Poll: What’s the best premium upgrade?

When upgrading their PCs, most enthusiasts seem to focus on swapping in faster CPUs and graphics cards. The CPU has the biggest impact on overall system performance, and one’s graphics card is typically the limiting factor in games. There are plenty of other ways to make your PC experience more of a premium one, though. Upgrading a system’s peripheral devices can make it look and feel much more luxurious. Then there are the internals, which can be spruced up with solid-state storage and liquid cooling, among other exotic components.

In our latest poll, we’re curious about where you think upgrade money is best spent once a system’s CPU and GPU are sorted out. Would you rather add a little clickety-clack to your keyboard, higher-fidelity audio output to your speakers, some IPS love to your monitor, or perhaps something else entirely? You can cast your vote below or in the middle column on the front page.

Our last poll tabulated your reactions to Bulldozer, which are pretty negative overall. 43% called the CPU disappointing but serviceable, and 22% think it’s bad enough to be difficult to salvage. 21% aren’t impressed at all, deeming Bulldozer an epic fail. Only 14% of the folks who voted classified Bulldozer as a decent start on a new generation. Even in an enthusiast community that has traditionally be very friendly to the underdog, AMD still has a considerable amount of ground to make up.

Comments closed
    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    Obviously this depends on what people are using their computers for. I would have voted for monitors, but IPS doesn’t run at 120hz and TN isn’t as good as IPS…..once IPS panels run at 120hz then I will vote for that, but I had to vote for SSDs, just like everyone else apparently.

    On a side note, who voted for ram? I don’t know of any real world benefit of getting high end ram these days.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      High speed DIMMs is the sarcastic, comedy option πŸ˜‰

      Or, the option for people who put their faith in marketing bullsh*t instead of independent reviews.

      Or, the misguided people who want to run games on a desktop LLano instead IGP of a discrete GPU!

    • irvinenomore
    • 8 years ago

    Has to be Brazilian Wax…

    • just brew it!
    • 8 years ago

    I guess I am a member of a pretty small minority — only 3% voted for mechanical keyboard!

    • Compton
    • 8 years ago

    The best premium stuff does last for a considerable number of years. I still have some old S-IPS monitors from 7 years ago that look great, and my Asus Essence STX PCI-e will have a home for years to come. But I sure as hell would rather be disemboweled than have my SSDs removed. I treasure each one, from my X25-E to my SF 2281 Toggle NAND. And everything in between.

    The reason I didn’t vote for the SSD is I don’t believe that SSDs are a luxury item anymore. I think they’re necessary and good, as well as required. So they’re not luxurious, they’re needed. Soundcards, high end Seasonic PSUs, nice monitors, and fine peripherals are luxuries that enhance my experience without being required to function. I just won’t use a system without some tasty solid state storage. My Mushkin Chronos Deluxe has about 430TB of host writes on it, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. That’s 128MBs, every second of every day, for 45 days.

    • travbrad
    • 8 years ago

    For me it would have to be speakers/headphones, since I’ve always been really in to music (both creating and listening). I know some people don’t care about sound quality at all though (or don’t listen to music on their PC).

    SSD is probably the best “general purpose” upgrade, but it’s very dependent on what you already have. Buying a good IPS monitor and a $50 video card isn’t going to be a good gaming experience. Likewise, buying a sound card when you have cheap $20 speakers doesn’t make much sense either.

      • humannn
      • 8 years ago

      Agreed. In addition to SSD & near-audiophile speakers, a HUGE monitor is awesome (I use a 1080p 32″ Sony XBR that sits about 2 ft away and the visual image just envelops you). Those are the top 3.

    • smilingcrow
    • 8 years ago

    I voted for Misc. Yes I have a decent SSD and IPS monitor but what I appreciate the most is the fact that my i5-2500k system is silent even under full load at 2 AM when the background noise floor is negligible.
    I’d rather go back to a HDD as a boot drive and a TN panel than to actually hear my PC again.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    It was fairly obvious that IPS and SSD would dominate this poll, at the time of this post, at least.

    • riviera74
    • 8 years ago

    I voted for an IPS monitor for one reason: while all of the other choices can be replaced easily and/or are partly personal preference to one degree or another, an IPS monitor will not only survive several rebuilds of anyone’s desktop (excluding cases), but also anyone can appreciate the image quality of an IPS monitor over a TN panel every day.

    An SSD I would place second, followed closely by a fancy enclosure (esp. [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163162<]this one[/url<]).

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      I regularly go between IPS and TN panels and see little difference beyond view angles, something that just isn’t important to me.

      I regularly go between Servers (Xeon 5660) with 15K SCSI Drives and i5/i7 Desktops with Intel 510 SSDs and I can Immediately tell a difference: The desktops boot far faster and are much more responsive.

      Still, not quite ready yet to plunge SSD on servers, the enterprise is still working on SSD issues.

        • Chrispy_
        • 8 years ago

        I think you’re getting downrated because TN panels are [b<]now[/b<] universally terrible. I have a TN and a S-PVA side by side (Samsung 245B and 245T because they use the same housing). The TN is matte, bright, uniformly-lit, input-lag and ghosting-free with rich colours and deep blacks. Now, the S-PVA 245T to my right is better in almost all static content, but the minute stuff moves, the TN wins. New TN screens look crap by comparison. Find me one that isn't glossy, unevenly-lit, washed-out, displays black as grey, or has viewing angles so low that [i<]even head-on[/i<], the top of the screen is brighter than the bottom....

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          The Samsung 2493HM I have was $350 3 years ago and the display is/was gorgeous for games and text. It was at least 1/2 the cost of any comparable IPS display. It was nowhere near half as “quality” as an IPS display.

          The downside? These monitors are now dropping like flies. πŸ™

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    SSD is winning by a country mile, and it’s pretty obvious to anyone that already owns one why that is πŸ˜‰

      • Waco
      • 8 years ago

      I run dual SSDs and I didn’t vote for them…while they are awesome, I wouldn’t call them a premium “upgrade”. I’d call them a requirement for any build to be called high-end.

    • entropy13
    • 8 years ago

    Best premium upgrade? UPGRADE EVERYTHING!

    • bhtooefr
    • 8 years ago

    Either a good mechanical keyboard – a 122-key IBM Model F adapted to USB for me, please (oh wait, I already have one) – or an IBM T221, 3840×2400 of IPS goodness.

    The keyboard’s more attainable, but the T221 isn’t too hard to get nowadays. The video card capable of driving a T221 at full refresh is slightly harder, but if you’ve got the GPU maxed out already…

    However, if you’re a gamer, the T221 sucks, so I’ll vote keyboard.

      • mcnabney
      • 8 years ago

      Why would gaming suck?

      Just run at 1920×1200. That is half of the native display so each pixel will just be blown up to four onscreen. No dithering or up/downscaling mush.

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        Pixel response time was 50ms, that is why.

    • bhtooefr
    • 8 years ago

    Either a good mechanical keyboard – a 122-key IBM Model F adapted to USB for me, please (oh wait, I already have one) – or an IBM T221, 3840×2400 of IPS goodness.

    The keyboard’s more attainable, but the T221 isn’t too hard to get nowadays. The video card capable of driving a T221 at full refresh is slightly harder, but if you’ve got the GPU maxed out already…

    However, if you’re a gamer, the T221 sucks, so I’ll vote keyboard.

    • Wirko
    • 8 years ago

    I upgraded my S-PVA Samsung with a new PC. 4 years later the monitor was still like new but the PC began to feel sluggish so it received an upgrade – a used X25-M G2. Now it’s young again.
    There’s a bad side effect, though. I have developed a new obsession – checking the remaining SSD life in SSD Toolbox every few days. It’s still at 99% after three months of torture (Windows XP + frequent hibernation + Firefox cache + BT downloads).

    • jackbomb
    • 8 years ago

    I recently upgraded to a BenQ 24″ with an 8-bit VA panel, DisplayPort, and fully adjustable stand (even does portrait). Huge upgrade from the TN panels I’m used to. While the color accuracy and viewing angles aren’t quite as good as they are on my friend’s 27″ iMac, I’d say that the contrast ratio is actually much better. Unlike the Mac display, this thing looks like it’s turned off when displaying pure black.

    Voted IPS, even though I didn’t get one.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    I personally think SSDs are still in their infancy so I can’t recommend them as upgrades and will not. Considering all the issues SF controllers are giving everyone and the performance difference between the latest SF controllers and the older generation ones, it seems sorta pointless.

    I would be more likely to recommend a raid 0x2 array with fast mechanicals at this point in time. I can only imagine the fallout that will happen in a few years when the SSDs start ‘spontaneously’ dieing for people. Heck, they’re already doing that depending on what you read.

    That aside, the best premium upgrade I would recommend is a mechanical. From what I’ve felt so far, there is a huge difference between a dome and mechanical (tried one out in the store). That’s something that you will never be able to tell unless you try it for yourself. This aside, I’m still waiting for them to make a brown variant for gamers. D:<

      • Draphius
      • 8 years ago

      cracks me up how everyone is going back to mechanical, heck i still have a few 15+ year old ones laying around. what irks me is why were mechanical so cheap back in the day yet everyones charging an arm and leg for one nowadays.if i had to choose one to go with id have to say “other”. if u have an older system u could easily buy a I5 2500K and a mobo for around $350 dollars and that will be a pretty sweet upgrade if your still chugging along with the older gen stuff.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 8 years ago

        Supply and demand. If everyone is making them, but no one wants any then it is cheap. If few are making them and many people want one, they are typically expensive.

        • clone
        • 8 years ago

        Sgte & WD got hit by a flood, supply is temporarily limited so prices have skyrocketed, just look up flood & Philipines and you’ll notice both Seagate and Western Digital got hit.

        I won’t be buying another mechanical drive until prices drop back down, absolutely no interest in the spendy ones, the higher prices just motivate me to buy another SSD.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        It’s novelty at the moment. They practically didn’t exist before they were reintroduced, so they have a new product segment that all the manufactures settled on. I’m sure it will come down in the long run when they become more mainstream.

        I think we went from mechanicals to domes because of the sound, but now browns take care of that. Domes are more compact as well.

      • Jambe
      • 8 years ago

      Tell me more about your magic SSD 8-ball, Bensam.

      Rosewill’s got its RK-9000 series out now; variants exist with brown, blue, black and red Cherry switches.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Those aren’t oriented towards gamers. I read about those on the frontpage back when they were announced.

        You have to pose a question before you shake the 8-ball.

    • ShadowEyez
    • 8 years ago

    I would say ssd and ips screen are very close. Then speakers, keyboard, and mouse. Liquid cooling is nice for bling and OC but in the end it just cools things. High speed RAM is almost useless for most apps except benchmarks.

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    Personal stripper & pole.

      • willyolio
      • 8 years ago

      they don’t last as long as a good mechanical keyboard.

        • Squeazle
        • 8 years ago

        The do if you embalm ’em right.

    • burntham77
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t know about an IPS monitor specifically, but upgrading to a good, big quality monitor is one of the best things I ever did. I spent 1600 dollars on a 24″ Dell LCD six years ago, and I love it. With all the time I spend staring at my monitor at home, I might as well splurge on that more than anything else. And honestly, I would say that goes for anyone who spends any real serious time at your computer desk, even if you are using a low end system.

    • Pettytheft
    • 8 years ago

    Never seen such a jump in performance in an upgrade when I dropped in a couple of SSD’s in my system. Secondary would be IPS, I went from a IPS to a TN and still regret the decision.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 8 years ago

    I think the point in this discussion is, if you are strapped for cash, what is the number one upgrade that you should be saving for? Your peripherals will always be the most valuable upgrades because they are what will likely last you several upgrades and actually affect the overall experience for years to come. It may be argued that internals also affect usability, but we’re also nearing the point where you don’t have to spend over a thousand dollars to have a system that you don’t have to wait on for most workloads.

    Output Peripherals>Input Peripherals for media and entertainment.
    Input Peripherals>Output Peripherals for work and productivity.

    For competitive gaming, both are about equal; however, competitive gamers usually have a bigger budget to work with.

    I’m surprised speakers are not mentioned. Decent speakers are definitely more important than a good sound card, IMO.
    I voted for an IPS monitor simply because there really isn’t any situation where having a nice display is not worthwhile.
    I have a Dell U2410 and it’s the only piece of hardware I own that has never given me any feeling of buyer’s remorse.

      • Zoomer
      • 8 years ago

      Just buy good speakers. And I don’t mean the computer speakers that everyone seems to get. Look at the good HT speakers. Get a decent inexpensive receiver – no need to HMDI switching, 10 channels or whatnot – and spend maybe $500 on speakers. They’ll still be working well years after the i7s are useless crap, U2410 burnt out — unless you decide to upgrade.

        • Firestarter
        • 8 years ago

        a $500 upgrade doesn’t sound like ‘strapped for cash’ to me

    • gmskking
    • 8 years ago

    For best experience on a PC an SSD can’t be touched. This will have the most impact overall on a system in my opinion. CPU is next in line followed by RAM then video card.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 8 years ago

    I went for IPS monitor. If you’re at your system for significant periods of time, the difference is noticeable (I have S-PVA myself, but it has similar advantages).

    Mechanical keyboard is a plus, and I’d agree with everyone who says a quality chair is another. For desktop usage, an SSD will make sense to me once 256GB/512GB ones drop in price; until then, it’s only useful for me in a laptop environment.

    • AssBall
    • 8 years ago

    I opted for the LED stripper pole. Convincing my wife to use it is another matter.

    [url<]http://www.platinumstages.com/The-Platinum-Glow-Poles-20-Diameter-Up-to-9ft-_p_72.html[/url<]

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      If it’s for the wife you might as well not gotten it.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 8 years ago

      Wouldn’t “a stripper” be another premium upgrade, then?

    • marybutts
    • 8 years ago

    I voted for an SSD , but after reading thru some of the comments I realize that some more items should have been included. I would like to echo some of the suggestions.

    1) FIOS
    2) A really good chair
    3) A really good desk

    p.s.If I hadn’t voted for the SSD , I would have voted for a mechanical keyboard. My wife recently changed jobs and is able to work from home. She was able to take her 25 year old ‘IBM Model M’ keyboard from her former employer and uses it with the computer that I am posting this message from–AMAZING !!!

    • blitzy
    • 8 years ago

    Assuming you don’t already have any of these;

    Monitor > Comfy chair and desk > SSD > enclosure > mouse > …

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      A good mouse is more important than a desk OR an enclosure.

        • blitzy
        • 8 years ago

        Yep, I can see that for some people it could easily be right up there. Personally I have used a variety of cheap microsoft, logitech and also some high end logitechs and for the most part I find the bang for buck better in other areas.

    • esc_in_ks
    • 8 years ago

    I put an SSD into my new Asus G74SX laptop. I was really surprised to not *feel* that much of a speed increase. In fact, I had even decided it wasn’t worth the extra money.

    UNTIL… I didn’t use my desktop machine (which lacks an SSD) for about a month and then finally did use it again, after having become used to the SSD on the laptop. Holy crap, I can’t bring myself to look at my desktop machine anymore until it gets its own SSD. The desktop’s Caviar Black is just painfully slow now that I’m used to the SSD.

    • donkeycrock
    • 8 years ago

    One of the most rewarding upgrades i have ever bought was a VGA cooler. Back when the ATI 2900xt was out, that thing was hot and noise. So i bought a thermalright cooler, you can put any size fan on it. I have a low speed 120 mm. 50 bucks or so for the heat sink.
    The thing has lasted 3 generations of ati cards. Recently changed over to Nvidia, and guess what, it fits that too. Brought my tempiture down 20 c. plus no noise.

    So yes, VGA heatsink is worth every penny. And i’m sure it will last a lot longer.

    ATI and Nvidia use the same hole size and pattern. FYI

    I voted enclosure, My Lian Li isn’t fansy… it’s stylish and awesome.

      • Kaleid
      • 8 years ago

      Thumbs up for this. Been using Arctic Cooling S1 rev B for a very long time now.

      One 120mm 700rpm fan keeps an o/c 6850 at max 55C.

    • JiveMiguel
    • 8 years ago

    I voted IPS monitor rather than solid state drive, probably because I have an SSD but not that type of monitor. I was kind of thinking from the standpoint that SSD’s are popping up in a lot of places and seem to have come down in price nicely, but in my world, IPS monitors are far and few between. I’m not sure I know anyone with one.
    Plus, while all of the other options make a difference in speed and character of a system, you’re looking at the monitor a lot more than any other part on the computer. If I was going to spend the money, I’d spend it on the part that I see most often.

    • ALiLPinkMonster
    • 8 years ago

    Yeah, I’ve seen what an SSD can do for boot and load times. It’s like night and day.

    Although, I do think people overlook the importance of quality peripherals.

    • C-A_99
    • 8 years ago

    Sound card: No longer all that useful as most games’ simulated surround audio are done using the CPU. BF3 is a good example of this, and the surround effect works pretty well. Sound cards however, are still beneficial for headphones on many other applications.

    Good mice help too. At least 1600 DPI with side buttons would be ideal for me, but I’m currently stuck on a junky 3-button mouse with only 800 DPI. For now I’ll deal with it though.

    Can’t say much on IPS, but if the latency of the panel is more than one or two frames behind that of TN’s, then they’re simply not worth it at all for games. Latency is by far one of the worst things that can happen to games.

    • Bombadil
    • 8 years ago

    If the IPS panel in my 24″ iMac is any representative, IPS is crap. The appeal of LCDs is despite of their poor image quality. I consider an SSD to be required alongside hard drive storage.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    I voted IPS monitor. It’s what you use to interface with your computer and it’s something you stare at all day long. If you spend the money and don’t cheap out it will also last you for a long time. Mouse and Keyboard come a close second.

    • phez
    • 8 years ago

    I’m surprised at the winning option for the Bulldozer poll. I’m not trying to troll here, but I really just can’t figure out which part of it ‘serviceable’?

    So, I implore you, in what situation would you actually decide to buy the FX8150?

      • StuffMaster
      • 8 years ago

      I took ‘serviceable’ to mean that it’s got room to grow into a decent product.

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      Its not about the bulldozer in its current iteration. Serviceable means that the architecture is sound, and once they die shrink + ramp clocks a bit, it will be competitive.

    • kroker
    • 8 years ago

    Which one is the best premium upgrade is highly subjective.

    So far I have an IPS monitor (HP ZR24W), a mechanical keyboard (Razer BlackWidow), and a gaming mouse (Mionix Naos 5000). I like them all, but my monitor is the one I would miss the most. I also wish to get get an SSD for my next build.

    I said this before – since all a computer does is getting input from a keyboard, a mouse or a controller, and display info on the screen or play sound / music, for me input and output devices are very important for a good experience, since these are the ones you directly interact with. It’s hard to pick just one, but, without having an SSD to see how much of a difference it would make, I chose IPS monitor.

    • [+Duracell-]
    • 8 years ago

    An SSD is the best upgrade you can get that you will notice in everyday use.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    Considering a heavy gamer, I think a mouse is worth it. You’ll use it for every aspect the computer plus the heavy gaming secessions. Those extra buttons and/or DPI aren’t restricted to just a game and a luxury when it comes to that. I always scoffed at this until I bought my first one, now its a must to make every aspect (esp. gaming) more enjoyable.

      • C-A_99
      • 8 years ago

      Side buttons let you browse faster going back and forth, and higher DPI is a huge benefit for a ton of applications, particularly those that, for whatever reason, demand high movement precision in click and drag situations. (Even if its something as simple as dragging the canvas in Paint.)

        • dashbarron
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, exactly!

    • Firestarter
    • 8 years ago

    Voted for SSD as I’m inches away of impulse buying one. Still waiting for that 120hz monitor with IPS-grade colours though!

    • DarkUltra
    • 8 years ago

    Ho there, why no 120Hz monitor option? I’m sure it is all the way up there with the SSD option in perceived improvement.

    Heres some quotes from tests:

    [i<]Wonder in amazement as the 120Hz display produces an easily observable higher fluidity in the animation.[/i<] [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/21516[/url<] [i<]Doing precise image editing, as another example, is an area where faster display processing times are desirable.[/i<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/2787[/url<] [i<]The ASUS VG236H was my first exposure to 120Hz refresh displays that aren’t CRTs, and the difference is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through your living room.[/i<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/3842/asus-vg236h-review-our-first-look-at-120hz[/url<] [i<]120hz lcd Smoother motion and the lack of RTC artifacts leave a highly positive impression, making you unwilling to return to 60Hz.[/i<] [url<]http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/monitors/display/samsung-sm2233rz_5.html[/url<] (#9 Arclight), Not yet any 120hz IPS monitors, i'm afraid. But there is no technical limitation so if you mention it here and there, and test sites mention the benefit of 120Hz in their monitor reviews a market for this should appear. And manufactorers would love to exploit those markets. 120Hz, 16:10 and IPS FTW.

      • Kaleid
      • 8 years ago

      23-24″ IPS with 120hz and low input lag… I’d buy it quickly.

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        We might start a revolution here
        120 Hz refresh (since it will have this refresh it will also support 3D Vision), IPS 16:10 aspect ratio, 2 ms response time – the ultimate must have!

    • Sunburn74
    • 8 years ago

    Man it was a very very tough choice. The SSD is the obvious choice, but a classy case (I’m talking FT02, Corsair 800D, Lian Li Tyr x-2000) is really a premium item and can really improve the overall value and sense of appreciation of the system. Nice parts in a budget case is a budget rig in my opinion. If it looks garish and ugly, it hints at poor design (even if that isn’t necessarily true).

    However, I felt premium meant reasonable upgrade whilst a case upgrade is more of a luxury (no true performance benefits other than sound and stuff)

    I’m surprised though PSU wasn’t included. People pay through the nose for a silent, fanless PSU. Through the nose!

      • gbcrush
      • 8 years ago

      Been eyeing an FT 02 for about a year now. Will probably still be considering it come march! πŸ˜€

      • Bauxite
      • 8 years ago

      Nose?

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151099[/url<] Shipping was free a few days back, and people vastly overestimate power draw due to a long history of garbage models that lied on specs.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      A premium PSU should be mandatory, and therefore not premium πŸ˜‰

      If you need 650W for your SLI rig’s peak draw and your budget 650W PSU can’t deliver the goods, then it’s about as much use as a doorstop. Possibly a doorstop that recently went pop like a flashbang and fills the room with a horrific, acrid smell.

      Where CPU, GPU or SSD upgrades will improve performance, PSU upgrades will not. At best, a PSU upgrade will fractionally lower your annual electricity bill and be slightly quieter, but that’s it. Unless your PSU is especially noisy, or the rest of your PC is extremely quiet, most decent PSU’s are quieter than other typical components already.

    • Jigar
    • 8 years ago

    Where are the PCI-E based REVO drive SSDs option ?

    • bcronce
    • 8 years ago

    To me, an SSD is just a standard HD. So the question is would I pay for a premium SSD or a regular SSD. I would take the regular SSD.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      No, sorry, you need to look up the definition of the word ‘premium’.

      When the cost per gigabyte of an SSD is around [i<]forty[/i<] times that of a spinning disk, it's hard to justify SSD as anything other than premium.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 8 years ago

        Protip: you don’t need a 500GB SSD just because you have a 500GB HDD. You can keep the HDD.

        When the cost is lower than either jumping from one CPU or graphics card to the next step up, that’s hardly unjustifiable.

          • dashbarron
          • 8 years ago

          This point gets overlooked by SSD enthusiasts all the time. Yes we don’t need a 500GB drive to replace that HDD, but a lot of people need enough capacity to make the move to a SSD worth it. Some of us don’t see the point in buying a 60GB SSD just to have all our critical applications stuck on some mechanical drive. A faster boot for OS alone just isn’t worth it.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 8 years ago

            Your OS takes 60GB? What are you running, NASA?

          • Chrispy_
          • 8 years ago

          Very true, but that’s not what I was getting at.

          Even a tiny, OS-only SSD is more expensive than the far larger cheapo hard disks that come in non-premium PC’s.

          Not only are SSD’s expensive, they’re an unneccesary optional extra – which by definition means that they’re “premium”, to get back to the original point.

        • cheesyking
        • 8 years ago

        Actually today I saw a 60GB SSD going for the same price as a 240GB HD, that’s only 4 times the price per GB and given the increase in performance you get with an SSD I’d say they’re not far off parity.

        Of course the Taiwanese floods have rather distorted the picture but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes years for HD prices to get back to where they were.

    • Yeats
    • 8 years ago

    I would imagine that some (many?) gamers would not consider an IPS monitor to be a “premium upgrade”.

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    Mechanical keyboard – I could see that.

    Gaming mouse – er, nah.

    IPS monitor – yes, yes, yes, all day long I think the monitor would make the best “premium upgrade” – it’s what you look at every minute you’re using your computer!

    SSD – yeah, that’s virging on “premium” territory but its also trickling down into just-plain-old-good-build territory.

    High speed DIMMs – shut the front door – heck no.

    Liquid cooling – maybe for a subset of people who are obsessive overclockers, but for most – nah.

    Sound card – you have to have decent enough speakers first (speakers in the poll?)

    Fancy enclosure – hmm, there are fancy enclosures and there are quality enclosures – I’d say a quality enclosure is not a “premium” upgrade but just a smart choice for an all-around good build. Once you get “fancy” then I’d have to say “pass” to that as it’s got no performance or functional benefits.

    Other – hey, what about a nice power supply? Maybe something that’s really high quality, supplies tons of power, modular cables, and is really, really quiet? Something like [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151098<]this one[/url<] I just ordered yesterday? Then again, the same argument could be made for this that I already made for the enclosure, and I think justifiably so.

      • ew
      • 8 years ago

      I think the same argument that applies to monitors also applies to keyboards and mice. They are used so much and need replacing so rarely that it makes sense to go all in on what works best for you.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I have had issues with buying premium periferrals and them not working properly.

    • Thanato
    • 8 years ago

    other… raided 2 1tb Samsung F3 drives, now I get 250mb reads and 220writes with a Roswell raid card for 40 bucks, still it was cheaper and faster than a large and slow SSD more or less, plus 2tb of storage on the c drive.

      • moriz
      • 8 years ago

      have fun with your ~1 MB/s randoms. or in other words, your RAID0 didn’t improve on the metric that actually increases system responsiveness.

      • setzer
      • 8 years ago

      I have the same set up in Raid and an SSD.
      Before moving windows to the SSD I was running it from a RAID 0 array (firmware raid) of the aforementioned drives and I can attest that the SSD (a vertex 2 128Gb 32nm) totally outperforms the hdd array.
      This is true because both random reads/writes and the number IOPs on a SSD totally outperform any HDD raid array.
      Sequential performance of the raid array is nice but for the OS drive you won’t have much chance of doing those.
      The raid array was indeed faster than a single 7200rpm hdd setup, but most of the time you are stuck with single drive performance and unless you created your array right (ie. multiple raid partitions instead of one single partition that will then later be partitioned by the OS) the performance gains really aren’t that good or visible most of the time.

      So currently I’ve opted by having the OS in the SSD, the two F3 drives in soft-raid by windows (it’s easier to recover from this) as a secondary storage (games and such) and a third low-rpm hdd (1tb caviar green) for less used storage.

      Oh, using a x64 OS and large amounts of RAM also helps from keeping stuff out of the swap file which is always a major slowdown.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      You still want an SSD.

      I had some fun running my home machine on a RAID0 of 15K SCSI drives for a while, just playing about with some outcast server hardware. Sure, they made Windows more responsive, but then I bought my first SSD (a cheap Indilinx Barefoot) and all that fancy SCSI hardware was instantly [b<]OBSOLETE[/b<] There's no point trying to compare them - SSD's are in a totally different class when talking about OS/Application drives. In some cases, what registers as a 10-20 second loading delay for windows on an spinning disk is so fast with an SSD that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was actually instant. When your HDD is crunching away on it's tiny little OS files, even cheap SSD's are often [b<]two[/b<] orders of magnitude faster.

    • Vasilyfav
    • 8 years ago

    Fancy enclosure and Liquid cooling? cmon…

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      I know, it was a toss up between them, but I went with liquid cooling. It was a cheap upgrade ($70) and my CPU temps are way lower than even the biggest noisiest air cooler I had could manage. Plus, lots more free space around the CPU.

      And, yes, I’m intentionally misunderstanding your post. πŸ˜›

    • Sanctusx2
    • 8 years ago

    I dunno, some of those options don’t really scream premium to me. Solid-states are huge upgrades for just about everyone, but server-folk. And IPS monitors are pretty closely priced to TNs and have markedly better color. Either would give you a solid improvement in your computing experience and isn’t necessarily what I’d call a complete luxury.

    The rest make sense though. As a long-time enthusiast, the most luxurious item on that list to me is the liquid cooling. It’s expensive, marginally better, and very, very bad if something goes wrong, but gives you supreme nerdcred above all the other options. You’d be sitting mighty high above those who have gaming mice, sound cards, dimms, and mechanical keyboard. The only threat to your throne might be the enclosure junky, but his efforts don’t give him any actual performance benefits at all. You’ve got form [i<]and[/i<] function with your mod.

    • jjj
    • 8 years ago

    Voted for IPS monitor ,instead of the obvious SSD,but only because i hate TN and no way i would ever buy one.A good mouse is also a must(gaming mouse or not) and maybe instead of faster RAM you should have included more RAM.

    • Decibel
    • 8 years ago

    I already have an IPS monitor and a SSD, both excellent choices. The single greatest upgrade I’ve made in over a decade of enthusiast computing – SSD. No one single other upgrade has made such a total change in system feel and responsiveness.

    Maybe my first dual core system, but not quite. (Oh ABIT BP6 how I miss you…)

    • south side sammy
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve made lots of upgrades over the years. An SSD might be grand but still unreasonably expensive for the average person IMO. Being an avid FPS gamer the best upgrade I can think of was when I got a high end sound card. NOTHING enhanced the game more than having really good sound.

      • Vasilyfav
      • 8 years ago

      Did you buy decent headphones with it? No reason to buy a high end sound card without at least middle-end sennheisers (or whichever brand you prefer)

        • south side sammy
        • 8 years ago

        Why would I want earphones ? I have 4 – 42″ tall speakers with 5 drivers each/.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      $50 is pretty unreasonably expensive, alright. :p

        • south side sammy
        • 8 years ago

        I have no need for a smaller than small storage device. if I can’t put everything on it I don’t want it.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          Well you don’t put every single file on your computer in one folder, do you? They go in separate places, depending on what they are, and you choose this when you install applications and create your personal data to keep, so what’s the difference?

            • south side sammy
            • 8 years ago

            No, but I put every file that’s in all those folders on one drive.

            • Aspleme
            • 8 years ago

            No reason not to have multiple drives. They are just as easy to manage as folders and allow you to optimize your files. Why would I bother storing a terabyte of movies on a high speed drive that’s more expensive? And programs load a lot slower on a large/slow speed drive. So for less than the price of a large high speed drive that I can put everything on (which I couldn’t have anyway), I get 2 (or 3, in my case, including my SSD C drive) and put Windows and a few of my most used programs on a 60GB SSD, the rest of my programs on a 640GB WD black, and all my media on a 2TB WD green drive. A perfect combination that gives me great performance for almost everything and doesn’t break the bank.

            • south side sammy
            • 8 years ago

            i have no media files. I have the opsys, a few work apps. a few games, that’s it. Why would I need to ‘spread’ things out ?

      • JohnC
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<] NOTHING enhanced the game more than having really good sound [/quote<] Riiight... The "really good sound" sure does matter more than the random lag spikes that you might get when you're playing the game (especially the online game) and some background program or the Windows decides all of the sudden to do some random aggressive reads/writes to your HDD for a few minutes...

        • south side sammy
        • 8 years ago

        sorry to hear you have such a lousy connection. you must be one of those people I slaughter all the time. Thanks for helping me keep my kill/death ratio up. As far as the “random background programs”……….. are you serious ? You need to take a look at what you do and where you go on the net. Or maybe you should purchase some legit anti-malware programs to help you out because the cheap “free” on line stuff isn’t helping you any.
        The sound card…along with good speakers… helps to hear everything coming from every direction. Try that with on board sound………
        Maybe you should have Dell build you a real computer… ????

          • JohnC
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<] Try that with on board sound [/quote<] I have tried it (in fact, this is what I've been using for last few years), it works fine. I have used dedicated sound cards in the past, I don't miss them and (especially) the various issues with their drivers, as well as the system resources being eaten up by their various GUI elements (regardless of manufacturer) and I never felt that my aural experience when playing games was diminished in any meaningful way. If I want to please my hearing senses, I simply go to another room to watch a good movie using my nice B&W 800 series speaker setup.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 8 years ago

    People are the slowest items using a computer. Next slowest item is storage. SSDs are a night and day difference for so many users and workloads, its simply going to phase out mechanical storage faster than most realize.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    Imo. at the moment the best premium upgrade is also the worst: SSD. Sata III SSDs are a worthy upgrade from mechanical drives but right now they are quite expensive and new better and cheaper models keep coming to the market quite often leaving you with an overpriced obsolete product.

    • Walkintarget
    • 8 years ago

    I voted SSD. Nothing else improves system performance across the board. A close second is an IPS panel. My Soyo 24″ S-PVA LCD died and I’ve been forced to use a crappy Hanns 22″ TN panel since … ughhh … colors are washed out, viewing angle is horrible … just hoping the Soyo can be repaired.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    Like I.S.T. I was pretty much on the fence between the IPS and SSD. Since it’s a subjective poll I chose SSD. I’ve always been ok with the TN panels for my uses. Gaming and internet with no photoshop tasks. The SSD would be a bigger upgrade to me for performance reasons. I’ve never owned an SSD and have been vocal in the past about them being cost prohibitive for me. The poll didn’t say “upgrades you can afford or are willing to squeeze your credit card for” though. πŸ™‚

    • gbcrush
    • 8 years ago

    EXTRA SHARP Cheddar!

      • simracer
      • 8 years ago

      Voted “Other.”

      Best “premium or luxury upgrade” for me was my HD (1920 x 1080P) projector. The only other purchase to rival this (equally important, IMO) would be a solid set of steering wheels and pedals*

      [Logitech G27 wheel in my case, but then my pedals are all homebuilt/DIY]

      —–

      I drive all my race sims using one of these projectors in front of a true life-size image. Onscreen objects measure and scale out almost perfectly (margin of error under 1%). The projector (Mitsubishi HC3800) set me back $1300 US a year ago and was a real bargain–same model about $300 less today at Newegg.com.

      Image I see is just 36″ away…and measures 60″ horizontally **so my legs stick through and past the, cut-out, lower center portion of the screen by another 2 feet or so…**.

      Truly stunning and immersive. It helps me drive very fast too. πŸ˜€

      —-

      That said, my next improvement will be to replace this 2D-HD projector (@60Hz) with a 3D-HD projector (@120Hz). I’ve seen lifesize 3D projection at lower res and refresh speeds (1024×768 @30Hz/eye–and have even driven with it for a while several years back, in fact–and it’s truly a keeper! Scares the livin’ daylights out of you at times….

      Just to give you an idea of what I see when driving with my projector, check out these two YouTube videos: The first shows an in-game projected image (simulated McLaren M8) sized and arranged, although also located just a bit too high up, pretty similarlarly set up to what I see when I drive in front of my own every day.

      The second is in-car footage from a real McLaren M8 (@ RoadAmerica, Wisconsin).

      Simulated: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uSQo0wylak[/url<] Real: [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBNh8LMShyE[/url<] (incar footage starts about 1 minute in). -Simracer-

    • ImSpartacus
    • 8 years ago

    SSDs? Meh, invest in something that won’t get old. Get a nice case, PSU, mouse/keyboard, monitor, or desk. That stuff won’t become outdated. You won’t ever have to replace it.

    That [b<]does not[/b<] mean you shouldn't get an SSD. Just don't get a premium SSD. The large price difference between a typical SSD and a high end model is money better spent on something more permanent.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      Do you have a link to an example of a consumer/enthusiast SSD under warranty that has “worn out”?

      edit: [url=http://i.imgur.com/Zkph5.png<]Here's my 6 month old heavy-use SSD[/url<] wearing out fast.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        CPUs, RAM, etc. rarely die on enthusiasts. Why not? They get replaced.

        If you spend half a grand on a big SSD, it’ll be worth little in a few years. If you spend half a grand on a monitor, it will still retain a decent amount of that value.

        I know I said “wear out”, but that wasn’t exactly what I meant. I will edit my post to clarify.

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          On the flip side, if you can create content in x savings per day, the cost of a SSD is miniscule in terms of time saved. I work in a billable hour industry, and time waiting for computing is time wasted/not earning.

          I consider every mechanical HDD “older” than even the first generation of SSDs. I’d rather work on a SSD-based system that was limited by space than a mechanical with lots of room. It truly is one of those “you can’t go back” technologies.

            • 5150
            • 8 years ago

            Whoa whoa whoa. First gen SSD’s suck and I’d love to find a use for the pile of JMicron SSD’s I have laying in my office that are worthless. Unless you’re talking first gen Indilinx and Intel, those were decent but the first SSD’s sucked hard and anyone who bought one took a nice hit to the wallet for nothing. SSSTSTSTUTUTUTUTERE

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            [i<]"Unless you're talking first gen Indilinx and Intel,"[/i<] That is exactly what I'm talkin' 'bout, Willis.

        • Kurotetsu
        • 8 years ago

        I like Intel’s new SSD toolkit more every time I see it. I assume it only works with Intel’s SSDs?

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          It’ll start, but you can’t do much with other brands of SSDs and HDDs.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      I looked at it as “any SSD is a premium upgrade, and a very worthwhile one for performance” and that’s why I chose SSD above.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        I’ll agree that an SSD is incredibly worthwhile. They improve performance a ton.

        However, there is a difference between high end SSDs and more modest models. All SSDs offer HDD-crushing performance, but once you get north of $300, we begin to fight over fractions of a second.

        High end SSDs are definitely premium upgrades and they are rarely necessary.

      • Aspleme
      • 8 years ago

      All these items are ones that go beyond what you ‘need’ for a computer… hence, premium. They aren’t asking if you should get an enterprise SSD, just a regular one to boost performance.

      To be honest, I’m surprised that an IPS monitor is getting as many votes as it is… though perhaps that’s because I don’t have one. Still, nothing improves performance across the board like an SSD. Perhaps we’re getting to the point where they are practically considered a necessity in anything more than a basic computer?

        • sirfixalot
        • 8 years ago

        Well, my PC is fairly spruced up already, with 16GB RAM, 2x 23″ touchscreen monitors, 1000W power supply, water cooling, Wacom Intous 4, Thrustmaster F430 racing wheel, a big Lian Li tower, touchscreen controlled temperature monitor, not much in sparkling modding gear though. The interesting part is that I don’t have any SSDs, but it is not really something I am considering anytime soon either, as my 4 disk RAID0 seems to go fast enough, and has done so without a hitch for 2 years now.

        I’d say my best sprucing up gear is the Ergotron LX monitor arm I got recently, it’s just great to be able to move and rotate the 2nd monitor without any effort to whichever position I find most effective for the task at hand. I’m considering getting another one for the primary monitor as well, as sometimes I feel having two portrait screens would be more convenient.

      • DancinJack
      • 8 years ago

      It wasn’t “pick the item that is most useful/practical” All that stuff gets old eventually.

      • ew
      • 8 years ago

      That’s the main reason why I haven’t jumped on the SSD bandwagon yet. The rate of obsolescent is too high for the current price. On the other hand I have no problem dropping $80 on a nice mouse that I know will last until the buttons wear out.

        • mikehodges2
        • 8 years ago

        I’m sure a vertex 3 wont become obsolete in a few years, slower than newer drives, sure, still miles ahead of mechanical drives..

          • ew
          • 8 years ago

          They may not become obsolete in terms of features/performance but the drive you have now will definitely become obsolete in terms of the price you paid for it.

            • mikehodges2
            • 8 years ago

            That second point makes no sense whatsoever.

        • elnad2000
        • 8 years ago

        I paid 80$ for a Kingston SSDNow V100 64GB and use it with two RAID-0 Samsung F3 1TB (50$ each). Win64 is on the SSD and Steam and iTunes are on the RAID. I understand that it’s not the best SSD ever, but except running Windows 7, you do nothing with it. It run 24/7 for the past 2 months, it reboots in 25 seconds and every apps you have starts very fast. I would never go back to a mechanical hard drive as my OS drive. A cheap 64GB SSD is better than none imho.

          • ew
          • 8 years ago

          Don’t get me wrong. As a premium upgrade SSDs are awesome. I even voted for them in the poll. For me personally though I can’t justify the cost. Especially considering how cheap they will soon be.

      • Peldor
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t think the question was meant to be basic SSD vs premium SSD. I think it was basic storage = HD vs premium storage = SSD. That’s how I read it anyway.

      • designerfx
      • 8 years ago

      I may be in the minority, but wouldn’t that also be true for a liquid cooling setup, where you can usually take it with you from old pc -> new pc?

        • Waco
        • 8 years ago

        Yup. Mine has been through multiple revisions. All I swapped out was new mounts for the CPU block…

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, you can take a liquid cooling setup with you, but I personally don’t see those as necessary unless you have a $2000+ machine with dual graphics cards and the like. But on a machine like that, I wouldn’t call liquid cooling an upgrade, I’d call it a requirement. It can’t be an “upgrade” if it should already be in the machine when you build it.

        So if you’re getting by without water already, you probably don’t need it. The best performance-per-power overclocks are all within the range of air cooling anyway.

          • Waco
          • 8 years ago

          There’s not a setup in the world that *needs* water cooling unless it was improperly designed. Even Quad-SLI and Quadfire rigs can run air cooling with no issues as long as the case is properly ventilated.

      • JohnC
      • 8 years ago

      The only thing that didn’t “get old” in my experience is my desk. Other components were swapped multiple times, including keyboards, mice (even the nice model Logitech mice like MX518 don’t seem to last long), PSUs, cases (don’t remember how many I went through before I finally “stopped” on Antec’s awesome P183)… I kinda agree about SSDs, I don’t really care about “premium” or a very high-performance stuff, but problem is I would need a large capacity one if I were to switch to them, and large capacity (more than 300GB) SSDs cost A LOT regardless of the brand :-/

    • glacius555
    • 8 years ago

    How about a good office chair?

      • ew
      • 8 years ago

      This needs a bump!

      And once you’ve got the nice chair don’t forget the upgrades! [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzE2eZwuYCM[/url<]

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      I had never thought of the obvious until I read this. +1

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      I’d vote for this had it been on the list, but it really should be basic necessity instead of potentially an “upgrade.”

        • glacius555
        • 8 years ago

        A chair is a necessity. A really good chair is a premium upgrade πŸ˜‰

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 8 years ago

      I need a new chair for my home PC…the cheap chair material is falling apart and irritates my skin way too much. Can’t believe I spent $100 on it, too.

      • kroker
      • 8 years ago

      …and a good desk while we’re at it. And a good Internet connection. And a nice mousepad. And a nice desk lamp. And a nice wife, and a nice house, and a nice car, and nice friends, and a nice neighborhood to live in, and… wait, what were we talking about?

      • ew
      • 8 years ago

      This comment is now rated +22. The poll has 811 submissions which puts this option at least at 2.7%. Only monitor and SSD clearly exceed that.

        • Aspleme
        • 8 years ago

        Ah, but you are making assumptions… We don’t know that everyone who has rated the comment has actually voted… you must also consider that this option is an extra and isn’t counted in the percentages of the others… you must count the extra 22 votes in the submissions and refactor all of the percentages.

          • ew
          • 8 years ago

          Good points. Another assumption is that everyone who would have voted for this has upvoted the comment. That is likely not the case.

            • Noigel
            • 8 years ago

            And don’t forget the hanging chads!

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      I’ve been through about 4 of them, and strangely enough only a cheap noname chair works with my back. If I go to any other type of chair I have back pain within a week.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Plus, if the area is carpeted, a chair matt.

    • I.S.T.
    • 8 years ago

    Tough choice between IPS and SSD. Think I’ll abstain from this poll.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      First time i hear about IPS. Could you link me to a few good models?

      Edit: thanks for all the replies. The HP ZR24W looks amazing, i wonder though…would the 5ms response time be noticeable in FPS games compared to regular LCDs with 2 ms response time? Well most monitors are advertised with GTG instead of BTB so if the IPS spec is not some marketing scam it would be OK i guess. No?

      EDIT 2:
      Wouldn’t 120 Hz monitors be better for gaming? Are there IPS monitors with that kind of refresh rate?

        • I.S.T.
        • 8 years ago

        The HP ZR24W is quite popular. [url<]http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/hp_zr24w.htm[/url<]

          • Tumbleweed
          • 8 years ago

          That’s what I use both at home and at work. The only thing I’d change about it? HDMI ports would be nice.

          Plus I’d like TWO of them at home and at work (each). πŸ™‚

          I like that it has a standard color gamut and matte coating. If I could find the same combination in a 27″ or 30″ size, I’d go for it, but as far as I know, such does not exist.

          Plus, it’s available for around $400 US, which is a steal.

        • Dashak
        • 8 years ago

        [url=http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd&sku=320-8277<]Dell Ultrasharp U2410[/url<] [url=http://www.necdisplay.com/p/desktop-monitors/lcd2490wuxi2-bk<]NEC LCD2490WUXI2-BK[/url<]

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        [url=http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF05a/382087-382087-64283-72270-3884471-4194577.html<]HP's best 30" IPS.[/url<] [url=http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&sku=224-9949<]Dell's[/url<]

          • Noigel
          • 8 years ago

          Could we say “extra” monitor? I’d love to have an IPS and a TN side-by-side. Game on the lag-free one, do everything else on the pretty one.

          (I went with SSD, I’d get one but right now I can’t bring myself to pay a “video card price” for a considerably low-storage-space storage drive.)

            • Tumbleweed
            • 8 years ago

            Use SSD in a similar way to your IPS/TN combination. SSD for OS boot drive only, and get a high capacity spinning disk for storage. Best of both worlds.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 8 years ago

            Putting a quality IPS LCD monitor next to a TN LCD monitor is a sure way to see just how nasty TN really is.

          • Tumbleweed
          • 8 years ago

          Make sure you know what you’re getting into with wide color gamut displays before you jump. That’s why I went with the HP zr24w. IPS panel, but standard color gamut (and matte coating).

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