Is it time to buy new a computer? Unsure how much to spend on your new computer so that it meets your needs today as well as in the future? A common question in buying new computers is when does spending a little extra money actually get you a noticeably better computer. An important factor in answering that question is how long you expect to use the computer or what the effective lifespan of the computer will be.
Lifespan of Your New Computer
The planned lifespan of your new computer is a key factor because 1) it determines what the payback period will be for investing a bit extra cash up front, and 2) it provides an idea of how your new computer will stack up to the performance of new computers 3, 4 or 5 years from now. While you don’t want to throw money away unnecessarily, having a computer that has sufficient performance and features will be important as your computer ages. Having a two year old underpowered computer that feels outdated is not a good position to be in.
A Better Computer for 8 Cents an Hour.
Here is an example that may help you visualize the benefits of spending a bit more on your new computer than initially planned. Let’s say you are considering an $800 laptop computer. But for an additional expenditure of $200 you can get an extra level of performance (CPU, RAM, HDD) and features (screen size, battery life, ports) that would really provide additional value when you use your computer.
For this example let’s also assume you plan on using your laptop computer for 4 years and that you spend two hours a day on your computer six days a week. An extra $200 over 4 years is actually $50 per year for whatever enhancements you decide to include with the expanded budget. In terms of the time you use the computer this example would calculate out to:
2 hours of computer use/day
X 6 days/week
X 50 weeks per year
= 600 hrs. of computer use per year
Which means that you will spend:
$50 extra per year for 600 hrs. of computer use
which equals: $.083/hr. or 8 cents per hour of computer use
On a monthly basis this would be $4 per month
The Question: Is it worth $4 per month to buy a “better” computer?
What Do You Get By Spending a Bit More?
Is the example a worthwhile investment? It will likely depend on your needs and budget. Your extra expenditure may allow you to buy a computer with more RAM, a faster CPU, a better graphics adapter, a larger hard disk drive, a battery with a longer life, more ports, a larger screen, a smaller screen, or a lighter weight computer.
More Is Not Always More
Sometimes spending more may not get you more of the features you want. For instance if you want a netbook computer because you really want a portable computer that has a 10 hour battery life then spending more money may still not get you that type of battery life on a laptop or notebook computer. Prioritize which features are most important to you and focus on enhancing those features.
When deciding on your budget focus on whether spending a bit more than you initially planned will get you components that will actually enhance the performance, capacity, battery life, size or weight of your system. Spending a bit more today may just make for a more functional and enjoyable time when using your computer now, as well as in 3 or 4 years.