Back to School Computer Shopping Guide

I was at a party, and more than one person asked me for advice buying a new computer. Here’s what I told them and I thought I would share.

Are you sure you need a new computer? This is not popular advice, but I honestly believe that most people don’t need a new computer. The main reason people purchase a new computer is because the old one is slow. The first question is whether they might want to save the money and get the old one running faster. It’s not just the money. You usually lose a day getting the new computer running like you want with all of your files moved to the new one.

Processor Power is King. If you are going to buy a new computer, then make sure that you know the clock speed of the processor. It is very strange for me, but the major PC retailers like Best Buy and Office Depot, et al, no longer include the processor speed in their advertisements. This is ridiculous. The #1 factor in PC performance is the speed of your processor. A fast processor makes your memory faster, your hard drive, your graphics and so on. Plus, as your PC slows down with use, a fast processor will offset the creep.

Overkill On Memory. When looking at the specs of today’s computer, many are going up to 8GB of RAM. That’s a lot of memory. I am a big fan of having ample memory, but 8GB’s is over the top. I am a high end user that does web development, graphics, and normally have lots of web sites open simultaneously in Firefox. I know for a fact that I need far less than 8GB of memory. If you want to enconomize, 4GB is tons of memory for now and into the foreseeable future for even the most demanding users.

Windows 7. So I saved the best for last. Should I wait for Windows 7? My answer is Yes. You should wait for Windows 7, which should be available sometime in November. My reason is that you want Windows 7. It is a lot better than Vista. Yes, you can get a free upgrade, but do you really want to be messing around with the operating system of your computer at Christmas time? Let’s not forget that the Vista/XP free upgrade program didn’t work out so well and literally millions of customers were not able to upgrade properly. Microsoft is still reeling from that debacle. So I vote 1000% wait for Windows 7.

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3 thoughts on “Back to School Computer Shopping Guide”

  1. Excellent advice! I will not only wait till Windows 7 becomes available (and hopefully de-bugged), but will also put my money toward a top-of-the-line processor instead of wasting it on 8 GB of memory … which I was considering doing.

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