Choosing a desktop or laptop computer or building one from parts

Choosing a computer

When buying computers for home, laptops are very fashionable, but you will get a less capable machine for more money which is more fragile, parts will be more expensive, and it will have limited upgrade options. As a result, laptops usually need replacing more often than desktops. Unless you need the portability or are short of space ask yourself, do I need a laptop computer?

Don’t buy unbranded or semi-branded computers. These can be cheaper but are typically built up from the cheapest components. The result of this is there is no ongoing support for drivers and firmware so when there is a problem solving it is harder and takes more time. The haphazard nature of these machines means they can be prone to issues like overheating and component failure.

Big manufacturers provide updates and information online which is invaluable when problems arise are usually quicker and easier to reinstall if you have a significant problem. Our recommendation is to pay the extra for a computer supported by a well-known manufacturer. It is less likely to give you problems and will probably save you money in the long term.

In the past, there were companies selling machines they built in-house. The sales tactic was that these machines were built to the “exact requirements” of the customer. This is nonsense, and these “shed built” machines are best avoided.

The exception to that rule is if you want to build one yourself which might be a fun project and a good learning exercise. Modern machines have relatively few components, and these generally conform to industry standards. Don’t expect this to be a cheaper way to get a computer. Do your research very carefully and don’t forget to read up on anti-static procedures.

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