Is there ever a good time to buy a new PC?

One of my friend’s has spent the last two or three days trying to piece together the best PC he possibly can for under $700 (Canadian). I told him it was a really bad time to invest in a new machine, and he replied as everyone says that it’s always a bad time time to build a new PC.

He’s right; I’m constantly saying “Wait six months,” or “Wait until so-and-so ships.” I think I may actually be correct in telling him to wait this time. Wait until Vista ships, or AMD dual core chips really start to drop in price.

Maybe most people can afford a new $700 machine every year, but we’re students. This will have to last him. Sure, he can toss in small upgrades, and try to extend the life that way, but it’s not quite the same.

So when is the best time to build/buy a new PC? After Christmas? After March (end of fiscal year for a lot of companies)? After CES or CeBit? It would be nice to try and schedule a build in order to save some cash.

If you want a PC on a student budget, forget about piecing things together. Wait for a good Dell sale to get a cheap system and then pick up a halfway decent video card to upgrade the Dell into something capable of gaming.

We hates pre-built machines. Especially Dell’s.

There are definitely times when it’s bad to buy a new PC, like before a known or expected major price cut. Even if someone wasn’t interested in Conroe, building an AMD system a week ago would have cost up to hundreds of dollars more than it would right now.

The good times are just anytime where there’s no specific reason to believe it’s a bad time.

I assume now is a bad time because Vista is coming, and were moving into Crysis-level graphics territory soon. Sure, many of you could probably buy a new machine now, and right after these shipped. We can’t. I’m using a PC that is basically five years old that I’ve barely been keeping alive with hand-me-down upgrades.

Then don’t worry about Crysis or what’s coming a year from now. Buy something good today that fits within your budget and you’ll be able to run 100% of today’s games, and probably 95% of tomorrows, with occasional details knocked down.

There will be so few DX10-required games in the next 2-3 years. Microsoft will probably produce the only ones. Every other one will include DX9 rendering paths if they want to sell more than 10 copies.

The only thing you should go for today is PCI Express. Socket 939 or AM2 or Conroe? Not that important, as the CPU isn’t going to be holding you back with a mid-range videocard in a $700 game PC.

eMachines uses upgradeable components, and one of their $500 machines has an empty PCI-e slot. Here’s $529 system that you probably can’t match from Newegg. Put a $200 7600GT and you’re set.

It depends on how old your current PC is. I was going to buy a new PC this summer, but it is now a bad time for me to do so.

Bascially the price-performance gain isn’t there with respect to my older hyper-threaded cpu. Newer PCI Express cards are certainly better then my crappy 9800 pro, but they are also still quite expensive.

Finally, there is Vista. Do I want to go and buy a copy of XP only to have vista come out a few months later? Furthermore, do I want to even get a copy of Vista as soon as it comes out? I would say no, I do not. I want others to go through the annoyance of having thier games act all screwy. Ill wait 3 or 4 months for the game companies to get thier act together.

As things are going now, it might even be next summer before I can upgrade because of the vista delays.

My current PC is decent for gaming, but it is beginning to show signs of impaired perfromance with graphical slow-downs, or having to reduce or even disable certain rendering features. I can probably wait another year before it becomes too bothersome.

No to the first, yes to the second.

Vista is several months away and the number of Vista-only games will be pretty small initially. Unless you’re absolutely certain something you’re dying to play will be Vista / DX10-only - and this early on, how can you be sure? - it makes no sense waiting for Vista. Even then, in all likelihood your videocard is the only thing you’ll “need” to upgrade.

OTOH, AMD and Intel’s most recent price drops should take effect soon (if they haven’t already). If you can’t squeeze the dough for a Conroe (or you want to stick with DDR RAM), the low-end S939 Athlon 64s give pretty good bang for the buck.

[Is it just me, or does that sound dirty?]

So when is the best time to build/buy a new PC? After Christmas? After March (end of fiscal year for a lot of companies)? After CES or CeBit? It would be nice to try and schedule a build in order to save some cash.

The best time is when you need one. The second-best time is when you can afford what you want.

Seriously, it sounds like you guys will be on a tight budget for the foreseeable future and you won’t be able to afford the game PC of your dreams. Constantly fixating on what’s around the corner doesn’t do you any good.

Sure, you can wait for the next price drop…and the next one…and the next one. You can wait for the next CPU or videocard to come out…and the next one…and the next one. But eventually, you have to drop the hammer and buy something. You have to accept that no matter what you buy, something cheaper and faster will be out in months, if not weeks.

Obviously, all of this depends on what you’re running now and whether you’re dissatisfied with it: it makes a lot more sense to replace a five-year-old PC than a one-year-old one. And when you’re right on top of a new release or price drop, like now, then yeah, wait a week or two to see what shakes out.

It really depends what your goal is, but IMO right now is a superb time to buy a PC if you don’t need the absolute latest and greatest.

I think I’ve posted my midrange PC theory here before which states that these days, given the long development time for new games (and operating systems) you’re better off buying a good midrange PC more often than you are buying a top of the line asskicking machine less often.

Due to the Core Duo 2’s release you can put together a very very nice system around the AMD chips or the Intel Pentium D Dual Core Presler chips with 2 gigs of memory, etc for about $530 US if you’re willing to forego the latest/greatest mentality.

The PC/chip companies are deperate to sell inventory right now. When Vista finally launches (which may be mid to late 2007 at this point), a lot more people will be buying new systems and the prices will go up mighty quick.

Yea, my friend decided to buy all the parts and build one tomorrow. I don’t recall any of the specs for anything, all I know is that I’m getting a free 9600XT to replace my Geforce3 vanilla. Hooray!

They are rumoured to be as low as they’ll get for 6 months. As for Vista, I have no plans to ‘upgrade’ to that. Microsoft products are probably not ‘wise upgrades’ prior to SP1. The only things to wait for now are:

  1. Widespread availability of Conroe/Core2;
  2. The next generation of GPUs.
  3. Perpendicular-bit SATA-2 HDDs.
  4. A specific game or vacation.

But since only 1M Core2 will ship in the next 10 weeks, they will probably only go to Dell and other big-name Intel partners. There is no word on next generation GPUs. Perpendicular-bit SATA-2 HDDs are out. Other than (4), which varies by person, there is nothing on the horizon… now is a perfect time to upgrade.

That’s funny - every time I tell my friend “OK, upgrade NOW!”, I get a free video card too :) My current one is a Radeon 9800 Pro, which replaced a GeForce 4 Pro, which replaced a GeForce2 (standard), which is the last video card I bought :) It looks like my next one will be a Radeon 1900 XTX, unless I break down and buy something in the meantime.

Yea, my GeForce3 was a hand-me-down as well. The last videocard I bought was an ATI Rage128, which was in 1999. Then I got a free TNT2, not realizing it wasn’t that much better than the Rage128, then a free GeForce2, then this GeForce3.

Ironically, I’m on the other side: every time I upgrade, my friend gets a free (or at least cheap) upgrade out of it too. :-) He’s gotten every video card I’ve had since the Voodoo3, IIRC.

For inventory purposes (ahem) I need a simple way to output text versions of folder contents. If it’s already artist/album/tracks as per itunes then how can I easily turn that into a big text file that contains all of that info in reasonable formatting? Bonus points if it can include file size/length/bitrate…but not necessary.

As in:



Or am I stuck retyping that stuff? Any ideas?

Well, Microsoft has hauled the phrase “on track” out of storage, in reference to Vista’s ship date. In other words, do not hold your breath. I personally expect to see it about a year from now, no sooner. So DX10 isn’t a priority. However, I would wait until the Conroe chips are widely available, even if you plan to go AMD (which I don’t recommend – the performance delta is glaring). I think it will be worth it to wait a couple months for the street prices to get ingrained. Then, move in for the kill.

So when Vista launches, you can laugh at all the problems experienced by those eager games who plunked down $500-600 for a shiny, compatible video card and have like three games that will take advantage of a breathlessly exciting rendering path.