My $30 desktop PC upgrade

Last Updated on November 27, 2018 by Dave Farquhar

I built my main desktop PC three and a half years ago and have no complaints about it, save one. Hard to believe, but PC hardware has improved considerably in recent years. This weekend, I sunk $30 into it to solve my single complaint, and now I can reasonably expect to get another three years out of it, if not longer.

The integrated video on my system tended to bluescreen once a year or so. The troubleshooting always pointed to the video driver, which hasn’t been updated since the previous decade and probably never will, since Nvidia has abandoned its Nforce desktop chipsets. That may be why I got a good deal on the board in the first place–it was an orphan. The solution? A cheap video card, which is about 6x faster than the built-in video anyway. It’s not a gamer card, but it’s fine for productivity use. I was satisfied with the built-in video except for that bluescreen issue, so I’ll be happy with this. Plus it gives me more outputs, so I can connect to a monitor via DVI, or a television via HDMI.

My Windows performance index score went from 3.9 for Aero and 3.2 for business/gaming graphics to 4.2 for Aero and 5.6 for business/gaming graphics.  But that’s secondary; what I really cared about was getting rid of those bluescreens; getting something no slower than what I already had and digital output was what finally convinced me to spend 30 bucks.

A lot of people regard desktops as passe, but this is why I still like them. I can build them for a couple hundred dollars, drop a $30-$40 upgrade into them periodically, and run them for nearly a decade. I’ll need to put a bigger SSD in this machine once the one I’m using now gets too crowded, but this has been a very low-maintenance machine, which is how I like them.

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