Should I buy a new computer now?
Short answer: Yes, but!
Welcome, in September of 2009 our short answer to this question was no. But as of now, December 2009 the answer has changed to yes! Windows 7 has shipped, so in most cases a new PC will come with Windows 7. You may not be aware that Windows 7 versions such as Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, etc. come in two versions 32bit and 64bit. 64bit has the advantage of being able to support more memory (plus other things), so we say go with that one, but check to be sure your software and hardware will work with it by visiting the respective manufacturer's websites.
Last time we talked a little about Core i5 and Core i7 from Intel. The new i5/i7 socket 1156 is now widely available and once again in most cases this is the best choice for majority of people buying a desktop computer in the $600.00 to $1,500 price range. All the caveats mentioned in the last article still hold true regarding Intel's i7 socket 1366. Best Buy and other PC sellers are still clearing out old inventory of Core 2 Duo socket 775 based systems. Unless these are priced substantially below $600.00 they are not a good value.
What about used PC's?
If your PC has stopped working but you are not unhappy with its speed, you may be able to save some money by purchasing a used computer. The reality is that as computers have reached sub-$500 price points for new entry level systems, it has become more and more difficult to justify repairing your current PC. Depending upon how long you have owned your current PC, a used PC may be faster than what you are currently using. You'll need to compare the specifications of your current PC with any used PC you are considering to see if it is the same speed or faster.
A good place to find quality used PC is through company that re-cycles PC's for large businesses in your area. These firms often save the best units from being recycled and sell them. But be careful not to spend too much. Today, a reasonable price for a used Pentium 4 2.8GHz or higher, 512MB-1GB RAM, 80GB+ hard drive, DVD ROM, keyboard, mouse and Windows XP Professional PC is around $150.00. If you are looking for a used notebook it is a bit harder to find a good value, only because new notebooks are so low priced. Used ones often sell for $250.00 to $350.00 while new ones start around $400.00. Make sure the used PC has a Microsoft sticker on it that includes the license key for Windows.
Perhaps there is nothing wrong with your PC hardware but it has a virus or simply crashes all the time. It can be very expensive to have a computer technician trouble shoot such problems or re-load your operating system. You may want to put that money toward a new computer. In many cases the cost of having your PC repaired may equal or exceed the price of a used PC. So always keep this in mind when faced a PC that is crashing or has a virus.