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I purchased my desktop in 1996. Yes, 1996! Still got the same PC and it runs great! The nice thing about desktops is they are so modular -- it's easy to replace failed parts.
CD/DVD-burners tend to go fastest (yes, I still keep one in the PC).
Replace the primary HD every 2 to 3 years.
Motherboard, CPU, & RAM get replaced every 4 to 6 years (had 1 MB failure, otherwise when the old one doesn't run the software as well).
Hate onboard video, used to use lower end graphics cards, but bought a good one last year for gaming, and it improved overall system performance. I didn't expect that.
The case has been replaced a few times, and the power supply a few more than that.
Other than replacing a few parts periodically, I have the same PC!
To answer the OP's question -- I have a laptop and I'll replace it when it dies. It's my secondary unit and doesn't get used as much.
I replace parts on my desktop when I have to (due to failure) or when the system is not meeting my needs. So I replace the MB/CPU/RAM every 4 to 6 years. That's my answer on when to replace the laptop -- if it's not meeting your needs, replace it.
Don't buy a low end laptop. I buy last year's model. It's typically good enough for last 4 to 6 years, and the price drop from when it was current is significant.
When it looks like the current laptop will not cut it usually because it is broken. My previous loptop had a screw holding the screen together break (metal screw in plastic), and it was only the first of these screws. I tried initially using aluminum tape but it failed. did it a few more times, and finally I drilled through the laptop screen and screwed it together but still not a great. Finally bit the bullet. Have occasionally looked for a replacement screen but almost as much as I paid for the laptop.
Before you doubt the graphics card does your laptop have a HDD or SSD
if it's not SSD there's your answer, uless you are high graphics gaming the graphics card makes ZERO difference - even chipset graphics will suffice for all but the heaviest gaming. It will not slow you down.
SSD's are cheap enough now and more reliable too - there's no reason to use HDD, even more so for portable drives.
(Yeah I know HDD's retail for pennies per pound, so does cow sh*t - at least the cow sh*t has a use if you're into gardening.)
This internet thing is amazing! Letting people use it: worst idea ever!
I also think that’s the answer. I’ve now updated three laptops (wife’s, her friend and a buddy of mine). Made a huge difference in each case. The old HDDs were all 5400rpm. Check your performance with Task Manager some time when you think the laptop is running slow. If it shows 100% disk and low cpu and memory utilization, the SSD is definitely going to help. On the laptops I upgraded, disk usage went from 100% down to 20-30% and cpu became the bottleneck. Basically a 3 to 5 time improvement in performance since the cpu was only running 20-30% before and it’s now 100% (when fully loaded).
I'm usually more of a desktop guy. I replace it as soon as I can find a plausible excuse. Most recently, my power supply died. Yeah, I know! I could simply replace the PSU, but I really wanted that excuse
I carefully timed it, until after I used my aforementioned excuse to buy a new PC. After this, I also replaced the old PSU...for free. It still had about 3 days remaining until its 5 year warranty expired!
I have 16GB RAM, so I'm thinking the performance is most likely related to the graphics card.
That's quite the leap, IMO. What "isn't quite fast enough" exactly? If you're just getting started with Unity, I have to believe you're still working on basic stuff, and nothing already so complex as to overwhelm your video hardware. As others have pointed out, are you using a spinning drive, or SSD? I'd try to figure out what is slowing you down before getting newer hardware that, in the end, might not solve the right problem.
As I'm sure you know, your options are rather limited when it comes to laptops, other than an SSD and more RAM (if you need it, and the MB can take it). Otherwise it's time for a new laptop. Although you can certainly keep it going in parallel until it dies. All my systems eventually get repurposed.
How does Unity perform on a remote system across Remote Desktop sessions? Would you consider getting a beefy desktop (they're cheaper and you have more upgrade options) and remoting into it from your laptop? If you can run that way, then whatever specs your laptop's got become pretty much irrelevant, as all the heavy lifting is done elsewhere. But since Unity is involved here--YMMV. Just a random thought from my part. Obviously this won't work if you need to be elsewhere, and offline.
I use only gaming desktops and replace them only when the frame rates of the games I play start to drop below 60 fps. Then I go and order a custom machine with some top components. The current one is almost 4 years old and still going strong. The company that assembles them was so good at it, they went bankrupt because nobody needed new ones.
For work I make sure to get a new one when the warranty runs out, but I always buy with extended warranty, so four years.
The reason is simple, the time it takes to get a new computer and get it up and working is worth more than what the computer itself costs.
At home I get a new one when the old one goes beyond repair.
EOL... I'm still using my MacBook Pro, bought in 2009. It's got a few dings & dents (mostly from air travel, I suspect), but is still plenty for most of my home needs (web, email, photo processing in Aperture, some toy projects in C++ and Rust). It's had one hardware upgrade (I added an SSD as boot drive in about 2011 - still use the spinning disk as bulk storage, though) and a replacement battery, but apart from that is still going well enough.
Java, Basic, who cares - it's all a bunch of tree-hugging hippy cr*p
Assuming you're running Windows, your PC may need cleaning instead of replacing. I'll start with mundane ideas and move to radical.
Windows gets junked up over time and you can do simple things to repair this:
Uninstall all programs that you are not using.
Empty all Temp folders.
Run cleaner utilities that clean up the Registry.
Defrag the HD!!!
A few years back my son complained he needed a new PC. I checked his temp folders -- he had 20,000+ files in his profile/temp. I cleaned out all three temp folders (profile, C, & Windows), then ran Iobit Advanced System Care to clean the junk out, then defragged the HD. The defrag on a 500 MB drive ran 4 hours the first time. [I'm not advocating ASC, but that's what I used at that time.]
When done his PC ran like it was new. I had given him instructions on keeping his PC in good shape -- he ignored me (yeah, he was a teenager). In his early 20's now, he's amazed at how much I have learned over the years.
As I said in a previous post, I replace my HD every 2 to 3 years. Last time, I replaced my SATA with a SSD. WOW! The PC went from fast to greased lightning. I have a stack of old SATA HD I use for large backups, but for my primary I have a 500 MB SSD. Prices have come way down.
Another thing is to reinstall Windows from scratch. Yes, it's a PITA to reload all your applications, but when done you have a clean install. Windows gets junked up over time, and no cleaner can fix everything. So when I replace my HD, I do a clean install and start from scratch. Yes, it eats a day ... but I'm happier when done.
When the kids eventually beg enough that they want a new one. So I give them mine and then get a new buttkicker for myself.
My eldest is about to get a really nice surface pro 2. I am looking at the HP Spectre x360. Then in a few months(6 or so) my i5 gaming laptop (used for main coding) from ASus (3 years old or so) will go to the youngest and I will get a better one. This is an unusual year for these types of purchases.
To err is human to really mess up you need a computer
I tend to replace when the tools/OS are just bogging down the machine. sometimes a wipe/new HD helps but sometimes it don't. I still keep the old machines running to test on. there's an 10+ year old Dell laptop I keep running for testing purposes only. I had an older Dell from around 2002 that I was still testing with but it finally gave up the ghost I a puff of smoke one night. I always figured if my stuff runs good on a 900mhz laptop, that I'm doing something right.
Different from others that have replied, my PCs tend to look absolutely brand new when I am done with them (no broken screens, dents, dings, etc.). As such, I probably hang onto them longer. I also do not use mine for my working life: my employer supplies the desktop I use daily. Given all of that, I probably hang onto mine longer than most; however, once the new wizbang features and speeds make my machine look sad and pathetic, and when I have the available funds, I upgrade.
For reference, my work computer is Windows 10, but my home life is Mac. My 2011 MacBook Pro will not upgrade to the next macOS, so for me, the clock toward a newer model has started. I suspect it will be about two years from now that I will make such a purchase.
This posting caused me to think back about what machines I have had since 1980, and amazingly, to me at least, the cycle seems to be pretty steady at about six years! 1980-Atari, 1986-Amiga, 1993-DEC Starion (Windows), 1998-Gateway, 2004-Dell, 2010-iMac, 2014-MacBook Pro (which was more of a form factor change, desktop to laptop, rather than features).
I only upgrade when my old machine becomes unusable, either because it's too slow or because hardware has failed.
I used to spend a lot of time thinking about my computer; how many ports did it need, what hardware peripherals might be important for the next few years. I bought desktops because they were easier to add stuff to than laptops were.
And then I had a liberating realization. I realized that I never upgraded the peripherals on my PC. I used the same graphics board. I never installed any high speed peripherals that needed access to the backplane. When a new port came along that I wanted, it was something that had appeared out of nowhere, so that I couldn't have predicted it five years previously.
Oh sure, I once bought a SCSI hard drive. I got the SCSI card to work (barely), but when the PC crapped out, I discovered that the card wasn't compatible with my PC's replacement.
I replace my mice, keyboards, and monitors more frequently than my PCs, and the manufacturers know it, so they use widely available ports. I have VGA-to-PCI and VGA-to-HDMI interface cables galore, but these only cost $15, so when I need a newer or different one, I just buy it. The old ones go into my box-o-cables.
I get hardware lust like the rest of you, and buy a new peripheral, like a WACOM tablet or a webcam. These languish in their boxes, or get tried and rejected. Every peripheral I actually want to use is included in the vendor-supplied configuration of my next PC.
I bought a 3rd gen i5 Laptop with 4GB RAM when I started university, that was back in 2011. When I graduated in 2015 I decided to upgrade it, sadly that decision is still pending . One of the reasons I keep telling myself is that I don't need the bigger and better system, since I don't work at home (I am one of those 9-5 devs).
However in my free time I sometimes fascinate about buying an 8th gen i7 32GB RAM 500SSD and 2TB HDD but then I fall of the bed and wake with a new determination of not buying it!
I have a several years old Lenovo T-520, with a dual i3 CPU, and 8GB RAM. All I need to stay happy developing on this machine is an SSD and a new battery. Right now if the power goes out I hardly have time to save my work before the battery is flat.
"'Do what thou wilt...' is to bid Stars to shine, Vines to bear grapes, Water to seek its level; man is the only being in Nature that has striven to set himself at odds with himself."