Time to Upgrade My Hardware?

I built my current desktop computer five years ago. Here are the main specifications:

Motherboard: Asus P5Q3
CPU Name Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q9650 @ 3.00GHz
Platform Name Socket 775 LGA
RAM: 8Gb DDR3 666.6Mh
Video: NVIDiA GeForce 9500GT
Several terabytes of hard disks
Windows 7 Professional

The system has become rather slow and unstable – occasional blue screen of death, freezing programmes, and so forth.

Should I reformat and reinstall? Or should I consider a total rebuild? My wife and I use the machine for wordprocessing, e-mail and browsing the Web. I occasionally use it to process video, and am not worried if HQ video must be cooked in real time. I suspect that even the system we have is more powerful than we really need. But the hardware may be wearing out.

Any advice much appreciated.


14 responses to “Time to Upgrade My Hardware?

  1. The only part of the hardware which could be “wearing out” in the mechanical sense, would be the systwem hard disc. What error message do you get when the system blue screens? Did you start with 8GB RAM, or a lower amount, and have added more recently? Is the video card a recent addidtion, and does it have a cooling fan (which may have stopped working).

    I’d say it’s worth trying a format/reinstall to start with, but use a known good hard disc – even get a new one, they’re reasonably inexpensive.

    You really need to work out what the blue screen of death is telling you, but there’s no harm in seeing if a full reinstall will help – except for the hours spent restoring your files and reinstalling your programmes!

    • Thanks. I put everything together in October 2009, and have added a few hard disks since then. I also had to replace the PSU about three years ago.

      I will try to reformat first, as I don’t fancy a total rebuild.

      • Interesting – a dodgy PSU can be the root cause of problems, though if it works normally most of the time, can be a devil to diagnose.

  2. Give it a clean, hoover out the insides nicely. Accumulated dust is a common problem. This often produces a noticeable difference.

    Formatting and reinstalling may be sensible too, but something of a pain. I’d say your hardware is quite capable of the tasks you wish to accomplish, with maybe the exception of the video work, so don’t feel the need to splash out on new hardware.

  3. Yes, what Jon said too!

  4. Having just spent a couple of afternoons inaugurating my father’s new PC, I’d advise that if you do upgrade, avoid Windows 8/8.1 like the plague. It makes Soviet Communism look like a rational system. Awful.

    If you’ve got a Win 7 install disk, use that. Hopefully they’ll come to their senses with Windows 9.

    • I tend to avoid every other version of Windows. I jumped from Dos/Win 3 to Win98, then to XP, then to 7. I’ve heard nothing good of Win 8 – and found, when I ran my own test, that it wouldn’t support Office 2003, of which I have a legitimate copy, and which I rather like.

  5. Clean out the dust, renew the thermal paste in the cooler (an important step), and format and reinstall. Run all the Windows Updates before you reinstall any third party applications.

  6. I don’t do much video work, so I can’t speak to your hardware or application needs on that front.

    For everything else, the cheapest, fastest and easiest solution is:

    Get as far away from Windows as fast as you can.

    Turn that beast into a Linux box or Chromebox and never look back.

    • Linux is a worthy OS, but I’m surprised you’d be a supporter of Google, Thomas. If anybody’s an illibertarian corporation seeking an authoritarian hegemony, it’s Google.

      For me, if Adobe would port Photoshop across, I’d seriously consider trying Linux. But they never do, so I can’t. And no, nothing else compares.

      • Ian,
        I’m not sure what you mean by me being a “supporter” of Google.

        I’m a CUSTOMER of Google — my desktop machine is a Samsung Chromebox (I’m considering going to the new Asus Chromebox coming in March) and my laptop is a Samsung Chromebook.

    • Since all my MS software is legitimate, and I know how it works, and am too overburdened with work to learn a new operating system, I will stick with what I’ve got.

      I’ve now reformatted and reinstalled, and am rejoicing in a new computer. I just hope that Mrs Gabb’s settings have really been restored….

      By the way, Thomas, did you get my e-mail of a few days ago? About half the stuff I sent out at the moment never arrives.