When does Want become Need?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by w00143881, May 19, 2010.

  1. w00143881 macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2008
    Greetings all,

    I'm a proud owner of the final PPC, Powerbook G4 15" 1.67GHz. I've taken this thing through college and graduation and for 4.5 years, it has been my workhorse.

    Sure, it gets very warm/hot, Videos on Hulu are a bit choppy, I don't have the camera on the top, I'm stuck on Tiger, I'm on my 2nd battery, 3rd power cable, and I think one of my fans are broken. Sure, the new Macbook Pros (esp that 13in) look absolutely gorgeous and a purchase now would be a substantial upgrade in every category.


    My question to all of you is not the typical, "Should I buy now or wait" but more, when does desire become necessity? There are countless "Should I buy now or wait" questions posted on this website and the usual answer is, "If you need it now, buy it now. If you can wait, then wait." What defines "need?"

    My mom still uses her Dell from 98 and although I tell her to upgrade, she responds with the valid point, "Why upgrade and spend money if it still works?" What is the tipping point for all of you that drives you to purchase/upgrade? I'm sure for some of you it is the need to have the latest and greatest, but for those who try to maximize the use and value of each machine, given that it still works even with a few flaws, why/when did you upgrade?

    Finally, what do you do with your old machines? Do I sell it on eBay for 300? Do I keep it lying around as a back up?
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    If it does everything you need, then you may not need a new one. It's not rocket science, and your mum is right, why to buy new one if old one does what it has to?

    Some people keep them, some sell them, it's personal thing. It's always nice to have a backup computer
  3. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    Look at opportunity cost. Let's say you value your time at $60 per hour. If reading your email takes 15 minutes, then it cost you $15. If you could get it done in 5 minutes ($5 opportunity cost) and the remaining 10 minutes you can be productive and make money, then it might make sense to upgrade.

    Opportunity costs will vary widely by individual so you need to decide how much your time is worth.
  4. marksandvig macrumors regular

    May 21, 2006
    Im in the same boat as you. Just graduated after four years, still have my original MacBook that has been chugging all this time. But anyway, mine was going on its way out, and since I had AppleCare before which is expired, I decided that while it did everything I needed, I didn't want to have to sink more money into it later. I got a few hundred bucks and I am going to buy a new MacBook Pro, which will hopefully last another 4 years.

    Btw, giving the thing up was like going through a divorce.
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    An interesting question, and I note the distinction you make in the way you have asked it, which differentiates it from the more usual question posed and thus prompts a different reply to the one I'd normally give along the lines of "buy if you need, wait if you want" response.

    Here, to a certain extent, I agree with belvdr's comment. Essentially, in the context which you are asking about, "Want" becomes "Need" (rather than desire which is a different) when the computer no longer does what you need it to do quickly and easily. That exact point is reached at a different place in time and tolerance for each person, and depends on certain variables, (such as whether you are a tech aficiando; what your financial status is, in other words is a computer a necessary or an optional purchase, what degree of degradation/depreciation you can tolerate, what level of reduced performance you find acceptable as it ages and technology passes it out, and probably most important of all, what you actually need the computer to be able to do, what you want it for, etc).

    Personally, I usually keep computers for around three-four-five years, which allows me to get quite a bit out of them, and allows the tech to have advanced considerably between purchases.

    Old computers I have either donated to charity shops (en route to the Third World), or, been gifted to family members (thus, my brother got a very neat Sony Vaio which was a little over a year old when I switched to my MBP). I have never sold one.

    Cheers and good luck
  6. Christina1971 macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    There is no one defintion of "need" that works for everyone.

    For me, "need" enters the equation when there are things I want to do that I cannot do on my old computer.

    When I use my mother's PPC Mac Mini (I don't remember the year, but it's one of the older ones) it feels like it's straining, to me. That would drive me crazy. But Mom doesn't mind the beachballing.

    I've recently learned iMovie and Final Cut Express and I feel like I "need" a better computer to take advantage of those programs without making my Macbook's processors melt. But before that, I had an iMac G3/400 that I used happily for seven years, and for half of those years the slot-loading drive didn't work. But it didn't matter because I didn't "need" that drive. That would be a deal breaker for someone else.

    I upgraded from the iMac because I wanted a laptop.

    I donated my iMac to a local program that refurbs them and gives them to places like shelters and community groups.
  7. Liam8 macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2009
  8. Ash9414 macrumors 6502

    Apr 25, 2010
    United Kingdom
    I've had this PC laptop that I'm typing on for over 5 years now and it's been getting very slow/hot when doing even simple tasks. As I am soon going to the UK's version of 'college', I need a computer that will be there straight from when I need it, and not take 10 minutes to convert a 2003 Word Document to the new file format. :/

    This is what made me look at new computers and, in my eyes at least, there is nothing better than a Mac. I intend on keeping my old one, and I would probably suggest you keep your old computer until you have everything up and running on your new one to make sure you don't lose anything in the process of switching.
  9. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    If I was you, the main upgrading point for me would be using 10.6. Then some other nice upgrade includes just about everything else.
  10. nick1516 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 21, 2008
    I don't know how some of you keep computers so long, the longest I had one was about 1.5-2 years, and I'm going to sell my MB and buy a new MBP next summer, so only about 1.5 years of owning it.
  11. mdatwood macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    Denver, CO
    Well to me a computer is just a tool. If it still does what I need it to do then why do I need a new one? I don't really care how it looks on the outside as long as it's solidly built and functional (I had Dell laptops in the past where the keyboard would warp under your fingers as you typed...ugh).

    I recently bought a new i7 MBP to replace a SR MBP that was ~3 years old. It quit doing what I needed it to do because it could only take 4GB of ram. With the VMs I run for work I needed the 8GB limit. I expect this i7 to last me years after throwing in an SSD sometime in the future.
  12. Christina1971 macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    This just seems wasteful to me. What has changed in these computers in two years? Not that much, from my perspective. But maybe the main difference is that you and I have different priorities for how we'd like to spend our money. Maybe I spend more on clothes than you do. Different strokes. :)
  13. VPrime macrumors 68000


    Dec 19, 2008
    London Ontario
    I used to always upgrade and buy the latest and greatest (Everything, not macs).
    I would typically upgrade to a new computer (PC) about every 2-3 years even if I didn't need to.

    But lately, I have found that I am using my computers until they don't do what I need.
    I am using a 2008 aluminium Unibody 2.4ghz macbook, and a 3 year old Quad core desktop PC (Hackintosh). Normally by this point both would be replaced. I sometimes find it very hard to not just go out and buy the latest and greatest again.. But I stop my self and ask "Do I really need it? What can I do on that computer(or product) VS this one?"

    If the computer still does everything you need, and is fairly quick for what you use it for then why upgrade?
    I get upgrading when new versions of programs no longer support your hardware, or become so slow that they are almsot unusable. But if they don't affect your routine then you don't need a computer.
  14. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    When does Want become Need? When Irritating becomes Frustrating.
  15. LeoFio macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York
    Reminds me of when i finished my undergrad degree last may..my trusty 12" PB G4 1.5Ghz took me all the way through and I was posed with the same question. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the answer came a few weeks later when the Video RAM bit the dust...couldnt bring myself to spend the $310 to fix it when I could get a low end mac mini for a little over $500 with much more computing power.

    But yeah like others said, once the computer doesn't do what you want in the time you want it to, or it can't run the programs you want or need to use, then an upgrade want becomes a need.
  16. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I would say that 4.5 years in it self almost justifies an upgrade. But aside from that, there aren't a whole lot of new programs that will run on a PPC machine anymore, so there is one advantage of a new MBP or other Mac. Plus having a more reliable, cooler, faster, and more efficient machine is always a plus. I would say that it is time to replace, although it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep the PB in case you need some work done. So I don't know that you need it, but I think there are enough reasons to easily justify a new computer.
  17. bluskale macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2010
    This is an interesting question. Very rarely does anything like a computer ever really become a true need, although perhaps this depends on what you consider a need.

    We may phase things as "I need a new computer to do ______" and we may not explicitly acknowledge that we mean to add "in a reasonable amount of time." There are a lot of things that computers replace without offering much more than convenience compared to the non-computer alternative. We did, after all, send people to the moon using slide rules.

    Less often do we consider whether we really need to be able to do _______ in the first place.

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