Byte Me Article 105 – Check specs before buying a PC

Check specs before buying a PC
– Power Ratings

15 December, 2012

I was out doing my Christmas shopping on Thursday night and found some interest in checking out the IT offerings from some of the retail outlets.  The choice is astounding but if I wasn’t already firmly planted in the IT industry then I would have been totally confused and at the mercy of a ‘salesperson’ (sales being the key word here).

Why is it that two computers or even two laptops sitting right next to each other and appearing to look the same can be double the price of each other?  The lack of proper disclosure of key computer performance parameters is one of my pet gripes.  A consumer body really needs to stomp in here and demand some form of conformity in specification listing – they have done it elsewhere.

When buying a car you can always find out how many kilowatts the engine has, or fuel tank capacity or load carrying capacity.  The manufacturers even have to put a windscreen sticker in place with the fuel consumption figures (it is now law).  Even a fridge has to have a capacity rating and an energy efficiency rating – but computers get off scot free?

2012-12-15 Byte Me Article 105 - Power Ratings

So it was Thursday night that I was looking curiously at a $547 All-In-One computer with a huge screen and in a good brand name – wow this looks like a bargain?  Closer inspection revealed why it was not a bargain!  I finally found out the model of CPU (the brain of any PC and the only part that actually does any thinking for normal operation) it was an AMD E1-1200 which I know is very slow!

Back in the office the next day I looked up the power rating for this AMD, it was 721.  Our base model PC has an Intel G860 CPU with a power rating of 2921 – yes 4 times more powerful and our average PC with an Intel i5 CPU has a power rating of 7078 – almost 10 times more powerful!!!  This retail store PC also had 2GB of ram when we suggest 4GB is the absolute minimum and 8GB is ideal.  How much does it cost to double the ram from 2 to 4? – around $20!

If I had unknowingly purchased this PC (because it really looked the goods with the huge screen) I would have got home and turned it on and waited….  Everything about the use of this PC would be SLOW.  It would take ages to boot up and even ages to simply open an Internet browser window.  Personally I could never use a computer like this, with performance levels from 4 years ago but trying to run modern software it would drive me insane (further)!

By the way – the salesperson did spot me showing interest in this computer and when I asked “is it any good”, he replied “they are awesome PC’s and we have sold heaps”!  So how does a consumer navigate through this process?  This is where I believe there should be mandatory key specification ratings – just like the economy ratings on car windscreens.  This is something that the industry desperately needs – it is something that we have been doing with our PC’s and laptops for the last 3 years.  Bargains are often not what they appear and people are often not getting what they need with their IT purchases. 

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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