What computer should I purchase?
Recently I had a conversation with my brother about his purchasing of a new computer or a better computer and here are some recommendations that I feel will be useful to anyone looking to do the same.
- You don't need the newest whiz bang feature. 9 times out of 10 most people are using their computers for email/facebook/music and web browsing.
- More expensive doesn't mean faster. There are a whole host of reasons this is the case but a big price tag doesn't make for a faster machine.
- If you know very little about computers. My recommendation is to purchase a Mac. Simply because you don't have the where with all or knowledge to manage a Windows machine. It's simply too complex fighting off virus after virus. Even for very experienced Windows administrators.
- If you know a thing or two. My recommendation is to still purchase a Mac. You obviously have work to do and spending time fighting all of the intricacies of Windows doesn't sound fun or productive. 
- If you want to build your own I would spend time researching copiously your components. Computer hardware moves faster than anything else in any industry. Period. Right this instant the card you are looking at is the fastest. Just now, in the time it took for me to type Just now, it became maybe Top 5.. maybe. By next week you'll be lucky if it's still there. A month from now, new Whiz Bang GTX with 50 more whiz bangs will be out.
- Do not purchase cheap. If it's $300 bucks it probably won't last two years. The components are cheap and will break down and you will find yourself spending another $300 or more and would have saved nothing. In-fact with the time you spend in repair and with a down computer plus all the etc. Might as well have bought a quality machine. If you are like me and a computer is vital to your lively-hood, you should make tactical measure to only buy quality gear. It need not be expensive, but quality. IE: If I purchase memory it will only be ECC memory. If you know what that means, it's a clearly obvious decision.
- Buy refurbished quality gear from the manufacturer if you can swing it. You'll get burned-in tested gear in near brand new condition for a fraction of the price that has been certified by the manufacturer. It's an easy sell.
- Keep your computer for as long as possible. At some point your needs may change and you may need more whiz-bang feature. It's at this point when you need to upgrade. I see too many people upgrading for absolutely no reason. They get no benefit AT ALL. Nothing is inherently faster for your needs just because it is new. For instance, I try to keep my main desktop running for at least 5 years before I even consider an upgrade. The machine that handles most of my network traffic has been in service for close to 12 years. This idea that computers are throw away products is harmful. They contain all sorts of toxic compounds and most are serviceable, usable and capable for a decade if not more. Consider recycling or donating your computer. Throwing it out should never be an option.
All that said if you still think you need 30 inches, 12 cores, 72 GB of ram, 4 TB of SSD hard drives and a goddamn pony. Feel free, it'll be obsolete by tomorrow and you're 30k investment will be worth 10% of that by next year. In two years, it'll be in a dell catalog for $300 dollars.
Needless to say I have a variance of kit that is useful to me but somehow people seem to believe that the more they spend the better. This is wholly incorrect.
: Right, so some idiots will jump to conclusions of fanboyism tirades as to my recommendation for Apple kit (even though I hold no such allegiance. I use Linux, Freebsd, Opensolaris, Openbsd and have DEC!, Sun! (Dec, Sun are no longer but they built some of the most long lasting machines known to man), etc etc kit all over the place for my needs). Unfortunately, when it comes to quality built hardware there are few consumer manufacturers that do it well. Even Apple has some shoddy gear. However, out of all the consumer manufacturers I would choose Apple first over any other. They provide decent quality components, in a nice overall package that holds up over time for your run of the mill user. It also comes with solid software packages all for a reasonable price. The same can't be said for Dell, HP, Compaq, Etc. Windows as a general purpose operating system has historically been and is still pretty much a complete failure. OSX concentrates on the user and the tasks they need to complete; which is why we have computers and why you need one.