Computer Buying Advice
Winter-Spring 2017
  • Important considerations before buying a new computer
  • FAQ: Should I get a Windows PC or a Mac?
  • Where to buy a new PC
  • Recommended computer specifications
Reno's PC & Technology Help Experts since 2003 

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You will likely be spending lots of time using your computer over the years to come. Spending just a few minutes now will help you make an informed decision about what to look for in a new computer and accessories - and get the best deal. 

If you still have a computer purchased prior to 2010 it likely has Windows XP or Windows Vista as the installed operating system. Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP and will stop supporting Windows Vista in April 2017. The end of support for the older operating systems means that Microsoft is no longer releasing security updates, making it more vulnerable to malware and dangerous to operate if connected to the internet. 

The average lifespan of computer hardware is about 5-7 years, so a computer with Windows XP or Vista is well past its lifespan. Now is the time to upgrade to a new computer that will be faster, more reliable and secure. Fortunately new computers are more affordable than those that were sold over 5 years ago. 
Important things to consider before your purchase

Since stores are making little to no profit in the sale of a new PC they will likely try to up-sell you on unnecessary items such as an upgraded version of Windows, security software, extended warranties and their in-store or remote tech services.  The only add-on I usually recommend is a 1TB external hard drive for backup purposes, and in certain circumstances I recommend Microsoft Office with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If you have questions about an up-sell, feel free to ask Computer Techs.

Please consider our IN-HOME services to get your new computer set-up properly, and compare us to other stores offerings:

· Set-up and connect your new computer to your network, printer and other external hardware.

If you buy from a local store you'll likely notice that they don't specialize in in-home service, or they charge much more for the option. We'll make sure all of your external devices work with your new computer.

· Transfer data (documents, pictures, music, etc.) and compatible programs from an old computer. Some tech services just transfer your data to a folder on your desktop - we organize your data and put it in the right folders and programs. 

· Remove trialware and unnecessary adware. We also setup free security, backup and Office software.

· Customization and explanation of Windows features.We'll setup the menus, controls and buttons with familiarity of your old computer.

· Consulting about questions you have about your new computer system.

· Recommended storage/disposal/donation of an old unused computer

Windows operating systems timeline

Below is the support timeline for Windows Operating systems. If you're unsure what operating system is on your computer see this article.

 
Operating System     General Availability      End-of-support

Windows XP                Oct 2001 - June 2008     Apr 2014
Windows Vista             Jan 2007 - Oct 2010       Apr 2017
Windows 7                   Oct 2009 - Oct 2016       Jan 2020
Windows 8/8.1             Oct 2012 - Oct 2016       Jan 2023
Windows 10                 July 2015 - TBD             TBD
 
FAQ: Should I get a PC with Windows 10 or an Apple with macOS ?
Windows 7 is currently the most widely used operating system, however as of October 2016 it was no longer available to be purchased on a new computer.   Windows 10 was released in July 2015 followed by two major feature and reliability updates. It is now fairly mature and bug-free. It is basically a mix of the user interface and best features of Windows 7 and Windows 8 combined. 
 
You may be persuaded to switch to a Mac by younger acquaintances, or when visiting the Apple Store. Macs feature the macOS operating system which is very different from Windows. We generally don't recommend getting a Mac due to the learning curve, limited software choices compared to Windows, and equipment expense that's more than double the price of similarly equipped Windows computers.
FAQ: Where should I buy a new PC?
Assuming that you're getting a Windows computer, I recommend that you buy new, name brand computers locally from places such as Costco, Best Buy, Staples, or Office Depot/Max. An additional benefit for buying from Costco is that they extend the manufacturer's warranty to 2 years.

It may be tempting to buy online from places such as Amazon.com for slightly better prices, however returns can be a hassle if it becomes necessary. Also, various local and online outlets offer cheaper refurbished equipment, but you're likely going to get slower hardware that is near the end of its lifespan.  
General recommended computer specifications

If you prefer to shop on-your-own there are generally just 3 specifications you need to look for as shown below. While there are less expensive computers than what I recommend, they have slower processors, speed will be sub-par and other components are lesser quality. Avoid towers with the smaller "slimline" case design, or all-in-one touchscreen computers - since some replacement parts are non-standard and expensive to replace should a failure occur. Fixing non-standard computer form factors may require shipping it back to the manufacturer for repair.

  1. Processor:  Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor 
  2. RAM/Memory:  4 GB or higher
  3. Hard Drive storage size:  512GB or higher HDD or 256GB or higher SSD

Do you hate shopping for a new computer? Let us shop for you.  

If the thought of going to the store, fighting the crowds, salespeople and choices overwhelm you - then don't do it. We'll purchase a new desktop computer for you, set it up in your home, and show you how to use it.

If you're considering a laptop/notebook computer, visit a store to view a display model and take the following points into consideration when shopping, then let us set it up in your home and show you how to use it: 

  • Does the screen look clear? (You shouldn't be able to see pixels/dots on the screen.)
  • Is the screen the right size and can you see it well?
  • Is the laptop too heavy?
  • Do the keys on the keyboard feel good, is it easy to type on?
  • Do you like the color?
  • Is the touchpad easy to navigate and press?