How Do I Find The Right PC?

A reader contacted us in a panic. “I am without a computer. I am borrowing this ten+-year-old one (supposed to only be used for medical treatment), so, only a poor,  temporary solution to be able to barely get online.
I need well-informed/educated/experienced ADVICE as to what to get that will 1. meet my needs, 2. be as economical as possible while still meeting my requirements.
I need a fast, heavy-duty, inexpensive computer/system! Is that possible? I need to get as close to that as I can. 🙂
I TEACH online, do intensive/extensive RESEARCH (Bible, mission work, the church, homeschooling, language, health, genealogy, etc.), have to SAVE/store/backup a lot of images, web pages, documents, resources, etc. I have been wasting much of my valuable time, energy, etc. staring at blank screens, waiting for my typing to appear on the screen, computer lockups, freeze ups, and crashes, etc.
I have 3 or 4 Dell desktops (Windows XP), two Acer (worst company!) laptops that will not come on, an old slow laptop that will come on but then not do anything at all.
Is it possible (and advisable for my needs) to take the desktops and put them together like a single bigger/better computer?
If I buy a new, used, refurbished, etc. computer WHAT am I looking for to be RELIABLE for my needs for at least a few years?”


I wish I could give you one easy answer. But there really isn’t one. There are some reliable brands out there, but even good brands sometimes put out clunkers.  I’ve had good success with Dell laptops and with a Microsoft Surface Pro, but I can’t promise that neither item might not give you issues. I’d look around online and check out the user ratings for desktops and laptops in your price range.


Actually, most of what you’re doing doesn’t sound like heavy-duty work by PC standards. It’s not like you’re rendering 3/D graphics. It does sound like you’re doing a lot of streaming, using the internet a lot, and doing a lot of word processing.

Here are some steps you can take to try to find the right computer for your needs. Check with other people that do the same thing you do with their PCs. For example, if you were a person that had to edit a lot of videos professionally, check with other video professionals to see which PCs they’ve had good experiences with.  You would check with other online instructors.


I’d suggest finding a good, local PC tech.  Tell them exactly what it is that you need your PC to do. They may be able to build you a PC from scratch or find a good, refurbished model that meets your needs.

I wouldn’t cobble a bunch of old desktops together if you want a hassle-free computing experience. I’d look for a new Windows 10 desktop PC with a generously-sized hard drive. Dell currently has them for around $300. The very first thing I’d do is reset the PC to Windows 10 factory settings to take off any extraneous programs. I’d do that with any PC I purchased from a store or online.  Make sure to do this before you add any of your files onto it.


You might also even consider a nice, used Mac if the programs you need to use work with it. If you need to use your PC for work, it’s important that you check the compatibility of the programs you depend on with the operating system of your next PC. That’s where a local PC expert could come in handy.

From the issues you describe, I wonder how much of the problem is the PC and how much is related to an inadequate Internet connection. For online teaching and extensive research, a stable high-speed connection is a must.  Another issue that can slow a PC down is heat. Make sure your devices are adequately ventilated and keep them well dusted. If you happen to have pets, make sure no pet hair is getting in there to clog the fan.


Once you get your new PC, it’s essential that you do regular cleanups and maintenance to ensure that it stays fast. Good luck.

Readers – what are your suggestions for a good, reasonably-priced computer? Let us know in the comments.

~ Cynthia


4 thoughts on “How Do I Find The Right PC?

  1. I was on a quest for a new computer a few weeks ago. I haven’t actually tried it out yet because a family member was hospitalized so I never yet had time to get everything set up (it’s still in the shipping box). However, after checking many sites, a bit to my surprise, I ended up buying a Lenovo Thinkpad desktop. I souped mine up a bit, so it ran a tad over $1200 for just the box. (I am keeping the peripherals unless I can’t get them to work). Lenovo offered more custom options, in the lower prices, than anyone else except HP, and the HP seemed rather more expensive for the same items (e.g., the Intel Core I7 upgrade, SSD, etc). The basic ThinkPad was, I think, around $400 and seemed a decent machine from specs. There’s also the IdeaPad, similar but a bit higher end, fewer customization options, and a small-business model of some sort. Dell didn’t offer any combination I wanted.

  2. You hit that one exactly! On a local pic expert. If cost is the biggest problem, a local pic guy probably has used computers. I bought one several years ago and it is still a ok. Even moved it up to win 10.
    Otherwise, your advise is spot on.

  3. If you want fast then get at least an I5 processor with no less than 8GB of RAM and an SSD instead of a regular hard drive. That will get you there. Don’t go cheap, it is an investment that will provide many years of good service that can handle the newer programs as they come out and and be able to upgrade as time goes by as apposed to having to replace it with another computer. Programs are getting bigger and more power hungry all the time. Going cheap can cost you more in the long run.

  4. My beautiful Dell Studio died last summer and I was forced into a new computer. I ended up with an HP w/o right & left clickers, just a smooth space bar. It drove me crazy as I never hit the space bar in the correct area. My salvation was a trackball, which also saved my arthritic fingers & hands. Hope my suggestions help. Trish

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