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Speaking Personally - My Best Upgrades


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#1 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 05:23 PM

It's been nearly 4 years since I built this desktop PC I'm using right now - my second "all Linux, all the time" desktop. And of course I haven't just stayed in one place with it.
You hardly finish your build when you start thinking - Hmmm, could I have done a bit better for a bit more? And so I've done some upgrades - some things of better value than others. This is my list - strictly personal - you may not agree and as always YMMV.

What I haven't upgraded:
  • Motherboard and CPU - the motherboard is a Gigabyte - it had a top shelf AMD chipset, lots of SATA 3 and USB 3 capability and it's an Ultra Durable board. The CPU is a quad core A8 and up until the Zen release AMD hadn't really made anything significantly better.
  • Case - Cooler Master K280 - I love it. Just the right size and easy to build in.
  • Wifi adapter - what can I say, it's an Atheros N chipset and it works.
  • DVD burner - no point really. Hardly use it any more with USB sticks.
  • Initial HDD - it's still trucking along - a Toshiba 1 TB.
  • Audio - I have an old Logitech 2:1 system that I've had for years and it's a keeper.
What I have - and it's been OK but no significant benefit to speak of:
  • The RAM - I had an 8 GB stick and went to 16. I still have room for 16 more in the case. I got dual channel with two sticks of RAM and for sure I will never need swap - but even with VirtualBox I rarely use more than 2.5 GB at any time. Right now I'm at "only" 1.5 GB.
  • The video card - I went from the built in APU to a discrete AMD card - this freed up some memory that I didn't really need to free up, and it is a quicker system now to respond - but I had many problems with video compatibility that just recently got sorted out in Linux.
  • Case fans - I added a Corsair fan and replaced the stock fan with a BitFenix I got on sale. The case is super cool but I think it would have been OK without the higher quality fans. I did not upgrade the CPU cooler and I think the extra case cooling has helped a bit there.
What I think are significant improvements - almost must haves:
  • SSD - these are getting cheaper all the time and putting in a 128 GB SSD for Linux and leaving the data on my HDD made a tremendous improvement - a new desktop really. Mine is a Toshiba I got on sale at Newegg and I would really recommend it.
  • A high quality 1080p monitor - I had an old TN monitor that was low contrast and hard to read unless you were right in front of the screen. The new BenQ VA monitor I got with my Christmas cash has been one of my favorite upgrades ever. It's easy on the eyes and has great contrast - black is now black.

So to recap my favorite upgrades - the ones that made a real difference - were the SSD and the monitor. I doubt I'll ever build a new system without an SSD, and the monitor I enjoy every time I switch this unit on.
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#2 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:13 PM

Nice. My main rig has been through a continuous upgrade for probably the last 10 years and every piece of it has been replaced multiple times. The oldest part of my system is probably one of the harddrives, a WD Caviar Black 1tb.

Out of all that, I have to agree, the biggest improvement overall was probably the SSD drive. I do something similar to what you do.. I just use a small 120gb SSD for the installation and basic file structure (with /home) and then populate my /home with symlinks to folders on my sata drives. That way they appear to be in my /home partition but actually exist on a terabyte spinning drive. I know SSDs are getting cheaper but I would still rather buy a 5tb 7200 drive for a hundred bucks instead of a 250gb SSD. As long as you have a drive big enough for your installation, you really do not need to spend the extra money for storage. Even media drives are good enough at 5400 rpms
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#3 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 09:43 PM

I've moved to laptops as my main computer. Is that bad of me? I dunno, but I got me one of those nice ASUS ROG gaming rigs this summer when my last laptop started to show signs of senility (I figure after 5 years of use it was time to move on). It has easily accessible  expansion slots for memory and NVMe SSD drives. Heck, it's even got two M.2 slots, plus a SATA 2.5" HDD!

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#4 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 10:25 PM

View PostPeachy, on 13 March 2017 - 09:43 PM, said:

I've moved to laptops as my main computer. Is that bad of me? I dunno, but I got me one of those nice ASUS ROG gaming rigs this summer when my last laptop started to show signs of senility (I figure after 5 years of use it was time to move on). It has easily accessible  expansion slots for memory and NVMe SSD drives. Heck, it's even got two M.2 slots, plus a SATA 2.5" HDD!

Nice :thumbsup:
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#5 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:33 AM

Those very high end laptops are almost like desktops anyway. You can upgrade memory and storage which go a long way towards making things last. If I needed portability and performance I'd certainly consider one.
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#6 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:04 AM

View Postraymac46, on 14 March 2017 - 08:33 AM, said:

Those very high end laptops are almost like desktops anyway. You can upgrade memory and storage which go a long way towards making things last. If I needed portability and performance I'd certainly consider one.

Of course most of them weigh so much that it is not feasible to carry them around all the time. I have a workstation series 17" laptop at work (i7 with 32gb ram) that weighs almost 9lbs but it is a high technical mode.
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#7 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:17 AM

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Of course most of them weigh so much that it is not feasible to carry them around all the time.

Reminds me of those Compaq units I worked with in the 1980s. We called them "luggables."

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#8 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:41 AM

Heh! My first computer (if you could call it that) was a Commodore SX-64 "briefcase" computer...

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#9 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 05:37 PM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 14 March 2017 - 10:41 AM, said:

Heh! My first computer (if you could call it that) was a Commodore SX-64 "briefcase" computer...

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We have oscilloscopes at work that look exactly like this sans keyboard but running an embedded version of Windows 3.1. :teehee:

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#10 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 08:03 PM

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