Ever had weird mental rules for computer buying?

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iantm's picture
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Lately, I've been talking with some friends and coworkers about computer buying and the rules we always set for ourselves. Most of my friends and coworkers are the type who buy the latest greatest PowerBook or MacBook Pro and often look at me weird because of how and what I buy. See, I have trouble spending more than $1500 on a computer (not counting applecare, extras, or whatnot). Over the years, I've always stuck with the $1500 model that Apple offered. Be it the dual USB iBook with DVD-ROM drive in 2001, the 12" 867mhz PowerBook G4 with combo drive in 2003, the new $999 iBook G4 1.2 ghz 12" in late 2004, the pre owned 15" PowerBook G4 in 2005 (the extra space was nice), and now the new 13" black macbook 2.0 in 2006.

I've always been of the mind that I'm going to lose money irregardless on any computer, but when you buy at $1000-$1500, the depreciation isn't as dramatic when it comes time to trade in. The most I've ever lost on any of these machines was $500 (after 18 months of use). Perhaps when I can get a 2.0 ghz 15" MacBook Pro for under $1500, I'll consider it, but that's gonna be a while, and by then the lowly MacBook will be better equipped.

Am I wrong for having this viewpoint?

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Weird?

That seems like a reasonably good rule, honestly. Generally it worth avoiding the top-of-the-line in just about any field, but computers are particularly bad. I've always found it hard to not snicker at people who insist, for instance, at having *the* fastest Desktop CPU in their gaming machine, and are willing to pay $500 premiums for a 10% clock speed difference. Something which outside a benchmark is *completely* unnoticable.

The rule I eventually formulated from my experiences back when I bought computers with any regularity (now I just scrounge them) is it's not usually worth buying a speed upgrade for an existing system unless the new item will be at *least* four times faster. Otherwise I have problems telling that I've done anything. I remember real satisfaction with the "big jumps", like going from a 12mhz 286 to a 33Mhz 486, from that 486 to a 90Mhz AMD K5, or from a 400Mhz Celeron to a 1.33Mhz Athlon. All of those were relatively "life-changing" events, with anywhere from a 4x to 10x real-world speed improvement, and I could actually pretend I could do things I couldn't do before.

By contrast, there was that period in the late 90's when I broke the rule and went through a series of Pentium-era CPUs (ranging from the 90Mhz K5, up to an AMD K6 2something-or-other, including Intel and Cyrix chips in-between) over about a couple years, and eventually ended up feeling like it really hadn't been worth the effort to install the new chip every time. In the end it added up to a better then 250 percent speed improvement, with I *did* notice when for just for old-time's sake I plugged the 90Mhz CPU back into the K6 machine to see how different it really was, but the little 40% jumps between the individual CPUs just seemed sort of... eh.

And this is why I roll my eyes at overclocking. ;^)

--Peace

eeun's picture
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I don't think you can be faul

I don't think you can be faulted for considering your own cost and budgeting concerns. Everyone's got their own need/want:cash ratio.

I haven't bought much for my computer, or indeed any 'fun' purchase for myself that hasn't been budgeted and paid for from salvage/ebay selling. Dumpster Dive low, sell high Wink. Living the single-income family way, I don't feel comfortable buying a lot of toys, and when I do it's usually a generation or two back from cutting-edge.

Back in the day when I first moved out and had - briefly - lots of disposable income, with a shrug I paid over $4K for my 6100 setup. Nowadays, with mortgage, car, etc. expenses, I agonize over spending $100 on a new hard drive.

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cwsmith's picture
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My own personal rules

This is what I live by when buying computers, and I try to tell my clients the same:

1) What is your budget?

2) Within that budget, what is the (new) machine with the fastest processor, most RAM, biggest HD, latest OS, largest screen, etc.?

3) How does that machine compare to last year's model?

4) Get last year's model on eBay and pocket the difference.

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Term length of functionability

1) Get a computer that does what you need and want it to do, as fast as it can for your projected lifespan of that computer, and at least a couple of software upgrade paths.

2) irregardless isn't a real word. (Check a dictionary).

Mutant_Pie

astro_rob's picture
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My Rules

When ever I want a computer, I have a number of things to consider. First and foremost, I have to check the S/N on the unit. I find that numbers that end in a prime tend to be sturdier and more reliable. Next, I have to actually touch the machine. This isn't always the case, of course, especially if it is one I got here or eHarbor. If I come across a machine that tickles my fancy. Once my hand makes contact with that ABS plastic housing... well... it's like magic. I can feel how the computer behaves.
Another thing I look for is the alignment of the stars. Purchasing a computer based upon astrological precepts makes plenty of sense to me. For instance, if Venus is in Taurus on the last Thursday of the month, and Jupiter is entering Cancer at the same time... then it's a no go. The best time of the year to buy a computer is always February, with the Sun in the house of Aquarius. Worse time - June and Gemini. Just don't try it.
There are a myriad of other things I look for. If I've seen a black cat anytime that day, then it's a bad day to buy a computer, or even leave the safety of my lead-lined room. I also look around for red-headed Celtic looking women at the time of purchase. This is usually a sign that the Celtic computer goddess Datae has smiled upon the purchase.
Of course, I could be wrong on all of this...

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Re: Term length of functionability

slightly off topic but,

mutant_pie wrote:

2) irregardless isn't a real word. (Check a dictionary).

Mutant_Pie

i beg to differ, irregardless IS in the distionary, so therefore it must be a word
(www.m-w.com)

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eeun's picture
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Yup

It's in Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, revised.

Irregardless of this, we should get back on topic... ;D

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That's not very cromulent of you. . .

irregardless

One entry found for irregardless.
Main Entry: ir·re·gard·less
Pronunciation: "ir-i-'gärd-l&s
Function: adverb
Etymology: probably blend of irrespective and regardless
nonstandard : REGARDLESS
usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

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i agree that its not "really"

i agree that its not "really" a word, its more just that people don't know how to speak english.

i just got called out on it the other day (yes i used it) and got into an argument on if it was a word or not. turns out that i was right, it is, well kind of. So, word or not, it is in the dictionary Smile

what does cromulent mean?? i can't find it in the dictionary

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My general rule had been to b

My general rule had been to buy a 5 year old computer every two years. My first 4 macs were each around $200 this way. I got to enjoy the same speed bump thrills as everybody else, just 5 years later and $1000 cheaper Wink I recently violated that, but it was worth it to get a 2 year old powerbook that kicks butt over my current desktop.

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eeun's picture
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Re: i agree that its not "really"

twoksl2 wrote:

what does cromulent mean?? i can't find it in the dictionary

Well, someone needs to embiggen his vocabulary.

Quote:

its more just that people don't know how to speak english.

;D

BTW, to answer your question, Cromulent and embiggen are Simpsons references

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BDub's picture
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We're drifting a bit from the

We're drifting a bit from the topic of the original post. If anyone wants to keep up with this thread of discussion, please start a new topic and link to it here.

Thanks.

-BDub

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