer?
No not for laptops either.

I understand technology moves rapidly and videocards, RAM, CPU become obsolete but what is pretty typical purchase cycle for most average folks with desktops at home?
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Old May 1 2012, 03:51 PM   #2
Methos
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

depends what you're doing with it and how much care you take of it...

if you're talking lifespan, then your hard drive is the first thing to check... mechanical parts inside hard drives generally have a life expectancy of 10 years or so, depending on the load used... but this could be more or less depending on how heavy user you are and the 'luck' of getting a good hard drive...

In theory, a 90's PC with Windows 3.11 running could still run nowdays... if the equipment was well maintained and serviced...

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Old May 1 2012, 03:53 PM   #3
RoJoHen
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

In my experience, computers live for 4 years.
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Old May 1 2012, 03:56 PM   #4
jefferiestubes8
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

I understand what you are saying. I'm asking what's pretty typical of people you know who own desktops at home and are not gamers? When do they replace their computer entirely? 2 years, 3, 4, 5 years?

I have a 8 year old case, optical drives RAM, and 6 year old CPU & MOBO and plan on upgrading. I think I really got my distance out of this for using it for photoshop, some personal video editing, web browsing, MS Word, MS Excel. I just wanted to see what most people who just goto the store and purchase a desktop prebuilt do usually.
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Old May 1 2012, 03:56 PM   #5
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

Google's study on hard drive failure rates is pretty much the definitive work as far as actual reliability studies go. Their findings are that failure rates for the 1st two years of drive life run at about 2% for the 1st year of life (i.e., 2% of drives 1 year old failed) and then jumps to around 6-8% for drives 2-5 years old.

http://static.googleusercontent.com/...k_failures.pdf

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Old May 1 2012, 04:03 PM   #6
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

jefferiestubes8 wrote: View Post
I understand what you are saying. I'm asking what's pretty typical of people you know who own desktops at home and are not gamers? When do they replace their computer entirely? 2 years, 3, 4, 5 years?

I have a 8 year old case, optical drives RAM, and 6 year old CPU & MOBO and plan on upgrading. I think I really got my distance out of this for using it for photoshop, some personal video editing, web browsing, MS Word, MS Excel. I just wanted to see what most people who just goto the store and purchase a desktop prebuilt do usually.
oh, replacements... again, depends... i know quite a few people that only replace parts when they fail or when a new part is needed to run the latest hardware / software...

For the majority of people (non gamers / editors / whatever), a basic system from 5 years ago would suffice without modern upgrades...

The problem is, when it does come to upgrade, you'll either be doing a lot of searching, or a lot of upgrading at once...

Take RAM for example... going back 5 years, DDR2 was still in it's infancy, with DDR being the standard in most computers... now, if your RAM failed, or you were looking to upgrade it to run the modern OS's or programs, then you'd be upgrading to todays equivalent of DDR3... which would mean a new motherboard to accept the new chips... new motherboard means new processors, as the current DDR3 compliant motherboards wouldn't accept that standard 2005 LGA Chipset for processors... Then there's moving from SCSI Hard Drives to SATA on the new motherboard... moving to PCIe on graphics if you don't already....

You see what i'm getting at here...

Typically it's a lot easier to upgrade one piece at a time and keep a year or so behind current trends, even if you're not a massive upgrade fanatic... that way when it does come time to do an upgrade, you won't be pushing the limit on basically an entire new PC

M
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Old May 1 2012, 04:26 PM   #7
jefferiestubes8
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CPU upgrade

Methos wrote: View Post
it's a lot easier to upgrade one piece at a time and keep a year or so behind current trends, even if you're not a massive upgrade fanatic... that way when it does come time to do an upgrade, you won't be pushing the limit on basically an entire new PC
I understand. After 6 years of RAM, MOBO, CPU I am upgrading from WinXP Pro to Win7 64-bit and will be upgrading all software and 5 versions of Adobe CS Production Premium suite of software (CS2 to CS6).
I was told in general to get the state-of-the-art tech (if you can afford) now as it will last longer.
No I will not be doing any overclocking. No I am not a gamer.

For example the new Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs that just came out this week include i7-3770 3.4GHz & i5-3550 3.3GHz.

Sure it depends on what one's needs are but I do Photoshop and some personal video editing and audio editing and multitrack audio mixing. Running multiple apps and windows while working. No gaming at all.
Now would it be better for me to get a i5-3550 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz 4 core now for $219. and in 2 years upgrade (if my motherboard supports it) or go for the i7-3770 3.4GHz 4 core for $319. in the next couple months?
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Old May 1 2012, 04:32 PM   #8
RoJoHen
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

The average person is probably not going to be upgrading parts or memory. I certainly don't know enough about computers to do that, and I'm the kind of person that gets bored with things after a few years, so when my previous computers have all started to slow down or get bogged down with spyware or whatever, I've simply found it easier (and more fun) to replace them completely. Again, for me, that's about every 4 years.

However, I switched to a MacBook about 3 years ago, and it's not showing any signs of slowing down. It works just as well as it did when I took it out of the box, so I may very well hang on to it for a long time to come.
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Old May 1 2012, 06:40 PM   #9
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

I have a 2002 TiBook which is definitely showing its age. Emergency use only these days. However, my 2006 Macbook Pro was fine up until a volume structure corruption problem a few months ago. I can probably get it working again if I put the time in.
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Old May 1 2012, 08:44 PM   #10
CorporalClegg
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

If your goal is to upgrade the CPU at a later date, your best bet is to go AMD. Just from a bang for buck standpoint, you get more out of AMD in the long run. But the big issue is AMD generally has a long socket/chipset cycle which leads to more backwards compatibility. This also factors in to what kind of memory and such you can upgrade to later.

As such, you should note that the new AMD bulldozers or FX series are on the cross-over to the next generation while the Ivy Bridge is still on the last one (1155/Z77).

That said, there is definitely a build quality issue. And by all accounts the Ivy is gear to be an outstanding processor. It's basically a K series on steroids and the K series (of Sandy Bridge) is pretty wildly considered the best chip Intel has ever made.

Ultimately, though the answer to your question is two fold. Because the question comes down to staying bleeding edge or staying practically functional. The two are not the same.

And computer you build yourself expect to stay bleeding edge for about 12-18 months and stay functional (in what's normally considered practical and efficient) for about four or five years. Six if it's really good quality.

In other words, look at it this way: You can buy the Ivy now and expect to be state-of the art through late 2013 start of 2014 and then things will fall off. Upgrades will keep you "sustainable" through 2016 or so. You'll be able to upgrade to Windows 8 with no problem and it should last through its life. Windows 9 will come around and you'll probably be able to run it but just barely.

If you go Bulldozer you can get the 8 core along with the cheapest AM3+ mother board you can find (which should be $50 if you look hard enough) and wait till the next gen comes out which will probably be Christmas time or Q1 next year at the latest and buy a really good MOBO that will be upgradeable for years. You'll be able to run Win 8 with ease and will be in a position to eventually go to Win 9 and still have it useable, but at the cost of more upgrades/work.

In the long run, the cost of AMD vs Intel systems over a ten year span comes out to be about the same. The difference is with AMD you spend less up front but are upgrading a lot more. This has the advantage of staying bleeding edge a lot longer. However, it tends to lead to more system wear. Intel you pay a lot more up front, stay bleeding edge less, but you get longevity and less work and worry.

So between now and 2022 you can buy the Intel, make a few small upgrades here and there and expect to completely start from scratch 2017ish. Or buy the AMD and make major upgrades every two years or so.
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Old May 2 2012, 03:00 PM   #11
Scout101
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

In reality? 5-6 years, probably. More than that, things have started to fail at a rate that forces you to either upgrade good chunks of the system or buy a new one. That'll also be about the point where programs you try to install just won't work right anymore, or new operating systems just seem to run really slowly, etc.

Not that you can't use a 20 year old PC if you have the original software and take good care of it, but for the average guy using it for email/web/word processing, 5-6 years is probably about the lifecycle.
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Old May 2 2012, 06:06 PM   #12
jefferiestubes8
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upgrading and AMD vs Intel decision

CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
the Ivy is gear to be an outstanding processor.
Thank you for your analysis and opinions. I do plan to go with the new Intel Ivy Bridge chip after being AMD since 2004. I'm doing ongoing research and now just need to plan out my parts list, budget, and make the orders from online vendors in the next few months.
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Old May 2 2012, 06:56 PM   #13
C.E. Evans
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

I still have my first computer from 2001. I use it mainly as a word processor in my bedroom, but I also have CD burning & photo editing software and a few games loaded on it too. It's not connected to the internet anymore since its OS is long since obsolete, but otherwise it still works exactly the way it did eleven years ago. The only thing I ever had to replace on it was the CD-ROM.

My second computer lasted about five, almost six years, but then I used it for hours and hours every day as it was my online unit. I think the only thing that really died was the motherboard, but rather than have it fixed, I simply got another computer for about 300 bucks.
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Old May 4 2012, 09:22 PM   #14
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

I built a PC about 6 years ago and have been piecemeal upgrading it ever since. Adding some memory here, a higher-rated power supply there, higher-power video card, etc., and it has survived and endured quite nicely without any real problems. I've gone through many hard drives (almost 1 every 1.5 years) of varying brands. That would definitely be the most frequent upgrade I've experienced. I bit the bullet this year and bought an Intel solid state drive and I LOVE IT!!! Upgraded at the same time with Windows 7 and the OS boots up in about 10 seconds. Totally blew my mind. I have a classic PPC Mac G5 that blew the doors off the PC when it came to boot-up times. Now, the PC has a couple of seconds on the Mac. I'm now thinking about upgrading to an SSD on the G5 as well to see how much faster it gets. It's like getting a whole new machine. The only drawback is that they have a tendency to be smaller in data capacity for the $$$ than their platter cousins.

Warning though - if you ever plan on getting an SSD, DO NOT EVER DEFRAGMENT IT. This article explains why pretty well. Also, Intel SSD's seem to be the best, from what I've seen so far. They seem to have a longer life expectancy than other makers.
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Old May 8 2012, 10:55 AM   #15
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Re: life expectancy for a desktop computer

While they certainly aren't in day-to-day use, my Mac SE 20 (circa 1987) still runs just fine, and my brother has a couple of even older TRS-80s that are in good working order. A buddy still has a working Commodore PET from the mid 1970s.
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