Buy or Rent a Computer

We have had many computers in our time and we don't profess to be complete experts on this matter but are a few things we have learned on the way. Years of programming, assembling computer hardware, and networking have meant that many computers have passed through our hands.

This article is produced by Passion Computing, an ethical professional custom website design company that help our customers in all aspects of website development. We do not sell or rent computers and provide this article on 'buying or renting a computer' for informational purposes.

Buying A Computer

If you are buying a computer, always choose your retailer wisely and ask about warranty and returns. Find out before you buy, what happens when things go wrong. This is what you pay for when you buy a computer - support and service. Computers are produced on mass and so that means that there are failure rates. Often these can be high and hard to diagnose and if your retailer is not going to help you, do you have the time to fill in a complaint forms with consumer affairs? I had one experience, with a retailer who did not return a faulty video card to the distributer, and just glued the fan back and gave it back to me. Unfortunately the damage had already been done, and the video card failed a few months later and although it was still under warranty the retailer had also lost the receipts and could not return to the distributor. In the end, he replaced the card with an inferior model, but it should not have happened and much time was wasted through his incompetence. Another retailer refused to accept that there was a problem with the hardware at all and that piece of computer hardware caused no end of grief, and finally it broke down all together and ended up in the bin.

Where to buy a computer?

In selecting a computer retailer, look firstly in your local area, this will save you a lot of time travelling if you have a problem or if the goods are faulty.The big departmental stores and clearance centres will sell you a packaged computer and they are often more expensive than the small, local computer shop, whose technician will be able to help you if you have a problem. Often a packaged deal looks appealing but not all video cards are the same, nor is the quality of equipment and it is easy to package up inferior parts and sell it as a whole computer. This is true for both the small, local shop and the large departmental shop. If you don't spend a lot of time doing research, then it is best to find someone that you can trust to recommend the best computer for your needs. CPU speed is only one factor to consider and computers with the same CPU will benchmark and perform differently because of the other components.

Ask difficult Questions

Ask difficult questions like what happens if goods are faulty, the retailer's qualifications and experience, and test the retailer on an area which you have knowledge to see if their advice is satisfactory. Then if you are satisfied, you can look at price lists and ask for recommendations based upon your needs. It is also important to ask specific questions like 'what if the video card does not works but not properly? Because some computer stores will not fix your problem unless their is a total failure in the component and others will argue, fair wear and tear as the basis for not honouring warranty claims. Be aware of how long the warranty on the goods that you purchase is. Most retailers offer 1 year warranty and this is because by law they have to, but computer hardware often has lengthy warranties. Monitors may have up to 3 years, hard drives up to 3 years, CPU up to 3 years. You can return faulty goods to the distributer and it is even possible to check the warranty status of your hard drive online.

Test the Retailer's Knowledge

Ask questions that you know the answer to, and see if the answer you get is satisfactory. Is the retailer being honest or are they being pushy? Do they care more for making a sale than providing you with service? Buying a computer is not like buying a book, the retailer must have technical experience to help you both in selecting the type of computer and diagnosing problems when they occur. (and problems will occur - that is guaranteed)

Physically inspect Computer Components

Physically inspect the goods. We have found that if the fan looks flaky or the video card looks like it will bend, then it probably is cheap because it was made cheap. Electrical equipment has a life expectancy and especially those with moving parts like hard drives, cd-roms, and dvd roms. We have had few problems with memory sticks. Monitors will eventually die and cheap motherboards won't go the distance.

Leasing Computers advantages

Leasing a computer is another option, but make sure you understand the contract and who is responsible for repairs and what happens when things go wrong.

There are tax benefits for businesses who lease equipment but the support offered for leasing a computer varies from vendor to vendor. Some vendors not only supply the finance and the equipment but look after you if your equipment fails by providing a replacement. While other rental companies are just finance companies that use computer rentals as a means of making money; they don't really care to have you back in business if your equipment fails. Computer leasing is good on the cash flow, as you pay by the month and have the option to buy once the lease is finished. However, leasing a computer often works out considerably more expensive than buying the equipment outright. For businesses that can deduct the total cost of rental, as opposed to depreciating the equipment, rentals can be a favourable alternative. To find a rental company that will provide a replacement when your equipment fails, is an added bonus because you are guaranteed to have working equipment, for every day of your rental period and don't have to wait days or weeks to be back in business. You will need to read the terms and conditions of any rental agreement carefully.

Leasing Computers Disadvantages

It is also a consideration when renting, what happens when the lease is up and how much will it cost to keep my equipment. With all the data, work and so on - do you have the time to reformat harddrives, reinstall software and potentially lose some of your work in the transfer. Three years comes up pretty quickly, and if your computer is going to be central to your organisation then buying it outright or finding a favourable rental agreement is a must.

Renting a computer is considerably more expensive than owning a computer outright and because computers are so fast now, it is unlikely that in 3-5 years time that the computer will be useless. It will probably still be functioning quite adequatly and could always be resold or given away to children or students

Small computer shops may even offer service that are comparable to a rental agreement, in that they are able to repair your computer in a short time frame.


For desktop computers or laptops buying a computer is a better option.

Environmental considerations

The real cost of computers is far more than the price we as a consumer pay. The environmental cost of land fill and chemicals leaching from computer equipment is far higher than the price we pay for a computer. If it were possible to purchase second hand computer, that would meet your needs, then I would definitely buy second hand. Not only is it good recycling but any brominated fire retardant that was used on the computer would have evaporated by the time you used it.

Ironically, the second hand computer market, seems to be very unreasonably priced. Especially when considering that there is no warranty for the goods sold and the software that the computer comes with can easily be lost. (Computers will need to be re-formatted and windows re-installed periodically depending on use, so all that free software that you gained by buying an overpriced second hand computer, ends up being very expensive if the computer software needs to be reinstalled) Look out for the odd PC, thrown out in the junk or at your local OP shop and save it from becoming landfill. Haggle with the seller and get a good price on a second hand computer. In this way you will save the environment and your wallet.

When considering buying or renting a computer whether new or second hand, it is also important to ask whether the computer has been treated with chemicals like brominated fire retardant. In Europe, these fire retardants are being phased out and monitors and televisions cannot be sold with this chemical

Ensure that the monitor you buy meets TCO emission standards. Radiation from CRT computer monitors can adversely affect your health and a LCD screen with low emissions is a valuable investment. Buy quality products that will last and can be repaired. The old saying, 'you get what you pay for' is often true but sometimes this may not be the case.

We had a 21 inch monitor that needed a chip replaced and HP did not carry the parts and it would cost us around $1400 trade it in on another second hand HP monitor, with a grand 3 month warranty on it. For that price, it was just not worth the risk.

Apparently I was told by a Philips salesperson, that manufacturers by law needed to carry parts for up to seven years from the time of purchase, but it seems that this rule is difficult to enforce, especially on large companies. Definitely do your homework and ask lots of difficult questions

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