Reply 100 of 103, by BitWrangler
If you'd have done your upgrading by decades, with the assistance of a crystal ball, with maybe a CPU or accelerator midlife, you could have gone 81-91 on the IBMPC, with maybe a V20 thrown in it later.. 91-01 with a 486 board, maybe one of those AMD 133 on interposer upgrades when they dipped "cheap" to $99 in about 97.. 2001 to 2011 with an AMD 761 DDR board and Thunderbird for start, catching the bottom of barton pricing in a few years time. then 2011 to now with a Core2 quad. However, having to buy quite high end at each major upgrade, you might have spent near $20,000. However, upgrading every 3 years but staying a year or so behind bleeding edge with wise use of used components, you might have spent $500 a time for a total of $6,500 and stayed within 70-80% of high end performance, averaging 66% or better, whereas the other strategy would have been 100% to 10% downwards slopes, averaging just over 50% over time. Though if you made 50% your target average with frequent way behind the curve upgrades, you might get there by dumpster diving even, or by spending very little.
Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.