What is the latest version of Blender should I be using on my computer?

Hello. I have a computer that was given to me by the church back in 2015. It originally had Windows 7 on it but one of the elders upgraded it to Windows 10 (to give an idea of the age of the computer now). It has an AMD Athlon II X2 255 Processor 3.10 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 9200 Graphics Card. I have some issues trying to render in Blender 2.9x. I’m wondering if I should be using an older version of Blender and if so, which version can I get away with using until I can afford a more powerful computer?

You try Blender 2.79b:

I installed that version of Blender. I may look into getting a new computer by the end of next year (need to save up the money). Which would be cheaper: having a computer custom built by Dell, HP, or Acer or building it myself?

Buying the components separately is usually more flexible and cheaper. There are vendors who assemble the computer for you if you buy all the components from them.
When you save enough money I recommend that you open a new thread for users to recommend what to buy according to your budget.

Can you post an example of something you rendered and how long it took to render? I spent 2019 & 2020 using Blender 2.80+ on a macbook from 2014 and I was still able to make some progress: http://portfolio.bahama.land/3d2019/
Thinsoldier sketchbook

Building one yourself mostly from used parts is always cheapest. I helped a kid order some new parts from amazon & elsewhere a few months ago and he splurged on every component. It cost nearly double the amount for a similar computer build more frugally. On top of that he bought a pointlessly expensive monitor when he already had a perfectly fine high quality TV he could have used while he saved up to buy a truly great monitor that’s actually worth the money, or more importantly a more expensive video card. The other odd thing is he hasn’t shown any ability to tell the difference between image quality on any monitors or tv’s and all he does it watch youtube so I have no idea why he felt the need for an expensive monitor, go figure. He also splurged on multi-color variable speed fans because he seemed to cared more about cool factor than anything else. I would have gone with liquid cooling for almost the same price, or used multi-color fans from ebay for a fraction of what he paid. Truthfully though I would have just placed my computer over the air conditioning vent and not worried about cooling. We live in zero humidity desert and the A/C stays at 67C 67F or colder 24/7

My $700 (after taxes) gaming laptop from 2 years ago is only a few seconds slower in every benchmark except games that use optix and optix rendering in Blender. His parts were like $1,400 not including taxes and shipping.

Part of my problem with newer versions of Blender is not wanting to open some larger files and my graphics card isn’t able to handle it.

Two things I know for sure with a new computer. 1) I want an Intel CPU (minimum quad core) and 2) I want an NVIDIA graphics card (my current computer got me hooked on those graphic card). Another thing if it’s possible, I would like double the RAM that my current computer has. I’ll start checking out components in two or three weeks on Amazon (I work there so I may be able to get discounts on everything except the RAM).

I agree with thinsoldier about frugality. Much compu-power can be had at a resonable price by building your own, avoiding pretty lights etc., used items are good for many things, you don’t need the biggest the best or the newest, less famous brands aren’t necessarily less quality.

My pc has functional fans, no lights, and when ambient temp is high I take the side off of the case.

thinsoldier, another desert dweller! AC stays at 67C (about 150F)? I like it warm but … 67F? Brrr, cold.

That’s always going to happen, no matter how powerful your computer is, somebody has a more powerful one and makes stuff your computer can just barely handle.

I don’t do large scenes so my hardware is probably too weak for your needs. What are your needs?

Mainly to work with 3D graphics without the program crashing on me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to change out the video card.

If frugality is of importance, consider getting a second hand pc.
Depending on where you live they can be easy to get by.

You might not be getting the latest and greatest, but you might be getting more bang for your buck if you buy a 2019 flagship secondhand vs a 2021 mid-range for the same price.

Keep in mind that second-hand components usually do not have a written guarantee, so if something goes wrong the expense made can still be a headache.
So I recommend buying components from reputable vendors.
Since you are looking for intel CPU, you could choose an intel CPU with integrated iGPU. In today’s market intel CPUs with iGPUs are enough to be able to use Blender without Blender crashing, of course you will not have the good performance that you would have with a discrete card. So, you with your new intel machine you can use blender while saving for a discrete nvidia card with at least 6GB vRAM (the higher the vRAM the better)
To pick your intel CPU, you see this Single thread benchmark:

There on that site you can display information on each model. Currently the recommended thing would be to not get anything with less than 8 threads (the more threads the better to render with Cycles). Single thread is also important in Blender, so in that benchmark that I have shared, the ones above are the ones with the best single thread performance. You make sure that the intel model has iGPU (those models that end in letter F do not have iGPU). The choice going from top to bottom will depend on your budget.

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I’m looking more at the middle column of the requirements. The first two things I’m going to get are the case and motherboard.

A few ideas I have are to eventually create music videos of a few songs (five at the moment) and I would probably need a computer that’s a bit more powerful than what I have now.

For videos in Cycles if you don’t want to suffer you need a very good CPU with very many threads (32 or more) and not too bad single thread performance. Or a common mid range CPU but with a very good video card (currently nvidia RTX). I guess this will be out of the question for you due to low budget.
So you should use Eevee, which is a bit less demanding than Cycles, but still at least 6GB vRAM card is required to ensure you are not left out of vRAM and your renders slow down too much. With a 4GB vRAM card you may not have problems with 1080p resolution renders. But in Eevee, the higher the output resolution the more vRAM is used. So in complex scenes and with 4K output resolution you can get slow renders on Eevee with 4GB vRAM cards.

If you are only interested in Eevee, alternatively to nvidia you might think of AMD video cards with good amounts of vRAM as well.

The max I’ll be rendering will be 720p. I’m looking at two motherboards and three CPUs to go with the case I decided to get. I may get all the parts through Amazon (I may be able to get discounts on the parts that they sell). I’ll look at graphic cards later on today.

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I have all components selected. I’m waiting on hearing from my sister and my brother-in-law to see if I’m missing anything (except SATA and DVI cables which I will be ordering with my next deposit) and software as I’m not going to put much (if any) money toward that with the exception of the operating system which will be either Windows 10 or 11. The main three were released within the past three years which should hold me and the motherboard can accommodate up to 64 GB of RAM. Hopefully Blender won’t get more powerful than the computer can handle for a while. I’m getting a 8-core processor as well (9th generation i7 processor).

I think I found out the main cause with Blender 2.8 and 2.9 at least when rendering. When I try to render at full HD, Blender would crash and close. When rendering at 720P, I have no issue no matter which render engine I’m using. Now if I can figure out what is causing large files to overburden the graphics card that’s in my current computer.