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Does The Brand Of Computer Matter?

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals
 
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Wayne from Merced, CA writes:

What brand of desktop computer do you recommend to a person who only needs the computer for personal use? People have told me to go to Dell Computers and I wanted your opinion too. Thanks, Wayne

Answer:

Asking someone which PC brand is best, is like asking for an argument. Many people will swear by a particular brand, and share negative experiences with another brand. The problem, in my opinion, with recommending a specific brand, is that every PC includes different parts, even within the same model, You have to talk in broad generalizations when making a recommendation. Instead of picking a brand, let’s talk about what you should be looking for in a computer company.

Value (Not Just Price)

The phrase “penny wise pound foolish” applies here, so don’t immediately jump on the lowest dollar total. You should consider the other main areas covered in the rest of this article before deciding on which price is truly best. I mention price first, because it’s the first thing almost everyone looks at, but it’s not the most important aspect.

Warranty & Support

Pay careful attention to the warranty and support policies, because they are getting more complicated then ever. Many companies offer various levels of in-home, mail-in or even local repair. If your warranty is “mail-in after 90 days for a period of 1 year,” it means if anything goes wrong hardware-wise, you’ll need to mail the computer in. You may wait up to two weeks toget it back. Buying from a local computer shop can often result in faster service and better component choices (to reduce service costs), but may cost you a bit more initially.

Components (The Insides)

Just like every car has an engine and tires, but they are not all equal, every PC will have a power supply and a processor. The differences can be dramatic in both reliability and performance. If you’re buying from a local computer shop, then you can discuss component choices.  If your buying pre-built, it’s easier to look at what to avoid.

  • Hard Drive: Avoid 5400 RPM drives if possible and buy 7200 RPM or solid state hard drive (ssd)
  • Memory: Avoid 4 GB or lower of system memory and over 16 GB. The ideal range is 8 to 16 GB.
  • Processor: Avoid Celeron, Pentium or AMD E or X2 series. I’d look for either an Intel I3 (or higher number) or AMD A6 (or higher number) processor.
  • Power Supply: Avoid no-name or “it comes with the case we buy” from small PC shops. Antec (not the basiq line) and PC Power & Cooling are both well respected reliable brands.

Laptop or Desktop

The choice used to be a very easy one.  Laptops offered mobility, but sacrificed a lot of performance. Today many laptops, while still being slower than similarly priced desktops, offer more then enough performance for everyday tasks. If you want the portability and convenience of a laptop, make sure you buy one with a good screen, since it’s not replaceable. If you want maximum speed and expandability, buy a desktop (buy a good screen too, but at least you can replace it if the first one fails or you aren’t satisfied with its performance.)

 -Tim

P.S. Ok you twisted my arm! If I REALLY had to choose I’d probably buy a HP laptop (Envy or DV series are quite nice) or a locally built desktop. If you have to buy a  pre-built desktop both Dell & HP offer reasonable warranties.

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10 Responses to “Does The Brand Of Computer Matter?”

  1. bob price says:

    I needed two laptops so bought a high end Dell for the office, and a mid range Toshiba for travel. In no time, realized the Toshiba is superior, and should have bought two of them–plus saved some money.

  2. Dorothy says:

    I think the quality of TECH SUPPORT is one of the most important factors. My first home computer, a laptop, is a Dell Inspiron and I must say has worked quite well overall for several years. It’s a good product. However, when there is a serious problem requiring contacting Tech Support, after a brief period of time their standard “solution” seems to be that there is a hard drive failure — which turns out not to be the case. Based on my experience with HP’s PRINTER support, they are absolutely marvelous and would be a serious factor in considering my next computer.

    • Dustybear Stark says:

      I have 3 big HP 4in1′s and will NEVER buy HP again. Their support is atrocious to non-existent, in the Phillippines, and all they want to do is upgrade me constantly (for more $$$ of course). I just bought a new Brother and so far am happy. Tried Canon and liked but got a dud. tried Epson, but again got a dud and THEIR support is also non-existent. But I have NO clue why ANYONE with a brain would choose HP. I can tell you horror stories that would curl your hair over a ten year + period.

      • Bob Cerovich says:

        Hmmm. I’m not sure I understand. You bought “3 big HP 4-in-1s” but you have “stories that would curl your hair over at ten year + period”. Well, goddamn… for ten years, I put my hand on that hot burner on the stove, then I did it three times in succession. I’ll never put my hand on that burner again. Come on.

  3. Suzan Wells McNally says:

    Thanks, as always, for your professional opinion. Actually what I am looking for is the old Mac or PC question. I know I want another desktop computer. My grandson says the only way to go is MAC. Do you have any advice for me?

  4. Diane says:

    I bought a Sony laptop with largest screen available at the time over five years ago and besides a slowing down have had no problems with it looking now to replace with another Sony laptop

  5. Robert Warren says:

    I would never buy an HP desktop. I have had four now junked due to blown capacitors. High quality BAH

  6. B. Marsden says:

    Sounds goodto me , Get your Newletter daily, as well as Grins

  7. Hisham Saaid says:

    I kept getting from my friends “get a new machine” and “get a laptop” Finally I got a new laptop. I wish I did not because it came with Windows 8.
    I was so happy with my desktop running Vista (I know,people do not like it)I had to throw away all I know about operating a PC and am having a heck of a time learning Windows 8. If I can get a new laptop with older operating system say Windows 7 or Vista I would return my latest purchase. My question is there a vendor still selling new older model of laptop?

  8. Dave Ttracey, Mississauga, ON says:

    I’ve had Toshiba, HP, Acer and store brand. They all seem to work like “rockets”, when you first get them. After a while, they seem to get slower and slower, and often go into the “not responding” mode. Do software programs like browsers, etc, continually add components even though I don’t specifically ask for them or agree to downloading?

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