Buying a new Computer

So, the guy asks me, my old HP computer is a piece of crap and I want a new one.  I don't know what is the best place to get one and the best one to get.
My answer:
Most the problems stem from infections of various kinds and being a slow pig, which is quite common with lower end computers.

Keep in mind that any computer can and will have problems of some sort eventually.  Sometimes it's an easy fix and sometimes not.  The more standard a system is, the easier it is to upgrade and repair.

Many cheaper computers are designed as throw-away systems after 2-3 years.  You can buy a new one every few years or buy a better one in the beginning that is a little overkill, but will allow for upgrades that keep it working longer.  I think it's about the same amount of money, but the hassle of moving everything to a new system adds to the pain of doing it very often.

To some degree, it is a question of pay now or pay later. Buying a "built" desktop PC system from someone like me, has a number of advantages: 1) Generally, you are going to get a system built from industry "standard" components and no proprietary hardware such as is found in the Big Box Store computers. If a part fails, a replacement part should be readily available "off-the-shelf".

You also get installation disks for most of the  programs installed, including Windows.  Retail store systems usually do NOT come with any disks, or you have a "system restore" disk, which only puts it back to factory condition, which doesn't help when you just need to reload one program or part of it.  My job is much more difficult when I have to try and solve a problem sometimes because of this.

Companies like Sony, Dell, HP, Gateway, etc, have marketing agreements with a variety of companies.  That's why they load a bunch of crap on that you might not need or want.  I've read about and seen some computers that are so loaded down with unneeded crap that people have to start all over and reload everything or they just take the system back because it's so slow.

Tech support for retail box systems can be a frustration also.  Nothing is free and part of how they sell cheaper systems is because some of the support is based in another country.  You could spend days reading about horror stories and occasional happy stories.

As for buying a custom Dell or a Mac.  A custom Dell is a reasonable choice if you want to be able to call their India support or just feel more comfortable with a brand name system.

I see the "sales" that Dell has going on sometimes and when I configure it correctly instead of the cheap low-end features, it comes out about the same as the systems I sell, within about $200 usually.

Apple Mac systems are a closed system and more expensive.  They can be a little easier to use, but that's because they act as big brother and protect you from yourself.  When you only have a few choices, it's easier to make things work right more often.

Around here, there aren't many support options for Mac's.  You have to go to Bellingham or Lynnwood I believe.  And, there are lots of people that need help with Mac computers, the support people in the Apple Stores are quite busy.

Bottom Line:

Retail Box computers:


    * Warranty from the computer manufacturer.
    * Technical support from the retailer/manufacturer.
    * Most times cheaper.
    * Can get a complete system which includes a monitor, keyboard, etc. (Ready right out of the box).



    * Upgrading can be difficult or impossible.
    * Replacement of OEM parts can be expensive or impossible.
    * Requires proprietary components which may be obsolete.
    * Warranties are void if you open the case or interfere with any of the parts.
    * More difficult to solve problems because of lack of installation disks


Custom Built System from local outfit:


    * Can be repaired, worked on and upgraded by anybody
    * Local Technical support
    * Industry Standard Parts can be replaced or upgraded easily
    * Minimal extra crap software loaded
    * Generally much faster and will be a usable machine for longer



    * Higher Cost up front
    * Maybe less Warranty support if I get hit by a plumbing truck when I'm walking across the street

What if I want a Laptop?

You basically have 4 choices in getting a laptop.

1. Order from Dell or another similar place where you have "some" possible choice of how it's configured. 
I find that is the most expensive approach, but usually the best way to go.  You can purchase a business model and extra warranty and upgrade a feature or two from the standard configuration.
I don't love Dell, but they do have a good after-market ecosystem and repairs and upgrades are readily available most of the time.

Price range varies from $400 for a basic small business laptop to $1500.00 for a powerful business machine.

2. Go to Worst Buy or some similar type of store and try to find a machine that fits your price point and desired features.
What you usually end up with is a machine loaded up with extra crap and a terrible warranty situation if anything goes wrong during the warranty period.  I'm sure you could find hours of reading material on the web about problems dealing with incompetent/impotent tech support, English speaking or not.

To be fair, someone like me can usually clean the system up a bit so it runs at the speed it should, but I can't fix the warranty situation. That adds about $150.00 or so to the price.

Price range varies from $700 for a basic home use laptop to $1500.00 for a fast home machine. Any of them can be turned into a business machine for $200.00-$300.00  Of course, many people use them for business without worrying about doing the upgrades.

3. Buy a refurbished Dell Business model from someone like me.  You can get a 2-3 year old laptop that may or may not have much warranty, but that I make sure is configured well and runs good.  I have done that for a few people and for the most part it's a good way to go, if you understand there might be some signs of use and you will probably have to cover the repair costs yourself.

On the other hand, you can get a good machine for around $500.00 that will give you a couple of years of service at least.  I don't use my laptop every day, but the last 3 laptops I've bought, that's how I did it and usually have used them for 3 years.
4. Look for a special running at some online site and then do fast research to see if it's a good one.  Price range from $350 - $800, some refurbished, some new.