Should I buy a New Computer?

Everyone wants to know, “When should I buy a new computer?”  Well, the answer is rather simple, when it stops doing what you need it to do.

If all you do is browse the internet, then almost any computer will do.  Some will be slower than others.  Some may not use the very latest of browsers.  However, if you can still see what you need to see, and do what you need to do, then your machine is probably fine for you.  If you are getting frustrated waiting for your system to boot up, or your getting errors viewing the webpages you want to see, or your game will not run on your compute, then that’s a different story, and it might be in your best interest to start shopping.

Another indication that you might need a new computer, open the side and check the capacitors. If the capacitors are starting to leak, then again, it would be in your best interest to start shopping.

This is what a good capacitor looks like
This is what leaking capacitors look like

As far as brands are concerned, you can buy almost any brand you want.  Oh, I know various reports will list various systems above other systems, but when you strip the case off, they are pretty much the same.  The difference is support.  However, with all the outsourcing being done, that is also pretty much irrelevant.  For all I know regardless of which company you call, you may still be talking to the same call center.  They don’t like to give out that information. The bigger question is, “What are the specs?” Right now, the i7 is, in my opinion, the big boy on the block.  It is showing a reliable processor with adequate speed for most configurations.  The i5 is a close second, and I would not touch an i3.  The i3 is, again in my opinion, a glorified Pentium D. As far as AMD processors go, well I’ve had my share of them, but I just haven’t found the performance up to snuff.

If you have questions on whether you should get an all-in-one or not, well that question I am leaving for another post.

My Computer Turns Itself On

I had a client call and tell me that his refurbished computer turns itself on every morning at 4:30.  When he called, I didn’t have an answer for him. I’d never heard of this before.  So, I had him bring it in the shop.

I ran scans on it, and I found a few malware items, but nothing to explain why it was turning itself on.  I noticed, as is usual with Windows, that it was set to do updates at 3:00 am.  I know this is a normal setting and as he shutsdown fully, this really should not have any bearing on his issue.  However, I disabled updates anyway.  I then shut the machine down and left for the night.

The next morning, I get to the shop and sure enough his machine is on.  So, I thought, okay, perhaps the bios has “wake on Lan” enabled.  Therefore, I opened up the bios and started checking through his settings.  When to my amazement, I find, “schedule boot” listed in the settings, and sure enough the system is set to “auto turn on” at 4:30 am every morning.  I turned this feature off, and let the system sit until the next morning.  When I returned to the shop the following morning, the unit is still shutdown. Hooray!! Problem solved.

This is the first time I’ve run across a system with this feature, or perhaps, I should say, this is the first time I’ve recognized this feature on a system.  I can see some practical uses for this, for instance, you can set the system to turn itself on shortly before you get to work, thus having it already warmed up and waiting for you.  I can also see where this can be useful if you work remotely.  Set the system to boot each morning at a specific time, then you log in do your work, then at the end of the day, send the instruction for the remote unit to power down for the night. The following day it will restart at the scheduled time, thus allowing you to work again. This way you can work remotely, and still have the unit off at night.

I’m sure I’ve worked on other machines before that must have had this feature, I just never knew it.  It seems a logical function.  So, if you purchase a refurbished machine, and it turns itself on at night, check the bios for this setting.  I bet it has one, and the previous owner found it and set it up.  The manufacturer reloads the machines, and recertifies them for release as refurbished, but they may miss this little setting, just as I did.