Byte Me Article 403 – Stretching the Budget

Today we present the next in our series of the A-Z of computer purchase – stretching the budget.  All too often when the average consumer makes a technical purchase, they are not able to focus on the specifications that matter.  This results on a focus on the one thing that means something to everyone – price!

 IT manufacturers have realised this and have jumped on the bandwagon of having one of their branded offerings at nearly every price point.  This has happened to the extent that a lot of the devices on the market today, should not be.  In other words – there is a lot of junk available the should not be legally available.  Manufacturers are not allowed to sell a car without it passing various tests and the same should go for IT gear. 

We see laptops and desktops for sale at all the big retailers at prices below $800 to $1000 that were designed simply to make a sale, because they were not designed with any normal form of computer use in mind.  If you walk in and spend $400, $500 – even $700 on one of these devices, in most cases you have totally wasted your money and introduced a major source of frustration into your life. 

Every laptop or desktop PC is powered by a Central Procession Unit (CPU) and these have a power rating just the same as your car engine has a kilowatt (kW) rating.  However, while the most powerful mainstream cars may offer a 500kW engine – even the cheapest modern car would come close to 100kW (around a 5th of the power).  When it comes to computers the most powerful CPU benchmark could be 20,000, while the least powerful can benchmark at as little as 1,000 (one 20th of the power). 

From the above it is easily seen that computers can vary wildly in power ratings and what is worse – these power ratings are not displayed, but rather hidden to keep the average consumer hood winked.  Our industry needs to make this change mandatory – immediately!  So, before you buy any PC find out exactly what model of CPU it has and look up the benchmark rating yourself at to be able to compare exactly what you are paying for. 

Always remember – you are better off with the extra $500 still in your pocket than spending it on a laptop or PC that will simply not perform while infuriating at the same time.  This is the sole reason that we have introduced our Green PC range, factory refurbished laptops and desktops with power ratings around the 3,000 to 9,000 range in the $500 to $800 price range – with 13 months warranty. 

Other specifications to watch for are Ram amounts and drive types.  Again – we recommend a minimum of 4GB of ram, with 8GB being the sweet spot between price and performance gain.  We also highly recommend a solid-state drive (SSD) as opposed to a hard disk drive (HDD) in any new purchase.  An SSD can easily have the effect of doubling if not quadrupling the user perceived speed of a PC device (all other specs remaining equal). 

As you have read, a new computer purchase is not simply about price and our industry on the whole is too focused on sales instead of customer education or information.  We want customers to know exactly what they are buying because if we started selling sub-standard devices we can’t hide behind images.  Next week we look at some brand names and at further design pitfalls.  Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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