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Money Alone Can Not Buy You PC Happiness
Jon Bach (President)

Money Alone Can Not Buy You PC Happiness

Posted on December 6, 2013 by Jon Bach

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At Puget Systems, we build extremely high end PCs each and every day. Some of our PCs are used as high powered workstations, where they are pushed to their limits every hour of every day. Others might simply be expensive play-things, where price is no object. Is there a such thing as a PC that is TOO high end?
 

If money were no object, what kind of PC would you buy? Would you max out every specification, add every card, and fill every slot? After all, if you are a multi-millionaire, why not splurge on a $15,000 computer? We encounter this mindset often here. We often talk people out of PCs like that as well. Part of our job is to get people thinking about the fact that dollars are NOT the only cost you are paying for your PC. Regardless of whether you paid $2,000 or $15,000 for your new PC, everyone pays in other ways as well:

  • Initial financial cost
  • Financial cost over time
  • Your time
  • Your state of mind (aka sanity!)
How frustrated do you get if something doesn't work properly? How much time does it take to repair your PC if it goes down? How much time do you spend fiddling with settings and getting everything configured? How loud is the PC, and does noise bother you?
 
These concepts aren't new. This is just the "Total Cost of Ownership" concept, or TCO. You see that term thrown around in all sorts of marketing materials, especially for the enterprise. Yet few people truly consider it, or they only consider the direct financial aspects. A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that if they spend enough money on the PC, that all the other considerations go away. They DON'T! In many cases, it increases those other costs! Consider the following properties of a PC:
  • Reliability
  • Serviceability
  • Ease of use
  • Power draw
  • System noise

If you ramp up the cost of the PC, would you expect those properties to improve? Most often, they DO NOT! As you move into extremely high-end PCs, all of those things tend to get worse, not better. For example:

  • Complexity increases your chances of having problems
  • Exotic parts are not as easily and quickly replaced
  • Hot running parts fail more quickly
  • Big, high powered systems are often louder
  • Bleeding edge hardware doesn't have all the bugs worked out yet
I like to use car analogies when it comes to the PC industry, so let me use one here. If you needed a nice car to use to commute to work and get around town, what would you buy? What if money were no object? Would that change your decision? If money were no object, would you have a better experience commuting in a BMW, or in a Lamborghini? The Lamborghini might be a lot of fun, but how much time will it spend in the shop? How expensive will repairs be? What will it be like using it, every day, once the initial fun wears off? How comfortable is it? There is a right tool for the job, and that reality remains unchanged even when money is no object. The fundamental qualities you look for in a commuter car do not change -- you're not going to have a good experience commuting every day in an exotic supercar.
 
vs.
 
If you look through reviews of Puget Systems, you can see people frequently mention that they were recommended to move to less expensive hardware than they thought they needed. That is the result of our customer service staff following these principles. You need the right tool for the job, regardless of your budget.

Tags: configuration, experience, choices, maintenance


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Darin

Consumers and businesses who purchase computers know that the use case may change unlike a car. The other aspect that is a major decision factor is lifetime. Some farm trucks have been working the same land for a couple of decades, a couple of years for computers. I may need to replace my assets because of so many other factors e.g. changes in internal or external cost of doing business, SDLC requirements, or more often is the case, the budget at home or office becomes available.

It is the fool's errand to try and future proof our PC purchases but that's what I see many people including myself doing when I have that extra budget.

Posted on 2013-12-07 18:28:38

Easy to read, interesting and easy to understand.

Posted on 2013-12-23 10:08:50
incus

This article certainly is correct in many ways, (Not to mention, enlightening also!) I mean I was a fool at first thinking that "More 'high end'=better". But then I thought to myself the same thing of some of what's being said here. "Bigger (or more high-end) doesn't equal to better." It's probably a bigger pain in the arse in the long run. And by reading this blog, I have a better understanding of why higher end may actually be a bigger pain in the long run. Thank you for this wonderful blog article. It was really enlightening for me. :)

Posted on 2013-12-30 08:58:38
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