Repair, Upgrade, Or Buy A New Computer – That Is The Question?

I recall a time in my youth when every town had a ‘fix-it’ shop where you would bring in your radio, toaster, blender, or other appliance for repair. But as time went by and the appliances became cheaper, people would toss the old appliance out and buy a new one. It was cheaper than having the old unit repaired.

For 15 years I owned and operated a successful computer repair business in which I built custom systems, repaired hardware malfunctions, and troubleshot software glitches. For about ten of those years, the most lucrative part of the business was hardware repair. When computers were selling above $1,000 for a no-frills system, it made sense to repair a hardware failure. But about five years ago, I mentioned to my wife that with computers dropping below the $1,000 mark, there would come a time that repairs would become too expensive and that it would sometimes be cheaper just to toss the old PC and buy a new one.

Now with no-frills systems in the under $400 range (see Dell systems starting at $359), this had now taken on a new meaning in which the consumer has a hard decision to make when their PC fails.

Here are some general guidelines and recommendations when faced with a computer failure:

If a repair such as a video card, memory, sound card, modem, network card, power supply, CD-RW, DVD-RW, or other part including labor, is less than half the cost of a new computer, then I would go with the repair. Replacement for these items should not take more than one to two hours of labor, max.

Hard disk replacement. This is a wobbler. Though hard disks are relatively inexpensive and labor again should be minimal, it all depends on what you need to reinstall on the system. Example – if your system came with recovery CDs that will install the operating system and all software that came with the unit, then it may be worthwhile. But if Windows needs to be reinstalled solo and all of your software as well, it then depends on how much of the software installation you are willing to do on your own.

Motherboard and CPU replacement. Another wobbler. If you are able to locate used units, it may be worth it and you can stay under the one-half cost of a new PC. But if you need to replace the mobo using a new OEM part, it maybe too expensive. I have had semi-good luck finding used parts on eBay, watching of course the rating of the seller. But again, your mileage may vary.

So there you have it. Some general guidelines, not carved in stone, leaving you, the user, to make the final decision. 🙂

[tags]computers, used, new, repair, hardware, software, replacement, [/tags]