When to upgrade

I’m a PC enthusiast and as such long for the latest and greatest hardware.  Every time a new CPU, chipset or video card gets released and receives rave reviews I instantly go to my chosen online retailers and price things out.  Then reason sets in and I put away my credit card.  The reasoning is simple and effective: my current PC does everything I need.

Perhaps need is a bit strong.  My home PC is used for gaming, email checking and web browsing, occasional photo editing and CD ripping.  I’m currently using a Dell 27″ monitor with a native resolution of 1920×1200; before that it was a Dell 24 ” with the same resolution that prompted the 8800GTX purchase.  My goal is to run all games at 1920×1200 with features set to high and get smooth gameplay.  So far my PC is doing that.

My current PC is using an Intel E6600 and eVGA 680i motherboard purchased in November 2006 and an eVGA 8800GTX video card purchased in June 2007.  RAM started at 2 GB  in 2006 but got bumped to 4 GB in 2007 and then 8 GB in June 2008.  Each time I paid less than the previous upgrade for double the RAM.

Two long term games for me are Company Of Heroes and Medieval II Total War.  They play silky smooth for me.  I recently started with Left 4 Dead and it’s running great.  This weekend I started playing Empire Total War and it happened: performance is not stellar.  It’s very playable but I can see the occasional stutter.

My existing hardware has served me well for over two years and I feel I’ve wrung out my money’s worth.  Since it’s been that long I will need to purchase a new CPU, motherboard and RAM: so the cycle continues.