Computer Tip 10 New or Old Computer

what computer will I buy…


What Computer should I purchase? 

NEW OR OLD?                              

by Benjamin J Caruana  Whittlesea U3A

When purchasing a computer one has to determine the need for the computer.

Although old computers are usually out-of-date, they are an affordable commodity and are more than likely good enough to meet your requirement.

Old computers are also deemed to be more stable than newer models as they tried and tested as well as coming with software already installed.

It should also be noted that some individuals tend to sell their computers before they are out of date and thus opening the possibility to purchase a relatively decent computer.

Old vs New – Some Considerations


Generally there are two types of computer cases that are available in today’s market, these being:

Desktop                 and Tower

Desktop    Older types of computers usually had a desktop unit which was designed to lie flat on the desk or table and the monitor is usually placed on top of the unit

Tower        New computers tend to favour the tower case design as it sits vertically and hence takes up less space.

NOTE:  The computer case should NOT be deemed as an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers. 

CD/DVD Drives

In computer makeup you will find any combination of the following:

CD-R           CD-RW                DVD

Some of the older computers only came with either READ ONLY CD Drives or at best READ/WRITE CD Drives.


Most modern computers come with a CD/DVD Drive which is located on the front side of the Computer Case.  You can get both READ ONLY CD/DVD Drives (only option is listening to a CD or watching a DVD) or alternatively you can purchase a READ/WRITE CD/DVD Drive (these devises allow you to both listen to or write data to the CD/DVD discs).

DVD Drives are similar to CD Drives except that they can hold more data.

Be Aware:      CD Drives can only read CDs but DVD Drives can read CDs or DVDs

NOTE:       Depending on the intended use of the computer, CD/DVD Drives MAY or MAY NOT be an important consideration when purchasing a computers.

Hard Drives

Hard drives provide the storage capacity of the computer and come in a variety of sizes, for example; 250GB; 500GB, etc.


Older computers tend to have smaller hard drives than are available on new computers, but used computers that are not very old will tend to have compatible hard drives to those in new units.

NOTE:       Hard Drives HAVE and always WILL be an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers.

Processor (CPU)

As the Processor (CPU) is considered to be the brain of the computer, that is – it fetches instructions of program from the main memory and then executes them one by one.                                                  


The speed of the CPU is measured in Mega Hertz or Giga Hertz and speed from 500 MHz to 3.4 GHz.  Therefore the CPU requirement depends on the user’s need and should be looked at closely when purchasing used computers as the CPU’s in older units may NOT be suitable for your needs.

NOTE:       The computer Processor IS an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers. 


On old computers, the mouse required a wire for connection to the computer, whereas new computers have the capability to have a wired or wireless mouse.


LAPTOPS:     Come with an inbuilt ‘mouse pad’ and DO NOT require an external mouse.

Be Aware:      A wireless mouse requires battery replacement from time to time.

NOTE:  The mouse should NOT be deemed as an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers.


In general, keyboards have remained the same from old to new computers, the only exceptions being that new computers’ keyboards are much thinner and they offer the option of being wireless.







Be Aware:      A wireless keyboard requires battery replacement from time to time.

NOTE:  Keyboards should NOT be deemed as an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers.


Computer monitors have followed in TVs footsteps and have evolved from large box- shaped screens to flat screens.


NOTE:  If space is NOT and issue, then Screens should NOT be deemed as an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers.


I have left ‘Memory’ for the end as there are many misconceptions about Memory, so this will be a good place to clear these up as the available Memory in the computer is an important factor in the purchasing decision.


As I do NOT profess to be NOR am I an expert in computers, I looked for and found the following comments on the internet (Source: ABC ~ All ‘Bout Computers) that will hopefully clear up a lot of misconceptions as well as providing a valuable guidelines if you are required to purchase additional memory.

Hard Drive Space vs RAM.

Hard drive space, usually measured in Gigabytes or Megabytes is different than RAM.  Your hard drive is where you store information; think of it like a garage.  The bigger your hard drive (garage) the more information (stuff) and programs (cars) you can store.  RAM is more like your driveway, the more RAM you have the more things you can have loaded from the hard drive at one time.

System Resources vs RAM.

System Resources refer to some special (and limited) areas of memory that windows uses to store specific information (like icons).  When people run out of system resources, they often receive a message saying they don’t have enough memory to open an application.  Unfortunately adding RAM will not correct this type of error.

Virtual Memory vs RAM.

Virtual memory is an area of your hard drive that your operating system uses to simulate RAM.  When your system starts to run out of available RAM, you computer starts to write some of the information in RAM to virtual memory.  Unfortunately, since hard drives are so much slower than RAM, your system slows down when this happens.  If your computer seems to access the hard drive a lot (thrashes), then more RAM may help to minimize the use of virtual memory.

Types of RAM

There are several types of RAM, the most common types used in Pentium Class and later PCs.

72 Pin SIMMS were primarily used in 486 and early Pentium computers and some older Macs.  They come in several types including Registered, Parity, EDO , FPM and ECC.  In most systems, 72 pin SIMMS need to be installed in pairs.


168 Pin SDRAM is currently the most commonly used in both Macs and PCs.  It is available in PC66, PC100 and PC133 speeds.  The number after the PC refers to the speed at which the memory can function.


Be Aware:      Not all Memory is identical and you need to know what type of Memory is used in the unit before purchasing and Memory.

NOTE:  Memory IS an important consideration when purchasing new or used computers.