Saving money on your computer

These days, most people I know spend more money on their computer than necessary. You see, a strange thing happened a few years ago: software requirements finally leveled off, while hardware continued to improve. Thus, most of the “budget” computers are actually overkill for nearly everyone!

There are a few exceptions:

  1. Digital video editing
  2. 3D gaming
  3. Scientific computing
  4. Running as a server

For everything else, save your money and avoid the temptation to buy the biggest computer for sale. It is totally and utterly overkill.

Here are a few things that are overkill and/or overpriced:

  1. Laptops. You pay a huge premium for a laptop. Yes, there are budget models, but they are very slow. With the possible exception of students, I see almost no reason why someone should buy a laptop for home use.
  2. High-end video card. Contrary to what the salesperson may say, a basic video card today is GREAT for nearly everything. The only reason you should spend more on high-end video is if you are really into 3D games. Spend your money on a nice monitor instead.
  3. Big fat hard drives. Again, unless you plan on editing digital movies, you really don’t need a 250GB hard drive. (Not even for photography!). Besides, by the time you run out of space, hard drives will be much cheaper.
  4. Top-of-the-line processor. The newest processor always commands a premium price. However, you should avoid the cheapest processors, too; the Intel Celeron tends to be very slow. Find a mid-grade processor and spend your money on more RAM instead of a faster CPU.
  5. Windows XP Professional. This isn’t like the old days of Windows 95/98 vs. Windows 2000. The differences between Windows XP Home and XP Professional are mostly in how it does networking. This only matters in a complex office LAN, not a home network. There are virtually no other differences. Again, save your money.
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