Laptop & Desktop
One of the requests I receive most often from clients is for
a buying guide for a new desktop computer or laptop.
Most often, the request is for new equipment, but frequently
someone wants to do things on the cheap and many times that
points to buying "previously owned" computer equipment.
Added Bonus: Don't fall
prey to 3 Common Myths about New Computers!
General Purchase Considerations
First let me tell you what NOT to buy. JUNK!
"A cheap price is a shortcut to being
- Chinese proverb
I cannot emphasize this enough. Let me quote from the back
of my dad's old business cards (different business, but the
concept is identical):
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after
the sweetness of low price is gone!
Those ads in the paper? Forget them. I don't have time to
recount the stories of hapless bargain hunters that went into
one of those stores with an ad in their hand touting a $699 PC,
everything you need (supposedly), and walk out with $1800 worth
of garbage. The first thing they found out is that the warranty
was over shortly after your rear bumper cleared the stores
The only caveat I give on buying cheap is this: If you have
a very short term purpose, a political campaign for instance,
and in 8 months everything is going to be thrown out, then you
don't need to worry about money or longevity. But this is
certainly the exception, not the rule.
Warranty: Don't leave the store without it!
One of the most important points to check out when buying
equipment is the warranty. Used equipment probably won't have
any, but might. New purchases should always include a 3 year
warranty on everything.
Usually when you see those cheap specials "Everything you
need for $699 (after rebates)", the warranty is something
between taillight (when your taillights are out of sight it's
out of warranty) to 1 year. It only makes sense when you think
about it, but the cheaper the equipment is to buy, the more
likely you will need that warranty. "Oooh, so you want a
warranty, eh? We can do that (for an extra $299.95, and a nice
commission for the sales associate)."
Warranty should be 3 year automatically, without extra cost
or gimmicks (Dell's CompleteCare on laptops is another story,
covered in the Laptop buying guide).
Desktop vs. LaptopThink about these
things when deciding on the profile of the computer:
It varies from time to time, but a rule of thumb is
that you can buy 2 desktop computers for the price of
one laptop. Putting desktop power into a laptop is
expensive, so apples to apples a desktop is a lot less
Do you really need mobility? Or will a computer in
each of 2 locations cover you? (see the point above).
Lugging that laptop can be hard on your back.
Will there be a security risk in toting a laptop
How good is your eyesight? It's a lot easier to get
a big, easy to read screen with a desktop than with a
New Computer Equipment
Below I provide a link to my current guide for desktop
computers and another for laptops.
Computer Buying Guide (Desktops)
Laptop Buying Guide
Build Your Own
PC (Desktops) This page has my current computer
Used Computer Equipment
My recommendation on buying used anything is always the
same: "buyer beware". That said, here's some more specific info
when diving into the realm of used computers.
Used Computer Hardware
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