Buying a Computer – Easy Tips

We are now into 2012, and your old computer just quit. Do you fix it or buy a new computer? Buying a new computer is probably the better strategy if the computer is five years old or older. Many computers manufactured 5 to 9 years ago have hardware components that fail to mandate replacement. Please read on to understand how to buy the best computer.

The first decisions to make in buying a new computer are fundamental. By answering these questions, you determine your basic purchase strategy:

1. Please ask yourself, “How much can I spend?” The computer prices range from $200 to $400, $450 to $800, and $900 and up.

2. Next, determine the best computer type (or style) for you. The types of computers are desktops, laptops, and tablets. These types of computers differ in their size, portability, and functionality. Desktop computers are the least portable. They are good for using multiple displays and heavy workloads. Laptops vary in size and portability. The big ones have a 17-inch display, making them pluggable for occasional trips. Big laptops have most of the desktop capabilities, but the computing horsepower is lower than a desktop to conserve laptop battery power. Similarly, the display is smaller and has a lower resolution than displays used with desktop computers. Tablet computers are the most portable. They can do a lot but with a much smaller display. The tablets are a powerful, mobile information tool one step above a smartphone.



3. Finally, the question is: Do I buy an Apple or another computer? The other computer’s main selections are Windows 7 operating system or Android operating system computers. There are also Linux computers. Linux is a free General Public License software operating system. Linux computers are equivalent to Windows and Apple computers for everyday users. The difference between Linux and Windows is that you only pay for the hardware with a Linux computer, which is a huge saving over Apple and Windows computers.

The market for Apple computers is tightly controlled. This means that Apple computers work very well with few problems. They are seldom attacked by malicious software. Everything an enthusiastic Apple owner says about their Apple is true. They are also beautiful-looking computers. The downside is that they are expensive. When an Apple malfunctions, you have a big problem. If the Apple computer is under warranty, you schedule a visit to the Apple store and wait in line to get it fixed. Also, you pay a lot for the repair.

In contrast, Windows 7 computers are like the Wild West. In the Wild West, anything can and does happen. There are many competing hardware and software products for Windows 7 computers. Windows 7 computers are the most malware, spyware, and virus-attacked computers. Because more Windows computers are sold than any other computer, Windows computers are the biggest target for attack. Apple computers also get viruses, but much less often than Windows computers. Windows computers can be cheap computers, but they are not cheaper than Linux computers.

4. The final question is: What computer manufacturer do you like? Each manufacturer has its own approach to selling computers. I prefer manufacturers that do not add fancy frills beyond the basics of Windows or the computer operating system. Most frills try to sell you something, provide redundant functions with the operating system, occupy screen space, get in the way of what you are doing, and overload and slow down the computer. For example, HP computers are like Big MACs. They taste great but come with a lot of software fat. Lenovo computers are like a bank vault. They secure your data but are miserable to fix because of the security. All computers seem to have an annoying “dock” or application launcher. It takes up a lot of screen space and adds little beyond what Windows provides. Purchasing a package is always cheaper than building a custom computer. Purchasing custom computer parts is always more expensive than buying a packaged system from a manufacturer because the manufacturers purchase computer components in such high volumes.

Once your basic strategy is determined, it is time to find a computer. The approach here is to use the Internet to perform the initial shopping and then go to the store to make the final decision and purchase. Would you please go to the website of a computer retailer near you, such as Best Buy or Staples? Search their site based on the type (or style) of a computer that works best for you. The site should produce a list of computers from which to choose. Sort them by “Best Selling” and check the “Customer Reviews.” Please determine how the price compares to your budget. Most retail store sites permit comparing the features of three computers side by side. Carefully select three computers for comparison.

This approach was used to compare three moderately priced desktop computers from one retailer. They ranged from $429.99 to $699.99. The $429.99 computer used a 3.3 GHz Intel i3 CPU chip, 6 GB RAM, and a 1 TB disk drive. The 549.99 computer used an AMD 2.4 GHz CPU chip, had 8 GB RAM, and had a slower 5,400 rpm 1.5 TB drive. The $699.99 computer used an Intel 3.0GHz i5 CPU chip, had 6 GB RAM, and a 7,200 rpm 1 TB drive. The differences between these systems are not likely to make the most expensive system perform that noticeably better to a user than the least costly system. As long as the hardware features are generally in the same range, each computer’s performance seems to be the same.

All systems used the latest DDR3 RAM. A computer with 8 GB of RAM may perform better than those computers with 6 GB of RAM. One thing is certain: all these computers would be decidedly faster than a Windows XP system with 2 GB of RAM. While special performance test programs can measure the difference between a 2.4 GHz AMD CPU chip computer and a 3.3 GHz Intel i5 CPU chip computer, people barely notice the difference. People see that AMD chip computers are usually cheaper by $100 or more than Intel CPU chip computers.

The Windows Performance Index measures the combined performance of all the components of a Windows Vista or a Windows 7 computer. The Windows Performance Index is a single number between 1 and 7.9. Low-end systems have Windows Performance Index numbers in the 3.4 to 4.5 range. A computer with a 3.4 score performs like a computer with a 4.5 score to a human. The Windows Performance Index would need to go from 4.5 to 7.5 to see a performance difference.

To my knowledge, the Windows Performance Index is not mentioned in any advertising. It is found on Windows 7 computers by opening START, clicking the right mouse button on the COMPUTER menu selection, and then selecting PROPERTIES from the drop-down menu that appears. To see the Windows Performance Index, you need to have a store salesperson fire up the computer and help you view it.

Apple computers usually have hardware that operates at slower speeds and has smaller capacities than Windows computers. The Apple computers perform as well as or better than their Windows competitors because they use a different and tightly controlled operating system. The software interaction with the hardware makes up for the slower Apple hardware.

The final comparison area is on display. Monitors today use light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting. The LEDs use little power and should last seemingly forever. Monitoring physical size contributes to visibility. A character on a 14-inch monitor is smaller than the same character on a 24-inch monitor. The bigger monitor images are more easily viewed. The monitors’ resolution is expressed horizontally by vertical dots or pixels. Typically, they are something like 1600 by 900 dots. Monitors with a larger number of drops of vertical resolution have a better display. Often, monitors will be advertised as 1080p. The 1080p resolution is 1080 dots of vertical resolution, with each line refreshed on each scan cycle. On a 1600 by 1200 monitor, you can see a full 8.5 by 11-inch page when viewed at full size or 100% zoom. Monitors with 900 dots vertical resolution often cut off the bottom of the page when viewed at full size.

The final bit of wisdom to consider when purchasing a new computer is not to buy the most expensive one. Here is why. A client asked me to get him a computer. At the Dell website, I configured a computer with what seemed to be modest features. This computer cost $3,000. Costco offered a computer package with lower performance features for under $1,000. If the client purchased a new $1,000 computer every year for three years, he would have the better computer at the end of three years than if he bought the $3,000 Dell computer. Only buy the most expensive computer if you have the features and performance it provides. Otherwise, stay with more moderately priced computers and purchase them more often. Buying two $400 computers is better than going for a single $800 computer in the long run.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.