How to save money when buying a new or used computer in a down economy

Dinaos roamingI’m currently shopping for a new computer to replace an EMachines bought back in the early 2000’s when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I’m really interested in how to save money on my new PC.

While researching and shopping local retailers and online manufacturers, I realized that there’s a great deal of confusion about how to shop for new or used computers. So I’ve decided to write a series of buying how-tos that may help clear the confusion and save you money
It’s time to replace my cranky computer
My PC definitely shows its age and limits what I want to do as an online guy. Cranky computer

My computer has an 80GB hard drive, 512K of RAM and an older chip, which means that with every time Microsoft or any resident software updates, my resources shrink.

It takes additional power to drive these updates which are larger than former versions. Definitely a dinosaur.
See if any of these symptoms match what you’re experiencing with your computer.
It takes a long time to boot up
About five minutes is the average time. That’s every time I boot up.
Frequent sputtering videos, music and multi-tasking limits
Multi-tasking now means I can open a few Word 2003 docs and maybe a spreadsheet, but that’s about it. When I watch videos, I miss a lot, as the machine attempts to buffer, dropping off key action sequences here and there. Thew result is a stuttering stream.

Music listening isn’t possible. Pandora’s stream is constantly interrupted which ruins the listening experience.
Junk and clutter clean outs are needed several times a day
This becomes a major problem especially after viewing videos or listening to podcasts. Junk and clutter builds up fast, as sites attach cookies and other unneeded stuff that clogs up the works and slows my PC to a snail’s pace or causes a crash.

Sometimes as much as 41-210 MB of junk accumulates, which really strains PC capacity, using more than 50% of hard-drive space.

Clearing the machine with a restart, is anything but quick. Since most files won’t open because of the decreased capability. I use a utility to clear malware, junk files and defrag the hard drive. All of which takes a good 20 minutes. Now multiply that by several times a day and you’ll get an idea of how much productivity is lost.
Guidelines for purchasing a computer

Make your choice based on how you’ll use your machine.

If your needs are entertainment, or home budgeting, you’ve got to know that each function requires a different type of machine.

Do you want a laptop or a tower? A good sound card and set of speakers to enhance viewing or operation is a must.

Get the best video cards to process the rapidly flashing hues of color. Get a monitor that has the best type of LED or LCD display. Brands are all different, so get the one that best suits your eyes, the one that looks best to you.
Just want to surf the web and send email?
Make sure the computer you get has adequate power and the fastest chips you can afford.

While email doesn’t take a lot of power, choose a system that’s fast and efficient. Google’s Gmail is free and an excellent choice. I find Yahoo, Hot Mail and AOL, which are also free, to be clumsy, have cluttered layouts and generally don’t perform well. AOL is far too slow and loads up your machine with a lot of unnecessary stuff.
Plan to digitize the budget and personal finance records?
Then bundled packages are the best choice. Be prepared to shell out $600-$900
Chips are important
Make sure that the operating chip in your machine is fast enough for your needs. I prefer Intel chips which are faster than AMD and don’t create as much heat when operating. Heat is a deadly disease that can quickly kill any computer.
Never buy on price alone
No matter which computer brand you choose, always buy the most computer you can afford. Never buy based on price, because a low price generally means decreased capability that you’ll soon grow out of.

Computers are outdated fast. Computer chips double their capacity every 18 months. And manufacturers work hard to produce shiny, flashy machines with all the latest whistles and bells to entice the unaware into buying more computer than they actually need.
Software will drive your hardware
Ultimately software will drive your purchase.

For writing, budgeting and general home applications, Microsoft Office will be all you need, because it contains a lot of features. But if you have proprietary software, make sure your PC choice can handle it. When you shop, ask a non-commissioned computer sales guy what he thinks you’ll need.
The computer sales slump can be your best ally
Worldwide computer sales have recently suffered its first slump in years. This is due in part to the popularity of tablets and hand-held devices.

The major cause for slowdown is the down economy. We’re delaying needed upgrades as long as we can.

Do our older computers operate all the nifty modern software? No? But so what? Do you really need all those new whistles and bells?

The sales slump means you can get far more bang for your buck. But you still have to be savvy shopper and we’ll get into that in this series.