Author Topic: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?  (Read 1791 times)

beekeeper

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Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« on: April 11, 2019, 10:59:34 AM »
Today I ordered a new monitor for my computer. Cost $500.

I have wanted one for a long time but I always held off because I already have a monitor that works perfectly well, except that it is ten years old and less luxurious than the 32" 4K models of 2019. I tell myself that I won't regret this purchase since I spend several hours at this computer every day.

Is this pointless spending, weak indulgence in luxury, failure to exercise my frugality muscle? Or is it a sensible ergonomic upgrade?

I am not FIRE and I consider myself generally frugal but I don't have a fixed budget.

BiggerFishToFI

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2019, 11:25:44 AM »
Depends on your income / savings rate IMO.

If you are stashing 10k+ a month. A purchase of $500 a couple of times a year isn't going to change your plans much.

If you are stashing $500 a month, a $500 purchase could set your FIRE date back several months or more

COEE

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2019, 11:55:03 AM »
I have wanted one for a long time

Enjoy it!

I agonized over some bose headphones for years.  I finally bought it and ultimately wished I had sooner!

It's one thing to spend $100 on a frivolous dinner or something dumb that you don't care about.  It's something else to spend a few hundred bucks on something you use every day and get joy out of.

Tyson

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2019, 11:58:23 AM »
I look at a few things:

1. What's my current savings rate?  Am I hitting my savings goals?
2. It is REALLY an improvement over what I have already?
3. Do I use it daily or weekly?

So yeah, if I'm hitting my savings goals, it's a real, tangible improvement over what I'm currently using, and it's something that I have to use/deal with consistently in my daily life, then I usually will get it. 

Dave1442397

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2019, 12:42:58 PM »
I went from an older 23" monitor to a 27" IPS LED monitor, and I really notice a big difference. I can read without reading glasses on the new one, and that alone makes it worthwhile for me. The new one only cost $158, which wasn't too bad.

Cromacster

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2019, 12:55:17 PM »
I'm surprised by the cost.  Most montiors I've checked out in that price range have high refresh rates, low latency, and freesync/Gsync.  Are you gaming on this thing?

But to answer your questions.

Is this pointless spending
Yes

weak indulgence in luxury
Yes

failure to exercise my frugality muscle?
Yes

Or is it a sensible ergonomic upgrade?
Not sure if it's ergonomic, maybe if the specs are right.
Sensible...guess thats up to you.



ketchup

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2019, 01:09:13 PM »
My GF is a pro photographer by trade in Photoshop all day and even her monitor was $450 four years ago.  What the hell kind of monitor was this?

I haven't spend more than ~$120 on a monitor at work in a while (22" 1920x1080 IPS generally).

Two 22" 1080p monitors costs less than a single giant 4K display, and it often more useful.  I know I'll never use a single monitor on a non-laptop ever again.

thesis

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2019, 01:38:47 PM »
It's always hard when nothing was wrong with the old item and continuing to use it would have been just fine. But you mentioned that you've wanted this new monitor for awhile, so I'd say the fact that you were willing to wait (even though the post title says 'impulse buy'), shows that you were using your frugality muscle. I think people get themselves into trouble when they impulse purchase things they didn't even know they wanted before.

Honestly, some car payments are $500 a month. That doesn't mean you spend that much on whatever you want every month, but I'm pretty sure if you really want it and are getting great value out of it, there's nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then. If you buy it and never use it, well, that's usually a different story. And as the others have said, it really depends on your income and your savings rate. I'm happy at a 50% savings rate, but I still find I torture myself when I spend the rest, only to pull myself back to the reality that what I spent was a fraction of what I saved that month. Perspective is key.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2019, 02:52:40 PM »
What the hell kind of monitor was this?

Reasonable question!

Could well be that this hardware is surplus to my requirements and that I'd have been equally happy with a cheaper option. I don't have enough experience with modern hardware to know what screen size and resolution is the "sweet spot" for me personally though. It's complicated because I live in a rural area and it would take me a whole day to visit a showroom to see the options first hand. So I made my decision based on online reviews and thinking about how I use the computer.

I hope that this monitor will be amazing and that I will keep it for ten years like the last one. I see a risk that a cheaper one might leave me dissatisfied or put me back into the market for another upgrade much sooner. That happened to me recently with keyboards, where I cycled through a few cheap ones before finding one that I was willing to live with, but probably should have shelled out for an expensive one from the beginning.

Aside: A few years ago I bought a pair of headphones for $300. I am still shocked that I did this because it seems so extravagant. However, I am really glad that I did because I use them for hours every day and I enjoy music much more than I used to. On the whole I suspect that I under-invest in things to make me comfortable while I am working from home on the computer every day. Comfort is for the weak, of course, but I may regret my decade without lower back support for example :).

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2019, 03:05:47 PM »
I know I'll never use a single monitor on a non-laptop ever again.

I took a chance on one 32" display being better for me than two smaller displays. I use some niche software like RStudio that feels cramped on my current 27" display and that I hope will benefit from more vertical and horizontal space and resolution. I am also not sure if I have enough desk space for two displays... I live and work in a small house.

jeroly

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2019, 03:07:51 PM »
1.  I bought a 32" 4K monitor two years ago for $450, so it would seem like you're overpaying for something with the same general specs two years later.  (You can now get the one I got for $380 at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N8ZIWM3/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.)

2.  I find that having that much real estate, pixel-wise, on one screen improves my productivity.  So it might be arguable that being able to have a bunch of windows viewable at the same time will wind up saving you time and keep your attention focused rather than having to be switching between windows all the time.

3.  From a quality of life perspective, if you are spending a lot of time in front of that screen, it could bring a lot of satisfaction per dollar.  If you amortize it over say seven years, that's 20 cents a day which you may feel is worth it in its own right.

4.  I used to use three 1920x1200 monitors, which you could get now for perhaps $120 each, and I still haven't decided which setup I like more.  There's something nice about physically dividing some windows - for example, all personal stuff on one screen, all work-related stuff on another, all messaging apps (e.g. gchat, Slack) on the third - so you can keep a focus on work stuff more easily.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2019, 03:09:51 PM »
I'm happy at a 50% savings rate

I am currently pursuing CoastFI. I work part time to pay the bills and let the stash grow on its own. So additional spending doesn't affect my FIRE date but it does affect how much paying work I have to do this year.

Perspective is key.

True, but it can be elusive too!

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2019, 03:29:05 PM »
1.  I bought a 32" 4K monitor two years ago for $450, so it would seem like you're overpaying for something with the same general specs two years later.  (You can now get the one I got for $380 at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N8ZIWM3/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.)

That looks like a great monitor and for a really good price. I didn't realize they had been available so affordably for so long.

I live in Switzerland and prices here are often higher than in the US. I would have to pay $500 to buy that particular model from a reliable dealer locally. BenQ were also much more expensive here. I went with this Samsung that was available for a similar price to its amazon.com listing: https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-U32R590-Curved-Monitor-LU32R590CWNXZA/dp/B07L9G1BFX/ref=sr_1_7?fst=as%3Aoff&qid=1555018100&refinements=p_89%3ASamsung%2Cp_n_size_browse-bin%3A3547808011&rnid=2633086011&s=computers-intl-ship&sr=1-7

ApacheStache

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2019, 05:58:57 PM »
I live in Switzerland.

Ah, that explains the $500 price tag. I think I've spent slightly less than $500 USD combined on the 2 monitors I've purchased in the last 10 years. A 27 inch and a 34 inch. I typically purchase mine around Black Friday and look for either refurbished or open box models.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2019, 11:16:37 PM »
I typically purchase mine around Black Friday and look for either refurbished or open box models.

I suppose you can save money if you plan for these larger purchases. I tend to suppress the urge to make an upgrade until it erupts like a volcano.

I have been suffering daily with the slow hard disk in my the Mac Mini that I have used every day for the past five years. Just should have chosen an SSD model from the beginning but didn't. I should probably make a plan to resolve that somehow to avert a future impulse by e.g. of a new computer. The replacement SSD is probably cheap but the repair looks tricky and paying someone else to do the work in Switzerland would probably be expensive. Something to think about and plan for.

Alfred J Quack

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2019, 06:49:38 AM »
I typically purchase mine around Black Friday and look for either refurbished or open box models.

I have been suffering daily with the slow hard disk in my the Mac Mini that I have used every day for the past five years. Just should have chosen an SSD model from the beginning but didn't. I should probably make a plan to resolve that somehow to avert a future impulse by e.g. of a new computer. The replacement SSD is probably cheap but the repair looks tricky and paying someone else to do the work in Switzerland would probably be expensive. Something to think about and plan for.
Had the same problem in 2009, bought a first generation SSD drive and stuck it in a USB enclosure. Worked like a charm :) In the meantime, SSD's have improved a lot and the responsetime via USB isn't a major issue (especially compared to the original disk drive).

USB enclosure also means you don't have to open up the Mini (although I did at the time).

@beekeeper, I can relate but I don't agree that this is a bad purchase in itself. Couple of years back my laptop was going on 5 years and I was thinking about an upgrade more and more but the financials held me back. Eventually I earned some cash with a side-job and bought an upgrade with it, though not cheap (1k) it was a model that should last me another 5 years (going on 4 now).
The wife argued that a cheaper laptop would have been better but my argument was that I'm a power-user (as in VM for testing new software OS, not gaming power) and that I would have to replace a cheaper laptop much faster.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2019, 08:02:55 AM »
Had the same problem in 2009, bought a first generation SSD drive and stuck it in a USB enclosure. Worked like a charm :) In the meantime, SSD's have improved a lot and the responsetime via USB isn't a major issue (especially compared to the original disk drive).

USB enclosure also means you don't have to open up the Mini (although I did at the time).

Thank you for this tip! This seems to solve my problem beautifully and for $100 my computer will be like new. That's much better than suffering for a few more years and looking for an excuse to replace the whole thing.

I have the 2014 model Mini and it sounds like those are much more complex to open up than earlier models (around 20 steps including removing the motherboard) so I would have considered that too risky.

FIDeckard

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2019, 06:42:01 PM »
I spent considerably more on a monitor upgrade last year... and then spent it again for a second! I now have 2 x 34" Ultrawidescreen 3440x1440 g-sync monitors sitting side by side, and like you, they were an upgrade from 10+ year old 24" Dell monitors.

Bad purchase? Hardly. The majority of my working day I sit in front of these monitors (when working from home). The majority of my entertainment time, again, I sit in front of the monitors. I figure the amount of money I've saved over buying other forms of entertainment more than makes up for the purchase, considering that good AAA games take tens of hours to complete. I have some strategy games that I play on these monitors that are procedurally generated - aka, there is no limit to the amount of entertainment value.

The continuation of my hobby interest is also directly fed by these displays - my main one is photography, and I one day hope to monetize my skills in a post-FIRE life (part time of course). Videography is another. Developing other software applications (games hopefully one day), writing music - all are net positive tangible results from an investment in good quality computing hardware.

ApacheStache

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2019, 06:59:12 PM »

I have the 2014 model Mini and it sounds like those are much more complex to open up than earlier models (around 20 steps including removing the motherboard) so I would have considered that too risky.

I have the 2012 mac mini and can confirm that swapping out the HD is a nail-biting and unnecessarily painful process. In fact, I broke the fan header on my MOBO and no longer have working fans. In order for it to run without CPU throttling I need to leave the cover off when it's turned on to allow for some ventilation.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2019, 02:33:09 AM »
I spent considerably more on a monitor upgrade last year... and then spent it again for a second! I now have 2 x 34" Ultrawidescreen 3440x1440 g-sync monitors sitting side by side, and like you, they were an upgrade from 10+ year old 24" Dell monitors.

Bad purchase? Hardly.

This thread is making me feel better about my computer-related purchases. I do use it for many hours per day and so I do feel improvements and annoyances pretty strongly.

Having said that, where are all the facepunches? My spendypants computer-nerd friends mostly don't have the kind of expensive setups that we are talking about here. How come we Mustachians want them more than they do?

Alfred J Quack

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2019, 02:47:57 AM »
I spent considerably more on a monitor upgrade last year... and then spent it again for a second! I now have 2 x 34" Ultrawidescreen 3440x1440 g-sync monitors sitting side by side, and like you, they were an upgrade from 10+ year old 24" Dell monitors.

Bad purchase? Hardly.

This thread is making me feel better about my computer-related purchases. I do use it for many hours per day and so I do feel improvements and annoyances pretty strongly.

Having said that, where are all the facepunches? My spendypants computer-nerd friends mostly don't have the kind of expensive setups that we are talking about here. How come we Mustachians want them more than they do?

Because:
1. We can afford them without much difficulty
2. We can still restrain ourselves. When in doubt, agonize for months :P

A friend of mine buys a new computer every year or 2, big gaming rig in the 2k region. Has a smaller salary, complaining about expenses and that the rig isn't up to the latest standard 4K 60 FPS.
My laptop was 1k, plays reasonable games at acceptable performance (though I play flightgear or TDU2 where he plays the bestest and latest games).

He is better off with a PS4 or something rather than buy a new machine that often. The old machine is often resold on our localised eBay at a quarter of the price, if that.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2019, 03:59:36 AM »
Had the same problem in 2009, bought a first generation SSD drive and stuck it in a USB enclosure. Worked like a charm :) In the meantime, SSD's have improved a lot and the responsetime via USB isn't a major issue (especially compared to the original disk drive).

USB enclosure also means you don't have to open up the Mini (although I did at the time).
new software OS, not gaming power) and that I would have to replace a cheaper laptop much faster.

I did this now at is great - a new lease of life for this computer. Runs faster and feels serene without the sound of the spinning disk all the time.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2019, 05:30:03 AM »
I have my Samsung U32R590 now. I am disappointed. The display seems to lack "oomph." Especially if I hold my Retina Macbook up next to it then the whites look quite dull (not yellow, not blue, just dull.)

I have tried all the calibration settings in expert mode but the improvements are pretty marginal.

Suggestions before I return it? (Since I live on the countryside it will actually be quite difficult and/or expensive to return so I'd love to find a solution instead.)

Alfred J Quack

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2019, 02:33:10 AM »
I have my Samsung U32R590 now. I am disappointed. The display seems to lack "oomph." Especially if I hold my Retina Macbook up next to it then the whites look quite dull (not yellow, not blue, just dull.)

I have tried all the calibration settings in expert mode but the improvements are pretty marginal.

Suggestions before I return it? (Since I live on the countryside it will actually be quite difficult and/or expensive to return so I'd love to find a solution instead.)

Looked it up, doesn't look like the screen should be dull. https://nerdtechy.com/samsung-u32r590-review

If you hook it up to the Macbook, are the colors the same, better, worse? I know the Apple Retina screens are a bit overly intense but from the review this screen should be able to provide the same.

Side note: Your computer display is as large as my livingroom tv screen. Go stand in a corner because I dislike having my ego trampled upon :P

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2019, 06:48:59 AM »
Looked it up, doesn't look like the screen should be dull. https://nerdtechy.com/samsung-u32r590-review

I am warming up to it now. Helps to keep experimenting with the brightness and contrast to see what feels comfortable and to run at native resolution with larger fonts instead of scaling to a slightly lower resolution. Initially I felt eye strain but that seems to be improving and might have been due to scaling and/or small text.

The maximum brightness can't match a Macbook display but that might not be the end of the world.

I would like to try switching from 30Hz to 60Hz and that requires a new table to use the DisplayPort instead of HDMI output from the Mac Mini.

Side note: Your computer display is as large as my livingroom tv screen. Go stand in a corner because I dislike having my ego trampled upon :P

There is a definite "celebration of indulgent consumption" aspect to this thread that I don't feel entirely comfortable. Maybe we can move this thread to the anti-mustachian wall of shame later if that is  appropriate...

Alfred J Quack

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2019, 07:42:45 AM »
Side note: Your computer display is as large as my livingroom tv screen. Go stand in a corner because I dislike having my ego trampled upon :P

There is a definite "celebration of indulgent consumption" aspect to this thread that I don't feel entirely comfortable. Maybe we can move this thread to the anti-mustachian wall of shame later if that is  appropriate...
Nah, just pulling your leg. Having a TV at all is anti-mustachian :P

Besides, back in 09 I used a 24 inch which was considered extravagant at the time but reasonably economical for the amount of hours I worked/played behind it. We are all adults and the mustachian community is more aware about cost/benefits to make good judgement. It's not like you're buying small special 5" screens every week totalling at over the purchase price of your 32" during the 1 year period (as a Starbucks jab) ;)

JLee

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2019, 07:44:34 AM »
I have my Samsung U32R590 now. I am disappointed. The display seems to lack "oomph." Especially if I hold my Retina Macbook up next to it then the whites look quite dull (not yellow, not blue, just dull.)

I have tried all the calibration settings in expert mode but the improvements are pretty marginal.

Suggestions before I return it? (Since I live on the countryside it will actually be quite difficult and/or expensive to return so I'd love to find a solution instead.)

Looked it up, doesn't look like the screen should be dull. https://nerdtechy.com/samsung-u32r590-review

If you hook it up to the Macbook, are the colors the same, better, worse? I know the Apple Retina screens are a bit overly intense but from the review this screen should be able to provide the same.

Side note: Your computer display is as large as my livingroom tv screen. Go stand in a corner because I dislike having my ego trampled upon :P

32" is large?

My employer just bought 130 43" 4k displays...they're lovely.  My previous place gave me two 1440x900 displays (19" LCD) and that was horrific.  Single 4k is far superior!

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2019, 09:41:04 AM »
On the first day I didn't like the Samsung U32R590 and wanted to send it back. On the second day it seems great. I think the difference is the weather.

On a sunny day like yesterday the Samsung the maximum brightness on the Samsung is strikingly less than on an Apple laptop or monitor. On a cloudy day it looks gorgeous at only about 50% brightness.

So perhaps if I keep this monitor I'll have to close the blinds to reduce sunlight while I'm working. I don't see a better alternative at the same price point.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2019, 02:51:42 AM »
This is a surprisingly complex topic!

I am actually not convinced yet that the shiny new 32" 4K monitor is an upgrade from my ten year old 27" Apple display.

Screen resolution is the biggest issue. Using native 4K makes everything too small by default and I have to fight with each application to appropriately size text and icons, or else suffer eye strain. Switching to 1080p 2:1 scaling is gorgeous but with so few pixels the desktop is uncomfortably cramped. Using any other scaling factor looks nasty.

So it feels like the sweet spot resolution might be 1440p and that is what I have on the old monitor, which also has stronger brightness for using in a room with natural light. So maybe I didn't need to make this upgrade in the first place?

thesis

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2019, 10:06:57 AM »
It happens. Just keep in mind the time window in which you can return it. If you aren't completely happy with a $500 monitor, you might want to consider returning it.

Of course, I've done this with hiking boots, where the boots were really expensive but not 100% perfect, but my suspicion is that there aren't any that are 100% perfect for my feet, but these have been the best so far.

Just a consideration. Changing your environment (closing blinds) to make something "work" kinda sucks. I still don't think there's anything wrong with your decision to buy a $500 monitor, but it's possible you should consider a different $500 monitor :)

katsiki

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2019, 01:35:56 PM »
Just got an Acer 32" UHD monitor for $199.   It is great for work purposes.  Not gaming at the office.

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2019, 01:54:41 AM »
I am surprised to discover that the biggest problem seems to be the graphics capability of my Mac Mini.

The Mac Mini can drive the monitor at HD, making everything gigantic, or at 4K, making everything really tiny, but it cannot handle the "fractional scaling" resolutions in between. I can select them but they look really awful and pixelated due to low-quality scaling.

I tried connecting the display to a Macbook (2017) and that looks much better. I can pick from a lot of different scales and they all look quite smooth. I assume that the graphics processor in the Macbook has a scaling capability that is lacking in the Mac Mini.

So what to do? I can't upgrade the graphics processor in the Mac Mini, and I don't want to buy a new computer, so for now I am using the laptop with the display instead of the Mini. So the net result is that I have a nice display but much less computer power and memory.

I am a little disappointed that the Mac cannot simply use the display at its native 4K resolution. I did try this for a day or so but it creates an endless search for size-increasing settings to make the text and icons in each application readable.

I could also look for an even larger monitor that works well at 4K without scaling, but I don't see anything high quality in this price range, or I could look for a lower-resolution monitor that doesn't require any scaling at 32", but I will probably miss the 4K resolution in the future when I eventually buy a new computer.

(The brightness issue does not bother me so much in practical use, and I don't even use maximum brightness most of the time. The real issue there is only that the screen looked dull in comparison when held right next to another brighter screen.)

beekeeper

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2019, 02:21:52 AM »
Further, neither my Macbook nor my Mac Mini seems to be able to drive the 4K screen at 60Hz, but only at 30Hz. I have tried various cables, system patches, tuning applications, and nothing has worked. Quite a time suck.

So beware ye Mustachians, if you upgrade only one component of your computer setup you may create conflicts with the other older components, and it might make better sense to plan and budget for keeping your various components contemporary with each other. The $500 that I dropped on my monitor is already starting to feel like small potatoes compared with the time I have spent on troubleshooting, and the cost of extra cables and adapters (e.g. DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C) adds up too.

Alfred J Quack

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Re: Computer upgrade impulse buy: Facepunch?
« Reply #33 on: April 19, 2019, 08:03:14 AM »
I am surprised to discover that the biggest problem seems to be the graphics capability of my Mac Mini.

...

So what to do? I can't upgrade the graphics processor in the Mac Mini, and I don't want to buy a new computer, so for now I am using the laptop with the display instead of the Mini. So the net result is that I have a nice display but much less computer power and memory.

If you have a Thunderbolt port (and I believe there was also a Firewire hack somewhere) you may actually be able to upgrade with an external graphics card, though pretty expensive:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208544
https://bizon-tech.com/us/egpu

On the rest, you probably can't change anything about it. You can try to install windows 10 through bootcamp and see if the works properly with the internal GPU but most likely it won't due to hardware limitations. At the office we had the same problem, we could hook up 1 display at 2500x1600 or something but with 2 displays the resolution is limited to 2 times 1980x1080.

My Mac Mini had a basic Intel GPU (2008 model), if you look up your Mini and what GPU it has you can also find out what kind of resolutions are supported at what refresh rate. Sometimes the higher resolutions have a lower refreshrate or interlacing so as to lower the primary memory requirements from the hardware.