Posted 06 May 2008 - 02:42 PM
I would have to agree with five years and even that is stretching it. I was actually planning on building my current system next year (with whatever would be the best/standard at the time), but multiple points of failure in my old machine (a single core P4 2.8 Ghz on a Soyo motherboard with 2.5 gb RAM and a GEForce 5700 AGP card) forced me to do the project this year. My prior builds to that were a Pentium II, and a 486/66. So, already, we've gone back 12 to 15 years. Before that, I had an IBM PS/2 55sx (a 386sx 16 Mhz machine), a Commodore 64, and before that a Vic 20. I was around 12 or 13 when I got the Vic 20, I'm almost 39 now. So that's 26 years divided by the six machines I've had equates to 4.33 years per machine. In my case, these were do-it-all machines, and this is still true today.
I think four years is a safer number. Each of the technologies over the years had a high-end, a middle and a low, but the life cycle tends to be the same -- in my opinion. I think when building/buying a machine, the focus should be more on what you want to do with it. You don't need to build a high-end liquid-cooled machine with two, three or four video cards to surf the 'net or do office apps and building it that way will not forestall obsolesence by much more than a year or so. You do need to build such a machine if you're gaming, doing CAD work, video and audio work, flight simulation, or are simply an enthusiast who wants to experiment.