I’m getting a new computer at the store – Is it really new?

I had a client that wasn’t sure it was worth fixing their 3 year old computer for $300 but instead they spent $500 and bought a “new” computer from a store and turns out it’s the same speed computer as the 3 year old one but costs more money.  They got a tiny bit more speed, but basically the exact same dual core processor computer for more money.

People think if they buy a computer from a big box store and it looks new that it is new technology.  That’s false.  I hear “I could get a new computer for that price!”.  Well, when it comes to laptops, for $300 you can get a very cheap netbook that doesn’t come with a CD/DVD drive and has a 10″ screen.  For as low as $400 you can get a 14″ screen laptop that has a dual core processor.  Maybe you don’t understand what I’m saying here, but that’s why it’s important to understand to know if you truly are getting a good deal.  I’ll break it down here and I’ll be discussing it on CKWR radio this week.  What most people see in the stores for under $600 is a dual core processor.

Pentium processors are what most people compare against when they talk speeds, and since AMD is totally different and hard to compare directly, I’ll explain Pentium.  Here’s a chart:

Pentium 4 – Without going to far back in history, this was the end of single core processors and are still being sold in some stores.
Dual Core, T4500, P6200, etc. – Different names but all are dual core processors (two processors in one)
Quad Core – Again may be written differently but has four processors in one.
i series – The latest technology, if that’s what you’re looking to buy, is the “i” series.  When searching you will find, in order, i3, i5 and the latest i7.  i3 is somewhat equivalent to the quad core processor (4 in 1) but operates on a whole new platform which is much faster.

Unless you’re into serious video gaming or a professional graphics designer or professional video designer you don’t need the i7.  Depending on what you do with the computer, it gets to a point where you won’t notice any difference at all.  For example, I’m using my old Dual core processor to type this and I’m just flying here typing away.  So word processing shows no difference at all.  But when I want to browse the Internet, again it’s fast.  Where I find it slow a little is having multiple windows open at the same time and fliping back and forth and doing 10 things at once.  I’m what they call a “power user”, I have 10 windows open at once sometimes.

So, next time you are looking to get a new computer, are you looking for simply newer hardware or newer technology.  Figure it out before you buy.  You might see a 2.8Ghz processor as dual core, quad core, i3, i5 or i7.  All come with various speeds, so don’t just look at the Ghz speed, look at the type.  There’s even more to it such as the socket types, but I don’t want to confuse you further here.

Not all sales reps in the stores are technicians and they don’t tell you what you need to know.  Get a copy of my book and educate yourself a bit before you buy, or call on the services of your local computer expert.  It could save you more hassle in the end.