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Component Lifetimes and Budget Priorities
Every PC buyer--well, every PC buyer I know anyway--has a budget to deal with, a limit on how much money can be spent on the various parts that make up the system. There are a number of different issues involved in dealing with your budget, which I discuss in this section on requirements analysis. Whatever you determine your budget to be, you will at some point need to decide where to allocate your funds amongst the various components that make up a PC system.
This entire design section is intended to point out the various performance, capacity, expandability and quality tradeoffs you will have to address. Another issue you will want to keep in mind is that some components have a longer lifetime than others. This refers not just to the service life of the component in terms of how long it will last before it wears out or burns out, but also how long it takes until the product needs to be replaced due to obsolescence or changes in technology. For example, most system processors will continue to work for a decade or more, but they are usually functionally obsolete within about five years.
Here are some good rules of thumb for deciding how to allocate your budget between the various components in a PC, looking at issues of component life specifically:
So what's the bottom line? Hey, there isn't one. :^) I'm sure you realize by now that there are no simple answers, and I can't tell you where to spend your money and where not to. (I don't even know if you care about component life at all--many people don't.) I do know that if I take the various issues and put them together, it makes it clear to me where spending my money makes the most sense: good input and output devices that let me use my PC in comfort, that I can take with me to my next system, and that aren't likely to become obsolete in a matter of months. This applies especially to monitors.
Tip: For more on the subject of
component life, see this section on PC repair.
Next: Component Revisions