Overbuying - Is it a bad thing?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jazzer15, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. jazzer15, Jan 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016

    jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Nobody likes to waste money, but aside from the obvious financial issue, in your opinion, is there a downside to buying more computer than is truly needed?

    People often ask questions on this forum (some of which I have contributed ;) ) about whether to purchase a particular upgrade. Presumably, everyone is trying to get good value for their purchase. But assuming one can easily afford that upgrade(s) (e.g., the person has sufficient savings, can easily pay bills and the money won't prevent any other important purchase or cause the person to go into debt), is there any reason not to recommend that larger SSD, i7 or M395X?

    I was just thinking about this and thought it would be interesting to see what other people think (maybe it is the huge Powerball lottery jackpot up for grabs in the US :) ). If money were not really a major concern, would you go for (or recommend) the highest spec (or close) even if the intended use perhaps didn't absolutely require it?
  2. Qbnkelt macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2015
    I like to future proof as much as possible. So in the final analysis, if there is a difference of a couple of thousand between configurations and I break that down to the two or three years that I expect to have a laptop, the difference per month is negligible so I do it.
    My current laptop was a throw away that I'd expected to use for only a year, which I got in a hurry when my previous laptop took a flying leap down the stairs in a race with my dogs. That was back in March 2012. I still run that laptop and it's still running beautifully. Which bugs me since I want to buy a new one just for scuzz....but I certainly don't *need* to.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Money no concern then sure why not max out everything then you'll have the best whatever. Money no concern is rarely the way for most of us though, with one caveat:

    If you are buying for business then make sure you have the specs you need no matter the cost and a budget for computer replacement if they fail, along with backup equipment so that you business isn't interupted if repairs are needed. The amount of posts I see on here with people going crazy about not being able to work as their computer is buggered is amazing. If that computer is vital to your business then spend good money on it and make sure you always have the money to replace it available.
  4. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    If you can afford it and don't mind spending more than necessary, there's no downside. There's no upside though either. Normal tasks will not be much faster.

    If you really can't afford it, it's stupid.
  5. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Maybe I am missing something here but if budget is no concern, just buy what you want and enjoy it as long as you can. If budget was of some concern, spend large but get what you first "need" and then "want."
  6. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Well, I wasn't really thinking of people who have so much money that they just don't know what to do with it, but rather those who are not necessarily wealthy, but reasonably financially comfortable, at least to the point where spending a few hundred dollars more for a particular upgrade is not likely to make a significant difference in their financial well being in the long term. I also wasn't really thinking about obvious situations where someon e only uses the computer to browse the internet but is thinking about buying a maxed out Mac Pro.

    I know that there are times I have been "penny wise and pound foolish" when it comes to purchases and I wonder sometimes if it is worse to overspend on something that one "might" need or use but "probably won't", or to underspend but not find that out until sometime later -- and then wind up replacing something sooner than anticipated, possibly costing more money in the long run.

    Ultimately, none of us has a crystal ball, so trying to answer the question of how long a computer will continue to meet one's needs is not really possible. It is a fine line, I suppose and maybe explains why the decision is so difficult.
  7. Moolani macrumors member


    Dec 18, 2012
    Another option is to buy 2 decent computers instead of 1 expensive excessive one. I need to use Windows computers for work, and would rather have a decent computer and a back up computer, than 1 computer that is overkill for what I need with no back up if it goes down. Having a backup PC has saved me quite a few times.

    Also, any money spent on unnecessary upgrades could have been spent on something else.
  8. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    My thought is to buy wise. In your example of the iMac. If you think that in the future you will use or have a need for a better video graphics then in that case as it's not possible to upgrade after the fact, spending that little bit more now can save you in the longer run.

    However, if you look to the side of storage. I'd be more wary to take any extreems. Like if you currently could get away with a 256ssd, then getting the jump to 512 might be justifiable but going to a 1024ssd is just overboard if you really don't need the storage right now. In these cases you will likely be far better off to go with what you need and upgrade either by replacing what is inside down the road as your cost of doing so will be far less considering advances in tech and probably falling prices of such tech. And with storage you can easily go external with little to no loss.

    The only other real option is the processor. That was is a real conundrum as really the performance differance between an i5 vs i7 is not really huge, and if you are bottle necking in future, your better may actually be to buy a lesser expensive option that just meets your needs for now, and replace the whole machine in the future as the power/cost ratio has always been in the favour of newer machines.
  9. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    The environment.

    (Yeah, someone had to say it)
  10. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    for me, i always spend probably more than i need to on my desktop (iMac). also, i figure to keep this machine about 5 years before i replace it. with my laptop (MBA), i only use it for couch surfing and when i travel. i don't require heavy processing or memory intensive applications so i usually get the base model or close to it. i usually replace this device every 3 years. for my tablet (air 2), i usually upgrade every other generation. for my phone (6s+), i usually upgrade at every cycle and pass my old phone down to my daughter. for these mobile devices i have 64GB, which i never fill up. it really depends on your situation.
  11. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I try to balance my budget vs. what I perceive I'll need in the future. Sometimes, that means over buying, but setting me up for the future. In the case of the iMac, I think I hit the nail on the head, with the configuration, i.e., not too much and not too little :)
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008

    Jazzer, I am one of those who was around during 286 days on up. What I see today is that there are lots of compromises that have to be made to get into the Apple eco system. Apple has gone a path of selling items with a market plan to not have customers upgrade but replace. If we only speak of Apple, we have a problem here in that technology changes quickly and those parts that do change CANNOT be changed on our purchase (in the vast majority of cases). I bring this up because no matter what one buys, it does*, by design*, become forced into being outdated in 3-5 years. Does this mean we can't use our purchases for longer? Well in most cases, assuming the hardware is performing properly, we can but we miss out on the goodness of days of yore where if you wanted a new vid card, you popped one in, if you wanted a new NIC you popped one in. Today we have external add ons. I admit I prefer the old PC style of upgrade the internals and try to keep your computer as long as you can. Even the Mac (mini) Pro is limited on internal swap outs. We live in a time where we are told what we need, told when to get rid of it (either sell or dump) and what/when to buy again. Orwell would have liked this approach for his type of stories where the customer is quite willing to give up a great deal so they don't have to think about what they purchase nor the "hassle" of moving forward. Instead, you go counter green-eco and dump for the next best thing. Apple tells us what we need and we buy it even if it has late based technology or ports that connect to nothing (for months on end) and so forth. For some of us, we accept this bs because we can live with it and just want the OS over Microsoft's bloated excuse of an OS.

    Off my soap box for the moment and I'll say better to get a bit more than you think you need today because tomorrow may have more taxing requirements (OS, connectivity, applications etc.).
  13. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    I prefer to think of it as future-proofing. I like my machines to last as long as possible. I am currently using a 2007 iMac, 2008 MBP, & 2011 iMac.
  14. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I look at it financially. I'll use rounded numbers that are approximately correct.

    I can buy a new computer for about $1,000. I might expect it to last me about 3 years before I start to notice performance issues. I would then have to start looking for a new computer, most likely at about another $1,000 or so.

    I could also buy a new computer at about $1,400 that's a bit more hardware than I need now, but will last me longer before I start to see those performance issues - maybe 6 years or so. So I spent more up front, but I paid a little less per year of use.

    (I'm basing this off computers I've actually purchased and used - your numbers and performance history may vary.)
  15. bogg macrumors 6502


    Apr 12, 2005
    I've found that I historically almost always "underbought" stuff, so starting a few years ago I always overbuy by a factor i 2. (by a factor of 2 i mean: If i believe i need 8GB of RAM, i will get 16, if I believe I'll be fine with 1TB of space I'll buy 2 and so on....

    The last computer I bought (27" iMac mid-2011) was seriously "overbought" at the time with 24GB (8GB+16GB aftermarket) of RAM and an i7 2600 and the 6970 GPU. This has filled my needs almost completely, a year ago I added an SSD which I got cheap on eBay to it, worked wonders for the performance. If I hadn't had an Itch for a retina iMac I would have been able to keep it for atleast 2 more years.

    So, figure out what you use and/or are happy with are today (with ram usage, cpu usage and so on) and double that and buy the closest thing you can to that.

    My personal experience with regards to buying cheap and buying expensive is this:
    10-15 years ago or so when I last owned a desktop PC, I usually bought quite cheap machines but ended up upgrading them over the years. I only rarely had a computer that I kept for more than 2 years before almost everything was replaced. I then went on to cheap Macs (Mac Mini, low end macbook and so on) which lasted me maybe 1-2 years as well. Then i bit the bullet and got me a more or less fully specced iMac in 2007 and a Macbook Unibody in 2008, which lasted me until 2011 and 2013 respectively, and then another iMac in 2011 which lasted until now, and a MBP Retina early-13 which still holds up great (and probably will for a few years).

    So, overbuy = keep for longer, buy what you think you need = lasts for 2 years or so before you start upgrading or replacing it.
  16. jazzer15, Jan 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016

    jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Phrehdd, I can't say there is anything you said here that I disagree with in the least.
  17. Butchie-T macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2014
    I make it a point to overbuy when it comes to computers. I do this because I tend to keep them around for 5-7 years. So, if I can buy a beefier machine up-front, I know it will last, keep up, with technology upgrades over the course of the 5-7 year window of its use. If I end up spending 2-3 K on a computer I believe I get my monies worth out of it over the course of time. At least that is where my mindset is on the matter.
  18. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2013
    I try to break all purchases down to cost of ownership and how long I think I can go with out upgrading..

    "Will this 20% extra options make me want to keep this gadget at least 20% longer?" Y/N..

    Often with technology you can get something much better for a lot less later on so for somethings it´s not worth it.
    Like the $1000? Apple 750GB SSD upgrade on the first rMBP or spending $1000 on Apple RAM and GPU if you don't need it. Save the $1000 and upgrade a year early next time instead.

    This kind of thinking made me buy the entry-level MBP last year since I think I rather upgrade in 12-18 months instead of 36 this time since MacBook rev2 and a new 15" are both on the horizon..

    So, "good enough for now" is sometimes the better choice :)

    But if you are looking too spend on a "keeper" then just go all-in on the stuff you can't change later.
    I never once regretted the (tbh, probably pointless) 10% cpu upgrade on my 2012 mini..
    It´s still a solid performer, and the minis after it suck :)
  19. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    The only downside is issues with the upgrades themselves. For example some people do not like fan noise. If you upgrade the video card the heat produced from the card can cause a louder fan noise.

    Another example could be reliability of the upgraded parts themselves.
  20. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Presumably that would be the case only if pushing the GPU, in which case I guess the upgrade really was warranted ;)

    I would think that there is no more possibility of an upgraded part failing than a "stock" part. But I understand your point.
  21. dont24 macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2005
    Over buying, no. Overpaying is what I have an issue with. I'm in the market for a new 27" iMac. My current is a 2007 24" iMac, so as you see I don't upgrade often. Only using 232GB after all these yrs. Have 2 external 500GB externals. One for backups, other for home videos I've been encoding. I'd love to get a 1TB flash, but just can't justify Apple's prices.
  22. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    ...so, why do you want a 1TB flash? You could clearly live with a 500GB system drive, if not 250GB, and expand it with external drives (SSD or spinners, subject to wallet and size requirements...) - with Thunderbolt or USB 3 your external drives are no longer second-class citizens.

    The idea that you need lots of big hard drives inside your computer is a hangover from the days of parallel ATA interfaces that couldn't be used externally. Having them external is far more flexible. Heck, back in the good old days of SCSI we all used external drives on our Macs... (Slight exception for laptops where it can be useful to have all your data inside, but you are talking about iMac).

    Well, if 'overbuying' now means an extra year or two before your computer (or some of its components) ends up on landfill, maybe not. Meanwhile, is having a 65W processor rather than a 45W processor (considering they only hit their peak consumption when they are fully loaded) really going to be the biggest avoidable waste of energy in your house?
  23. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    Not always. Almost anything you do is going to result in higher temps when using the 4GB card. Even watching a Youtube video will result in higher temps as is idle. Sort of like buying a car with a souped-up engine.

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't get the 4GB card but it's important to point out that adding different components does have actual differences. A lot of times people assume adding a more powerful card has no other difference than it's 'faster' and it cost you more money. In order to get that card to work there needs to be other factors that change such as the fan needing to cool it off.

    Yeah it's not that stock parts are more reliable. Just means in any production line some parts may have issues and if it falls under the ones that are upgraded parts then it would be relevant. For example if there was an issue with the Samsung 1 TB SSDs then it would be better not to upgraded to a 1 TB SSD no matter how much money you had in the bank.
  24. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Generally better off buying what you'll need. Additional processing power isn't typically future proofing for most people.

    Wifi standards, Bluetooth standards, Thunderbolt standards, USB standards (C), various means proprietary Apple connectivity, internal improvements like PCIe based SSD storage, etc etc. Are all examples of things you can't future proof, at least very well for on an iMac.

    Generally I want to upgrade LONG before a maxed out iMac has reached its limits due to processing speed or something.

    For example, a maxed out late 2008 iMac can't AirDrop a based model 2009 can. A maxed out 2012 iMac can't use Wifi AC, a base model 2013 can. Both of those things are much more important to me then a couple gflops that I never used

    However you can get a little bit more money out of a resale, although I find it difficult I feel many people buying used are just looking at model year not specs when it comes to iMacs.

    Moving forward I'll only get things that benefit me. If my needs change then I'll buy a new one and sell the old one, although I know my needs won't change.

    Just something to consider.
  25. jeffg819 macrumors regular

    Dec 25, 2006
    For me, buying a new computer is sort of like buying a new car every three years. The one I'm driving would easily last another 5-10 years, and it will still get me from point A to point B, which is after all the core requirement of a car, but I get an itch for the new stuff (Bluetooth, better airbags and safety features, Lane assist, less road noise, etc.).

    When it comes to computers, I normally overbuy (8 on a 10 point scale machine) and use it for 3 or 4 years. Last year I gave my mid 2010 27" iMac to an offspring and am now using a late 2015 model (the 5k screen makes my eyes so very happy).

    I use to change video cards and hard drives in machines but I've come to see that as similar to this near 60 year old guy getting a tummy tuck. Sort of like putting $10k worth of wheels and tires on a 1992 Camry.

    To date this path has not changed lifestyle.

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