Drew explains what you need to know to get the best product at the right price.
Five tips for buying a computer
Buying a new or used computer can be a daunting task with CPU, RAM and gigabytes flying all over the place, but what do you really need to know to get the best product at the right price?
1. Shop around
When purchasing a new computer, there are four different sellers from which to purchase.
- Small local shopfront: Generally owner operated with one or two staff, you can get a personalised service which includes installation in your home. Warranties may be less than those offered by larger retailers.
- Specialist computer store with many locations: Operating Australia-wide, there are several large computer store brands with 3-4 stores in every state. Due to purchasing power, they provide the cheapest price of any retailer.
- Electrical retailer: Every large retailer stocks and sells computer. You can expect to pay slightly more for an item purchased from an electrical retailer, but you can be confident that your warranty will be upheld.
- Online: From eBay to Gumtree, you can find some of the best deals on new and used computers on retail and auction websites.
Always enquire about the after sales service, support and warranties, as it may be worth paying 5 per cent more for a product if the company offers better after sales service, support and longer warranties.
2. RAM is important
Unless you are into the online gaming scene, the average computer CPU and hard drive space provided in the latest and even used computers less than two years old is more than enough. Your focus when buying a new or used computer needs to turn to the amount of RAM provided. Aim for a minimum of 2GB, but the recommended amount is 4GB. This will provide you with the best possible experience when using multiple programs at one time.
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3. New, used or refurbished?
The age old battle between price and reliability. When you buy a new computer, you are guaranteed that the computer will be covered for a minimum period under warranty (generally two years), while if you buy a used computer for a fraction of the price, it could break down the day after purchase and you would have no recourse. The in-between of course is refurbished, as these models generally come with a warranty (generally one year) from companies who sell these computers. Call me old fashioned if you will, I always want a warranty when purchasing a computer. If buying second-hand, I do find that refurbished models have been well looked after, as they generally are used for email and word processing in large organisations.
4. Never buy top of the line
Spending $2000 on the fastest computer available doesn’t make much sense when all you want to do is watch movies, surf the web, send and receive emails and chat with family on Facebook. There really isn’t much difference between a middle-ranged computer and the top of the line product, as a computer one third the price will provide exactly the same experience at almost an identical speed. Even if you are using RAM intensive software such as Adobe Photoshop, the less expensive models don’t struggle to process your requests.
5. Laptop or desktop?
The age of the desktop computer is over. All hail the laptop! In the past, due to the size of components, the desktop computer was the more affordable option when purchasing a computer. But this has all changed in the past few years with laptops now providing a similar experience at similar costs. Are you worried about the size of the screen, lack of mouse and smaller keyboard? Don’t be! I use my laptop at work and at home, with a keyboard, mouse and large-screen monitor all plugged into my laptop to allow for the normal desktop experience.
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