Ed Word: Do Not Chase Waterfalls

Nathan Edwards

Every few years, the stars align and magic happens. No, I’m not talking about some sort of holiday miracle. I’m talking about those years when all the big hardware development cycles sync up, and we get major releases from a whole bunch of hardware vendors at the same time. That’s why I’m particularly excited about this year’s tech preview!

Starting on page 20 we’ve got the inside scoop on all the gear you’re going to be lusting after in ’08. With new kit just around the corner from Nvidia, Intel, and AMD, it’s an awesome time to be a power user. You can rest assured that the fastest gear you can buy today will not be the fastest gear you can buy six weeks from now. At the time of this writing, I don’t know who’s going to end up shipping the fastest videocard or CPU, and I won’t know until the hardware hits the Lab. The Maximum PC staff can make educated guesses based on architectural design and speeds and feeds, but we really won’t know how hardware dominance will shake out until the metal meets the road.

The inevitable question is, Should I upgrade now or wait for the new gear?

That’s what everyone wants to know—and the answer is always the same: It doesn’t matter what hardware is coming, what’s out now, or even what brand of hardware you prefer, the time to upgrade is the moment your rig is no longer fast enough for you. When your rig is too slow to play the games you want to play, when your videos take too long to encode, when you’re generally unhappy with your rig’s performance, that’s the right time to upgrade.

Here’s the thing: Unless you just bought top-of-the-line hardware two weeks ago, you can always use a little more juice under the hood. If you’re running an 18- or even 36-month-old rig, even midrange hardware in stores today will be faster than what’s running in your rig. And there are big benefits to upgrading just before next-gen gear goes to market. You pay less for “current-gen” parts, and this hardware will typically overclock a helluva lot better than earlier parts off the same production lines.

The moral of this story is simple: It’s fun to read about what’s coming next, but don’t get hung up waiting for it. There’s always something bigger, better, and faster around the corner. If you always wait for the next big thing, you’ll just keep running the same old, same old.

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