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when should you get a new computer?

by supafreak / July 18, 2004 9:55 AM PDT

I've had my computer for 5 years now, and I'm thinking it's time for a new computer. or should i just get an upgrade? My computer's giving me problems, but i don' tknow if it's from the age or from the program (windows 98) it's running on. thanksss

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Re: when should you get a new computer?/My thoughts
by Steven Haninger / July 18, 2004 10:21 AM PDT

If your computer is 5 years old, giving you problems and you like to have one is the time. It's likely that upgrade parts for your unit are few and, unless free of charge, are not worth sinking money into. The upgrade will not bring you close to the performance of today's machines or optimally run newer OSs and aps. Computers are not "durable goods". Figure on 3 to 5 years between replacements even if they still work ok after that amount of time. Still, this largely depends on your need for or dependance on a good working PC. Again, my two cents only.

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when to get a new computer
by leyo / July 18, 2004 12:45 PM PDT

our comp just turned 4, and we replaced it. It was running most of its regular programs fine, but we wanted DSL, and maybe a network. When we tried those, it started giving us trouble.

If your comp is giving you trouble, it could be that its too old to run recent software and apps. Or it could be just slowing down with age. It happens.

We got a souped up comp by today's standards, hoping it will last 5 or 6 yeears instead of 4. Dont know if it'll work, but you might consider that.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?/My thoughts
by at8ax / July 22, 2004 9:21 PM PDT

Sitting here with a four-year-old Windows ME laptop that I'm anxious to dump, I appreciate this response, but I'd like to take the original question in a slightly different direction.

Is there a time of year that is better than another for buying a computer? Used to be that new car models came out in September, so you could get a great deal at a clearance in August. Does a similar situation occur here, or does new technology roll out whenever it can?

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Re: when should you get a new computer?/My thoughts
by suttjef / July 23, 2004 11:24 PM PDT

Well, I must admit that I do indeed have a all singing all dancing bells and whistles latest monster, but I still have (and use) my old twin precessor AT, all SCSI machine that cost me an arm and two legs some 10 years ago.
I, like many other professionals, have advised people what machine and its various components to use in todays technology race for the "best" machine to use.
However, I always advise people what to get based on their requirements and what they want their computer to do in their work or indeed based on a gaming machine or whether they want to use it solely for multimedia.
I must admit that for basic computer office work, I still use my old, but very stable AT.
Kind regards to all

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Willy / July 18, 2004 1:46 PM PDT

You didn't mention what the computer model actually, no idea.

But, after 5-yrs, that's a long time for PC, thus either buy new from Dell, eMAchines, etc. or have a local shop build one or you build one from parts ordered. If you build or have one build, usually those same parts sources can supply what is called a "barebones" system, essentially a box with some minuim componets, but you add kybd, monitor, etc. to complete the system. Of course you can addd on to that. Any "OEM", like Dell, etc. if you order from them, make sure you research exactly what you can as they're mimuim systems can be jacked-up after an initial and wnd-up costly more than thier "come-on" price, so be sure. Check also any parts componets, like s/w or deals that maybe part of the overall package.

good luck -----Willy

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Ldans / July 29, 2004 4:27 PM PDT

There is one more thing that people generally dont know and should go with.Yes upgrading your computer by either buying or bulding is great,but remember,in todays times you should at least double the processor speed in order to see any difference in any computer performance.There are alot of factors that go with it,such as motherboards,memory,sound cards,video cards that play a big role that you should look at too.Many applications use alot of memory and are more complexed,cant say enough about it.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by MrZaphod / July 22, 2004 5:36 PM PDT

There's not enough information to answer your question. I'd be inclined to ask:

1. What system do you currently own (clock speed, memory, bus architecture)? This will set the baseline for assessments.
2. What problems have you encountered or what is it that you'd like your PC to do that you think is beyond its current capabilities? Some of your problems might be solved by simple driver upgrades or a clean install.
3. How comfortable are you with getting into your CPU case and/or cleaning up your hard drive? If you don't mind spending a little time, you could optimize your system.

I've been tempted to dump my PII 400MHz, 512MB, 40GB, Radeon 9000 AGP system for something newer but it does everything that I demand of it: blog, edit photos, work from home, crunch numbers on big spreadsheets, print docs, watch DVDs, burn CDs, play strategic games, study languages, build websites, listen to or watch streaming media, manage my finances, et cetera. I recently did a clean re-install of Win98 with the latest drivers and the thing works just fine.

What's the only personal reason I can give today for wanting to replace it? Getting a desktop-replacement laptop would help reclaim some home office space. That's not a good enough reason for me to spend $2K for the fanciest laptop with all the bells and whistles.

There are many folks out there with legitimate needs for extra computing power; but there are many more folks out there who buy more PC than they use or need. Make your own honest assessment of what you need, and if your current PC is beyond salvaging with a very modest investment of funds and/or time.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?

Are you using DSL on the PII 400 mhz??? I have a PII 500 mhz, and have been wondering if I should hook up DSL?

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Mighty / July 22, 2004 7:44 PM PDT

If you're willing to spend the money then you'll see a huge difference in your Internet surfing with a DSL on any system.

For example, the slowest machine on my network is a P166, and since most of the time spent surfing is getting the stuff over the net, it's nearly as fast on most sites as my current machines. Only sites that use Flash, Java, or are really heavy on Javascript are slow on that machine.

After your first day on DSL you'll never want to go back to dial-up.

One suggestion: Spend the $30 or so to get a hardware firewall/router to put between the DSL and your computer. They're easy to install and provide vastly better protection than software firewalls.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Mighty / July 22, 2004 7:17 PM PDT

As others have pointed out, it would help to know what you use the machine for and what problems you're experiencing. It may be that you don't need to upgrade just yet.

I have a friend who uses me as their geek fixit guy. One of their systems is a P2/300. Pretty slow by today's standards. But all they're using it for is chat, email, and surfing, and it does those just fine. I could easily see it lasting them another year or two.

Depending on the problems you're seeing, there are several potentially free solutions, and some are easy for anybody to do.

Some of the more difficult entail installing new drivers and/or reinstalling Windows itself.

But some of the easier ones are just to run anti-adware/spyware software to clean off some crud that you may have inadvertantly allowed onto your system (prime conduit, Kazaa.) Similarly, make sure you have virus protection. I've heard good things about the free Avast virus program, and I have it running on one machine here.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Redstolly / July 22, 2004 7:30 PM PDT

If you took this computer to be fixed it would cost (on the face of it) more than it is worth.

If you value your time highly, then it might be worth mending it as you will need to spend time importing your data and configuring the machine as you would like it.

Otherwise get a new one.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by paulob160 / July 22, 2004 8:10 PM PDT

Ask yourself what do you use your computer for, or what do want to use it for ? As an example I have a seven-year old Pentium 2/266 MHz with 128MB of memory and 12GB of hard disk space. This happily runs Windows NT4.0 and acts as my network and e-mail gateway. It runs a firewall, antivirus software, spyware killer, proxy server AND you can get some decent work done if you are patient. However, I also have a Pentium 4/2.66GHz with 512MB of memory and 120GHz of hard disk space. It runs Windows XP/Home. I use this for programming and running engineering simulations, and for superfast web-browsing (but it still networks through the old P2).
If you can afford it, keep your old computer, bung in as much memory as it will take and upgrade the O/S to NT4.0 or 2000 (it may not run XP well). Stick in a new disk if you feel like it. AND get yourself a blinding new machine...then peer-to-peer network the two! Loads of fun to be had...learn to use WinSock, use one as a gateway to your ISP, develop multiprocessor apps!
BUT, if you've only got enough cash for a new machine, then get a new machine, don't upgrade. I would hazard a new machine will cost much less in real terms than you paid for your old machine (my P2 cost

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by TimeWillTell / July 22, 2004 11:22 PM PDT

Sometimes just a good clean up will due nicely. Back up all your files and then reinstall your OS with the updates. You can find the updates to your software at Microsoft windows update home page. A clean fresh install will fix a lot of the troubles you are having and save you money. Having your system upgraded may also be a good choice but only if you really need it. The speed and quality of systems on the market today are very mouth watering with prices that just seem to get better. It's a hard choice to make but remember, Newer does not mean better. Sometime a good overhaul will work just fine. I do mine twice a year and keep it updated on all the software I am using. If you like the 98 OS, then check to see if it is second edition. If not upgrade to it. More ram may help also. Depending on your needs, Make a choice from there.Thanks for letting me share.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by shoes54 / July 23, 2004 12:16 AM PDT

i read an article that mentioned rule to a upgrade :
3x your processor speed time to upgrade
I.E. 1g time to get a 3g processor
do yourself a favor DONOT BUY a name
one for your self or find a friend who can do it
more bang for the buck MUCH better quality componants,
and you get exactly what you want this way.
prices for hardware has come way down over the last few years. do yourself a favor and do a NIKE....just do it!

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Romulin / July 23, 2004 2:03 AM PDT

For todays software I'm afraid you need windows xp.
If your computer will run xp without problems i.e. with enough ram and a proccesor above 1 Ghz. You sould be ok. I am running an old amd 1.8 Ghz with 500+ Mb of ram. If you plan to run games you need a decent graphics card. Nvidea seems to be the most common standard now. I am using a Nvidea gforce Mx 440 with 128 Mb ram. I am able to run all the games I need to.
I cannot say it will run all games though, but I have had no problems so far.
I hope this helps?

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Argie-Salvador / July 23, 2004 2:57 AM PDT

We allow our PC's to grow old. We feel comfy with them like with an old dog and love to know we can pat them and understand every turn they have. We have come to terms with its OS and have finally managed to know why it crashes. When we have reached this state of mind, no matter the age of the hardware or of the soft, the time has come to walk into the shop for brand new material as sophisticated as your pocket can manage.
Salvador aka Argie, from Buenos Aires.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Ralphdb / July 23, 2004 3:08 AM PDT

It really depends on the use of your computer. If you use photoshop, Game or other intense operations. You would see a big improvemant with a upgrade. 5 years you are talking PentIII 600 and windows 98SE . I have just made the upgrade step, but maybe should have waited until next year. as they say your newest build will be out of date in 6 Months or less we are being bombarded with new technology often. I can upgrade my pent 4 northwood but the new sockets out soon will stop that. I am a lot better off then I was with my 5 year old. So make the plunge and it should still preform for 5 more years. If you wait for technology to stop you will never get a new computer....

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by eric.d / July 23, 2004 3:48 AM PDT

Here are my two cents...

I am in the same position that you are in. I am still mainily happy with my home built 384MB 350MHZ AMDK6-III system.

My main concern is that the disk drives are getting a bit older than I wanted them to be. At the moment the system drive is the oldest drive on the system!

My plan is to save up and purchase the components necessary to build a new system. Of course I must wait until Intel releases a processor the runs at least as fast as 3.5GHz since that was my promise to my wife at the time of the last system upgrade.

Depending on what processor and clock rate you currently have, you could see a significant performance gain by maxing out the system RAM in your system.

You can also gain in performanace by adding disk drives to your system.

At the very least you should have separate partitions for:

Your OS (Win-9x, Win-NT, Win-XP, etc)
Your swap file
Your application files
Your email files

Ideally, you would want a separate drive for each of these. In a pinch, you can create three partitions on a second drive for the swap file, application files and your email files.

If you have a SCSI card in your system, you should consider picking up a small (1GB to 2GB is all you really need) SCSI drive for your swap file. This will give you the biggest perfomance boost.

If you need to earn more money to afford to upgrade/replace your system, then take a look at:

All the Best,

Eric Dill
585-482-1863 10am to 12am EST (a 14 hour window)

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by ptemplain / July 23, 2004 8:09 AM PDT

I am a do it yourselfer who customizes the machine for specific tasks. I prefer taking older computers and fixing them up to run latest programs. I have upgraded my computer from win 95 to win xp. I like win xp. It does the job i need. Please let me know if you are in the same shape I am in.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Hammsailor / July 23, 2004 3:27 PM PDT

I currently run WINME and XP Home. ME is much more stable than WIN98SE. 98SE was a total nightmare for me. XP has been running without fault for 2 years now. Unless you have expensive hardware problems or special software requirements for ram and speed, reformat and install XP. I run a 1 ghz P3, 512 ram. Fast enough except for Photoshop. Good luck!

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by glwharton / July 24, 2004 2:36 AM PDT

Can you upgrade RAM ? And can you upgrade to Win XP ?

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by ozos / July 25, 2004 10:10 AM PDT

win XP on a system that old?
if it seems slow now just wait, XP triples or more the requirements of Windows 98SE, its a lot heavier on RAM, Graphics and Processor over 98se.
It won't give him a performance boost it will actually give him a performance loss.
Just FYI Windows 2000 would be more logical, still in the XP NTFS area but its not anywhere near as demanding.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Rabbit20163 / July 28, 2004 9:35 PM PDT

You mention that your old one is 'giving you trouble'..that's pretty general. I'd suggest you first run scandisk (one of the window's utilities: program>accessories>system tools as i recall. Assuming all logical partitions pass this test (if they don't, fix them with the pgm), then run defragment (in the same group of programs. This should speed up booting and pgm execution considerably if u haven't done it for a while. I defrag every month to 6 weeks. If you have Norton utilities, run system check.. fix any problems. That should get you to reasonable operation for your existing system. Still too slow?? everything is relative. A guy i know makes a living teaching new employees at businesses in West Virginia and Ohio how to use DoS based pgms like DB2. Also teaches DoS 5.0 usage. Yep..some companies there are still running DoS. They are running 486's. Company pres has a Pent 1. "Why should we buy new software -we'll never outgrow this?" is company approach - it's a family owned hardware distributor..(sells stuff to hardware stores). They seem to get along fine with 486s. So.. consider what you need and what new toys you want. As the auto speed shop people say: "Speed is expensive, how fast do you want to go?"

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by lakephillip / July 29, 2004 7:31 PM PDT

It is time to get a computer when the problems it creates takes up more time than enjoying the benifits of a computer. But you should run ad-aware, or webroot anti-spy programs, to see if that cleans up your problems. Make sure your virus protection is active and up to date..... if you still spend more time on problems get a new one. You can get a new computer with Windows Xp starting at about $399.00, and it is VERY EASY to add-on to a basic computer now more than ever before.

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by dexhiker / July 30, 2004 12:23 AM PDT

Without looking at your computer to determine whether the problems are hardware or software it is difficult to advise you. I build, repair, and upgrade computers as a retirement business. As the other posts have indicated whether to get a new computer depends greatly on what you plan to do with it. I recently replaced my main computer because video software and hardware required XP and USB 2.0. I have a variety of spare machines here ranging from a Pentium 120 MHZ to Pentium 550MHz. The 120Mz machine is fine for email, word processing, and internet surfing with a high speed connection (I have broadband cable). Performance is specialty of mine. Here is a list of things I do to improve performance (not necessarily in order of importance):
1) remove all unused programs - alternatively backup important data, reformat the disk, and reinstall the operating system (this also gives you a fresh new windows registry)
2) remove as many items as possible from the task tray and startup folder
3) Defragment the hard drive (use the free Diskeeper Lite)
4) replace the hard drive with a 7200rpm unit with an 8MB cache, 3 year warranty. I recommend replacing a hard drive after 3 years of use. Check that DMA is enabled for the device.
5) check for spyware (Adaware & Spybot)
6) check for viruses - can do with free online virus software.
7) add memory. For older system bring them to at least 64MB for Windows 9x.
Cool Pre-initialize the swap file to 2.5 times memory. Windows 9x does a terrible job of managing the swap file and it soon becomes fragmented.
9) Put the internet cache files on their own hard drive or partition to isolate fragmentation. Fragmentation is not as big an issue with newer systems.
10) I also do a bunch of registry tweaks for broadband users.
11) For Window NT, 2000, and XP machines, disable unneeded services. For the single machine at home, there are a whole bunch you don't need.

I also recommend to people wanting to replace their machine to consider a custom built machine built by someone local rather than a pre-packaged machine. This is particularly true if you already have software media licenses. Microsoft and others would prefer you to discard not just your hardware but all you software licenses as well. This is such a waste. Some arguments for a custom machine:
a) All components are industry standard, i.e. non-proprietary. Dell and others have a history of using proprietary parts (system boards, power supplies)
b) Machine is tailored to the needs of the customer ? enormous choice over component quality as well as selection of components. Wide selection of cases is available. Packaged systems use the least expensive/minimal quality parts on the market
c) Highly upgradeable, built for expansion - expansion is limited in packaged systems; power supplies are usually the bare minimum for the shipped system.
d) Support from someone local - have you tried using some of the recent off-shore support lately?
e) no shipping charges
f) Generally last longer than package systems ? failing components can be easily replaced

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Re: when should you get a new computer?
by Impreza WRX / July 30, 2004 7:27 AM PDT

Looks like you need a new PC. It would cost you little to get a yesteryear PC than to get the cutting edge of technology. IBM, Gateway, and DELL have good machines. HP and Compaq are OK, but don't expect their tech support to be very helpful. Apple PCs are not as fast nor have as many programs as x86 (IBM Compatible) PCs, but they have great tech support and are quite reliable, provided you get the right OS.

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