I use:

Monday, March 06, 2006

The PC Upgrade Myth: New is Better.

While the NEWEST technology may be able to run the latest games, the cost of being an early adopter - living on the bleeding edge - is simply a waste of money. Buying off-lease or end of cycle PCs can save you hundreds if you're willing to do your homework.

Windows Vista may change the world but even they can't knock a well-equiped PC you can buy today. The requirements published to date suggest that you will require 512Mb of RAM, a Pentium 4 processor (CPU) and a reasonable graphics card (link), but these requirements are enhancements on what your base WindowsXP box would be. If you're considering your options for a home system to suit your needs for the next 5 years, plan on buying hardware that meets the needs of Vista but surpasses the minimum requirements.

My Recommended Base System for 2007:

Pentium 4, 3GHz (preferrably with Dual-Core or Hyper-Threading).
1Gb of RAM
80Gb Hard Disk
80Gb USB External Hard Disk
4-6 USB Ports
Ethernet On-Board (100Mbit capable)
Dual-Layer DVD-RW
64-128Mb AGP Video Card
A UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply)

Some of these requirements are high, now, but I expect the user experience to be improved and demands upon your system to increase greatly in the next 5 years and it's always good to have head-room rather than frustration with a slow system. You may also notice that there is a USB connected hard disk. This is for your safety and comes with this message, "BACK UP YOUR SYSTEM!" If not your OS, your data. These can be had for $150 (Canadian) and will save you much time and frustration. Combined with a tool like Acronis TrueImage you will find your peace of mind is well above the high-water mark of the Sea of Peril.

You might be thinking, "You said a new system isn't required." You're right, and I am not suggesting that bleeding edge is required. My own home system is a P4 1.6GHz with 1Gb of RAM, 60 Gb Hard Disk. I have an external 60Gb USB hard disk. I have added a PCI USB 2.0 card (adding 4 external ports to my 4 existing standard ports) and use USB to connect my UPS, external hard disks, Pointing device(s), an extra serial port, my PDA (HP iPAQ), and a couple of USB Keys (2x512 and 1x128Mb). THIS IS EXTREME! My point is that this system is actually old, 3-4 years old and will handle Windows Vista reasonably.

There are systems with much more capacity than mine available from places like TigerDirect.ca, FactoryDirect.ca, or even the end-of-line systems at Best Buy. You can take home a system for $500 that will do, you can invest $1000 and not require an upgrade for 4 years. Get the warranty. Some people may cringe when I say this but, unless you're a techie, seriously consider a DELL with the extended warranty. They'll support you well and you will have few concerns about down-time for the duration of the warranty. When the warranty is up, start planning for the replacement.

BTW: When looking to get rid of of old hardware, talk to your local schools, churches, and volunteer organisations. They will appreciate being offered the hardware itself at no cost.

No comments: