Things to Consider When Shopping for a Computer
There are three major decisions to make when purchasing a new computer. The first decision is whether to purchase a name brand computer, or have one custom built. As you will read in greater detail later in this article, custom built computers offer much greater flexibility with respect to upgrades and repairs. Another major factor is the store from which you choose to make a purchase. Typically, the larger superstores cannot offer the level of service you will find at a good custom computer shop. Our recommendation is to shop at several places before you make a purchase. Your comfort level at a given store can be a major indicator of the level of service you can expect after you make your purchase. The superstores do not offer true custom build options. So your decision as to whether to buy custom or name brand is tied closely to your comfort level at a given store. If a sales person pressures you in any way to buy a computer right away and you are not sure of your decision, do not make a purchase.
Your second decision is whether to purchase an AMD or Intel-based option. This is a rather complex decision and we recommend speaking to a knowledgeable sales person to help you with this choice. As an example of one of these choices, the Intel Core 2 Duo offers the home user marginal performance differences over an AMD alternative such as the Athlon X2 Dual-Core, which does offer greater future upgrade ability. You will typically pay around $50 more for a similarly equipped Intel Core 2 Duo.
Once you have decided on a processor, you will need to find a compatible main board. This decision will affect to a very large degree the systems capability of receiving future upgrades. There are several things to consider when making this decision. A salesperson will be able to explain the differences to you. Keep in mind that the better the quality of the components, the longer the service life of the machine. These quality components cost a little more up front but will save money in the long run, because you can have at least one major upgrade during the life of the computer.
Independent Computer Stores
Industry wide, independent computer stores that custom build computers account for more than 45% of the total computers sold in the United States. The ability to have a computer custom built to order and to be able to talk to a technician or have service performed quickly are two of the main reasons customers patronize the independent computer store. From reading this you may get the impression that all independent computer stores are wonderful places to shop. This is not always true. We suggest shopping at several stores, getting written price quotes and information on how warranties are handled. You should also ask about any partnerships and certifications such as, Microsoft, AMD, Intel, ASUS and Cisco among others. It is in your best interest to buy from a financially stable store that will be around in the years to come to not only competently service your computer under warranty but to be your computer store of choice for the long haul.
If you are going to buy a computer, the first thing you need to realize is that computers and computer products depreciate more rapidly than any other consumer or business product in the world. Something you might pay near to $1200 for may only be worth three or four hundred dollars a year from now. The fact that your new computer is worth only a fraction of what you paid is irrelevant if it still does the job you want it to. New chips, boards, video cards, etc. have been released in the year since you bought your PC and they are priced very attractively, thus driving down the market value of your old PC. You may want these new chips and cards to run that new business application or perhaps the hottest new game on the market. These are some of the reasons we suggest buying the more readily upgradeable components.
Upgrading or buying new?
If you currently own a PC, you might wish to upgrade it to run or utilize the newer more current software and or hardware. In some cases this is a feasible option. Your best bet is to take it to a shop that specializes in upgrades or rebuilds and get a written quote. Whenever you consider an upgrade, always compare the cost of the upgrade to the price of a new computer. Be sure to also factor in the fact that if you buy a new PC, not only will you have a fresh warranty, you will still have the old computer to trade in, sell or pass along to another family member. Since some upgrades are not economically feasible, be very careful in making your decision. Many computer stores will encourage a customer to upgrade when it is not in the best interests of the customer to do so. The sales people at that store are typically paid on commission thus have an incentive to sell you an upgrade and would make nothing by referring you to the new computer department. At BarNETt Computers, we freely give advice to the customer based on what we think is in the best interest of the customer. Since upgrades can be as simple as putting in a memory chip or as complicated as rebuilding the entire computer, please feel free to bring your computer in for a consultation and written estimate. No charge and no appointment necessary.
Upgrades on Name Brands
If your computer is a name brand PC your upgrade options are often limited or more expensive because almost all name brand computers, by design, are what we call "proprietary". This simply means that the manufacturer of the PC is using parts that cannot be purchased through external channels and in many cases are not available after 12-18 months. The biggest problem consumer's encounter with name brand computers is the fact that most main boards cannot be replaced with anything but the original board that can only be obtained from the manufacturer. These boards can cost as much as a new computer. The general idea is to get the consumer to buy a new machine rather than spend the same money on a replacement part.
Upgrades for custom built PC's
If your computer is custom built your upgrade options are, quite simply, greater. These systems are non-proprietary and can be upgraded or repaired easier, quicker and cheaper than any name brand computer. If the main board fails it is a simple matter of taking it to any reputable repair shop and having it replaced. These main boards are currently priced as low as $70 depending on the features you want. In the case of a custom system from BarNETt Computers, repairs can be handled in a matter of a day or two at the most and in some cases within an hour or two. We use only the best components when building systems and the same is true of our repair work. Large superstores simply don't have the repair staff to handle the amount of tech work that customer's demand. They are more interested in selling lots of new computers and letting the manufacturer support them. Our staff is always available to solve customer problems quickly and efficiently.
Price is not the most important factor
Making a computer purchase based only on price can be a costly mistake. The major computer makers are in competition to make their product the cheapest in comparison to others. This usually causes them to cut corners that cost the consumer in the long run. These cheap advertised specials are often closeouts or machines that have almost no capacity for upgrades at all. In many cases these machines are assembled using cheaper components that offer very limited warranties.