Discussion Share your tips for stretching your tech dollars!

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CParsons

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Dec 4, 2019
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Although not computer related exactly, I was looking to pick up a few security cameras for the front door, back yard etc but rather than buying new I just gathered up a bunch of old phones I had laying around with reasonable cameras and used them instead. When you couple them with the right apps, you get motion tracking notifications, etc. Didn't cost me a dime and it works perfectly fine for my needs.
 
Jul 7, 2022
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Hey.

I used to run various older builds that my grandpa would bring in from work. They were typically from the mid 2000s. Y'know, home family type PCs. They usually had bizarre, nonstandard ports and sizes, and could very rarely have any of the parts swapped out except for stuff like the CPU, GPU, RAM, etc. etc.

I decided to install linux on them. Mainly because it would be easier that way, instead of trying to struggle with making a modern install of windows run on it. These would be very bad dual cores that, even in their day, sucked. I loved installing linux on them more over the bland windows installation process as well. It's crazy how well youtube would run on them, and how light on resources linux was. Even turned laptops that would most likely never see the light of day within the past few years into a respectable machine that could conquer simpler tasks like light web browsing, word processing, checking emails, occasional videos, etc. etc.

I don't really do this anymore, but I do still retain most of the knowledge of what I would do in order to breathe new life into these old machines. Most of the time, all you need to do is upgrade the ram to a respectable amount and install linux. That's basically the bare minimum. But if you wanted to go all out, then this becomes a little more complicated.

First of all, here's a no-brainer: If there's a much better and more efficient yet affordable CPU you can get your hands on, then buy it and swap it out. The CPU is the main thing you need to work with above all. It determines the absolute performance of your PC in nearly everything it does. The RAM is your next step. Without sufficient ram you will have a bad time. Make sure there is enough so that your PC doesn't start to choke and stutter from a lack of it, but don't go overboard. And then comes the GPU. The GPU is a necessity if you want to work with anything graphically intensive. Make sure you get a GPU that can actually work with the CPU within the machine. You don't want to waste money only to have a bottleneck. You also don't want to get an underpowered GPU to match your CPU, unless you determine a much cheaper and less powerful card to suffice.

You should also make sure the PSU is compatible wattage wise with the new upgrades. As well as making sure it has the appropriate cables for your CPU, GPU, and Storage. Get the listed down wattages of your CPU and GPU, and make sure your PSU has a little over the required wattage combined that is demanded from both your CPU and GPU.

Also, these things will most likely have old HDDs in them. Get an SSD. A fairly good one. And put the OS onto it. You will not regret it. The boot times are unmatched. And it will feel like brand new if you do so.

And get a better HDD. The older ones seriously suck. But depending on what you're doing, then you're gonna want some additional storage. The 250GB SSD and 1TB HDD combo never fails. And the tech is cheaper due to innovations and breakthroughs in tech, so you won't have an issue with affording this.

You might also want to make sure that the interior of your case is clean from dust and other contaminants. As well as replace any fans that are defective or not powerful enough to provide proper ventilation. Fan replacement is cheap, but make sure you can actually plug it in and mount it, of course.

And also make sure that the thermal paste is replaced. If you decide on not replacing the CPU or GPU, then you could, at the very least, swap out the old and crusty thermal paste for a fresh new layer. Cleaning the plate is easy, and taking off the heatsink isn't as hard as it seems. And good thermal paste doesn't cost much.

After changing the HDD, PSU, GPU (If there was one!), RAM, TP, etc. etc. and installing a lightweight modern distro onto it. Then it will be a beast for what it is. The transformation would be near unbelievable. And you will feel a sense of accomplishment in achieving the revival of an old system. The ultimate form of recycling.

Anyways, those are my tips on how to revive old PCs. If you need any help, just @ me on here or reply. I've got a lot of experience working with these kinds of PCs. From enterprise to P.O.S. systems, you name it.
 

CParsons

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Dec 4, 2019
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@CParsons

I would like to hear more about that project. At least phones (make/model) and "right apps".

Thanks.
Sure thing. I had a bunch of Android BlackBerry devices that were no longer being used, more specifically BlackBerry KEYone and KEY2's, but any Android device with a reasonable camera can be used.

As for apps, I went with IP Webcam which comes in a free and paid version. When you install the app, you have the option of using iVideon, which offers a free account for basic personal use. Once both of those are set up, you can use the iVideon mobile apps, and desktop apps for monitoring in real time.

There are limits on the number of cameras you can have connected to any one free account with iVideon so you can choose to pay for more, or just set up different cameras under a different account and share them to all one account and monitor from that single account.

So for example:

Camera 1 set up under camera1@gmail.com
Camera 2 set up under camera2@gmail.com
Camera 3 set up under camera3@gmail.com

Then you share all those cameras to allcameras@gmail.com, which will allow you to monitor them all under one account through the desktop and mobile apps.

Between IP Webcam and iVideon you can set up zone detection, have night mode, notifications, etc all for free. It takes a bit getting used to the UI and menus and all that but once set up you're good to go. There is also plenty of other apps out that offer similar set ups but I haven;t really tested any of them since the IP Webcam / iVideon solution has worked greatly for my needs.
 
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Isaac Zackary

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Another way to stretch tech dollars is just to not buy tech unless you absolutely need it. Not for money reasons, but I ended up going back to an old "dumb" flip phone with no Wi-Fi and no internet plan and now I don't think I will want to go back to a smartphone ever. We'll see after another 6 months, about a year from when I started, if I still feel that way.

Also go to where there are rich people and look for ads for free or cheap stuff. All my TV's, my monitors, a couple desktops and several other items were all free or dirt cheap by doing that.
 
Jul 11, 2022
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HI I have a z390f and the 1st slot I can't get gpu to work. If I use the second slot with it be full bandwidth. The gpubworks in 2nd thanks.
 
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storm-chaser

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Nov 17, 2018
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As already mentioned buying used is a good way to go. Most of the components in a computer do not "wear out" in the normal sense of the word.

I am still living in the past, as my primary system is a HP Z840 workstation, but it does a pretty good job holding it's own in 2022.
 

penguintech

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Feb 25, 2011
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As someone who used to own a refurbished computer store ( we were open for 18 years, just sold the place June 1st this year) I must say, I have not bought any new tech in ages. I've always managed to find a way to keep the good old stuff going with upgrades that are easy to do. For me, as long as it plays World of Warcraft and isn't miserably slow, it is fine with me. I have had the opportunity to use a ton of tech over the years due to the nature of our business and have had the privilege of being able to use, own, trade in and trade up my tech as needed or wanted. My current laptop I built 2 years ago and have no need to change it anytime soon. It's everything I want / need. We did just buy a brand new "Value" laptop from Best Buy for a family member to be able to do the basics, but found that I can't actually use it as needed right out of the box, as it has S-Mode enabled and makes it's practically a locked down chromebook. That's pretty disappointing and now understand why people are not in a rush to buy new tech but are buying refurbed or building their own rigs, much easier to be able to get what you want and exactly how you want it.
 

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