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Buying a computer can seem daunting:

Which to buy – there are countless similar boxes, often with minimal information about each.

Where to buy from – Shop, manufacturer, distributor, Web site, auction, local paper…

What level of price/performance to select for each component ?

Whose advice can be trusted to be reliable and unbiased ?

Which operating system to choose, and if Windows, XP or a Vista edition ?

Frequently people go to a local chain store and find a bewildering array of apparently similar computers; often the sales staff are either inexperienced or impatient to achieve a sale.  They certainly do not hope to foster a long term relationship with you by helping resolve teething troubles and problems that crop up in the months and years ahead.  As with any complex system, what the seller offers is at best, their guess of what will suit most people most of the time – but people’s uses for computers are so varied that one size does not fit all. 


Buying pre-configured or 'customizable' computers on-line is also fraught with many of the same mechanisms to reduce the initial cost of purchase, but which will cost you more in the long term than they initially appear to save when studied closely.  


The way of avoiding the pitfalls of buying off-the-shelf computers at a store or on-line is to buy a customized one.  Note that 1ComputerCare does not sell these directly, but is able to offer a few pointers to help avoid some commonly experienced problems.


Thinking of buying a new computer from a store ?  Read Stephen's story or Debbie's story


The most significant suggestion is to have a proper requirements analysis done before you buy, as that ensures you have the power necessary for the programs you want to run, without wasting money on items you would never use.  This is not expensive but must be done by someone who understands the technicalities of what is available in a very quickly changing market; someone who has an incentive to provide what is best for the use you intend putting the computer to in the, possibly 6 years you should expect to get useful service from a PC.  Someone who is personally contactable in the weeks and months ahead to help resolve the day-to-day problems that arise on all PCs.  1ComputerCare is exactly that; please read the frequently asked questions about buying with 1ComputerCare's help.


1ComputerCare makes no charge for main system hardware - click here for fee details

Surely the biggest mistake most people make when buying a new computer is getting a pre-configured one - that is, off-the-shelf at the local store, or on-line from a company that ships thousands all built exactly the same way.  Click here to see why buying off-the-shelf is a BIG mistake.

Should you buy a laptop or a tower PC ? 


Laptop Tower
Easily portable.  You can take them on the train, to your garden or a wireless hotspot while you are away from home.  Wireless connections to the Internet are commonly available. Wireless keyboards, mice and the tower case itself can be hidden away, but the monitor is harder to loose.
The initial cost is usually between 160% and 175% of a tower computer with the same performance.  Maintenance costs are much less than a laptop where it often takes a full 30 minutes to open it up and another 30 to put it together.  A tower takes no more than one minute.
Upgrade options are very limited as there is no space to put anything ! Towers can usually be easily upgraded later to incorporate new or better powered components.
The keyboard is often small for grown up fingers and accidentally touching the slide pad can have unfortunate consequences for non-touch typists. Extra keys can enable functions and hotkey settings to avoid multiple keystrokes.
Batteries are expensive and short lived. The only battery in a tower PC lasts about 5 years as it just has to retain the BIOS settings.
Putting a hot device on your lap for prolonged periods is rumored to have medical consequences. A full rich sound and vision experience is available on tower PCs.
Approximate cost of a replacement motherboard: £200 Approximate cost of a replacement motherboard: £50


If you are not sure whether it would be better to upgrade your existing PC or buy a new one, then let us advise.  Sometimes buying a new shell and adding some components of your existing system is the best course, other times retaining your case and replacing a few components is a relatively cheap way to boost the machine's performance and extend its life.  Our requirements analysis will lead you to the best solution for you.  Probably the most important message here is to take advice before you buy anything - hardware, software or ISP services.  Mistakes are often costly.  And remember that in the long term, buying a ready made computer is almost never cheaper than having one tailor made to suit you