Author Topic: Do I need a new computer?  (Read 4954 times)

Cwadda

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Do I need a new computer?
« on: February 19, 2016, 06:02:27 PM »
Hi folks,

I've had my current laptop for almost 6 years now. It's an HP Pavilion and it's done great. But it's gotten to the point where it loads slowly, battery dies in a few minutes, has trouble running big programs, crashes randomly sometimes, USB ports don't work, etc. I've ordered batteries for it in the past but they tend to die after a few months. So I'm beginning to think this machine is old and past its time. I don't know a whole lot about computers so I can't simply "fix" or reformat it.

Geez, all of these sound like lame excuses to buy a new computer. Am I okay to get a new/used one? If so, I'd happily take recommendations. There are a fair amount of computer savvy folks on this forum so I figured it'd be a good place to start :)

Astatine

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2016, 07:12:29 PM »
I'm not super Mustachian, but I aim to get 6 years from my laptop before it dies completely. So 6 years sounds ok to me if it's a laptop you've been using heaps.

I did a lot of research for reliability before buying my laptop (trying to get a Corolla-type of laptop). So if you do get one, make sure you research to see what brand is most reliable and  the minimum specs you can get away with for what you use a laptop for. FWIW, a friend of mine doesn't have a laptop. Instead he has an iPad with a keyboard and uses that instead.

Lulee

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2016, 07:48:21 PM »
Six years is a good run.  Based on your description, Iíd guess you're having hardware as well as software issues.  Please be sure your data is backed up/copied elsewhere and verify you can access/restore it.  Then if your laptop packs it in, especially the hard drive, you wonít be completely hosed.

Now is a great time to shop as you have more computing options than were available to you when you bought the laptop.  If you still need mobility, you could use a tablet or a laptop or possibly a smart phone, depending on your needs.

My only real recommendation in PC/laptop buying is to splurge on more memory than might seem necessary.  Memory requirements go up frequently as software versions get upgraded and most of us seem to have the habit of running multiple apps, sometimes dozens of them, at a time.  If you use a Microsoft OS, I believe itís still a good rule of thumb to at least double the minimum specs M$ states for the OS as a start for calculating your needs and then you have to add in each program you typically have open plus allow for documents used by those programs (Iíve seen/used massive Excel, Word, and Access databases opened regularly by users that were a gig or more in size).  If you mostly are working on-line, you wonít need as much of course.

Personally, I buy refurbs most of the time and havenít had issues.  It can save money, as long as you can be patient in waiting for one to come available that meets your requirements.

funcomesfirst

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2016, 08:11:13 PM »
Sounds like the answer is that YES you do need something new.  However, do you need a laptop?  I think the key is to be aware of what you use the laptop for before buying anything.  For example, browsing the internet, word processing, playing games with certain requirements, etc. As previously mentioned, maybe a tablet with a keyboard or a chrome book or something like that which would be less expensive.

chesebert

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2016, 09:12:34 PM »
Probably to most definitely not, depending on what you are doing with it.

Upgrade path:
1. SSD
2. more RAM
3. upgrade CPU
4. new battery
5. do a non-destructive reinstall (google howto guides)

I am still using Thinkpad T60 (probably 9-10 yrs old at this point) and it runs win7/email/netflix just fine.

If you don't know how to install/fix, there are instructions on Youtube.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 09:20:01 PM by chesebert »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2016, 11:27:10 PM »
If you had the technical know-how, you could probably get it going again and last for a while longer. Reinstall the OS (preferably on a brand new HDD or an SSD), more RAM, clean out the dust from the cooling vents, etc. That'd probably be the most Mustachian way, in order to get a bit more use from something rather than throw it out.

Although, six years is a fairly decent run for a notebook computer, and if it's having major issues, buying a new one isn't a terrible move.

I've got an old MacBook Pro that's about seven years old. It's got a couple of minor issues, but I've decided to keep it going. When I move somewhere with a bit more space, I'll replace it with a desktop.

Larabeth

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2016, 12:55:21 AM »
I've hit ten years with my current hunk of junk, but the spacebar is starting to give out and I have too much on my plate to care to fix it.

I'll probably craigslist the thing and get something updated this summer.  But maybe not... it depends on how fast I get tired of having to re-hit the spacebar.

Cwadda

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2016, 03:47:46 PM »
Sounds like the answer is that YES you do need something new.  However, do you need a laptop?  I think the key is to be aware of what you use the laptop for before buying anything.  For example, browsing the internet, word processing, playing games with certain requirements, etc. As previously mentioned, maybe a tablet with a keyboard or a chrome book or something like that which would be less expensive.

Going off this, here are my needs:
-Word processing and being able to use Excel, Powerpoint, etc.
-Browsing the web, watching videos, checking email, looking at assignments

I work with some large programs i.e. ArcMap, Adobe PS, Adobe Illustrator but I can usually access these on my university's computers, which I have access to until May. Ideally I'd like to be able to use these programs on my personal computer, but it's not absolutely necessary if it's going to cost like $1000. I can invest in another computer down the road when I settle into a job. My current computer I got on Black Friday for a good deal ~6 years ago, so I'd be down for waiting for a good deal.

Does this information help narrow anything down?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 03:56:19 PM by Cwadda »

Cwadda

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2016, 03:55:30 PM »
Probably to most definitely not, depending on what you are doing with it.

Upgrade path:
1. SSD
2. more RAM
3. upgrade CPU
4. new battery
5. do a non-destructive reinstall (google howto guides)

I am still using Thinkpad T60 (probably 9-10 yrs old at this point) and it runs win7/email/netflix just fine.

If you don't know how to install/fix, there are instructions on Youtube.

I figured it'd be possible to upgrade everything to make it fully functional again but again, I am not super tech savvy. I know it's the Mustachian solution but I really don't have the time to invest learning something foreign, buying things for it w/ not knowing how to use them, worrying about destroying it, etc.

More background info: I'm writing a thesis this semester, presenting at multiple conferences, have a LOT of stressful things going on. Honestly trying to fix my computer would not help matters. I'd be happy to try after I graduate though! In the meantime though I need something that fits my needs better than my old comp that I worry about more and more each day.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 03:58:23 PM by Cwadda »

johnny847

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2016, 04:17:39 PM »
Probably to most definitely not, depending on what you are doing with it.

Upgrade path:
1. SSD
2. more RAM
3. upgrade CPU
4. new battery
5. do a non-destructive reinstall (google howto guides)

I am still using Thinkpad T60 (probably 9-10 yrs old at this point) and it runs win7/email/netflix just fine.

If you don't know how to install/fix, there are instructions on Youtube.

I think upgrading to a SSD, installing more RAM, and reinstalling the OS are good steps in general to get an older laptop to run faster.

Upgrading the CPU, however, is far more involved. And depending on the laptop, especially with newer laptops (which ofc the OP's is not) this may not even be possible, as many laptops these days don't have socketed CPUs.

The OP has already stated that he/she has tried multiple new batteries and they did not work for more than about a month. That's not to say that there isn't a battery manufacturer out there that makes batteries that would fare better. But I think having tried multiple times and failed is a pretty good sign that this laptop just needs to go. Six years is a damn long time.


Cwadda, curious, do you use LaTeX or Word for yoru thesis?

obstinate

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2016, 04:28:22 PM »
I permit myself a new computer every two to three years. If you buy smart, this is not a particularly large expense.  The important thing is not to buy an overpriced machine. For your needs, it sounds like an eeebook would be sufficient. That's a $200 machine.

Cwadda

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2016, 04:57:32 PM »
Probably to most definitely not, depending on what you are doing with it.

Upgrade path:
1. SSD
2. more RAM
3. upgrade CPU
4. new battery
5. do a non-destructive reinstall (google howto guides)

I am still using Thinkpad T60 (probably 9-10 yrs old at this point) and it runs win7/email/netflix just fine.

If you don't know how to install/fix, there are instructions on Youtube.

I think upgrading to a SSD, installing more RAM, and reinstalling the OS are good steps in general to get an older laptop to run faster.

Upgrading the CPU, however, is far more involved. And depending on the laptop, especially with newer laptops (which ofc the OP's is not) this may not even be possible, as many laptops these days don't have socketed CPUs.

The OP has already stated that he/she has tried multiple new batteries and they did not work for more than about a month. That's not to say that there isn't a battery manufacturer out there that makes batteries that would fare better. But I think having tried multiple times and failed is a pretty good sign that this laptop just needs to go. Six years is a damn long time.


Cwadda, curious, do you use LaTeX or Word for yoru thesis?

Word. I've never tried LaTeX. Would you recommend it?

johnny847

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2016, 05:02:59 PM »
Cwadda, curious, do you use LaTeX or Word for yoru thesis?

Word. I've never tried LaTeX. Would you recommend it?

It sounds like you're graduating in May right? In that case, hell no. There's a steep learning curve at the beginning.

But depending on the field you're in, there can be a huge payoff. If we're talking about just text, there really isn't a compelling reason to use LaTeX. It can produce documents that look really good, but for just text I simply don't think it's worth the learning curve.

However, if you find yourself writing up non text things, such as equations, then LaTeX can be great in the long run. It's much faster than writing up the same equations with MS's equation editor, and is far more powerful.

Cwadda

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2016, 05:11:22 PM »
Cwadda, curious, do you use LaTeX or Word for yoru thesis?

Word. I've never tried LaTeX. Would you recommend it?

It sounds like you're graduating in May right? In that case, hell no. There's a steep learning curve at the beginning.

But depending on the field you're in, there can be a huge payoff. If we're talking about just text, there really isn't a compelling reason to use LaTeX. It can produce documents that look really good, but for just text I simply don't think it's worth the learning curve.

However, if you find yourself writing up non text things, such as equations, then LaTeX can be great in the long run. It's much faster than writing up the same equations with MS's equation editor, and is far more powerful.

Okay, cool. Gotcha. Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. And looks like it's free!

Can anyone recommend a specific machine that I could get?

johnny847

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2016, 05:30:26 PM »
Cwadda, curious, do you use LaTeX or Word for yoru thesis?

Word. I've never tried LaTeX. Would you recommend it?

It sounds like you're graduating in May right? In that case, hell no. There's a steep learning curve at the beginning.

But depending on the field you're in, there can be a huge payoff. If we're talking about just text, there really isn't a compelling reason to use LaTeX. It can produce documents that look really good, but for just text I simply don't think it's worth the learning curve.

However, if you find yourself writing up non text things, such as equations, then LaTeX can be great in the long run. It's much faster than writing up the same equations with MS's equation editor, and is far more powerful.

Okay, cool. Gotcha. Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. And looks like it's free!

Can anyone recommend a specific machine that I could get?

I didn't look up reviews of this one, but just based on specs this seems like a great deal. And you can get a 10% discoutn as a student.

However, it is currently out of stock.
http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/LG-gram-13Z950-Signature-Edition-Laptop/productID.326870500

Here's a different one.
http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/ASUS-ZenBook-UX305CA-UHM1-Signature-Edition-Laptop/productID.328071300

These are overpowered for for just Word, email, Internet browsing, etc. But I also find that with cheaper laptops the build quality really falters.

(Not that I am saying these necessarily have good build quality. I'd have to read in depth reviews for that).

Cwadda

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2016, 06:24:09 PM »
Doing some preliminary research:

Looking at Chromebooks. Looks like I'd be able to use Microsoft Office online.
http://www.amazon.com/Acer-Chromebook-CB3-111-C670-Discontinued-Manufacturer/dp/B00MMLV7VQ/ref=sr_1_11?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1456016712&sr=1-11&keywords=laptop

Also looking at laptop options and this one + upgrades seems to have pretty good value. It would be about $480.
http://www.amazon.com/F555LA-AB31-15-6-inch-Full-HD-Laptop-Windows/dp/B011KFQASE/ref=sr_1_6?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1456017019&sr=1-6&keywords=asus+laptop

with the following upgrades that my university tech support could do free and easily.
Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM)
Crucial 8GB Single DDR3 1600 MT/s (PC3-12800) CL11 SODIMM 204-Pin 1.35V/1.5V Notebook Memory CT102464BF160B

chesebert

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2016, 11:35:16 PM »
Get an i5. i3 is incredibly weak. My 10yr old Intel CPU is faster than that.

flyingaway

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2016, 10:37:45 AM »
I had a six year old laptop with 3G memory and dead battery. I dropped it once at Chicago airport and the usable memory seemed to be much lower than 3G. So I bought a new one with 8G.

What I can say is that, there is not much (functional) difference between the old (with at least 3G) and new laptops. However, since the new one is cheap, upgrading the old one is not worth the money.

A new battery would cost $80~$150 while a new laptop with 4G memory (and new battery) can be bought for around $200.

dess1313

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2016, 03:37:53 PM »
I have a 5+ year old toshiba laptop and it is still going strong.  only problems were hard drive, and with a quick replacement that solved any issues.  I've had dell, compaq/hp, and never had had one last this long.  Toshiba is also a hell of a lot easier to repair/DIY

1. try reinstalling the OS.  if its beyond your abilities, google is your friend here.  just make sure you have lots of backups!  at least 2 copies of everything.
--SSD hard drives are freaking amazing.  you might find it worthwhile to do it, you might not depending on your skill level.  my desktop is up and ready to roll in under 30 seconds with a SSD.
2. don't want to do the OS?  run cCleaner on your computer.  its fantstic at cleaning up the crap that accumulates over time
3. don't run your harddrive over 75% full.  it makes it hard to search and store information.
4. make sure you have a good antivirus running. Comodo is one i love.  a little involved but its gotten infections no other software found.  spybot search and destroy as well as adaware are good at getting spyware.  these are a big portion of problems for people with slow computer.  spyware likes to hob background resources and be virtual pigs.
5. investigate how much ram it has.  that's a quick and easy fix if you have the ability to install more.  not all laptops are easy accessible, and some are maxed out on how much the motherboard can hold.  It takes about 1gb of ram just to run a windows 7 OS.  if you only have 2 that leaves only half of it available for tasks.  yours might not even have 2gb depending on what they did to it

Problem is you need to find out if there are any other hard ware issues.  random crashes can be from corrupted software/hard drive over time.  redoing the OS/hard drive might fix all of that.  I would try just redoing the OS and if things are perfect after your hardware is likely okay
also never expect your battery to last any amount of time.  its the bane of laptops.  get used to finding a plug and go with it.  if you need something a bit more portable can you consider a tablet for some things?

JLee

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2016, 04:59:36 AM »
Battery and processor technology has come a long way, and laptops have also become incredibly cheap. I wouldn't bother upgrading something that's 6 years old when stuff like this is under $350 (though I would get one with an SSD, or install an SSD in whatever you buy).

ooeei

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Re: Do I need a new computer?
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2016, 06:49:52 AM »
We just got this for my girlfriend:

Laptop:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KMRGF3M?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s01

RAM:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006YG8X9?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s01

SSD:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A1ZTZOG?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages01

Took about 20 minutes to change out the RAM and hard drive, although installing Windows on the new HD can be a little tricky if you haven't installed from a USB before.  If you have a school computer tech they should be able to do it very easily.  The i3 version (newer version in amazon) is probably a bit more future proof, and about $50 more. 

My girlfriend loves it, but it does get a bit warm when used for extended periods.  If you do lots of marathon computing, it's worth getting something with a fan IMO.  It probably can't handle the non-Office programs you mentioned, but maybe could for a simple file.  If you don't want a touchscreen, you could probably find something with a bit more power for the same price.