Monday, November 21, 2011

I need a new computer, what should I buy?

Okay, I write software, I don't build machines. I'll be honest, I don't follow much hardware news. To me, hardware is all about numbers and keeping that increasing number cold. Sure there are some cool things going on, I don't mean to knock the field of electronic engineering, but it just doesn't light my fire. I get excited when something new happens in quantum computing for example, a drastic change in how bits are represented and transmitted.

So when someone tells me they need a new computer and then ask me what to get, my response is likely compared to boring coming from someone that "does computers".

Are you writing software, analyzing data, processing images / videos or playing games (real games, not solitaire)?

No. Then anything from $400 to $1200 is likely where you need to be. You don't need fast disks, memory and CPU to write papers, use Facebook and shop. You'll start paying for thin cases and screen size more than speed. This is why the tablet is so popular. Only thing separating the tablet decision from a machine is if you are generating content and organizing your personal data. Regardless of machine, get a large disk, anything less than 500Gb is a waste. Stick with a laptop, if you get a desktop, go all out for power and speed and keep it stationary in a cool space with a huge monitor. This is where you get complex with imaging, video, software, or whatever.

Brands? I like HP and Dell for Windows machines. I never liked Sony and Toshiba, but that is just personal, I am sure they are fine. For Apple, please do not buy these machines to be stylish. They are great, but I really hate the middle age dude going through a crisis with his red convertible sitting in the Starbucks.

On a budget? Then just get something that fits your dollar amount range. Back up your data and prepare to only have your machine last 3 years and throw it away. It's not worth fixing a stock low end machine.

Why post such a simple post? My dad asked, and black friday / holiday is coming up, so why not?

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