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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

How Much Computer Do You Need to Buy?

One of the most common questions I'm asked relates to recommendation of computer hardware. My thoughts on what to buy in a computer may be different than your thoughts. Often the question comes along with a budget limiting the cost of the computer.

If you have been using computers for any length of time, you are well aware that they tend to slow down over time. Part of the reason is because it simply uses older technology and therefore it isn't as powerful as the latest and greatest. Junk can also build up in your computer (both physical junk like dust and electronic junk like unneeded files) and that can also cause it to get slower over time.

When I buy (or build) a new computer for my use, I typically build more than I need at that exact moment. I make that decision knowing that I will spend a little bit more for the computer in the beginning. The difference is that I may be able to use that computer for three years and still find it easily meets my needs at the end of three years. Had I decided to cut the specifications a little bit to save money, I may need to replace it in less time. In the long run it would cost me more to replace the computer more often and I would be working slower because the machine was less powerful.

As I recommend products here on the Graphics Unleashed Blog, I tend to recommend hardware that is better than average performance-wise. In general, I'd suggest you not buy the most powerful piece of hardware as you will pay a big premium for that. But take a slight performance step back from the most powerful and you can usually get a lot of bang for not as many bucks. Sure, it will still cost more than some users desire. Again, I'd prefer you are still happy with your computer after three years rather than finding it underpowered just a year down the road.

 Let me give you an example. Just yesterday I had a client ask me about a computer quote they had gotten. The default computer came with 4 GB of RAM. For only $85 more, they were able to take it to 16 GB of RAM. I seriously doubt they need that much RAM today. They make not need it a year from now. But if spending $85 today allows that computer to last even six more months, it will easily pay for itself.

When the time comes for you to buy (or build) a new computer, try to go into the process with some flexibility in your budget. Look at the prices of various configurations and try to get a little bit more than you think you might need. While you may not be happy to spend a few extra dollars today, you should be able to look back at the purchase later with a smile knowing the computer was worth it.

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