Veteran IT journalist Guy Wright advises not to buy any more computer than you need. Wright was a prominent Commodore journalist, so he’s been thinking this way for literally decades. I grew up reading the magazines he edited in the 1980s and 1990s–yes, really–so it’s not surprising that I would agree with him.
I saw a couple of points worth clarifying.
I think it is worth splurging for an SSD, because SSDs are no longer crazy expensive, they improve performance dramatically, and most people really don’t need 56.4 petabytes of storage in their laptop anyway, even if they think they do. My 120-gigabyte SSD in my work laptop still leaves me plenty of space for the work I do, and at home 240 gigs is still plenty for most things.
Wright also states that LCD monitors last 3-5 years. That may be a case of not making them like they used to. We have decade-old monitors at work that are still working, but even if the new ones aren’t as good, that’s still better life expectancy than I got out of CRTs, and they’re a lot cheaper than CRTs were too. Even a $90 LED monitor is luxurious compared to what we put up with in the past, and it’s not hard to find a nice monitor at that price point. The longest-lived CRT that I ever had was an NEC Multisync II, which lasted about 12 years. That’s about how long my shortest-lived LCD monitor lasted, a 15-inch Dell that I bought used for around 20 bucks. I rarely got more than three years out of any other CRT monitor. I have several LCDs that are 5-6 years old and still doing fine.
I agree with Wright that they aren’t worth paying someone to fix, but they’re probably worth learning to fix. The parts generally aren’t expensive, it’s the labor, and they’re nowhere near as dangerous to work on as CRTs were. A monitor repair generally will need less than $15 worth of parts as long as the screen itself is OK, but it may take an hour or two of labor, which will run at least $50. When a new monitor costs $90, most people would rather have a new monitor, but if you can replace capacitors yourself, you can fix your own monitors for a lot less than replacing them.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.
One thought on “Buy as much computer as you need”
Old laptops are another good example. I have thing for the Sony sz-vgn654p. Parts are easy to come by either on eBay or elsewhere. Throw in an SSD and you have a great machine on the cheap. It’s the labor that’s expensive, but if you like to tinker, it’s fun.
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