Home > MacRecycleClinic > How Do You Know It’s Time for a New Computer?

How Do You Know It’s Time for a New Computer?

February 22, 2011

Apple /// - Apple's first computer as a company.

(Updated 3/16/2011 to fix photo links)

When I first started working with computers – my old Apple /// (like the one at left right) back in the early 80s – computer users groups like Washington Apple Pi had already sprung up across the country. Their motto at the time was “Users Helping Users.” WAP was a club whose members wanted to learn more about how their computers – Apple II series, ///, and increasingly, Macintosh – worked. They really wanted to know what made them tick – not just how to upgrade them by adding memory, a new, larger hard drive, new graphics or other internal cards. They were willing to spend the time, effort – and money – to do that.

Today, computers have, for all intents and purposes, become appliances. They are SPECIAL appliances of course, but most folks are not interested in opening the hood and tinkering. They just want to turn them on. They expect them to work.

Users today still may want to add memory or a new hard drive, but Apple has made it pretty difficult for the user to do much of that except for their higher-end MacPro models. At the Clinic, we usually suggest external drives when that’s possible – they come in a wide range of sizes, USB and Firewire are on virtually every Mac – and the price is reasonable. But we do have the tools and expertise to dig into the internal workings when necessary.

The question is – when should you replace what you have? When is it time to spend the money for a new Mac?  We get those kinds of questions all the time and each answer is really tailored to the individual owner.

But in general, If you have an older PowerPC Mac you are a prime candidate unless you are happy with what you have and the programs continue to do what you need them to do. Apple and most vendors no longer support the PPC platform, but most of the later-model machines – towers and laptops – remain highly capable and able to do what you need. If there’s a problem, we have the tools and expertise to help (that’s us working at left). If we don’t we’ll tell you up front.

The Macs of today are Intel based and OS X continues to grow in power and ability. Macs can run both Windows and OSX easily at the same time. In the future, OSX may well morph together in some form with the iOS we all know from the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad. There are rumors Apple will stop including optical drives in all their machines as well. If that happens, third party vendors will be making lots of money because folks will still want those peripherals. I certainly do even with the App Store.

So while the decision about when to buy a new (or refurbished) Intel Mac is a very personal one, there will come a time when:

  • Your old machine just won’t work anymore;
  • When you are really ready to move up for the power, speed and improved graphics;
  • You want a Mac but still need to run Windows;
  • You need to run the latest version of Office or other software;
  • You need to do video editing;
  • You want a better computing experience.

As one of the volunteers at MacRecycleClinic I can tell you we have a group of folks who are passionate about helping you keep your Macintosh working – but we are also happy to provide suggestions about your next step should you want to upgrade to a new computer.


Resources:

MacrecycleClinic Home Page
Apple Home Page
Montgomery County: Shady Grove Transfer Station (to recycle older computers)

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