Upgrading my PC!

Yup, it’s that time that PC users always dread, I am upgrading my PC.

Well, I say upgrading, it’s more like a complete overhaul.

To put in a new processor means a new motherboard, a new parallel graphics card setup and new super-fast memory. Also I’ll be sticking in a Solid State Drive in the next few weeks (just for Windows), that or I’ll be looking into a Raid Setup with a couple of HDDs. All of this also means new sound card, new power supply unit… yeah, the only real thing left of the original computer will probably be the tower unit.

Technology moves onwards, and upgrading a PC to be on or above the curve for the next year to two years is incredibly hard and, unsurprisingly, incredibly expensive. But it is an evil we PC Gamers endeavor to make the best of, and actually it’s not quite as bad as it used to be. The joy of the current gaming market means that whilst there are PC games designed to exploit and harness the raw power some may get from their dual-ATI HD7950s, for the most part these games will be few and far between as the current gaming landscape is heavily biased towards the console manufacturing business. Which means serious updates only really occur every three to four years, when technology has advanced substantially onwards. I got an NVidia GTX460 when it was shiny and new, and it has been for the last couple of years an incredibly reliable and beautiful thing. Even now it is still a very good graphics card. But when you see what is on the horizon in the MMO space – Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World – you realise that everything has its time and its limits.

But I do often wonder why I do it at all. Every generational cycle requires a substantial investment, and the PC – it has to be said – is always at the higher end. It’s a labour of love, and yes it doesn’t require the yearly updating that used to be prevalent some years ago but it requires looking ahead and investing in technology that is bleeding edge, that will span the generational leap and deliver on the promise of the upcoming software.

But I save up for it.

Part of the joy of it is simply knowing that it is an inevitable cost of my hobby, and rather than being surprised when the time comes and you scramble around trying to stump up the often close to £1000 needed to keep reasonably on top of things I keep a savings account where I put in any and all spare money, which then also generates interest. Yes people, saving money is actually a good thing. Especially when you know the expenses of your hobby are inevitable. By the end of the year, I’ll have enough to buy a Wii-U as well. And next year, presumably when we see the new X-Box and Playstation, I’ll make sure my savings are in a position to pay those expenses too. And it doesn’t need to be hard – £10 a week is £520 a year, plus the interest that generates monthly. In five years, that adds up to £2600 – more than enough for a PC upgrade and any new consoles that happen to be swinging my way, as well as any unknown expenses to boot.

I’m not exactly rich either. I don’t get more than £10k a year. But it’s about priorities for me. Money to go into my savings account is treated with the same priority as paying my bills – it’s an essential monthly expense, and one that I treat as seriously as any other monthly bill. It’s often simply a case of little and often going a long way. We live in a world where we often take out credit to buy expensive goods – and this is fine, in principle, but at the same time it is still better to have a little forethought. I do encourage people to have a savings account, and to treat it as seriously as any other monthly outgoing – you’d be shocked, amazed and surprised at how quickly the money adds up, and online banking means if you have an extra bit of money lying about, you can smack it into your savings account almost immediately, making sure it starts earning its way.

Even though interest isn’t what it used to be. That’s a given, we’re in bleaker economic times and unless you have large lump sums to invest in the market or an ISA, returns aren’t amazing. But it adds up. Pennies become pounds eventually. Which is why I can look forward to my PC being upgraded, and upgraded well. And the new consoles coming in the next year or so. And a few games. And possibly a few extra treats. Yeah, my savings account is about to be ravaged but that is the point of it – save up enough over long enough and then spend that, rather than take out a loan where you pay back two to three times the amount you are borrowing. Upgrading/buying a PC is inevitable. New consoles are inevitable. It’s being sensible enough to realise this inevitability, and being prepared for it.

And in a few days, I will be enjoying a new PC ready for me to give Guild Wars 2 a whirl. It’s lovely. And I feel good about it. I see people horrified at the prospect of paying so much money for a PC, or the shock people have when it transpires the rumoured RRP of the Wii-U may be closer to £400 than they’d like. None of this is a surprise. Not to me, in any case.

And this isn’t about being smug – it’s about preparation. Being prepared for the worst. I encourage tech-heads to be prepared.

Especially if you love Apple – that’s an annual investment, and it’s always best to be one step ahead of them…

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