I was recently asked, as we often are, whether to repair or replace an aging computer. As you might imagine, this is a common enough situation. Part of the issue is that unlike cars, houses, and guns, which are part of our childhood education and haven’t changed significantly in 100 years; computers are relatively new and changing constantly. Children are instructing parents rather than the other way around. So unless you are in the industry, there are probably a few things you don’t know or may have forgotten. Here are some basic assumptions that the computer industry has and some other information that may help you make your informed decision.
- The Industry Standard for optimal computer replacement is 3-years, and 5-years is considered end-of-life. A whitepaper(.pdf) from Microsoft suggests an average of a 4 -year life-cycle for a PC. And despite much conjecture to the contrary, Gartner reports that tablets represent less than 10% of all devices purchased in 2014. Desktop computers may be a thing of the past for many households, but in the business arena, they are still here for the foreseeable future.
- Technology is constantly moving forward, and our expectations of computers continually increases, both in what they can handle and how fast they can handle it. It’s like trying to fit a growing child into the same clothes… you can stretch and force it for a while, but eventually it just doesn’t work anymore. The Internet and software applications are always growing and changing, and they quickly outgrow your hardware. I often say to measure computers like you do Dog Years, but by a factor of 10. Meaning that if your computer was brand new 4 years ago, it is the equivalent of 40 years old. As we age, we just can’t handle all we used to. We move slower and don’t heal as quickly.
- The last thing is price-point. Computers maintain a series of relative prices; the newest and best are the most expensive, and the older or more poorly engineered (cutting corners) at the lowest price. That lowest price is usually between $250 and $300. We recommend that our businesses purchase in the high-middle range for longevity and performance. Ninety-percent of the computers we order cost between $650 and $900 before additional software, like Microsoft Office, but they run mostly trouble-free well beyond their 3-year warranty period. For residential clients, it’s more of a range depending on need, but the lowest price we recommend is about $400, for a good Intel dual-core processor build (for why I recommend Intel processors, ask me, it’s a long explanation and subject to change).
I don’t write all of this to sell more computers – in fact our profit margin is actually significantly higher on setting up and maintaining existing machines, but it saddens us to see a client end up spending more on maintenance than the computer is worth to their productivity; or buying the wrong thing first and having to work around the mistake. We want our clients to succeed – It’s good for us both! For more information if you are considering a computer purchase, please give us a call or drop us an email. If you are interested in a custom build (and understand it will come with a medium-to-high price tag), fill out our Custom Quote form.