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Are you sure you need a new computer?

Updated on January 30, 2017
CreeViking profile image

Robin Olsen holds a B.Sc In Computer Systems and has over 20 years of IT Experience.

Do you need some help with that?
Do you need some help with that?

Here we go again

So the time has come to purchase another computer. This could be your first one but most likely you are doing this for the second or third time. You have already spent top dollar on brand name products in the past and now you are preparing to do it again,

STOP! How long ago was it that you bought your computer (the one you have now). Most computers have a three year life span in that they are considered obsolete in three years. This is because the software is constantly being upgraded and improved upon and the hardware is upgrading and improving to keep pace.

Mostly this happens due to the fact that the software companies improve their software to match hardware improvements regardless on if those improvements have actually been sold to the public yet or not. Then the software companies remove support for their previous versions of their software thus enticing the software users to upgrade their versions of the software, which will not work to full potential unless they are run on the new and imporved hardware so this in turn leads us to see our machine as obsolete and it's off the computer hardware store.

The three year and out rule is good for schools, government and corporations but when it comes to the home users we need to think if the three year and out rule is really applicable to us.

Here are some points to consider before you even decide IF it is time for a new machine or not.

Computers don't stop working just cause their old. usually there is another reason for it
Computers don't stop working just cause their old. usually there is another reason for it

2 Points to Consider

1) What do I do with my computer? Never mind what the computer will do, that means nothing if it is not what you want to do. You do not need to buy a 3000 dollar high-end gaming laptop if all you ever do is check your email, facebook your friends and watch youtube videos. For that the cheapest computer in the store will do just nicely. But before you even get to the store, ask yourself if your computer is actually broken and in need of replacement. Does it no longer do what you want it to do? If it functions fine and does what you want it to do then probably you have no need to replace it. Your not a business when you are at home. You have no competitors, there is no need for the latest and greatest computer in your house.

2) If I am to buy, do I really need the most expensive product, is it really any better? The answer to this 'not really - it depends' - despite the wide array of computer brand names such as 'Dell' and 'HP' or 'Toshiba', etc there really is only two choices - Intel or AMD processors. Both are considered 'out of date' in the same three year time span regardless of how much each one may have cost when it was purchased and BOTH will work fine for that 3 years unless they are 'lemons' and there are always lemons in every batch regardless of brand names. AMD costs less than Intel processor machines usually. Intel chips last longer so , for the home user, this may be of benefit. In the corporate world the fact that Intel will last for ten years and AMD for only five years is meaningless if the machine is considered out of date in three years and replaced but in the home user world this difference may hold signifigance in the purchase decision. Again, we don't NEED to replace our machines every three years or so just because the software and hardware industries work on this schedule. I run a server at home using intel processors and it is ten years old now and still chugging along doing what I want it to do. It is slow, the software is no longer supported by the company that made it but it does what I want it to do just fine so why replace it?

Did you know that a upgrade to active memory can add a couple of years to your computer's lifespan?

See results
Nice and smooth, but then everything new is right?
Nice and smooth, but then everything new is right?

Some final thoughts on the matter

Here's a little something for the gamers out there and for the parents of gamers who get hounded for newer and better hardware all the time.

You don't need the expensive stuff. I spend a lot of time gaming on my machines at home as well and I have never needed a high end gaming machine to play any games I played and some of them were resource hogs. I play World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and a whole host of high end graphics games as well as watch and upload/download videos off of the internet check my email surf the web for info and even developed little pieces of software all using the cheapest ACER I could find at Walmart - yes I said WALMART. Don't be fooled by the ads and the sales pitches and your kids will want whatever is being blasted at them by the closest billboard. Remember why you need it and what you want to do with it and do a little bit of checking around and if you run into a sales person who is selling you a computer and you do not understand what they are saying then walk away and find someone you can talk normally with.

Support - very big and I have not mentioned it til now. IF you are not computer savvy (and it will be expensive for you if you are not 100% honest with yourself on this topic) then you may want to consider buying that cheapest ACER from a store that actually provides support after the purchase - Walmart does not offer any support but as I have a computer background this is not so big a deal to me as long as I can return the broken hardware then I am OK. Usually support options increase the price of the computer but the cheapest one will still be pretty reasonable when purchased from a store that offers support and warrenty assistance.

Remember, you don't need a formula 1 race car to get to work everyday, it may be fun, but you cannot stop for groceries in it.

© 2012 Robin Olsen


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 13 months ago from USA

      This is truly informative. When I owned my corporation, I always felt like I had to have the latest and greatest computer to keep up with competitors, such as you mentioned in your article. But, now that I am retired, when I purchased my latest computer about six months ago, I looked for the cheapest computer that did specifically what I needed and nothing more. I am still happy with it today. But, since as you say, they only last for about three years, I will be looking for another one in about two and a half years.

    • CreeViking profile image

      Robin Olsen 14 months ago from Rural Canada

      Greensleeves Hubs - I use 'D-Fend Reloaded' for old DOS games - I still play a few of them myself... I have yet to find a decent Window emulator and the 'run as' mode in Windows 7 and later appears to be garbage and does not allow most older windows games to run.... also the issue with going from a older 32-bit system to a 64-bit system causes even some of the emulators to not work right...

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 14 months ago from Essex, UK

      I agree very much about buying a new computer. I've only had two desktops since about 2000, and I only tend to think about buying a new one when the old one packs up or develops too many faults - ultra-slow start-ups, problems with crashing, absence of storage space etc.

      One advantage in waiting a few more years is that you cannot then possibly be dissatisfied with your new purchase - even if it's not the best on the market, if it is 5, 6 or 8 years more advanced than your current model, it's bound to be a massive and much more efficient improvement.

      As for gaming, my problem is the opposite to the one you describe. Rather than wanting to play the latest software, I want to know how I can adapt my old Windows 95 compatable games so they can be played on Windows 7 or 10! :)

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      I saw this posted on Facebook and stopped by to read your hub.


    • CreeViking profile image

      Robin Olsen 5 years ago from Rural Canada

      very true I run my machines for 5 years each minimum unless it is a lemon and basically 'blows up' on me, and even then,depending on what broke, I normally repair before replacing. Depending on what broke and when of course. And adding memory is cheap, so is disk space nowadays too.

      There is a bit of deception out there too. I was offered the 'next line' of ACER recently when I went to buy my wife a machine and was slightly surprised to discover the processor, video and hard disk space was the same. The new ACER simply had 4 more GB of RAM. Could have bought the RAM separately

    • profile image

      timmathisen 5 years ago

      This is one of the more sensible articles I've read about buying a computer.

      Most folks don't realize they can continue to use a slightly older machine efficiently as long as it has a lot of memory -- unless they do any creative work or editing, which requires lots of processing power.