How often should one buy a new computer?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by sir42, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. sir42 macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2003
    NY, NY
    With the release of the new iBooks today, I started thinking about computer buying cycles. Common wisdom seems to be that a computer should last 2 to 3 years, but I’m wondering what cycle is the most cost effective when buying a new computer. I’m thinking there are three basic options:

    Option 1: Buy a new computer every three years. Try to sell 3 year old computer for fair market value, probably a couple of hundred dollars.

    Option 2: Buy a new computer every three years but upgrade mid cycle (ie. upgrade Panther to Tiger and add more RAM). Try to sell upgraded 3 year old computer for fair market value, probably only slightly more than in Option 1.

    Option 3: Buy a new computer every year. Assume upgrades will come standard on new computer (ie. Tiger and more RAM). Sell 1 year old computer at fair market value, probably more than Option 1 & 2.

    I doubt there is a firm answer here, but what has been everyone’s experience?
  2. MUCKYFINGERS macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    option 1, but if you can squeeze 4 or even 5 years out of a computer, then that's great.
  3. Sammis89 macrumors regular

    May 30, 2005
    In my experience i have bought new computers every two to three years, and only updated software during the cycle. If you update alot of hardware, it just becomes too expensive.
  4. nightdweller25 macrumors 6502

    Mar 2, 2005
    I would say max out the computer you do buy and use for as long as YOU see fit. When you just think there is just too many features missing that newer computers have, or it is just too slow, then you sell it and buy a new one, or find some use out of the old one still.
  5. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    If you're wanting to pin me down to one of your three options, I'd say option 2. I think it makes sense to boost the power of your machine to keep it reasonably up-to-date and in line with the ever-increasing demands of software. However...

    My personal approach is to upgrade only when my current computer isn't capable of doing what I want at the speed I want it to be done. The problem with planning to upgrade after a set period of time is it's hard to predict what the hardware lineup (and software demands) will be like in, say, three years time (especially given Apple's rather erratic approach to upgrading certain products).

    Don't forget too that Macs tend to have longer useful lives than PCs – of course, given that we've got the move to Intel processors coming up in the not too distant future it remains to be seen how long the current range of PowerPC based Macs will be useful for.

    Just my twopenneth worth. :)
  6. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    Oneida, NY
    I used to do 3.5 years, but lately it seems like I'm stuck on 6 months. :(
  7. djkny macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2003

    i thought I was the only one that fickle here! :)

    I do 6-8 months, too, only because I score great deals on current machines, max them out in use for their respective selling cycles, then upgrade as soon as new machines come out at a lower price.

    of course, I've been lucky and manage sell them off for much more than I purchased them for, so it all works out.
  8. Cooknn macrumors 68020


    Aug 23, 2003
    Fort Myers, FL
    When I did PC's I upgraded about once a year. Since I bought my Power Mac G5 it's been almost 2 years, and I don't yet feel the need to move up. I'll probably get 4 years out of this box before I upgrade - which will probably be just about the time the x86 Power Mac's hit the streets :p
  9. RacerX macrumors 65832

    Aug 2, 2004
    I don't know... If you are replacing your hardware often enough that you have a cycle, then you really need to sit down and reevaluate your reasons for getting a new system.

    New computers are like new cars... you've lost a large chunk of your investment the moment you get them home. :eek:
  10. ham_man macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2005
    I say every 4 years or so. I have never sold a computer. I would like to come back in 30 years and tinker on my PowerBook...
  11. Mac_Freak macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2005
    That is what I would ike to do with old hardware. So far my 21 month PB is holding really good so I will leave it alone for some time, plus it is my only computer currently. :D
  12. AcousticDoc macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2005
    Depends on the user...Some people may never need to upgrade.

    I know many PC users who are still doing fine with first generation Pentium 3s!!!
  13. Jedi128 macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2005
    New York, NY
    I would would say 3 or maybe 4 years is the most you should try to get out of a computer. However, maybe that is becuase I have been a mac user since 1994 and had only 2 computers in that timeframe. In 1994 my mom bought a Preforma with a 68030 processor. Our next computer after that was an iMac (G3) in the winter of 1999. And now I have been begging my family to buy a new iMac G5 becuase we are sooooo overdue for a new system. Usually we max the RAM shortly after buying and I would recommend staying fairly up to date on OS's. We are running 10.2.8 on the iMac. Lucky I bought an iBook in Oct. 2004 and now have come to realize that it too is becoming outdated (with today's updates), but I have put Tiger on and added 512 RAM to get it to 768MB total. It is just too expensive to continuely update a system. Just face the facts that you can't always have the best. At some point you will have crappy system, and at some point you will have a great system. All I have to say is time the buying cycles right. I bought a week after the update and have been able to keep a "new" computer "new" for over six months now. That is impressive....
  14. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    It really depends on what kind of machine you're buying in the first place. If you're buying a bottom of the line PC and you're cheaping on Ram, then you'll have to upgrade pretty soon. If you spend your money wisely and buy a machine that you're confident can take you through the next 3-4 years, it should last with minor upgrades along the way (OS, external HD, small memory upgrades, etc.) ...
  15. Phat_Pat macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2004
    I Live Where I Live
    I just keep it running until it crashes and burns.
  16. pubwvj macrumors 68000


    Oct 1, 2004
    Mountains of Vermont
    I treat computers like cars. I buy what I need and then run with it for as long as it will do the tasks I need to do. Generally that means about five years, sometimes longer. I rarely sell a machine. Most times my older machines get passed on in the family, to parents, children, friends, etc where they continue to serve useful lives for another five to ten years.
  17. Le Big Mac macrumors 68020

    Le Big Mac

    Jan 7, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Yeah, I don't think there's any right answer. It just depends on your needs, your money, and your desire to have the latest and greatest.

    Me? 6.5 years on a IIcx; 7 years on a PM7500; 2.5 years on my iMac.

    I doubt the iMac will be my main computer in 4 years, but I suspect it will be sitting in the kitchen or family room for email or media serving.
  18. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    > How often should one buy a new computer?

    Preferably only once, each.

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