Tips – buy a computer to meet your needs

Christmas is coming, and many people will be considering a new PC or laptop. I get a lot of clients asking me for advice on what they should buy, how much money they should spend, etc.

The best way to explain this is to use a recent job as a case study.

The client who had been oversold a computer

I visited a client to sort out various problems they were having with e-mail, antivirus and slow PC issues. After I had finished, and I was packing away my kit, he said “would you take a look at my other PC over there on the floor?” I looked across the room, and he had what looked like a relatively new machine sitting forlornly, unused on the floor. I agreed to take it away to my workshop to diagnose it (free diagnosis, as is my policy) after establishing that it was less than a year old, and he had purchased the PC I had been working on as a replacement for it. 

It had become clear that this client wasn’t very computer literate, and simply needed a computer to run his small business (e-mail, some office tasks, a bit of web surfing, but not much else).

When I got back to my workshop, I fired up the PC, but it wouldn’t boot no matter what I tried. To cut a long story short, I decided to open it up and start troubleshooting the hardware (I eventually diagnosed a faulty motherboard), but the interesting point is what I found inside the case.

This PC was MASSIVELY OVERSPECIFIED for his needs! The internal components consisted of:

  • An Intel Core-i7 6700 processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB Hard Drive

These were housed inside a cheap case, with a low wattage power supply, and plugged into an MSI H110M motherboard. I totted up the price of the components, and it came to about £450, which to be honest could have bought him an entire PC!

Remember, he was only using the PC for basic office work, no gaming, video editing, photo editing or streamed video. On that basis, if he had asked me to build him a PC I would have recommended:

  • An Intel Core-i3 6100 processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 500GB Hard Drive

This would have saved over £200 on the price of the PC, or he could have had a better quality case and the power supply would have been more than adequate for his needs. This article from Lifehacker discusses the relative merits of 16GB RAM versus 8GB, and finds that for most people 8GB is more than enough.

Similarly, this explainer from MakeUseOf says the i3 processor is best for:

“Basic users. Economic choice. Good for browsing the web, using Microsoft Office, making video calls, and social networking. Not for gamers or professionals.”

My take on this – the poor guy was ripped off! The PC was built for him by someone he knew, but I do hope they were not a friend of the family! They certainly wouldn’t be a friend of mine…

If you’re considering a new PC, why not get in touch with us for some free advice via our simple contact form? Or call us on 07950 299507. We will even buy the parts and assemble them into a PC for you.