Originally Posted by sli_shroom
future-proofing is a great concept, but it never pans out as far as pc hardware is concerned
This is largely incorrect. Just becomes things become obsolete fast in the PC world doesn't make at least attempting to future proof a bad idea.
Two GREAT cards that have held up VERY WELL are the 8800GTX - people who bought it 16 months ago still have one of the fastest cards on the market and the 8800GT, which for $226 on opening day in October 07 (I bought mine before the price gouging started) is still comparable to a modern 9800GTX (with the exception of 12 less SPs).
On the other hand, certain cards have had abysmal lives. The 7900 GX2 was so bad it was only sold to the public for about 8 weeks. The 8600GTS was obsolete and overpriced as soon as it was sold to the public.
My point is simply that if you are going to be laying down some big money for hardware, it does pay to understand when a new "generation" of hardware will be available, and buy it when it is. THat's the only real way to maximize long-term value with PC hardware.