It's time to replace my Computer...now what?!?

Posted by Mike Phillips on March 26, 2014.

Have you ever walked into one of the "big box" computer stores to see wall to wall computers, walk into that section and file by all the shiny new laptops, desktops, and monitors only to have your eyes glaze over from information overload? Then, up walks a sales person who knows less than you about computers and points out 3 or 4 different units for you to look at and choose between, throws some legal looking papers at you and convinces you to sign your life away with a 3 year warranty on a computer that you take home and have no clue how to use it (typical for a first time Windows 8 user).


As an average home user of IT (Information Technology) equipment, what should you be looking for to purchase in today's technological environment?


First let's take a lesson from some financial advisors in today's economic climate and maybe the frugal parent we all had that knew a great bargain when they saw one:


Should I Buy New or Used?


My father used to say to me "never buy a new car - always buy used." I bought my first and only new car I've ever owned in 2006 and have regretted it ever since. How impressive and proud I felt when I drove it off the lot - even though I knew its value fell to less than half of what I paid for it - it felt good, it smelled good, it looked good, and I looked good driving it. Then the issues came - covered under warranty - but still it had issues and repairs. And the repairs were expensive every time and some things surprisingly weren't covered under warranty. 1 year into ownership and I was kicking myself and telling myself I should have listened to my dad.


Refurbished Computers are a great first step at purchasing a computer for most people's home needs. Unless you have Software requirements that demand an i7 Processor speed or higher and "googlabytes" of hard drive space, most computer users - especially in the home - merely require enough computer memory (RAM) and processor speed to watch videos, surf the internet, efficiently operate social media without hanging up so that your typing and mousing speed isn't faster than the computer your using.

How Much Ram do I need?

Most Operating systems can work off of 2 GB of Ram, however if you are running Windows 7 or higher we strongly suggest you buy or upgrade a computer to at least 4 GB of Ram for an efficient Operating System without stalling or glitches.

How Much Storage Space do I need?

If all you do on your Computer is check email through your Google Chrome, Yahoo, Hotmail, or other online accounts and you don't save documents, photo's, or videos, you probably need very little space on your hard drive. Some people save everything to Network, external, or "flash" drives today. A computer with as little as 40 GB of space is sufficient for many. I would suggest at least 80 GB or if purchasing from PC Retro for an additional $5 bump that up to 160 GB or for an additional $15 you can have a 250 GB Hard Drive which is plenty of storage for almost any document saving work you might need to do on your computer.

What size Processor do I need?

Some who read this will probably ask "what is a Processor?" Think of the Processor of your computer as the "brain." It takes all of the information you feed the computer and sends the information to the right place to get your work done just as your brain tells your fingers to type on the keyboard while at the same time can tell your foot to pat to the song playing in the background. In today's computer market, we would recommend a computer with at least a Core 2 Duo Process (C2D) or higher. Without going into a list of all the processor options out there, suffice it to say that C2D is sufficient to run almost any basic computer needs today. If your into high needs gaming, CAD Drawings, or other high Graphics needs, then Core i5 or higher might be the way to go for you. However, with most of our customers, Core 2 Duo Processors (in layman's terms: a computer with 2 brains) works well for most users.

What Brand of Computer is best?

Opinions vary on this question as widely as there are differing brands available. Going back to our first question, it comes down to Business Class vs. Consumer Grade. In the Business class world, the difference is very little. All machines are made with quality internal components. In my opinion, Dells tend to be easier to work on from a technician point of view and they seem to look a little more professional while at the same time feel more durable, but with all the varying models, I could be proven wrong with a little effort. The HP's - especially the Elitebook's - are comparable to the Dells in the Business Class category. If you are purchasing from a Box store in the Consumer Grade market - my Toshiba Satellite has lasted for about five years (2 years longer than the 3 year average) and seems to be more durable regarding the internal components than all other computers I've seen come through our repair services.

Most of the questions addressed in this blog effort are actual questions I hear daily. Hopefully this will help our readers in their decision making process when the time comes to purchase your next computer. Speaking of which - mine crashed this weekend - so I'm off to PC Retro to buy a refurbished Dell Latitude Business Class machine - replacing my Toshiba Satellite.