I'm sure you've all heard about Moore's law and the fact that processor speeds (and pretty much everything computer related) double about every two years. For the most part it's true, and it can be tempting to think that you need a new computer each time that happens, but here's the dirty truth that Intel and AMD would rather you didn't know:
Computers have been SO fast for the past three or four years that for the lay-person, none of that progress matters one iota. In fact, high-end machines from four years ago in many cases out-perform brand new ones today just due to the bloated monstrosity that is Microsoft Vista and all the various crap computer manufacturers shove into the system before you buy it.
I heard a hilarious fact the other day - that Best Buy is actually offering a crap-cleanup service when you buy a new computer from them. So,basically, you shell out good money to buy a brand new computer then have to immediately turn around and pay someone else to clean it up for you. That is some thick, juicy irony and a sad state of affairs.
If you are the kind of person that uses their computer primarily for the internet, email, and document processing (in other words, 80% of the country) then this is all you really need:
- Processor: Any dual-core processor, 2.1ghz or better.
- RAM: 1gigabyte is fine forWindows XP (although even 512 megabytes is usually ok), 2gb is pretty much required for Windows Vista
- Hard Drive:If you're a picture / movie freak, 300gb is good. For anyone else 160gb+ will cut it.
- DVD: A DVD burner is nice.
Outside of those things pretty much everything else is frills / personal perference. Do you want an SD-card reader for your digital camera? Ok, sure. Do you want a WiFi card to connect to your home network? Ok, get 802.11N.
Never spend more than $1000 on a new computer. The only thing that might change this is if you're an avid computer gamer. Computer gaming is pretty much the ONLY thing out there besides video production or 3-D rendering that requires a beefy system, and if you're a gamer that is almost aLL about the video card. Even a four-year-old system with a brand new video card can usually play the latest games.
My point here is this: When people think they need a system they usually don't need a new system, they just need their old one cleaned up. Junk builds up in the registry over time regardless of how nit-picky you are, system files get replaced with weird versions or corrupted, programs get loaded at start-up that you're not aware of, services are installed that you don't need that run in the background, etc. Cleaning this stuff up regularly will keep your machine speedy and running like a new one. Case in point, my main work computer that I do absolutely everything on (even play games, 3-D render, and fix other people's computers) is almost four years old (dual-core Athlon X2 4200+) and it still runs like a dream.
Being a computer repair guy in Portland, even though it hurts I have to sell myself a little :). Call me if you want this done. Tune-ups usually take around an hour (will definitely make your system speedier), complete operating system wipes and rebuilds take about 2 (will make it run like a new computer), or I can build you a new, fully optimized Windows XP computer with out all the crap right out of the gate (runs faster then most new computers). There, marketing mode off.
See you next time!