Byte Me Article 111 – Don’t invest in lemon PC costing a fortune

Don’t Invest in Lemon PC Costing a Fortune
– Paid Too Much

16 February, 2013

As is often the case, another new customer has provided us with the base for this weeks’ article – you can pay too much!  This new customer came in on Thursday with a huge tower PC with all of the flash looking gear visible inside through a clear Perspex side window.  It was only around 18 months old but was shutting down, freezing and sometimes not starting at all.  They had been having trouble with it right from the start and had become very frustrated, hence they came to us.

The sad part of this story was how much they had initially paid for it – a total of $5000.  Yes they had gone to what they told me was the largest company in Brisbane specialising in computer sales and said “we don’t care how much, we just want a fast PC”.  This also indicates their level of frustration with their previous PC.  So this time around they thought that spending a heap of money would buy satisfaction.

2013-02-16 Byte Me Article 111 - Paid too much

In this case it really had the opposite effect and has left them with a powerful but cantankerous lemon.  They told me that the salesperson was a young guy who had baffled them with gigabytes and gigahertz and promised a really fast PC.  In this case the customer only wanted to be able to browse the Internet, send/receive emails, use MS Word a little and store some photos and music – nothing very demanding at all.

What they got was a full on gaming rig with a $500 video card, three internal hard drives, a flash looking motherboard made for overclocking, a huge and complex dual input power supply and lots of coloured lights and Perspex!  This was designed and built by computer geeks to play computer games – fast, but also at the cost of reliability.

Why have three hard drives?  Computer gamers like to split the load of running a Windows operating system and their PC games over more than one hard drive to speed up response – this practice is questionable even for playing games.  Multiple hard drives are necessary in a server PC but they are designed for this.  We also occasionally put a second hard drive into a PC for extra storage capacity if our customer is a photographer or such but that was not the case here.

Also the $500 video card is great for playing the latest computer games but it does not speed up or assist one iota for the intended use of this PC – in fact it only burns up an extra 200 watts of power and causes extra heat generation whenever the PC is turned on.  It was the expensive video card which also dictated that an expensive and complex power supply was needed to power the entire PC.

All of these unnecessary (and expensive) extras actually decreased the reliability of the PC.  Proof of this is that one of the three internal hard drives had already died.  It had been replaced under warranty but the customer had lost valuable photos during the incident because after spending $5000 they still had not been given or shown a backup system!

All of this is a bit like adding a turbocharger and a NOS kit to a standard car that will only ever take the kids to school!  You have spent a lot of money and created reliability problems in the process.  We have quoted around $2000 for a replacement PC which will be every bit as fast for this customer but will be 10 times more reliable.  Sometimes you can throw good money in the wrong direction and end up a lot worse off for the experience. 

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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