2020 is right around the corner. With the turnover of a new year, new financial plans, and new sales tactics, business owners might wonder what investments they should make to help encourage more success in the next year. Building future proof systems into your technology strategy can mean far fewer investments as tech develops over the next several years.
But how does a person exactly “future proof” a computer? First, you’ll need to have knowledge of what parts go into a system or server, and how to put them together. Next, you’ll have to determine a bit of what “future proof” means to you, specifically, in terms of what programs you will need to continue to run, and what developments in your business might require more processing power from your system. From there, we’ve outlined some best practices below that will help you build a computer that will stand the test of time.
Do You Need To?
This is the very first question you should ask yourself before going into the building process. What are the demands you are looking to meet? If your team is mostly completing work online, using word and excel documents, and browsing the web, a smaller, complete system like a laptop or NUC will suit your needs just fine without much additional expense. However, for creative professionals, servers, and other high-demand computing, you’ll need a system that can meet demands quickly and easily.
Where to Invest
When considering what parts in your systems to invest in, you’ll want to consider what components have the longest “lifespan,” both in terms of how long the part will last physically, and how many upgrades it can handle over the course of its functional life.
Generally speaking, your longest lasting parts in your PC should be your motherboard, processor, and power supply. If you get the latest, top-of-the-line motherboard and CPU, it should stand the test of time through several years of software development, as improvements in these areas tend to take a long time, and are slow to be adopted. And don’t buy a power supply that barely meets the requirements of your parts right now; your upgrades might require more, and cause you to spend more as a result.
Your GPU is a tricky part, since upgrades are faster, but buying cheap from the beginning might leave you frustrated, especially if your system will be doing graphics-heavy work. If you are using your computer for a lot of creative work, gaming, or other GPU-demanding tasks, we recommend buying the cutting edge model now, so it will last you a few iterations and save you money in the long run. If you’re just looking to browse the web and answer emails, this is not a priority part, but it’s worth investing in a mid-grade model for longevity. Either way, go in with the understanding that GPU prices do not depreciate in the same way as a hard drive, for example, and you generally don’t get better value by waiting for prices to drop.
Where to Upgrade
So what CAN you buy cheap now, and upgrade later? Memory is the biggest area for quick innovations and increasingly cheaper parts. RAM and Hard Drives are easy to get, easy to install, and easy to upgrade when needed. Get what you need, and plan to upgrade every couple years or so, as both technologies continue to improve.
Your case may be another area that you can upgrade as you go. When it comes to a case, you want something that allows air to move through your PC effectively, and will protect your computer from dust, debris, and impacts. Otherwise, aesthetics are up to you. It might be worthwhile to get a basic, mid-tower case at first, and then upgrade to a larger case when your computer’s needs call for it.
How to Budget
Based on the breakdown above, we’d recommend organizing your budget to prioritize investment in parts that will last you a long time, and spending only what you need to on parts that will likely improve drastically over the life of your computer.
Of course, what you intent to spend on parts is up to the resources you currently have. Many a savvy builder has used refurbished parts successfully, should you know how to look for reliable sellers and get the best value for your money.
If, however, you have the resources to invest in some, or all, new parts for your PCs, do your research to determine if this part is worth the expense now, or an upgrade later. Your wallet will thank you, and your team will still get all the productivity they need from their systems, into the future.