Over the weekend my laptop of 6+ years went kaput. I knew the time was coming. The 14″ screen had busted hinges; An old copy of the Baghavad Vita and some other thick book were semi-secretly holding my screen up from behind. Intermittently loud clicks from the 60GB hard drive were cluing me in of its upcoming death. Performance was slowing dramatically over the past couple months even though I kept my system well maintained in every way possible. I’ve only had to reformat it once in those 6 years.
So on Friday night all the Blue Screens of Death decided to come out all of the closets to have a big party with me! Que Bueno! I used my other laptop (my iPhone) to help me get out of the mess. Each time I got a blue screen, I googled the error codes and guess what? Each error code pointed the finger at a different culprit (faulty RAM, HD error, driver issue, etc). Well that’s confidence-inspiring! I attempted to restore my dated Dell short of reformatting it and decided, alas, it’s time to invest in a new computer. One that doesn’t run on Pentium.
- 1990 to 1997: Mac IIsi (Upgraded RAM from 4mb to a whopping 16mb)
- 1997 to 2005: Power Mac 6500 (Upgraded CPU from 250mhz to 400mhz; upgraded RAM from 32mb to 128mb)
- 2005 to 2011: Dell XPS M140 Laptop (added 250GB external HD for backup and upgraded RAM from 1 to 2GB)
History shows that I tend to lightly upgrade my computer only when necessary and continue to (delicately) run them into the ground until they completely fall apart.
Hooray! It’s time for a new computer!!! Apparently I get this chance only, on average once every 7 years!!!
What to do? Where to go? Money is tight. Should I go for a used computer? Refurbished? New? Desktop? Laptop?
I read several articles about what to buy and this is what I learned:
- A used or refurbished computer is somewhat cheaper, but with questionable quality, unknown history, no warranty and possibly outdated technology. This didn’t sound like a good choice.
- For a new computer, the low-end models, even though they are categorized as low-end, come with the latest technology standards (i.e. multiple cores, DDR3 mem), ample hard drive capacities and have very competitive pricing. This sounds like a good thing to look into!
- Any computer model (even the high end ones) on the store shelves will be outdated in 3 months or less. They will be replaced by a slightly better, faster, stronger model. This is nothing to be worry about though because a new computer should be useful for several years.
- Tying in together with the previous point, nothing depreciates faster than computers (not even cars!). It makes more economic sense to buy a cheaper model because the resale value will be better and when the time comes to upgrade, it will be even less expensive to do so. If a buyer goes for the highest end model, they are paying a premium for it, and because the price is over inflated to begin with, percentage wise they depreciate most dramatically.
So with all this in mind and more, the decision was made to check out the local Fry’s Electronics. While driving there, I decided to get a desktop instead of another laptop for several reasons. Desktops are relatively cheaper (that’s a big one!). Desktops are cheaper to upgrade. I could finally have a large monitor. And I don’t need the portability. My laptop wasn’t even portable; the battery couldn’t hold a charge after the first year so it was like a desktop anyway for most of its life.
I got to Fry’s Electronics and started getting acquainted with their computers, just taking it all in. I realized very quickly that even the mid-range desktops were totally overkill. I didn’t need a computer with a 6-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, 2TB HD, a crazy graphics card, 11 usb ports (with 4 more in the front), etcetera!
So I was definitely going to save my money and go for a low-end model.
I used my trusty iPhone to research and read the reviews for all the models. The choices were very clear: The Emachines and Compaq presario models had frighteningly bad reviews. But this one Lenovo model had impeccable customer reviews! The Lenovo was definitely the winner. A new desktop with excellent reviews for only $349? SOLD!!!
Next I chose the cheapest monitor they had: A ridiculously large 21.5″ monitor for only $109.
So I paid a little over $500 with tax for this system. It’s ridiculously awesome and I’m very happy with the frugal choices I made because even this, is pretty overkill! Especially after being used to using such an old computer.
- Lenovo Ideacentre H405 Desktop:
- Processor: AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1GHz, 64 bit Dual Core Processor
- Cache Per Processor: 2MB L2 Cache
- Memory: 4GB DDR3 1333MHz
- Hard Drive: 500GB 7200RPM
- Optical Drive: DVD±RW Drive
- Graphics: Integrated ATI Radeon 3000
So maybe you’re wondering… What DO I DO with my computer anyway? I browse the internet, I play MP3’s, I use MS Office and the most processor intensive thing? Adobe Photoshop. That’s about it! If my 7 year old laptop could do all those things, then ANY new computer was bound to be way better. I tried playing Counterstrike, a game that came out in the early 2000’s, and it plays perfectly. I’m sure the newest games would require that I upgrade the video card, but other than that, this is one BADASS system for it being “low end” and new. 🙂
Thanks for reading! Have any feedback? Have you bought a new computer recently? What did you choose? Are you happy with it? I would love to hear from you!