Why you should buy cheap and often when looking for PCs

The dilemma of whether to buy a cheap or expensive PC

If you have had your PC for a couple of years and are looking to replace it or to add another one to your collection, should you buy a cheap PC or splash out on an expensive one? It’s a tough decision.

What will your next PC be like?

The range of PCs and laptops is huge and there are dozens of suppliers. You are spoilt for choice and the prices vary from the ultra cheap computer costing a couple of hundred (dollars or pounds, it’s all the same), to a couple of thousand.

Buy the best

Let’s suppose you can afford a really good desktop PC or laptop and for the sake of argument let’s say you have $2000 to spend. The model you buy will contain pretty good components. It will have a fast processor, lots of memory, a big hard disk drive or super fast SSD, a high resolution screen, and so on.

The advantages of buying the best is that you get a very powerful PC that contains the latest technology. It is great for work or entertainment and you can power through spreadsheets, games run at a fast frame rate and everything is nice.

The problem is that technology is still changing and who knows when it will slow down. If you spend a lot of money on a new PC, you will need to make it last a long time. However, as each year passes the technology gets older and after a few years it will begin to look very ordinary.

That $2000 PC after three or four years won’t look so special. It will still run OK, but it won’t be as spectacular as when it was new. After five or six years it will be old technology that can be outpaced by models costing half the price.

In addition to dating rapidly, an expensive PC that you keep for many years prevents you from keeping up with the latest technology. As new PCs and laptops are launched, you are stuck with your old model. You can’t take advantage of something new that comes along.

If you’ve spent thousands on a PC, don’t visit a computer store. You’ll see new PCs and laptops with unusual, new and different specs and you won’t be able to take advantage of them. You’re stuck with your PC for the next few years.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1

Hang on to an expensive PC for many years and new ideas and technology will pass you by, like this Dell Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 with a 360 degree hinge. It's cheap too.

Buy cheap

The alternative is to buy a cheap PC. Its performance will be limited of course, so this is not a good option if you want to play the latest games, edit videos or perform some other heavy duty task that will put a heavy load on the system.

A lot of people don’t need the latest kit and a cheap PC has several advantages. The main one is that you can replace it, often. It is cheaper to buy a $500 PC every two years than to buy a $2000 one every six years. In fact, you will save $500.

After two years you can replace your cheap PC with a new $500 one and because the cost of technology falls in price over time, it will be a higher specification than before. After 4 years you can buy another $500 PC and you will find that the specification is almost as good as the expensive PC you could have bought. Technology progresses so fast that a top of the range PC is an entry level specification four or five years later.

Keep buying cheap PCs and sooner or later you will get that top spec PC you always wanted!

There is also a reliability issue too. A $2000 PC has to last six years, for example, whereas a $500 PC has to last only two, then you can buy a new one. There isn’t a lot of difference in the reliability of components like processors, disk drives, memory, and so on, so cheap PCs don’t necessarily break down more.

Because you are changing the hardware frequently, it never gets old or worn. Every couple of years you have new hardware.

Which is best?

Some people will always decide to buy the best because they need it for gaming, video editing and so on. For the rest of us who just browse the web, watch YouTube and Netflix, and post on Facebook and Twitter, there is less of a need for a top of the range PC. A cheap one will do and you can change it often to keep up with the latest technology.

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