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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Requirements Analysis | Budget Considerations ]

The Future Is Now?

There is one important issue with which anyone making a budget must contend: buy for today, or buy for tomorrow? Many PCs are sold with "extra capacity" so that there is "room for future needs". This is in many cases a good idea, but at other times, well, it seems to just be a way to sell a more expensive PC. (You'll rarely hear a salesperson tell you to "just buy based on your needs"!)

I agree that you should not buy a PC solely on the basis of what your exact needs are at this minute. You should allow some "headroom" to compensate for errors in estimating your needs, and inevitable growth in your requirements. And if you can afford it, buying with extra future capacity even beyond this can allow you to postpone having to overhaul or replace your PC a year or more down the road.

There's an important caveat to keep in mind, however: the PC market changes rapidly, and the two most constant facets of that change is that prices go down and power goes up. It's no exaggeration to say that if you spend an extra $1,000 on a more powerful PC today "for the future", you'll get less than half of what that $1,000 would buy 12 to 18 months from now. A $1,000 PC bought in 2000 far exceeds the performance of most $2,000 PCs bought in 1998. A $1,000 PC bought in 2000 with $1,000 spent on intelligent upgrades in 2002 will vastly exceed the characteristics of a $2,000 PC bought in 2000. (I'm ignoring the time value of money here of course, but it is dwarfed next to PC price deflation!)

As you can see, in many ways in the PC world, "the future is now". For those on a tight budget, spend the money only when you have to. Save your funds for future purchases made at the time that you need them, and you'll get better value than overbuying in advance.

Next: Best Ways To Economize on a Tight Budget

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