I am still computer shopping. Online. Been doing it for weeks. Maybe months. Online is the only way these days, now that real computer stores have disappeared.

But that’s okay. I like comparing stuff online. I can see the prices and features, try out all the different configurations. Read user reviews which range wildly from “this computer is a total piece of garbage” to “this is the best computer ever made anywhere” —  and they are reviewing the same computer. In the end, you have to take all the reviews with more than a few grains of salt. “Garbage” and “great” are relative to the expectations of the reviewer.


There are people who will decide a computer is worthless because they don’t like the keyboard layout and others who will think it’s great despite having had to do substantial reconfiguration and upgrades on it.

I just want it to work well, all the time, and not give me any back talk. Also, I understand that the specifications are not the whole story. They ought to be, but there’s more to a great computer than its components.


A big, fast hard drive. Preferably two of them: a solid state drive (SSD) for booting plus a big ass 7200 RPM mechanical drive for storage. The drive on this machine is getting full. I never thought it could happen, but photographs take up a lot of space. Even with backups and off-loading some stuff to external drives, 120,000 photographs takes up a lot of space.  And there will always be more.


I have 12 gigabytes in this computer. I want 16 in a new one. I want at least 4GB of dedicated Video RAM (VRAM) in my next computer. I’ve got 2 in this model, but more is better. “Shared graphics” when you use Photoshop and filters results in Blue Screens of Death, locked up systems, and sudden, unplanned system reboots.

side view alienware closeup computer

Then there’s the size problem. All of this would be easy (and a lot cheaper) if I wanted a desktop. You get a lot more for your money when you buy a desktop rather than a laptop. But I don’t want to go back to being alone in my office all day because that’s where my desk is. I also know, because Tom told me, that I could get a desktop and use it as my server. Then, I could use a laptop — any laptop — as a work station.

I’m not hardware savvy enough to do the setup. I know people who can … but they don’t live nearby. I need something which will work out of the box.


The lighter, the better. I’m not getting any younger. I can’t go “tablet” because I can’t edit pictures on a tablet. Tablets don’t have SD card slots or sufficient graphic support to run the software I use. Besides: I’m a mouse and keyboard kind of gal. The whole finger-poking thing doesn’t do it for me. I have tablets and a phone, so I do understand how they work. For me, typing on a virtual keyboard is torture. Even playing a simple game on a tablet is painful.

The smaller and lighter machines do not have all the features I want, so it won’t be an ultra-light laptop. Compromise will be required.

my office and desktop computer

Next, there’s monitor quality and size. Most manufacturers are offering super high-definition monitors today. I run this computer at 1920 X 1080. It can run at a higher resolution and I tried it, but it made everything is so tiny, I couldn’t see it. You could give me the highest resolution monitor in the world, but my eyes are not going to be any better than they are now. This is as resolved as I can actually use.

The things I want, make it difficult to avoid getting the other stuff I don’t want. Or need.

It’s won’t be a Mac, either. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no known way to transfer formatted text from PC to Mac without losing the formatting. You can convert all your documents into PDFs, but I don’t want to do that.

I’m a writer. My work is not optional.


So finally, back to “value.” Money. Cost. Price.

I want a super high-end laptop — at about half what it actually costs. I can get what I want for the bargain price of around $1500 on sale. That would be a top quality machine from a dependable company with a solid reputation and a service department in North America. When all is said and done, I want this computer with more memory, bigger graphics card, and a faster hard drive.


I don’t have $1500. I could finance it, but they make you pay the money back. If they would give me the money, I could work with that.

So, my solution is — I’m not getting a new computer. Not until I have no choice. What I can afford does not offer me the value I need. If I can’t afford what I need, there’s no point in getting anything.

Value versus cost.

Maybe prices will drop or I’ll win the lottery. Of course, I’d first have to buy a ticket.


Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

21 thoughts on “VALUE VERSUS PRICE”

  1. But it was very interesting reading your pros and cons. I think it all comes back to the fact that you have to know yourself what you want. Mr. Swiss was always giving me advice about various computers. I got myself an Apple Macbook and am very happy with it, but i wanted more. windows 10 arrive and I decided I would not update, but buy a new computer with Windows 10. I have leaned not to rush with my decisions I can wait. I waited a month until I got my new Windows computer because it was not available, but I do not have to have something the next day. I now take my time. I am happy with my organisation now, the best of both worlds. I no longer listen to the others, have a look around and take my time and eventually make a decision. At the age of 70 there is no rush.


    1. And that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been shopping for quite a while, but I’m not buying. Looking. Thinking. Then thinking some more. As long as the computer I’ve got is in good working order, there’s no hurry. I don’t want to wait until this machine dies, but I don’t think I need to worry about that yet. The problem is really the operating system. I’m not sure how long I can dodge that bullet. If I had the money, I’d follow your example and have both systems … but money is short.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In the end, you have to get the feel of it. You might have some problems with Mac if you are a heavy user of documents and would keep sending files. I have to convert everything to PDF when sending them to people. Mostly personal use is OK for Mac. When u deal with other users, it’s better to use windows-based. 🙂 portability- I like Mac air. 🙂


    1. I love the MacAir machines. They are sweet, like racy little sports cars. But I do not think they would do what I need to do. I don’t even think my version of Photoshop would install on it. I wish it were otherwise. And I wish I had a couple of thousand dollars to spend on a system.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You wrote; “Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no known way to transfer formatted text from PC to Mac without losing the formatting.” The answer is simple. If you’re worried about losing the formatting don’t transfer those documents. Instead keep the PC computer you have just for your writing needs and look into a Mac for your, now 120,000 photographic, pursuits.

    I do understand your RAM requirements as the Mac I use for Music editing has 16GB and is lightning fast. It’s also another I bought used for $300 and the only draw back is it won’t update to the latest OS.., but I don’t need “the latest OS as all the tools I need to edit with are contained within. This last iMac I mentioned, purchased for $200 a couple weeks ago, will take 32GB of Ram if I so choose to install it, and RAM is comparatively dirt cheap these days. I use my laptop with a newly installed 500GB SSD to record on location as a primary or B/U multitrack. Once done I immediately transfer those recordings to 3 “raid drives” for back-up and to process to finished product. BTW, audio files also take up a bunch of storage space mostly because of the length of those files.., and RAM capacity is needed for recordings done at high sampling rates (high resolution) which requires lots of buffering. Most of the Pros are using Macs.


    1. I’ve been thinking about that. I’m not going to get rid of this computer, regardless of what else I might buy. So I could divide workflow betweeen systems. Photographs in jpg don’t care whether it’s a mac or a pc. The real, bottom line problem is money. The lack thereof. The best machine I can get, I already have. It’s getting a little tatty at the edges, but there’s nothing wrong with it. The looming issue is operating system. I tried and failed to install Win10 on this and it errored out three times. Too much specialized hardware in this laptop. Because I don’t have Win 10, there are newer applications I can’t install plus incompatabilities that are beginning to pop up. But I still can’t buy what I need and I’m not capable of building it myself.

      If I was — as you are and Tom is — good with hardware and fixing and configuring, that would open up a lot of possibilities. But I’m not. I can’t do the stuff you do. I don’t know how. I’m good with software, but not hardware. Somehow, I don’t think I’m suddenly going to develop that skillset at this point in my life. You want to move here and fix my computers? Just in case you are yearning for bitterly cold weather and mountains of snow …


    1. Thanks. I find perfect computers several times a day. When I get to the bottom line, I look at the price and say “I’ll just save this and look at it later.” By which time it’s been sold out or discontinued. But there’s always another one 🙂 I don’t think the world is going to run out of computers anytime soon.


  4. I would still like to see the computer live. It is such and expense and such a problem getting all the bugs ironed out to get it working. I was having troubles with my laptop but my son dropped in some more RAM from 4 GB to 8GB and that seems to have helped.


    1. I would have said there were no problems with this one, but I just found malware and am debugging it as I type. It’s always something. You can protect against viruses, but so much of malware is part of some stupid advertising. I have 12 gigs of RAM in this and it’s a good, solid computer. The problem is that Photoshop really eats RAM and VRAM.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good luck with the computer shopping. I just upgraded to a new Mac myself. Loving the extra power and the 5K display. Now, I need a higher resolution camera that fills the entire screen. Believe it or not, 16MP is not enough to cover the entire screen at 100%. Yikes!


    1. I keep thinking I’ve found the perfect machine … then I read reviews and I decide maybe not. Since I’m not computer-less, I can take this slow. If I could figure out how to transfer my books and their formats from PC to Mac, I’d be more strongly considering a Mac … but I’m a writer and all my stuff is in non-Mac formats. 16MP isn’t big enough? How big is your monitor? Or is a resolution thing and not a physical size.


      1. Both, it’s a high resolution display at 27 inches. It’s 5120 pixels wide and my Olympus is “only” 4608 pixels across. It does, up sample and fill the screen, when required.


        1. 27 is pretty big. That’s what I had as my last desktop (now my son’s desktop). I’ve downsized (not so secretly) because after heart surgery, I couldn’t sit for long hours without putting my feet up. I needed a laptop. I also can’t manage a very heavy machine. I have quite enough trouble with my 14″ Alienware, so something a lot bigger is impossible. That’s why Macs look so appetizing. They are sleek little sports cars. I especially love the Air books, but they don’t have the graphics oomph I need. Photo editing eats RAM and VRAM. One photograph is bigger than the entire manuscript for War & Peace — with formatting. Lord knows how much you need for vido editing.

          Liked by 1 person

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