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The best computer upgrade I've ever done was:

Displaying poll results.
A better monitor
  4894 votes / 16%
A better processor
  915 votes / 3%
More RAM
  5614 votes / 18%
A better optical drive, hard drive or SSD
  3628 votes / 12%
A better input device
  493 votes / 1%
Better networking hardware
240 votes / 0%
A complete system replacement
  13031 votes / 43%
Some other option (described below)
  1389 votes / 4%
30204 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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The best computer upgrade I've ever done was:

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  • Missing option (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leonard Fedorov (1139357) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:07AM (#37702660)

    Surely "Graphics Card", an important system component for many gamers (a fair few of whom browse this fine site) would be an upgrade worthy of consideration...?

    • Re:Missing option (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zabby39103 (1354753) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:36AM (#37703066)

      Definitely - major oversight on a "News for Nerds" site. I still remember the day I popped in a Nvidia Riva TNT into my desktop and saw all my games get so much better and faster... playing Half-Life was a dream with 30 fps @ 1024x768 lol.

      • by mvar (1386987)
        Same here when i bought the first Geforce 256 by Creative. But the excitement of this won't even compare to that extra 2mb of RAM that allowed me to play Mortal Kombat 1 on my 386
    • by 1s44c (552956)

      Surely "Graphics Card", an important system component for many gamers (a fair few of whom browse this fine site) would be an upgrade worthy of consideration...?

      Or for people that use all the GPU goodness for other things like password cracking, bitcoin, or any other task that can be coded in OpenCL or CUDA.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Yeah, my GPU is pretty much the most expensive component of my otherwise low-end system, but it feels like it's flying!

      2.2Ghz Athlon X2
      250GB SATA disks (hdparm -t gives maybe 60MB/s :P , I used to RAID them, but gave up on that since upgrading my RAM )
      6GB DDR800 SDRAM

      Geforce 560Ti (!!)

      My 24x7 server is now an Dual core Atom 330 something, but it's on an nVidia ION board, so it's actually quite usable with compiz + moderate web browsing. OTOH, I've pretty much given up trying to use my eeePC 901 with its

    • by danbuter (2019760)
      Agreed. Graphics cards have really improved, and if you game, getting a newer one is very worthwhile.
    • by Lanteran (1883836)

      Certainly more so than network hardware...

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      In the old times it was more than just for gamers.

      I recall upgrading my Trident ET8900 graphics card to a "Windows Accelerator" type of graphics card. Finally scrolling text went smoothly.

      This Trident was a very popular card at the time, good performance for reasonable price and choices of 256 KB, 512 KB and 1MB of video RAM built in. I forgot the card I upgraded to... do recall later going for an S3 ViRGE card: fast and with a generous 4 MB of VRAM.

      Nowadays... well just using the built-in VGA. Good enou

  • A Mac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:16AM (#37702800)

    Of course... :-)

    ...laura

  • Monitor definitely (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gavin Scott (15916) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:27AM (#37702950)

    It's the only purchase that can in any way be considered and investment, since if you get a really nice one now, you can probably use it for years across multiple computers.

    Around 1988 I bought a Nec Multisync 5D 21" CRT display for myself at work. It cost me $2400, but it was worth every penny as at the time everyone else was using 12" displays at 640x480 (or worse), and that monitor still works fine today (though its maximum resolution of around 1100x700 means it no longer sees active use).

    I credit this display for eliminating ten years or so of eyestrain and discomfort, as well as productivity gains, and I wonder if it's one of the reasons my eyesight is still good many years later.

    So spend the extra bucks on a 27" or 30" professional display and you won't regret it.

    It's always worth spending more on interfaces between you and the rest of the world. That goes for monitors, mice, keyboards, as well as things like mattresses).

    G.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Yeah, I picked up a few widescreen LCDs, but I kept breaking them.

      Now I'm back to using 21" CRTs that I've been picking up from Craigslist, and I now have slightly faster framerates in games, and I can just pick them up and start using them again after flinging them across the room ^_^

      • 21" CRTs ...flinging them across the room

        Not to mention you must be the buffest gamer in your clan...

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      Around 1988 I bought a Nec Multisync 5D 21" CRT display for myself at work. It cost me $2400, but it was worth every penny as at the time everyone else was using 12" displays at 640x480 (or worse), and that monitor still works fine today (though its maximum resolution of around 1100x700 means it no longer sees active use).

      You're lucky... around 1997 I dropped ~$1600 on a 21" Sony Trinitron. It lasted about three years, then the picture went fuzzy (e.g. 18pt text was no longer readable)... I called up Sony and they responded with "yeah, that model does that after about three years. There's no way to repair it, and you're out of warranty, so too bad". Feh!

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      I've been using my TV as the monitor for years. Not for my "work" computer, but for my own home system, which gets lots of gaming use. Started with a rear projection TV (800x600) back in the late 90s (Terminal Velocity kicked ass on it), and currently using a 42" TV. I still have a 10 year old AOpen wireless keyboard that I'm typing on right now, although I still use a wired mouse for better fragging. The TV card lets me watch TV in a window, while I surf, or swap back to full TV. Considering you can g

    • by Nutria (679911)

      I credit this display for eliminating ten years or so of eyestrain and discomfort, as well as productivity gains

      It eliminated 10 years of productivity gains? That sucks.

    • by mvar (1386987)
      The monitor is definitely the best investment. I still use my 17" CRT & 17" TFT monitors, bought in 1999 and 2003 respectively. Both were very, very expensive at that time but they haven't flickered once ( /crosses fingers )
  • by spikedvodka (188722) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:28AM (#37702972)

    I do IT work... the best replacement to Date: User Replacement.

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      I do IT work... the best replacement to Date: User Replacement.

      I would mod you up but I already posted.

  • by MrLogic17 (233498) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:30AM (#37702992) Journal

    The switch from a single headed system to a 2 monitor setup was the single best improvment I've ever done.

    At work I now have a 4 monitor setup. E-Mail is always open on 1, various Notepad notes and IM converstations on another, and the other 2 for whatever I'm doing.

    • by tsa (15680)

      That's just showing you have money and can't manage yourself.

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:37AM (#37703078)

    ... resulted from adjusting the nut behind the keyboard.

  • A couple of years ago I replaced my clunky, 5 year old, self-built Pentium 4 mini-tower with a MacBook Pro.

    Portable, way more powerful, and a better OS. Plus, the ability to boot into Windows if I needed it. It was life changing, not being tied to my desk.

  • I had a desktop computer for years. I ditched it this year when the power supply blew up and killed any number of components. I replaced it with a cheap i3 laptop with HDMI. Now I can couch surf on a 32" HDTV instead of being tied to my desk. Incredibly, a generic Intel HD graphics chip works well with multiple cores.
  • Actually getting a laptop that emphasized battery life was probably the best thing I've ever done. Not actually being tethered to an outlet to do work is great. I didn't realize how big a hindrance it was to have laptop that couldn't last a day on a single charge while doing basic tasks.

  • Why upgrade one bit when you can upgrade everything at once and start afresh? I do this every three years on the dot now.
  • SSD all the way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @12:21PM (#37703668)
    These times are from my system at home. (2.4 GHz Core 2 MBP with Snow Leopard)

    Boot time:
    49 seconds HDD
    37 Seconds SSD

    Logon & start Firefox
    36 Seconds HDD
    7 Seconds SSD

    Load an .XLS into Open Office
    20 Seconds HDD
    6 Seconds SSD
    • Moving from a spinning disk to SSD provided a noticeable and significant performance boost, everything ran faster and smoother. Cold boot of Windows 7 to an open and usable Firefox window is ~30s on my laptop, which is hard to match with spinning disks unless you've got a RAID setup going, but the real improvement is in random access times. Opening many new documents or programs is almost instant, those that aren't instant are a fraction of the time they were before. In comparison, moving from 4 GB to 8

  • Removed Windows (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phaedrus5001 (1992314) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @12:48PM (#37704014)
    Surprising how much faster the laptop was after I removed Vista and installed Linux
    • by hihihihi (940800)

      same mileage here, after removing xp and installing linux (i think it was SuSE-10 back then).. shouldn't this be included in poll-option: changed operating system?!

  • By biggest upgrade was going from a P4 Prescott gaming rig to an i7 940 based one with two 10krpm drives in RAID0 and two video cards in SLI. But that's because the P4 blew caps and died, and I couldn't find any compatible mobos that would work with the existing parts, and most used ones had also blown caps and died at that time, leaving me too poor to overhaul my gaming PC for many years.

    But for a single component, it would have to be hard drive/SSD. Storage has always been a computer's biggest bottleneck.

  • PC to Mac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sebastopol (189276) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @01:06PM (#37704226) Homepage

    Three years I stopped playing WoW, and at that point I was also finished with Windoze B.S. I was tired of the crashing and instability. Plus the constant video upgrades required to play games. I was done with games, too.

    I kicked it to the curb and bought a Mac Mini. 1,000,000% improvement to the overall happiness of my life.

    Linux at work, Mac OSX at home. No Windows anywhere. Sheer bliss.

  • by KC1P (907742)

    2K cache memory for the PDP-11/34a -- it made a *huge* difference!

  • This is a very hard choice, since it all depends on where your bottleneck is. I've done three different upgrades that have had a drastic effect on my, as the buzzwordy types would say, "experience":

    - I upgraded my 20" (1280x1024) IBM CRT monitor to an Apple LCD (1680x1050) back in 2005. The difference was amazing.
    - I upgraded my Linux gaming box (yes, you read that right) from 1GB RAM to 4GB RAM a few years back. Everything suddenly ran significantly smoother
    - Not an upgrade, but I coughed up the extra doug

  • SSD for sure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by citylivin (1250770) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @01:45PM (#37704766)

    Without a doubt, the most notable increase in performance for me was installing an SSD. I replaced a ultra 320 15k scsi drive with an early model intel SSD and it was night and day. I have since upgraded again to a 128gb model crucial m4 and I am LOVING it!!

    0ms access time, 400MB/s read 250MB/s write (with SATA3). The system is simply snappier and more responsive. I have never had a CPU uprgade, or anything else, make as much of a difference.

    Upgrading laptops we had at work with crucial m4's recently has breathed life into 4 or 5 year old machines which people constantly complained were slow. With the 64GB version at about $110, its really the best "bang for your buck" that you can do.

  • A better monitor, sitting beside my original one. Close second was a Logic3 pen mouse, that thing was brilliant. You held it like a pen, and it had a tiny mouse ball in the bottom (and an RS232 connector!). I used to sit with my arms folded doodling in AutoCAD on my left forearm; it worked really well for convincing the lecturer that I was slacking :)
  • I can't believe OS wasn't an option. Switching OSes was by far the best thing I have ever done in terms of increasing the overall satisfaction I had with my computer.

    If this is strictly a hardware question though I'd have to go with SSD.

  • Made the system a lot quieter. :-)

    Was kind of a pain on a CRT iMac, though...
  • I went from a Mac IIci (albeit with an 68040 accellerator board) to a G3, i.e. 8 years and about 4 generations in one go. That's a noticeable increase in performance.

    • by methano (519830)
      I remember that. I bought mine in 1998. The G3 was a big boost in performance over previous macs. I just got rid of my old 233 MHz G3 Beige desktop Mac a couple of months ago. Sold it and a monitor (CRT) to a collector of old macs via Craigslist (for $5). It still ran fine. It just took up a lot of desk space for the occasional game of Klondike. The browsers that would run on it tended to lock up on today's web content.
  • At different times I've done each of those upgrades, and each time it was "the best" upgrade I could do.

  • I'm going to have to go with input device, my Logitech Trackman wheel. I bought its predecessor originally for $100 back in the early 90's and have made sure I have one on every computer I use since.

    But every time I upgrade some component it seems like a great thing. Going from monochrome to color monitors was fantastic. Then from a 15" to a 21" to dual 21" monitors was great. I like the extra screen real-estate and desk space with my current dual 24" flat panels, but I still think the dual Eizo CRT's looke

  • In 2000, I stopped using Windows as my main desktop and switched to Red Hat Linux (and later Fedora for a brief while). Then in late 2003 I switched from Linux to OS X on the desktop. In terms of getting my work done, both of these steps were improvements on what I was doing previously.

    Note that Linux is still my server OS of choice, and likely always will be.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @03:19PM (#37705920) Homepage Journal

    +++Out Of Cheese Error ???????+++

      Redo from Start

  • ...and replacing it with a new, faster NEC-V20 microprocessor. I don't know if I actually got more speed and power, but I was tickled to death with myself for doing the transplant.

  • As an upgrade strategy, it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time. Of course, my addiction won out. I now have portables and pads with no cure in sight.

  • Rural power grid tends to mean brownouts on a regular basis. Now I just laugh at them.

  • Inserting 36 dual-inline-package ram chips into my motherboard. Then doing it all over again after I installed all them upside down by mistake. It was a 386/20 I wish I could remember the company.

    Hardest Upgrade: Putting RAM in a Mac Mini. Now THAT was hard. I cannot -believe- how hard that was. It was documented to be a two person job.

    • You'll be happy to know the current generation mac minis are a breeze to upgrade the RAM on. There is a bottom cover that twists open to reveal the RAM slots.

      I can totally relate to upgrading RAM on the previous generation minis. We utilize a lot of minis at work so I got pretty good at it using a box cutter, putty knife, and a few small screw drivers in about 20 mins. It's still something I hate doing though.

  • the one I just did.

  • Back in 1998 I bought my first OEM system:

    P2 400
    128MB of RAM
    8GB HDD
    DVD ROM

    Which was a huge boost from my parents 486DX4 (AMD Overdrive) with its amazing 24MB of RAM and 500MB of disk space.

    The next biggest jump was in 2009, when I went from a:

    Shuttle SN25P (nForce4)
    2GB DDR SDRAM
    Athlon64 3200+
    250GB HDD
    MSI GeForce 6800GT 512MB GDDR2

    to

    ASUS P6T Deluxe V2
    12GB DDR3 SDRAM
    Intel Core i7 920
    150GB 10K RPM Boot Drive + 2TB RAID0
    Sapphire 4870 1GB GDDR3

    Since then I upgraded some small bits:

    Crucial M4 256GB SSD (still hav

  • 1996 era IBM Model M keyboard. Replaced the membrane crap that I had prior. Best typing experience you'll ever have, and if someone breaks into your house, you can use it as a blunt instrument to defend yourself. (then type out the report for the police dept).

  • IBM-1130 -> IBM-3033

  • Best upgrade? Going from having no computer to having a computer. Sure, by modern standards my Mac SE with its 1 MB of RAM and a 20 MB hard drive is obsolete. But being able to edit documents without rewriting the entire thing forever changed how I went about my work. My work and home computers are orders of magnitude faster now, but the fundamental tasks that I perform on them haven't really changed all that much.
  • Tie for most noticeable upgrades:

    1. 2400 baud modem to 14.4k baud modem. The BBS text just flew!

    2. 56k modem to a cable modem. Can't remember the bandwidth on the cable account, but it was a couple order of magnitudes faster than the modem.

    3. Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Not having to run Trumpet Winsock any more = ZOMG THANK YOU.

  • my laptop was dead and unused until i swapped the hard disk and put a nix distro on it. now i use it all the time, as i'm forced to learn bash.

  • A really good slide rule.

  • by smash (1351) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @11:12PM (#37710228) Homepage Journal

    ... a complete system replacement will be best, it shouldn't really be a poll option.

    However, as far as upgrades go, RAM usually gives best bang for buck. If in doubt, drop 1-2 grades on CPU and double your RAM with the money (which is generally aroudn the same cost, on typical consumer levels of hardware). You won't regret it.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

 



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