Computer Buying Tips — Selecting the New Computer
Some families will buy their first computer as a big Christmas present. Other times, the new computer may be needed for school, or may be a replacement for an aging machine. No matter why you get one, the computer needs some security help before it connects to the Internet.
Consider a “middle-of-the-road” model, not just the cheapest and not the “bleeding edge of technology,” either. You should buy a good machine, whether you want to buy your new computer at a local computer shop or purchase it by phone or the Internet from Amazon.
If your goal is computer gaming, especially flight-simulation and “first person shooters,” you will need a fast machine with a great video card. But, for most of us, almost any of the new computers is a big improvement over our 3- or 4-year old models.
Check whether you can expand the memory in the new computer. Memory is usually one of the high-priced manufacturer upgrades for computers — while you can usually find much better deals elsewhere. I recommend Crucial.com for memory for desktops and notebooks. They have an excellent Wizard to help you figure out which memory you need. I saved well over $100 by buying my Dell Inspiron notebook with minimum memory and then buying 1GB of RAM from Crucial.
Based on December 04, 2005, prices on the Dell Inspiron 9300 and corresponding memory at Crucial, you can have 2GB in your computer for $198.16, less than half the price increase at Dell. This is after picking the minimum memory configuration on the Dell purchase, so you still get the two 256MB modules that you should be able to sell on eBay!
A notebook computer makes an interesting alternative for a main computer — that’s what my primary computer was for a long time! But, notebooks are notorious for not being upgradeable. Sure you can add Crucial memory or replace the hard drive — but that is all. For the corresponding amount of power, a desktop computer may be roughly 60% of the price of the corresponding laptop.
Look for expandability in a desktop computer. A sleek, slim model may look nice, but if you can not add another hard drive, it may not be a good choice.
You can buy or build an external hard drive for extra disk space. However, that is not the best way to use them. See my article on external hard drives for related comments.