For the past thirty years I have used and worked on many computers. My first real computer was a hand-me-down that I tweaked into a great running machine. During that period, I have only purchased about four new computers. All of the others have been second-hand machines. However, the new computers have all been purchased recently, within the last three or four years.
There are several reasons that led to the purchase of the new, up-to-date computers. These factors can be used to determine whether you need to upgrade your computer or replace it with a new machine.
The first thing to consider is whether the upgraded computer will run the newest operating systems. Any system older than Windows XP is too far out of date to get virus protection and will not be able to run many of the newer programs you need. Additionally, as much as I loved Windows XP, it is at its end of life and will soon be obsolete. It is time to run the newest operating systems, so make sure your hardware is compatible.
To check for hardware compatibility, read the system requirements for the OS you will be installing. Some of the requirements will include the amount of random access memory needed, hard drive capacity and processor speed. While many of the new operating system can take advantage of up to four or more gigabytes of RAM, they will need at least 2 gigabytes to function. Many older motherboards cannot handle enough RAM to run the operating system, let alone any other programs running simultaneously. Even if they can accept the bare minimum to run the OS, the performance will be agonizingly slow.
Other hardware issues will include the type of video outputs available for attaching a monitor. Cards that allow LCD, LED and HDMI monitors to be installed may require motherboard slots that your old machine does not have. You could install a new motherboard, which will probably mean a new processor as well. The cost of upgrading rises significantly as these major components are replaced. This is especially true if you must contract a service company for the upgrade. Even if you can do the work yourself, the component prices could run into several hundred dollars.
To give you a comparison, I recently bought my wife a new ASUS desktop computer that puts my other machines to shame. It has a dual core processor, 4 gigabytes of RAM and a 1-terabyte hard drive. There are three video outputs: one for a VGA monitor, one for a digital monitor and one for HDMI. A camera card reader and DVD burner are also included. All of this cost me less than $400 and will last her a long time. I honestly could not upgrade her old machine to those specs for that price.
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