Be careful when buying previous-generation hardware

So I was hoping I could score a bargain on some older Socket 775 hardware, being previous generation and all. And sometimes you can. But sometimes you can just think you’re getting a bargain.

Here’s an example.

Geeks.com has an Intel DG965SSCK board for $45. Not bad, especially considering it has gigabit, SATA, and can take 8 GB of RAM. Add a Pentium D 805 (2 cores, 2.66 GHz) for $23, and we’re not looking bad at $68 so far. The best price I can find on 2 GB DDR2 sticks is $23 each, so that’s $92 for 8 GB total, and $160 total for a motherboard, CPU, and 8 GB of RAM. You’ll need a CPU fan, but that’s another $4-$10. Call it $164. That sounds pretty good.

If you like AMD, the cheapest comparable AM2+ board runs $38. An Athlon x2 7750 running at 2.5 GHz runs another $38. Add a $7 fan and $92 worth of memory, and we’re at $175. So this week at least, they have a better deal on Intel.

But Microcenter will sell me a brand-new AMD Phenom II 560 (2 cores, 3.3 GHz) CPU with a fan and an Asus motherboard for $90, and it will take 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, which I can find online for $60. So for $150, I can get a better system. It’s newer and faster and has a full warranty, besides costing less.

It’s not Intel, but if you have your heart set on Intel you can still do OK. Again, at Microcenter you can get an Intel Pentium D E5700 (2 cores, 3 GHz) with a fan for $60, and an Asus board that works with it for $50 and it’ll take the same $60 DDR3 RAM. So that’s $170 for a better system.

We’re crossing CPU architectures and generations here so the systems aren’t completely comparable, but the newer Intel CPU has a higher clock speed and FSB and it built on a better process (45 nm vs. 90 nm), so it will run faster. The AMD CPU isn’t directly comparable, but since it has a deeper cache architecture, a nearly 35% higher clock rate, is built on a 45nm process, and uses a newer and faster type of memory, it will outrun the older Intel Pentium D as well. While costing less.

I can’t find AMD deals quite that good anywhere but Microcenter, but comparable Intel deals ought to be available at other places too. And you can get other AMD setups for $100 elsewhere, they just won’t be quite as fast.

If had some parts in a drawer somewhere that would work with it–especially memory–then buying closeout parts to get a working system would make sense because 2.5 GHz and two cores is an incredible amount of computer power for 68 lousy bucks. Since I don’t, it makes more sense to buy something newer.

Don’t get me wrong. You can save some serious cash by buying previous-generation stuff. Sometimes. But not all the time. You can’t just assume that if it’s a closeout, it’s a bargain.

One thought on “Be careful when buying previous-generation hardware

  • August 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm
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    I’m drowning in cheap capable hardware, with not enough good software. This is life, circa 2011. IMHO. YMMV. LOL.

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