Buying a new computer

Tips & Hints

Computers are complex machines. If you are shopping for a computer you’ll know just how complex.

Posted 28 March 2003. This article was updated on 31 October 2004

Every computer shopper has their own requirements. While your needs are unique to you, there are some ways you can reduce the risk of buying a lemon. We've compiled a list of the most common traps.

  1. System disks
  2. To save a few dollars, computer manufacturers don’t supply the Windows disks. Instead many brand name computers come with a recovery disk. These disks make maintainence and reinstalling difficult, if not impossible.

    Not getting a Windows or Apple operating system disk is not like not getting a spare tyre with your car. Insist that your computer comes with a genuine operating system disk. It is our opinion that computers supplied without a proper Windows XP disk are not fit for their purpose, insist you get that disk with the computer.

  3. Pirate systems
  4. While recovery disks are the curse of brand name systems, at the other end of the market are the pirates. These people are prepared to rip off powerful multinationals like Microsoft so they aren’t worried about doing the wrong thing by you. Avoid them, the hundred dollars or so you’ll save isn’t worth it.

  5. Buying the first computer at the shop
  6. Shopping around can be a drag but it can save you a lot of money. You will find wide variations in prices. When comparing prices make sure the systems have the same size disks, memory and monitor.

  7. Undersizing systems
  8. Price is the driving force in the computer industry. To get a cheap price, dealers offer cheap, underpowered systems to get the attention of customers. A Windows XP computer should have a minimum 60Gb hard drive and 256Mb of RAM. Anything less is false economy.

  9. Getting end of line specials.
  10. Many big dealers find themselves holding old stock that they try to clear at a discount. This can appear to be a bargain, but be careful. Often savings don’t justify the lower specification.

  11. Cheap systems
  12. Although you should shop around, don’t just go for the cheapest price. Often the cheapest isn’t the best, some corners may have been cut. Check the quality of the goods and the dealer closely before buying.

  13. Overpriced systems
  14. Just as you can spend too little, you can also spend too much. Car dealers will try to oversell you on extras like tinting or rustproofing, computer dealers often try the same thing. The latest CPU may double the price of your computer without adding any improvement for your uses.

  15. Inappropriate systems
  16. Some specials may be totally wrong. For instance a computer designed for office use may have features like DMI and Wake On Lan, but not have a sound card or even a CD-ROM, making it a poor choice for a family computer. Make sure the system has the features you need.

  17. Second hand systems
  18. We don’t recommend second hand systems. Generally, customers pay too much for too little. With very basic new systems selling for under a thousand dollars, we just don’t see the value of a second hand machine.

  19. Accessories

A common way of optioning up, or making a sub-standard system attractive, is to add "free" extras like printers and scanners. Generally, these items are cheap and low quality. Check carefully any extras included with a sysem. You may not be getting such a good deal.

A bad computer purchase can be an expensive and irritating mistake. Shop around and check the offers before buying a system. It’s a competitive and complex market where the buyer needs to beware.

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
Technology Publishing Australia, 2011