What's the point?

By borate
May 13, 2010
  1. Desktop P4 w/1 Mb RAM and 128Mb graphics card runs W7 (32) beautifully for the typical word processing, browser, light graphic editing and financial programs that I use. Most have been unchanged for years and may not run well - if at all - on 64-bit architecture. I am not a gamer, movie maker or downloader, nor a CADesigner.

    While upgrading to an I-860 class system would certainly pep up performance for high-res streaming video, the programs that I run are unlikely to utilize newer technologies. "HD" 720-res video downloads and plays well. Slowdowns are more a problem of limited bandwidth than with the PC limitations.

    In your opinion, what's to be gained by shelling out bucks, and going through the arduous task of reconfiguring and replacing software that might no longer function - only to wind up with a system that, while slightly peppier, does little more than the present one?
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    If the software you have does what you need, you are fine as you are. If you upgrade, you will have lots of changes and perhaps a little frustration.
    You didn't tell us the age of the old system... hard drives fail, cooling fans fail, CMOS batteries need to be replaced sometimes, and Windows XP is beginning to lose Microsoft support for security issues, etc.
    There is always something fun about installing a new system But from a cost standpoint, it is better to fix the old one... You upgrade to get a larger hard drive, better performance, better video graphics, more memory, play better games, or do more with video graphics, images, or design.
    If you have the capacity for 2 MB or memory, you can upgrade the hard drive for under $60, upgrade the video card for less than $100 every two years... and nothing much else is needed except cleaning. It is wise to reformat and reinstall all your software every three years or sooner... as junk happens over time.
  3. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    You mentioned that you're already running W7.

    In that case, any new computer you buy WILL support any hardware your old PC would be using (from an OS point of view, you won't be able to plug your old RAM into new hardware for example).

    If you have a need for hi-res video, then an upgrade of the graphics card should be enough. Most lower end graphics card today will support Blu-Ray and the latest media, and your PC (if it has PCIe slots) will accept these cards. FYI, PCIe V1 and V2 are both compatible with each other.

    Getting 4Gb of RAM (which is pretty cheap, if its DDR2 or DDR3) will furthur increase the performance of your computer.

    You will feel any graphic editing you do to be much faster on a newer CPU. However, it all depends on how much of it you do.

    Lastly, depending on the HDD you use, an upgrade will also speed loading times. The bigger the HDD, the faster they tend to read things.
  4. borate

    borate TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks all, for taking the time to comment.

    Main SATA drive, with W7 on one partition and files on the other, is but one-third full.
    Secondary IDE drive, with XP on one partition and files on the other, has ample space left.
    Back up external drive is 1.5Tb, so the storage situation is already in good shape.

    No PCIe availability on this old box, just AGP. Thus it's not worth upgrading the card, if
    an upgrade could be found at this late date. But for my purposes, graphics work well.
    RAM is DDR1.

    Because I seldom multitask, and maintain a virus/spyware-free box that has minimal
    programs running in the background, the old workhorse is still frisky - after a recent
    power supply change. Consensus points to sticking with it for at least the short term.
  5. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Yep, no point upgrading if you don't need it. I would say you'd be considered a light user, therefore your computing needs are quite minimal, and I'd dare say a Pentium 3 running Win98 (if your programs will run on that) might even keep you happy :D

    Which is a good thing, no need for frequent upgrades.....

    Just beware on older comps that there can be maintainance issues, things which can crop up after years of faithful service. Among these are hardware failures. HDDs are usually the first to go, so if they're more than 5 years old, make sure everything is backed up as often as you can.

    The motherboard also has capacitors which tend to leak after a number of years. If they look deformed (popped out), or leaking, your motherboard is ready to break at any time. I'm guessing PSUs would suffer a similar fate as well, but I'm not too sure what else breaks down in PSUs.

    Take care of your temps, mainly just check that all your fans are still spinning, and clean out all the dust from your heatsinks if you've never done so. I wouldn't recommend a vacuum cleaner, since that generates a good amount of static electricity. Also, do not remove heatsinks to clean them, unless you've got extra thermalpaste to put on.

    Would be interesting to see the lifespan of a P4.... I know I worked my P1 for a good number of years (died when P4s came out). Did everything I needed it to do till then. Pretty amusing to some people that I had a Palm Pilot with mhz double my PC (was a gift).
  6. borate

    borate TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Good points. A partition on each drive mirrors the other. The O/S partition has been imaged to both an internal and external drive, as well as a DVD, so back up is solid.

    Power supplies have been the weak link in this and past systems, though the MB used prior to this high quality board did indeed develop a problem, which prompted the upgrade to the current system.

    I would peg myself as a moderately heavy user whose demands are relatively light. When a system is tweaked to my taste - a lengthy process - I tend to stick with it. ^_^
  7. rattman169

    rattman169 TS Rookie

    How long does a PC last, let's say that I still have a functioning and operational Pentium 200MMX with 128 Mb Ram, and a 16Mb Riva TNT videocard, a 10.2 WD 7200RPM drive (First 7200rpm drive ever made) a Soundblaster 16, and a LG cdrom, with Windows 98SE and it plays the old DOS games amazingly well. (PSU has been changed once). This machine is used everyday for the past 9 years, at least 2 hours a day and only had OS reinstall 2 times total (All the games installed and uninstalled). So to say the very least, if you keep the machine clean (can of compressed air helps keep fans clean) and keep system in well ventilated area you should be able to hold on to it for some time.
  8. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    oooh, I remember those Riva TNT videocards.... I was so tempted to get one for my Pentium 133 (the same PC mentioned in my last post).

    I did mention a HDD upgrade, and you said you had plenty of extra space. That wasn't exactly my point. I was suggesting that a higher capacity HDD will speed up the system load speeds, especially if you're using the original HDDs which came with the PC. Of course, from the sound of things it doesn't seem necessary, but I'd like to point it out anyway.
  9. borate

    borate TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Consensus seems to be that, for most folks, today's PC technology is overkill. More than likely, the limiting factor is bandwidth, and that's often beyond the user's ability or budget to change.

    When the box is no longer able to handle its business well it is probably time for a new machine. Changing architecture makes upgrading either impossible, infeasible, or financially unwise.

    As with any piece of equipment, preventative and timely maintenance - both of software and hardware - ensures best performance and longevity.
  10. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    I agree with most of what you said there.

    However, CPUs have been designed to be backward compatible with programs* (e.g. new CPUs will run old programs). Its OS upgrades which causes trouble.

    *note: I know this to be true only with Intel CPUs, not sure about AMD.

    I'm not sure how backward compatible new hardware is with old ones. Neither am I sure how compatible different brands will be backward compatible with software.
  11. borate

    borate TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The wrap-up...

    Interestingly, I recently ran across a chart of CPUs now in use, and the P4 3G was #3 on this list, even though it is much less competent than newer generations such as the I7-860, which was #4.

    It's heartening that many businesses and private folks are apparently being well served by technology that is not the very latest. Many have no need for upgrades until a breakdown of the old PC, or when clearly defined needs merit a new box.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,462   +1,760

    Oddly, you seem to have answered your own question with the answer you wanted to hear. That said, you titled the thread correctly, since there was not much point of even posting it, other than to hear yourself talk.

    Even a lowly G31/ E2200 system will eat your P-4 for breakfast, I say this with certainty, since I own both. Oh, BTW, any Intel chipset 915 and prior is 32bit.

    So, you can blow all the sunshine up your own b*** you choose, I'll stay with the later gear, since I can rip, analyze and burn a DVD in 10 to 20 minutes as opposed to the better part of a hour with a P-4 rig. That's a big, usable performance increase that transcends a bunch of BS about how many people still have P-4. Save that relic for the internet, so you can use it to annoy us.
  13. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Businesses don't tend to need the latest and greatest, which is why they still use P4s. Its completely unsurprising that they would top the charts.

    whats surprising to me would be the popularity of the i7 860. I would think that the i5 750 would be higher up (could've been #1 or #2 I suppose).
  14. borate

    borate TS Rookie Topic Starter

    But of course. This may interest you...

    Unlike Captaincrotch, many users get along fine with slower performance and less than cutting edge technology, it appears. Newer is faster; just depends upon one's needs. Appreciated the courteous comments here.^
  15. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,039   +9

    Can't say that I'd read too much on that chart. The way their data is collected is kinda biased towards those who would use their software, which isn't something thats considered mainstream. Makes me question what sort of people are downloading their software.

    I don't completely agree with cranky's views, but I can see where he's coming from, just as I can see where you're coming from.

    My own view is that you wouldn't choose to buy an older system, and would stick with it ONLY because of monetary issues (don't wish to spend money). If you would swap and older computer for a new one at any time for free, who wouldn't?

    But he is right, if anyone wants performance, any newer computer would eat your computer in terms of performance in every aspect, including power consuption.
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