As we talked about on the recent Pixels and Puppets episode, the current PC hardware ecosystem has me rethinking my approach to upgrade cycles. I’ve always been a tinkerer and enjoy the building process so I naturally fell into the “get the latest thing” habit, but things have changed. With PC part prices skyrocketing into mind boggling levels (also, I’m sure no coincidence, PC part sales plummeting to record lows), it’s just not financially viable to stay on the treadmill.
I’ve fallen into the common trap of “dog chasing a car” mentality that a lot of people in this space do. I want the latest thing without totally knowing why. At this stage of the game that’s both financially and environmentally irresponsible. E-waste is a serious problem and one response to that is to try and make our hardware useful for longer. This of course flies in the face of the for-profit, endless growth model of all the corporations that drive these things, but now more than ever I’m aware of the need for push-back.
I’m trying now to focus more on hard targets. What do I want to *do* with the hardware? Is there a need for extra horsepower to accomplish something, or can it be done with less, or with more efficiency? The 2080TI GPU in my office PC is motoring along just fine, for example. I’ve realized that I really don’t care about ray tracing or FPS above 60, and this can hit those targets, so it stays. My video editing/desktop machine in the office is a Mac Studio which is tidy, efficient and powerful, and will stay useful for many years (assuming Apple doesn’t decide to pull the plug on OS support, ask Jamie about that).
The interesting thing at this point is what’s going on in the workshop. There are two PCs in there, one my beefy gaming rig and one my Frankenstein’d Linux box. I’ve been trying to use the Linux box more & more and despite a couple of annoyances (which I managed to fix), it’s been great. The only time I turn on the gaming PC is to either play a PC game (which I mostly do in the office anyway) or run the build stream, and after some tweaking it looks like the Linux box should be capable of running the build stream itself.
I’m not foolish enough to think I’ll never upgrade again, and eventually there’s a tipping point where old hardware should be retired simply because new hardware is more efficient, but I’m going to be more thoughtful about it. There’s a certain “cool” factor in having the latest thing, yeah, but there’s also a “cool” factor in not. Nothing more cyberpunk-y than some old piece junk duct-taped to the side of something and self-modded to give you that certain Max Headroom vibe.