When to Upgrade or Buy New, When it Comes to Computers.

Posted on January 8, 2010

Buying a new computer is like buying a new car – Performance and functionality are what you’ve always dreamed of, there are no dents or scratches and the interior is immaculate. Of course, nothing in this world is free and unfortunately a new car or computer will cost you money (sometimes more than you need to spend). Prices have gone down a lot in recent years for PCs but, in this economic turmoil, who has the extra money to throw down? So what about upgrading your current machine? Luckily computers can be upgraded without having to replace the whole “engine”.

But how do you know when it’s time to upgrade or dump the computer entirely to make that ultimate purchase? Well, first of all, I will tell you that looking into saving your existing computer may save you a lot of money in the long run and, when it really is time to make that step of buying a new computer, technology should have stepped up even further and you aren’t already left in the dust.

One of the most important aspects to look at is obviously thephysical performance capabilities of your current computer. If, for instance, your current CPU processor speed is 1Ghz and Dell is offering minimum processor speeds of 2.4Ghz, it may be time to throw in the towel with that and get the new PC. You may say “Why not just get the new processor”?, but the motherboard (and other components) most likely don’t support this new processor and you would inevitably be buying all new parts for a beat-up 1962 jalopy.

Memory is an obvious upgradeable part of your computer. If you look at your computer’s memory and notice it’s under 1 G, it’s time to upgrade. Although your computer may only have 2 or so slots for memory, chips range in different “sizes”. So, if you have 2 chips of 256 MB each (giving you 512 MB memory), you could swap those out for 2 1 G chips (if supported by the motherboard) and increase your performance that way. These days if your computer doesn’t support memory up to 1 G …it’s time to get a new computer.

The hard disk drive may be used for storage (note that more free space on your hard drive also improves performance as this space is used as memory in Windows) but it also has a major influence on the performance of your computer. Your hard drive may only be running at 5400 rpm and this could be upgraded to 7200 rpm. If you have a SATA hard drive, the best option for you on all counts, is a solid state drive. Intel’s development of the solid state hard drive has been phenomenal in theirefforts to not only improve reliability (your hard drive is the most vulnerable piece of equipment in your computer but, [because it has no moving parts] the solid state drive has overcome this susceptibility for failure and physical damage) but, also increase performance.In some cases even doubling the speed of your computer with respect to booting, opening programs and multi-tasking.

Of course hardware isn’t everything. Operating systems require different amounts of resources to run favorably. For example Windows 7 requires at least a 1 Ghz processor with at least 1 GBof memory to run, whereas Windows XP only requires at least a 300 Mhz processor with 128 MB memory. So if you’re running Windows Vista or 7 and your computer is really slow, downgrading to Windows XP could be a good option for you.

If you notice that your computer has good hardware credentials but is still slow, it may just be that you have software problems like spyware, viruses or Windows/driver issues. If you find that removing spyware or defragmenting your hard drive make no difference inyour situation, then rebuilding your computer could be a good option. This would bring your computer back to it’s original factory state (backing up data, formatting, and reloading Windows, and programs etc.). Even if you aren’t seeing any noticeable problems there may some hidden gremlins making life difficult for you behind the scenes. Before buying any computer (especially if the same Windows has been running on this computer for a couple of years or more – without being formatted) this would be the most important option to try in an effort to upgrade and save money.

After looking at all of these factors, you should be able to make an informed decision as to whether to jump in and spend the extra money, or find that the old work horse still has a little left in herfor a couple more years or so. Technology is improving all the time at an alarming rate so, in my opinion, hold on to what you have until you absolutely have tohave the latest and greatest.

As always, Ute City Ware is here for you whichever path you take!An hour of consultation with us can make a big difference in getting the right new hardware and software, at a good price, and we have lots of experience with all upgrade options.

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Mac Versus PC

Posted on June 3, 2008

The War Rages On
The age old question is still a huge topic on discussion boards across the globe: Which is better, Macintosh or PC/Windows? People who have been using Macs will always tell you that Mac is best while people who have been using PCs will tell you that the PC is better. But what really are we looking at? When buying a computer and operating system, I would look at: Functionality, presentation, versatility, performance, ease of use and security.

There is no doubt that Mac’s marketing has outweighed Microsoft’s. The Macbook, for instance, with its slick thin design has won over many a potential buyer. Some more important questions to ask, if switching over to one or the other, are: How available and expensive is support for my choice? How easy will it be to learn my way around the operating system and access files/applications?  Support for Mac seems to be hard to come by and usually at a higher price than PC support. When looking at the hardware inside, in my opinion there is nothing that goes into a Mac that cannot be put in a PC (perhaps not exact devices but with the same capability). So as far as speed; graphics and storage go, there doesn’t seem to be any marked discrepancy.

There is always the issue of compatibility with software. A stable working environment is always a big factor when deciding what operating system to use, and Mac’s OS is most definitely dependable, and far less susceptible to viruses and spyware than Windows. But then as far as versatility goes, Windows seems to have more software packages available for it than the Mac but some people will tell you that the software written for the Mac is better than for PC, but here we go again with bias… Is this basically just a personal opinion or is one really better than the other?

You decide…


James White
Computer Analyst

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