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How Much Should You Spend on a Computer?

By Yann, published on 02/08/2018 We Love Prof > Academia > Information Technology > How Much Do Computers Cost?

The price of a computer can vary between £200 and £4,000 because each computer can have a very specific function. While this might seem like quite the investment, how much should a computer cost?

Did you know that, on average, a business spends 16% of their budget on their IT systems?

Whether you’re buying a new computer for an individual or for business purposes, your budget for IT equipment can vary a lot.

So what devices are we talking about? What is a reasonable price? What extra costs do we need to consider?

In this article, you’ll find the answers to all these questions.

Essential IT Equipment

Choosing between a desktop computer and a laptop is often the first question you’ll ask yourself. It can be difficult to choose between portability and comfort when working. Of course, the computer isn’t the only thing you need to consider when it comes to working. Let’s have quick look at the other components you need to consider.

Which are the best computers for students? You can get so much work done with the right computer. (Source: StartupStockPhotos)

Screens and Peripherals

When you buy a computer, there are a number of things you have to buy in order for it to work like a screen, a keyboard, and a tower, at least. If you’re buying a notebook, all of these are built into one.

In general, it’s a good idea to get your harddisks at the same time since you’ll need them to quickly and effectively save your data.

You’ll also need to consider:

  • A sound card, to listen to music, use Skype, and even watch films.
  • A specific monitor with/without a built-in webcam.
  • A card reader
  • A CD/DVD writer.

Accessories: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers

There are other accessories you might need to consider buying for your computer such as:

  • Bluetooth keyboard, if you’re going to do away with cables and wires.
  • Wireless, wired, or gaming mice, depending on your needs.
  • A power cable.

If you’re making videos or if you like watching series and films on your computer, a good set of speakers might be a must.

For more info about computers, check out our complete computer guide and if you’re undecided between a Mac or a Windows computer, have a look at our guide.

Other IT Equipment

Sometimes there’s equipment that you wouldn’t typically think of:

  • A photocopier
  • A printer
  • A scanner

These items can be useful. Of course, these are an ongoing investment as you have to buy ink cartridges and paper. A household could spend around £100 a year on them.

Of course, you can also pay for an extended warranty in a lot of places that can set you back about £40.

Choosing IT Equipment

The IT equipment you choose depends on a number of factors including your needs, what’s available, and your budget. Here’s some useful advice for those choosing what to buy.

Where can you get computers for businesses? A computer for work doesn’t need to be the same as a computer for personal use. (Source: StartupStockPhotos)

Define Your Needs

There are a number of reasons for buying computer systems:

  • Research and study
  • Work or managing a business
  • Using social media
  • For fun and gaming
  • Typical IT functionality like word-processing
  • To improve staff productivity

There are many different PC brands and some have a better reputation than others. A lot of people know that computers running Microsoft Windows are usually better for playing online but Apple is famous for graphic design. If you travel a lot, you might want to take a lightweight MacBook over an Asus laptop, for example. The most common laptop brands include:

  • Asus
  • Dell
  • HP
  • Lenovo
  • Acer
  • Mac

The two main OS you can buy are Apple or Microsoft, check our comparative guide. You can also see if you need a PC or a laptop.

Work Out the Pros of Each Device

The goal, when choosing computer components, is to find the best value for money. If you use your computer every day, you might want to favour quality components. On the other hand, if you rarely use your computer, it’s not worthwhile spending a fortune on it.

For example, computers for professional use won’t be of the same quality (or price) as those for personal use. This is normal because professionals demand more!

For example, if you want to play games online, you’ll want to focus on the processor (dual core or quad core?) and graphics cards: you’ll want something like a 1.7GHz Intel Core i7 (or an Intel Core i5, at least). In terms of graphics, you probably will want at least 4gb of RAM. Of course, you’ll want at least a Full HD screen, too.

Making Your Choice

There are three main criteria when choosing IT equipment:

  • Performance needs
  • Device storage capacities
  • Budget

You can compare different models and prices online. Some brands and stores also offer promotions when buying PCs, such as including Microsoft Office for free. There’s always a way to save a few quid.

Given that I work from home, I have to make my decisions mainly based on performance and my needs. It’s important that to be able to replace any component as my needs change. I also need a resistant, portable, and reliable computer that won’t constantly crash. While I use a PC, there are a number of Apple products that have caught my eye as a replacement.

Some people find the MacBook Pro quite heavy and can sometimes take its time when opening programmes. I would personally opt for a second-hand MacBook Air. You can get older models for half the average price. They’re also very light and easy to transport.

Professional Budgets v. Personal Budgets

For professionals, IT systems are a work tool. According to a URSSAF study, 97% of self-employed workers have a computer and 54% of them have both a desktop PC and a laptop. That means that the two are used in complementary ways.

Which are the best laptops for freelancers? If you work from home, you may need one or several computers. (Source: Free-Photos)

Of course, you may need cloud storage (with some services offering up to 1Tb of storage). Computers for professionals range between £500 and £2,000 on average.

Buying a computer for yourself is different from buying one for a business. If you only need a computer to do PowerPoint presentations, you can get very affordable entry-level laptops. If you need specific programmes like iMovie on the MacBook Pro, you’ll probably need to spend a bit more.

You also need to choose components based on your needs. It’s probably not worthwhile investing in a photocopier if you have one at work. An individual will usually spend between £200 and £1,500 on their computer.

On average, an individual can expect to spend a few hundred pounds on computers.

How much are you willing to spend?

If you are new to computers, you might want to consider taking computer courses so you have a better idea of how you are going to use your computer – that way you will know what you need when buying your computer.

The Average Costs of IT Components

It’s difficult to put together an exhaustive list of IT components and their price given how many brands and formats there are. We’ve got a few average prices for you. We need to take the main purchases into consideration:

  • Laptops
  • PCs with a screen, keyboard, tower, and mouse
  • Accessories like speakers
  • Basic printers. You should check out the official websites and get reconditioned and refurbished models from the manufacturer without having to buy from private sellers.

Which are the best cheap computers? Your budget is definitely not going to be pennies. (Source: 127071)

You also need to consider repair costs. On average, someone changes their computer four times throughout their life. However, in some cases, you have to get them repaired. You might need to:

  • Repair a hard drive
  • Restore lost data
  • Replace a broken monitor
  • Replace a PC case
  • Update antivirus software or firewall

PC repairs can cost anywhere between £30 and £150 per hour. That should be enough to make you take care of your hardware.

Did you know that Macs are less susceptible to viruses?

You should be safer with Apple, then. However, it can cost you much more for repairs and replacing components.

There are also all-in-one desktop computers available if you’re short on space but don’t need to take your computing outside of the house. These can still connect to peripheral devices but come as a single unit.

If you’re putting together your own computer from scratch, your motherboard (the main circuit board) will be one of your most important decisions as this will define the maximum RAM and CPU speed you can have in your personal computer. It will also define how many ports you have for expansions and other devices. A laptop computer can’t install anywhere near as many upgrades as a desktop. In fact, this is why it’s more common to have a gaming desktop rather than a laptop as you can futureproof it more easily.

For those not particularly familiar with computers, it might be worthwhile investing in tablets as they’re far more intuitive and better than a home computer for casually browsing the internet.

You should now have a better idea about buying computer equipment for you or your business. Make sure you take your time when deciding what to buy. Make sure to check out our other articles on different computer brands, which operating systems you should choose, and which type of computer you should choose.

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