Discussion Share your tips for stretching your tech dollars!

SHaines

Community Manager
Staff member
Apr 1, 2019
385
301
5,060
0
Hey folks,

With the current supply chain and inflationary pressures hitting us the world over, grabbing upgrades seems next to impossible. With that said, we still need our tech, so it’s important to have ways to extend the life of what we have, as well as finding affordable alternatives to sought after goodies.

Let us know what you’re doing to extend the life of your gear, or share your advice for finding the best available tech in these challenging times.

We’d love to hear from you and we might even be able to get some articles created for some of your suggestions!
 
Reactions: kubrat and Tac 25
Identify the specific reason for needing new tech BEFORE replacing the old.

An old system whose performance is being choked by having only one 4GB stick of RAM (or 2x2GB sticks), an old spindle HDD, or even a slow, half-dead 1st/2nd gen SSD, can easily get a second life from just a simple, cheap RAM upgrade or new SSD upgrade. Especially if this is just a system used for light browsing or word processing. Unfortunately, an SSD upgrade usually necessitate an OS reinstall but many times the old OS is part of the reason for the slowness anyway.

Any mid-level computer bought within the last 5-7 years can browse the internet and perform word processing just find, with the correct upgrades.
 
Reactions: Isaac Zackary
Unfortunately, an SSD upgrade usually necessitate an OS reinstall but many times the old OS is part of the reason for the slowness anyway.
...along these lines, an OS reinstall can sometimes take a computer that is barely crawling along and make it 5 times faster. Especially when the OS has program, registry, and (unknown) virus, malware, and PUP issues. (this is more for Windows users than Linux, of course)
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
156,060
11,660
176,090
24,257
Unfortunately, an SSD upgrade usually necessitate an OS reinstall but many times the old OS is part of the reason for the slowness anyway.
Given appropriate drive and data sizes, cloning is always an option.

But yes...an OS that was installed years ago likely has a lot of cruft built up over the years.
A fresh install will do wonders.
 
Reactions: Grobe

Lafong

Respectable
Same tip as applies to all spending: distinguish between wants and needs.

Few people follow it even semi-religiously. Otherwise GDP would be cut in half within a few months and you'd be out on the street with no pad to be had.

In second place: find a credit card with a higher limit.

God bless capitalism?
 

carocuore

Notable
Jan 24, 2021
381
88
840
33
Let us know what you’re doing to extend the life of your gear
Never cheap out on the power supply and/or know its limits, you're not powering a 3070 with a 300W junk unit.
If your power grid is more unstable than a drunk nearsighted dwarf riding an unicycle, invest in an UPS.
Undervolt whenever possible.
Keep temps below 75C, this one's on me I know up to 90 is fine but still, tad high imo.
It is completely possible to replace surface components on your motherboard using a crude soldering iron built out of a pencil and a power brick.


I don't really care about upgrading my computer every year, don't need it and also can't afford it. When you're short on money and every spare part is scarce things tend to get complicated but also kind of forces you to learn how things work and how to repair and rebuild them using what's available, of course a computer is way more complex than a manual washing machine but the same principle applies to both in my case since I've put together both of those things.
Going deeper I know socioeconomic context highly influences behaviours and other internal operational cognitive mechanics, in simple terms my little mind isn't nowhere near that of someone living in a first world country, from both a good and bad POV. But perchance that's too deep for this kind of topic.

On a side note it's hilarious for me to see western europeans complaining about 5% inflation or US people about 8%, like, that's what my country has in a WEEK lmao, currency is so worthless the metal in the coins is at this point 50X more expensive than the face value and the old lower denomination bills are shredded because nobody wants them, not even banks, that still leaves us with the problem where you need a literal briefcase full of money to purchase a candle. We use USD even though it's highly illegal but since there's nobody to enforce that law nothing happens.
We're making the mother of all inflations here, Jack!
 

Isaac Zackary

Prominent
Aug 11, 2020
153
9
585
0
I knew a lot of people that needed computers during the pandemic. I kept an eye out for cheap and free computers. One lady on Facebook Market Place was asking where she could dispose of some electronics. I ended up landing a free Macbook (from 2012) and old 2nd gen Intel Core i7 gaming desktop. I wiped the drives and reinstalled the OSs and didn't do much more than that except add a little more RAM to the Macbook. Both work perfectly fine for stuff like Zoom.

I also got lots of other laptops for free or cheap that people were having problems with. I do three things to them,
  1. Clean out the dust out of the heat exchangers and fans.
  2. Swap in a smaller cheaper SSD and put the hard drive in the CD bay.
  3. Add up to about 8GB of RAM.
 
Microcenters and bestbuys will often negotiate prices on open box compuer hardware been doing it for years worst they can say is no, (always ask for a manger floor associates aren't supposed to mark stuff down anymore) They want to get rid of that product as much as you want a deal :p.

If you buy allot of parts try to go direct when possible, I have been buying from EVGA since the GTX 9800 after years and spending allot of money often when I call in they give me deals that are not posted on the website.

Never be afraid to buy Amazon warehouse deals to save big money on computer parts worst case they are bunk and Amazon takes them back for free and give you a refund.

Slickdeals is a perfect APP/Site that has been around for years where you can set filters for certain items and when a crazy deal is going down it will alert you.
 
Another idea is sell your old gear. Case in point, recently bought a 6700xt used for $430, but my old 1060 3gb still fetched 88 bucks. So it’s almost like getting a discount since I wouldn’t be using the 1060.

Some folks have issues with buying used/ refurbished stuff but personally I don’t mind too much within reason. For example, I bought a TV for my basement for video games/watch sports etc later last year. I decided I wanted a sound bar and began looking around with Christmas money I’d gotten. I could have spent more but ended up finding an ONN(Walmart brand) sound bar with a subwoofer for something like 26 bucks on eBay. So I bought that and a universal remote for 10 bucks or so that I could program to work my TV, roku and the sound bar.

My wife has complained that sometimes the sound bar is to loud, so I have to turn it down, but for a similar setup I new I probably would have been out at least 100 dollars. I find I like browsing around eBay. Sometimes you find a good deal. Also if you shop at Microcenter in the USA, many times you can find open box deals that are a decent chunk off. I guess the good thing for me is when my wife and I were a little younger, we didn’t always have a lot of cash, but I’ve been a techie for years, so I’d already learned ways to try to cut corners on tech.

Another way, even though this might anger some people, is buying amd. For me their platforms usually have good longevity. This has been true from at least socket am2 for me anyway. For example, I bought a ryzen system with a 1600 and b350 board a few years back. I had a chance to buy from a friend a ryzen 1700 for 100 bucks. I ended up buying second b350 board at the time (it was cheaper than buying a b450 that was the latest tech at the time) I then sold my existing pc to someone as used.

I later upgraded the ryzen 1700 to a 3600. I still have the second b350 board, I sold the 1700 for about 20 dollars less than I’d paid for it a year before, so I essentially rented the cpu for 20-25 bucks.. Recently I discovered that AsRock has a beta bios update for my b350 board that will let me go to ryzen 5000 series. So at some point I may pick up a ryzen 5600 or maybe a 5700x and upgrade the cpu.

The last part works out well however because the system in my wife’s home office she uses is an old Dell optiplex with an i7 3770 from 2013-2014 that I bought used for 50 bucks. Upgraded it to 16gb of ddr3 ram from an old pc that had died, and tossed in a cheap 480gb sata ssd. Those 2 things make that system run great, but I’ll probably hold onto my ryzen 3600 cpu, pick up another board cheap that will support it and a case and then be able to build her another pc from spare parts that will run windows 11 and still be faster than her current system. Or I could probably sell the ryzen 3600 for close to 100 dollars, and basically get a discount on a new cpu purchase. When I go ryzen 5000, I may sit on that a year or two to make it last and let newer tech mature and come down in price.

Apologies for the lengthy read but it gives an idea how a techie like me who likes to have the latest tech is able to upgrade on a relative budget.
 
Jun 26, 2022
2
1
15
0
I am always tempted to use my powerful electric leaf blower to blast all the $#$%@ dust bunnies straight out of my PC case . Anyway, I periodically remove the CPU fan by unscewing it off the heat sink fins with a tiny phillips screwdriver then brush off the dust bunnies with a inch wide disposable paint brush I buy at a local hardware for $2 apiece. I taped the metal bristle strap entirely with either masking tape or shipping tape whatever so to insulate it from any possible shortcircuits with other unseen exposed circuits whawtever just for peace of mind before I use it. then I replace the heat sink cooling fan over the CPU.
I took the liberty to cannibalize old cooling fans from my old PC case I still saved even with its obsolete 3 pin power connectors and jerrywire it using non conductive straps or insulated thin solid copper wires whatever so that nothing is exposed to any live circuits and find anchor points somewehre inside the case which is plenty to find like the openings in drive bays or nookholes whaever to supsend the cooling fans that blow into my RAM bank , hard drive , northbridge or even usb hub cards whatever to keep it cooler . it shold be provided by all case makers , though. I like to think that more directed fans toward RAM banks, harddrives are good ideas to help keep it cooler. the typical case fans are usually screweed on the wallsof the case blowing aimlessly inside with little benefits to the critical components like RAM and harddrives.. I make sure that my fans is jigged with safe twistable wires in manners that can direct its cool flow toward where I want it exaclty to go!
I think it helps,
There should also be cooling fans for your cable, satellite or DSL modems as well but I havent done this yet.. I will figure out how to use a spare usb port to power the fan constantly to keep my modem cool ! New cooling fans are temperature smart with four power pins but ou can still use you rold three pin cooling fans that will spin constantly wihtout being told to be shut off when it is sensed to be cool enough.. But heck there is no way o fknowing how hot RAM or harddrive is at any given time.i am clueless so the old but good three pin cooling fans 80mm or even 120mm do the trick fine! Those fans use 5 watts or less i think no biggie!
you will laugh at the picture of the inside if I show to you.
you get the idea.
Case desginers take note!
 

punkncat

Distinguished
Ambassador
^ I do use a leaf blower to clean out my PC, had no issues with it...but it is a cheapo electric model that isn't powerful to start with, and I use it on low.

My typical purchase procedure for new equipment is to buy the stuff that is one generation behind the curve. This is enabled by having a Microcenter nearby, which runs incredible deals on the last gen stuff as they clear it out. I always keep an eye on sales fliers and try my best not to buy items on a whim rather than long and calculated searches for specific items. It works out much of the time, but sometimes things will go out of stock before I land them. I also keep an eye for refurbished items on some things.
 
I’m not as bad as buying last gen. I like new gen or a part that may be one out two generations old that gives the same performance. I am happy with my 6700 xt purchase though. I think that is the most powerful gpu I’ve owned. True I’m only playing at 1080p, but I do have a 27 inch 144hz monitor. It is nice to be able to turn everything or nearly everything to ultra and enjoy high frame rates.
 

punkncat

Distinguished
Ambassador
I’m not as bad as buying last gen.
Mostly I do so with CPU and mobo. Similar to your post above, I purchased a 1700 for $100, new. I watched and picked up an open box X370 Taichi for $100 still under warranty. I waited and picked up a 2700X for ~$125. I just picked up an i9 11900K for less than half price.
I typically do purchase my OS disk as a new part, but am not beyond using storage disks that are pass me downs or just wait until something goes on an insane sale when the "new" comes out. I did purchase (one of) my GTX 1080 at MSRP during the first crypto boom and felt lucky to get it as well as the EVGA refurb 1080 that I got for a bit less than that.

I am currently trawling for something like a 3070 or 3080 if I can find something I want. I am being fairly specific about my desire on this one, so probably will have to pay a bit of a premium for it.
 
If you're looking for second hand hardware, I'll throw out that office/professional lines of computers built by Dell, HP, etc. tend to last longer and are more serviceable (usually) than their consumer counterparts. For instance, the workhorse computer I have at work is a 2013 model and it's still going strong. The worst I'll expect out of it is a storage drive replacement. Also because of their prevelance, replacement parts should be easier to come by.
 
Reactions: Grobe and punkncat
Mostly I do so with CPU and mobo. Similar to your post above, I purchased a 1700 for $100, new. I watched and picked up an open box X370 Taichi for $100 still under warranty. I waited and picked up a 2700X for ~$125. I just picked up an i9 11900K for less than half price.
I typically do purchase my OS disk as a new part, but am not beyond using storage disks that are pass me downs or just wait until something goes on an insane sale when the "new" comes out. I did purchase (one of) my GTX 1080 at MSRP during the first crypto boom and felt lucky to get it as well as the EVGA refurb 1080 that I got for a bit less than that.

I am currently trawling for something like a 3070 or 3080 if I can find something I want. I am being fairly specific about my desire on this one, so probably will have to pay a bit of a premium for it.

Not a 3070 or 3080 but the price is good.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/284872174550?hash=item4253b46bd6:g:pjQAAOSwBjpiVIEv&amdata=enc:AQAHAAAA0DaoPG6GRiuSB2ZecwpGTOvib/KuOJ/hW72yCUhtszPEgaHkuhB2naAmwecMwfeVWY/qcoZdRgFhb0UG53FsRICYML8DUYlkGYoABkN9DoI77b8NkIVK0x2dqGNNYRoO+5sbQ3+o2VxeGG/eQT6tRTptDT94KvCO1rfniAfi/fZuWbB9YLyeHCyHEGwIDFJn5Kt6dOY1tja4H6mKrkaWRDnDOZJCXpwC1jD9Sq29YydVH5yr3Mcq3EcOlpXyzYpN/tByp4YqK7zR9d14HINVL+4=|tkp:BFBMisT65rRg

Seller says it's a new system pull. That particular seller I looked at the feedback and the 1 hit they have in the last 6 months was someone complaining because the seller apparently buys systems and parts out the gpu and sells the system seperate. The price is right imo.

If you look at this seller, I just bought a card from them a week or so ago and it's been a great card thus far for a 6700xt.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/125367114200?hash=item1d307659d8:g:Ap8AAOSwzUhipt3K

The seller in the second listing, xpc technology, looks to have a lot of cards available.

As far as last gen, if there’s a significant difference and the performance is comparable then I’d consider.
 
Last edited:
Jun 29, 2022
1
0
10
0
Can anyone tell me if you can upgrade a Ryzen Matisse series cpu to a Ryzen Vermeer series without reinstalling windows?
 
Identify the specific reason for needing new tech BEFORE replacing the old.
Not sure what you mean, when doing backups - one HAVE to transfer the files, so it's a bad idea to get rid of the old before acquiring new stuff (if I get your point right).

Same tip as applies to all spending: distinguish between wants and needs.
So if I want to keep an ancient computer alive for the longest time possible, do I need it ? And, yes - I'm that kind of person.

God bless capitalism?
No, it is for the most part Microsoft and Apple that bless the capitalism.


Why hasn't anybody yet discussed actual use of the computers in question? I mean - old computers and old computers can be two completely different things in my opinion, depending on each person use of the computer. If you're gaming, you want bigger and greater CPU and GPU - but those have a tendency of shorter life span. If doing only office and YouTube, not so much. And then of course video editing where greater tech usually results in spending less time on encoding.

Having an old computer from mid 2000 can still function as file backup server and even also office tasks.

Personally I love to make old computers wake up re-born, usually those that was originally running Windows XP. Thanks good for Debian crew that keep a fully functional 32 bit OS updated. A really old x86 computer is still possible to revive for office tasks and backup purposes. A couple of months ago I found that the Debian x86 had an update to the software I'm found of, that being Libre Offce being in the 7. version serie and Inkscape not longer very ancient version (ie. fully susable for actual work).

Therefore, any Debian based distros still featuring 32 bit version use the same software base - in general.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
156,060
11,660
176,090
24,257
Why hasn't anybody yet discussed actual use of the computers in question? I mean - old computers and old computers can be two completely different things in my opinion, depending on each person use of the computer.
Exactly.
I'm about to turn an old system (prob the i5-3570k) into an ADS-B node, feeding globally accessible flight tracking data.
 
Reactions: Lutfij

Tac 25

Notable
Jul 25, 2021
585
128
1,090
6
have three pc, an i5-10600k pc, i7-2600k pc, and an old q9500 pc. Pretty much a golden rule over here in the house is that all pc, even the weakest one should be able to play Genshin Impact, Dead or Alive VI, and Granblue Fantasy. The i5 and i7 had no problems, but the q9500 was clearly struggling.

Unfortunately, the lga 775 board of the q9500 is the kind that does not accept 4GB ram sticks - made several attempts to upgrade the ram, but failed - so I was stuck using two 2GB ram sticks for a total of 4GB. As the last hope (lol), I gave the old pc an SSD, and installed a GTX 1650 GDDR6 into it as well. And it's like a miracle, even with only pcie 1.0. gameplay improved... Dead or Alive VI can be be played now at 1600 x 900 game resolution (with minor lag during start of the round that is tolerable, but almost no lag during actual fighting), Granblue Fantasy can now be full screened at 1080p on my 27 inch monitor (no lag), and Genshin can be played with all graphics settings at high (no lag) - but V-sync has to be turned off at the in-game options or the game would freeze. So to summarize, giving an SSD and new gpu to the lga 775 breathed a little more life into it. :)

...along these lines, an OS reinstall can sometimes take a computer that is barely crawling along and make it 5 times faster. Especially when the OS has program, registry, and (unknown) virus, malware, and PUP issues. (this is more for Windows users than Linux, of course)
agreed with this. My lga 775 board has an HDD with Windows 7 as boot drive. After adding an SSD with Windows 10, programs became faster.
 
Last edited:
Not sure what you mean, when doing backups - one HAVE to transfer the files, so it's a bad idea to get rid of the old before acquiring new stuff (if I get your point right).
I mean that instead of just thinking the computer is slow and getting a new one, you may, with a little research, find that all you need is a memory upgrade.
In other words, identify what component(s) is causing your computer to be slow/unusable.
 
I mean that instead of just thinking the computer is slow and getting a new one, you may, with a little research, find that all you need is a memory upgrade.
In other words, identify what component(s) is causing your computer to be slow/unusable.
The very honest reply on that - When I got computers from others, the one common thing that seems to plague everyone turns out being the OS installed and a large pile of crap software that is being installed over the time.

With Linux, there is more actions that is possible to take when RAM is the issue. Last year I revived a computer from 2006, an AMD 4400+ dual core and 2GB RAM, have a motherboard where most of capacitors are replaced. I used the computer for off-site document scanning (because I would just park the computer at the place not wanting to drag it back home), and I was somehow able to cope with low RAM by adding 3 similar 500GB hdd (from scrap yard) and created a swap partition and a btrfs partition on all 3 drives, then I was able to mount the swap partition in such a way that load should spread equally over the 3 hdd's. Also the remaining btrfs partitions joined to act like one big one.

I admit that computer not only had the purpose of being set up for scanning, but was also used as a Linux playground so I could test what worked and what not working to overcome a system with low ram. There is one thing I haven't tested yet (but I know I have read it somewhere) - it's said to be possible to allocate some RAM on GPU for swap purpose.
 

A_Goat

Distinguished
Nov 30, 2014
1,412
4
19,965
216
A lot of great information in this thread already.

If you're on a serious budget, do not be afraid to buy most components used.
GPU, CPU, RAM, MOBO, even a PSU are all perfectly fine to buy used.

If you do decide to buy used, know what to look for before doing so. Always request proof that the component is operational, unless you're relying on something like ebay buyer protection. If you buy a junk component from ebay, you have much in your favor for getting a refund if it was advertised as working. If you're buying in person and the seller refuses to provide proof, know that it's a gamble.
  • Inspect closely in good lighting for damage. Sag, cracks, bent pins, water spots, any detail out of place.
  • Run stress tests on the components, for example, a worn GPU may work fine normally but be unstable at high load.
  • Check model numbers, and compare your performance to what it's supposed to be! Ensure you got what was advertised.
I personally wouldn't buy any computer component in person without proof that it is operational, if a seller is serious, often they will have no problems providing it. I've bought used components in the past, and with varying price I've requested varying levels of proof.
 
Last edited:

Tac 25

Notable
Jul 25, 2021
585
128
1,090
6
about buying second hand pc.. two of the three pc here in my house are from a Korean second hand goods surplus store. They have a huge warehouse of refurbished Dell and some older lga 775 units, which I assume came from korea. Reason I buy from them is mostly because of the warranty they provide. While I was watching, the pc is tested at the store to prove that it is working, then there's an official receipt with three week return warranty written on it, and a one year free servicing by their technicians. The pc's proved to be resilient... the lga 775 (e8400 later upgraded to Q9500) got it from them 2014 still works to this day, it was followed by a Dell (i32120 later upgraded to i7-2600k) purchased 2019 which also still works to this day. The thing I replaced with brand new in the second hand pc are the power supply - because the psu of these things have been through a lot already. The Dell was my budget gaming pc 2019-2022. Together with a 1050ti, it was able to run without lag at 1080p, the PS4 games I wanted to play.

Now have an i5-10600k brand new.. but the two old pc from the korean store still provide service by being backup storage of family photos, pet photos, and games.
Most of my important data are duplicated three times, so not much will be lost if something breaks down.
____

to those with low budget, and only want to play PS4 games. A second hand Dell with 8gb of ram and an i5-2500k is enough, just pair it with a GT 1030 or 1050ti.
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS