Many times I am faced with having to tell someone that their old computer needs to be replaced, and often it is hard to get some people to let go. But let’s look at things from a logical perspective. If you have a 4 or 5 year old computer (or even older in some cases), you have to think back in time to when you first got the computer, and look at how it was used (and what it was designed for). Going back to 2005 and a lot of people were still making the move to high speed internet, and even those with broadband were probably getting speeds of 1-3 Mbps download. Fast forward to 2010 and highspeed internet can easily reach between 10-30 Mbps. This means that when visiting some websites, your computer is getting 10 times+ the amount of information being fed to it every second during page downloads. Add to that the fact that 5 years ago, most websites were text based, whereas today we are bombarded with video, sound, animations etc, and you can see that computers of 5 years ago, even ones that were top of the line, really were not designed to handle what is here in 2010.
So the hard question sometimes is it worth it to upgrade, or is it better to just get a new computer. Generally if your computer is a couple of years old, adding some memory, or upgrading graphics (for desktops) may be a worthwhile option. For memory, 2-4 GB is about the norm today with higher end systems having 8GB or more. Increasing your memory can really help if you multi-task and/or do much with multi-media. Upgrading your graphics card in a desktop can also be a worthwhile option, especially if your computer is currently using onboard graphics. Many websites and programs today are very graphic intensive, and having a good graphics card can really enhance your computer experience – it can also help by taking some of the burden off of the processor. When upgrading graphics though, you have to make sure that your PSU (power supply unit) has enough juice to handle the upgrade.
For older computers, adding memory or upgrading the graphics, while sure to add a boost to the system, is not always a worthwhile investment. Most computers today run multi-core processors, and more and more programs are written to take advantage of this. If your computer has an older processor (CPU), even with more graphics and memory, the CPU may become the bottleneck. The other thing to consider with an older computer is that your Hard Drive will fail eventually, and it would be a real drag to spend a bunch of money on upgrades only to have your hard drive fail a short time later (or PSU fail, or CPU, or anything else in your system). The other thing about older systems, is that if during their lifetime they have been overheated (especially laptops), or subjected to power surges (common here in Pensacola), their parts have been stressed, and sometimes when you add fresh parts or increase the demands, the stressed parts can easily fail (sometimes taking the new parts with them).
Of course there are some things you can do to prolong the life of your computer (or at least its usable life). First, ensure that you keep it clean – get some computer/electronics approved compressed air (never EVER use an air compressor!) and carefully blow out the dust, dog hair, dirt etc from inside the case, paying special attention to the cooling assembly of the CPU and the fan assembly’s on the case and power supply (be careful not to tilt the compressed air cans when using!). Secondly, get rid of unneeded programs and startup entries, or if your computer is a number of years old, and full of unwanted programs, re-install Windows (make sure to back up important files first!).
With the great deals on computers these days, it is often better to go with a replacement, than try to prolong an aging system. While computers today don’t seem to last as long as old computers, due to their lower cost, their cost per year has remained about the same. For example, if you paid $1000 for a computer 4 years ago that is ready to be replaced, you spent $250. A $1000 computer 4 years ago was in the low-mid range of computers. Today you can get a low-midrange computer easily in the $500 range. If the new $500 computer only lasts 2 years, your price per year remains the same. Computers today are cheaper for two main reasons – one is that they are massed produced (mostly overseas), and the production costs are much lower, the second reason is that they are not made to last as long (because of cheaper construction as well as the fact that technology is changing so fast).
The best scenario is to know that you want to get a new computer, and shop around waiting for an excellent deal – this always beats waiting until a computer dies, then having to shell out money on whatever is available at the time. For information on upgrading your computer, or a helpful guide to buying a new computer, visit Pensacola Computers. Offering Computer Service, Computer Repair, Networking, Computer Classes, and general help on any computer related topic for Small business and home users, Pensacola Computers serves Pensacola Florida community
I have spoken to quite a few people recently who have purchased new computer’s, and it seems that many have been somewhat surprised to find that their brand new computer just doesn’t perform as they thought it would. Today, the major retailers are really pushing the entry-level low priced computers, and their advertisements focus on things like hard drive capacity and battery life. Unfortunately, most of these computers come with bargain CPU’s and just aren’t made for any kind of multitasking or even mid-range computer usage.
Sempron, Celeron, Atom, Neo – these are all names of Processors (CPU’s) that are designed to be low power usage (which equates to long battery life in laptops), but they are also low in performance. These processors will balk at multitasking (when you have multiple programs or windows open), and are very slow compared to the newer and much faster multi-core high performance processors which can be found in the mid to higher end computers at prices that really are not that much higher.
Many people tell me that they want a computer that is simply for web browsing, so they don’t need a performance computer. While a computer that is ‘simply’ for web browsing certainly does not need to be a top of the line gaming type machine, many people do not realize that simple web browsing today is much more demanding on a computer than it was even a couple of years ago. Many web sites today rely on multiple technologies to serve up their web pages. When you visit a website, you are not only using the browser, but you are often using many browser plugins (separate programs) such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Java, Quicktime, and others that help deliver the rich media content that we are fast become used to. In order to be able to effectively deliver all this content, you need a processor that is capable of handling it, as well as a good amount of memory (RAM).
So if you are considering a new computer, be aware that the small amount you may save going for the ‘bargain’ machines, will soon be lost in frustration and wasted time. Personally, I would stick with the newer Core 2 Duo/Quad processors, or the brand new i3, i5, and i7 processors for the best experience.
Here in Pensacola Florida, you can often find the best local deals at stores like Best Buy and Office Depot, however the best ‘advertised’ deals (cheapest) are often not the best deals for you. Despite what the seemingly knowing salesperson may say, (never listen to them), you really want a computer that isn’t going to end up frustrating you. The best thing to do is to do a bit of research first and go to the store already knowing what you want.Also, be aware that the retail stores are counting on you wasting money on things like their ‘optimization’ services and security software which is pretty much worthless crap, and the optimization is usually just simple things like removing the trial garbage software and doing the first set of Windows Updates (something you can do for yourself, and should do anyhow, that takes only a few minutes). There is also a newer practice of bundling security software and other things into the base price of the computer (stay away from Nortons, Mcafee etc). Always ask what the price of the computer is Without all the extra garbage!
Black Friday sales are everywhere with supposed incredible deals on computers – but are they really that incredible? While some prices advertised may seem like the best you’ve ever seen, be careful! Many of the computers that are being offered are year old models (or even older in some cases) with old technology that will barely run the software they have on them. Just because a computer comes with Windows 7 doesn’t mean that it is a new computer model – case in point: I saw a computer advertised at a large retailer for Black Friday that offered wireless b/g (but no wireless n), 10/100 Ethernet (many new systems offer 10/100/1000), and a AMD processor that was released 2 years ago – and the price on the system wasn’t that good anyhow.
There are also many of the ‘netbooks’ being advertised at $199 – $299, and while some of these are ok deals, many people don’t realize that these netbooks are designed for basic internet and single running applications (multi-tasking will often slow them to a crawl). While netbooks are great for on the go and portability, they are by no means media or gaming type computers, nor are they made to handle the demands of heavy duty business applications. In addition, most of the real cheap ones come with Windows XP (which lets face it is on it’s way out as it is a 9 year old operating sytem that is reaching the end of it’s lifetime).
After looking at many of this years Black Friday ads for computers, I would have to say that for the most part it looks as if the retailers and manufacturers are offering the best deals on mostly junk that they are trying to clear out of their inventories. In the end it is probably better to shop the regular sales and stick to the mid-range prices where you will find the best deals – you can often find an $800 computer in the $450-$500 range. Just take your time and do a bit of research before buying – if the deal looks too good to be true – it usually is.
This year in Pensacola, you will find your best computer deals at places like Office Depot and Best Buy – just remember to take anything the salespeople there tell you will big grain of salt (you are better off to do your research first, and then just getting what you have pre-decided on). Remember to NOT let them sell you any garbage security software (most anything they will try to sell you is overpriced and not that good), and beware of the sold called value added services like charging you extra money to ‘optimize’ your system, or to create a recovery disk (both things that you can easily do yourself). Also beware of those ‘extended’ warranty plans that usually require you to bring your computer to them to get fixed (which often will take quite a bit of time, as if it is anything serious they usually send the computer out anyhow).
The best shopping experience can be had by good preparation – for some useful info about computer buying and systems, check out the Computer Guide at PensacolaComputers.com: http://pensacolacomputers.com/guides.htm
Sooner or later your computer will die. Whether it is due to a hardware failure (hard drives will ALWAYS fail, it’s not a matter of if, just a matter of when), or sometimes Windows just gets tired, or infected and dies; when it happens you are faced with one of two options: fix it, or buy a new computer. The hardest decision comes when you think how much you payed for your current computer. It may have cost you $2000 five years ago, but in today’s terms it might be worth $100 if even that.
The problem with investing money in an old computer is that it will never get much faster, even if you spend the money to upgrade the memory, processor etc. The other issue is that once one component fails, even if you replace it, time is against you and it is probable that something else will fail fairly soon. There comes a time when putting money into an old computer just isn’t worth it, and it’s time to start looking for a new computer.
Fact is, even the cheapest computers out there today are probably quite a bit faster than your old computer. With computer programs and internet content becoming more demanding every day, it is always advisable to have hardware that will not only be able to handle what is out there today, but also be able to deal with what is coming. With rich multimedia becoming more popular on the internet, there is a great demand for more memory, faster processors, and better graphics hardware. When you computer dies, you need to carefully consider how much it will cost to fix it, and whether or not that money wouldn’t be better spent putting it towards a new computer. 10 years ago, the lifespan of a computer was much longer than it is today, however, with mass production that is used to make most systems today, computers just aren’t made to last as long (and there is no reason for them to be because the technology is changing so fast that making a computer that lasts 5 years or more just doesn’t make sense anymore because in 5 years the hardware and software demands will be so much greater). Sometimes the question isn’t so much ‘can you afford a new computer’ as it is ‘can you afford your old one’.