Build your own PC: Part 2, future proofing

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Build your own PC: Part 2, future proofing

More absolutely essential things to think about when building your next system, including warranties, USB 3 and SATA 6GB/sec

While building to a budget is great (and an important part of any system building exercise), sometimes you'll want to build a system that you can hand down to other family members after you're done, or turn into a server, so you'll want to know that it will last several years without drama.

While many components have basic 1 year warranties, if you're after a system that will remain fuss-free it's worth looking for parts that have longer warranties. As an example, the Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive has a five year warranty, compared to the 1 year for most standard 7200rpm drives. The cost is commensurately higher, however.

Another key area for a long-term build is the motherboard, which determines the capabilities of your system. It's worth looking for a motherboard with as many bells and whistles as you can - more features included often means more future-proofing.

Not your ordinary warranty: Western Digital's Velociraptor hard drive has a five year warranty
Not your ordinary warranty: Western Digital's Velociraptor has a five year warranty

Right now, for example, an X58 board has true USB 3, as compared to the P55/H55 boards, which have a workaround version. While there were virtually no USB 3 gadgets available at time of writing, it's a certainty that there will be in the next year or two, and it's likely to become the dominant standard quite rapidly.

Also keep an eye out for system bottlenecks - hard drive speed is a limitation at the moment that SSDs help to get around. SATA 6GB/sec is a key change that improves speeds around the system.

Opting for a new motherboard with capabilities in these areas will help reduce the effect of bottlenecks if you upgrade the system later. It's not worth factoring into a system that may only be used for two years, but may be vital for one used past that point.

Also in this series:
Part 1, budgeting

Coming soon:
Building to a specification & upgrading 

This feature appeared in the July, 2010 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
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