Gadget of the Week: This 10-Year-Old PC Still Delivers
What is it?
In 2013, Mustek created a conceptual desktop computer combining Mecer parts, Intel processors and Microsoft software to allow us to test the state of the art in business PCs.
Ten years later, this PC is still in use, and we put it through its paces to understand if a decades-old machine still had a usable lifespan in its mechanical innards.
In 2013, desktop computers were still the preferred choice for high-performance machines for gaming, video editing, and design work. Ours was up to date, but not overly so: equipped with an i7 4770k Intel quad-core processor, an AMD Radeon HD7700 GPU, 8 GB of RAM, a 64 GB SSD (solid state drive) and a 1 TB hard drive. These weren’t the high-end components available on the market, but investing in more powerful innards would only have made sense for high-end gamers and designers.
The Intel i7 4770k was a top-of-the-line CPU when it was first released, with a base clock speed of 3.5GHz and the ability to overclock to 4.4GHz. This means that the processor can still handle most of the tasks that users could throw at it today. Its four cores and eight threads enable efficient multitasking and smooth performance, even when multiple applications are running simultaneously.
The AMD Radeon HD7700 GPU was also a high-end graphics card in 2013 and can still handle many modern games and applications today. With 1GB of GDDR5 memory and DirectX 11 support, it delivers high quality graphics and smooth performance. The 8GB of RAM struggles with very memory-intensive tasks, but it remains a decent amount of memory for the average user, and can still handle everyday applications and cope with light gaming.
The 64GB SSD looks like a small amount of instantly accessible storage by modern standards, but the fact that it’s paired with a regular 1TB hard drive means it doesn’t have to be the primary storage component. It also means it can be used as a fast boot drive or to store frequently used applications, while the 1TB drive still has plenty of room for files, photos, videos and large documents. Even today, few PCs have a larger hard drive.
The monitor was also state-of-the-art: a Mecer 23.6″ 16 x 9 IR Optical 2-Point Touch LED Wide Monitor, with 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution, with built-in speakers and support for DVI and HDMI.
We upgraded the machine from Windows 8, the current operating machine from 2013 to
Windows 11 with no problems. Overall, it’s obviously not the fastest or most powerful device out there, but it’s still a capable performer for many everyday tasks. With a few upgrades, like extra RAM and a larger SSD, it could last another decade. As it is, it is suitable for everyone
Internet surfing, word processing and light gaming.
The monitor is a different story: it remains state-of-the-art, and the specs are reasonable for almost every use we use it for, including high-end gaming and intensive research analysis with multiple spreadsheets and graphs open at the same time the big screen. Conclusion: Yes, a 10-year-old desktop PC, which was state-of-the-art at the time, is still a workhorse in the office today.
What does it cost?
The machine cost around R20,000 to assemble in 2013 – a high price for a desktop PC at the time. While exact versions of some components are not available from suppliers today, sourcing them as used items or old stock would cost the machine between half and two-thirds that price. A new machine with the current equivalent of these components would cost about as much as it did in 2013, which means it’s down dramatically in price adjusted for inflation — less than half what you paid in 2013. You’d eat up that savings with more RAM and a bigger SSD, and multiply the price if you went beyond the office-type requirements and bought the fastest processors
and graphics cards on the market.
Why does it matter?
A powerful and up-to-date computer system can increase a company’s productivity and efficiency, and future-proofing an office PC can ensure that it can meet business needs for many years to come. This may be expensive up front, but saves money in the long run. While all of our old machine’s components are upgradeable, ten years later the monitor would not need to be replaced.
What are the biggest minuses?
- The high end in solid state drives in 2013 would be considered tiny today.
- It’s a big machine that takes up a lot more desktop space than a laptop.
What are the biggest pluses?
- The processor still handles all everyday tasks and the graphics card still handles everyday gaming.
- The 1TB hard drive might have been fashionable a decade ago, but it’s still respectable today.
- The monitor is still up to all tasks and can be connected to any other computer.
- Ultimately, it turns out that investing in a state-of-the-art desktop computer can still pay off a decade later
- Arthur Goldstuck is the founder of World Wide Worx and Editor-in-Chief of Gadget.co.za.
Follow him on Twitter at @art2gee