I am currently taking a course on numerical methods in economics. Among other things, this class has caused me to take a close look at the computers in my life. Our desktop and my laptop are both over five years old. My wife's laptop is nearly five years old. My laptop is in rough shape (that's why I rarely use it), but the other two computers are in tremendous working condition given their old age.
Either of our computers works fine for basic math, word processing and typesetting, but I am starting to run into some constraints. The laptop struggles with my YouTube project, taking about an hour and a half to format each 8 minute video. Furthermore, the numerical methods I am learning in my classes can be a significant drag on computing resources. For any interesting problem, I will need a laptop with some gusto.
Because we'll soon be making one or more computer purchases, I have been learning about the new computer technology out there. Whenever I go computer shopping, I am surprised at how much better the technology is. This time is no exception. Here are some of my findings:
Loads of RAM. None of our computers has over 500 MB of RAM, yet most power-saving Netbooks come with 1 GB of RAM standard. It would be silly to get a laptop with less than 4 GB of RAM because it has gotten so cheap. Moreover, some desktops can be filled with as much as 16 GB of RAM. That's just insane to me.
Dedicated Graphics Cards. Many laptops come with a dedicated graphics card with RAM of its own. The guys at Best Buy tell me that this frees up the regular RAM for other tasks when, say, someone is making another YouTube lecture video for his channel.
Huge Hard Drives. Our five-year-old computers are equipped with about 30 GB of space on our hard drives. It isn't uncommon to hear of people talking about 1 TB or 1.5 TB hard drives. With media making capabilities, computers are needing more space to save our precious videos. It isn't surprising, then, that the hard drives get bigger to serve that demand.
It's all so inexpensive. I found an adequate netbook for $279 that has better capabilities than any of our current computers. On the other hand, $1000 will buy a really slick laptop or desktop that really would upgrade our home computing.
Needless to say, my little excursion into the market has me thinking that we will buy a new computer soon. That brings me to my poll question for the week.
What computer/option should I choose?
(a) The power-saving and hip netbook
(b) A media maneuvering, RAM'ed up laptop
(c) A powerful and monstrous desktop
(d) All of the above.
(e) Wait until next year. The deals will be even better then.
I'm really interested in hearing what you have to say. Also, if you have any technical advice regarding the computing solution you think we should choose, I am interested in hearing what you have to say in the comments. Please vote early and often. Tell your friends and your local Geek Squad to vote. I look forward to reading what you have to say.