Choosing a New Computer System

Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper from Portsmouth Computer Group discuss choosing a new computer system and why choosing the right system is important.

Mike: Hi. We are joined this morning by the guys from Portsmouth Computer Group. It’s Tech Tuesday. Steve Ripper and Dave Hodgdon joined me this morning here on Newstalk 98.1 WTSN. Gentlemen, and I use that lightly.The morning information center on this tech Tuesday all powered by our good friends at Portsmouth Computer Group. You can check them out at Let’s talk a little bit about choosing a new computer system. Why do we have to do that, Dave?

Dave Hodgdon: Well, I feel a lot of people don’t take this as seriously as they should, Mike. You don’t really realize you’re not buying your car, your house. You’re going to be using this computer for the next five years, eight-plus hours a day. You are doing your job. You’re doing your social work. You’re communicating with people. And a lot of times when I assess clients and I see them using the wrong machine, that machine is just chugging along and they’re losing 15, 30 minutes a day. That adds up to money to the person buying the computer. I feel it’s important to have the right system. Another big factor is changing your system can be painful. It’s time-consuming and you’re just used to everything. You don’t like change, so maximize this investment and make it the best experience for your employee.

Dos and Don’ts of Choosing a New Computer System

Mike: Let’s talk about, Steve, the dos and don’ts when choosing a new computer system. How do you determine if someone needs a new desktop or a new notebook for their systems? What’s going on there? What are the key factors to take a look at?

Steve Ripper: So the key factor, Mike, is just what is your workflow? We use that term a lot when we’re talking to a customer about what they might be using. What’s your workflow? Are you sitting at the desk eight hours a day and do you leave it at home? And when I say leave it home, I’m just talking about the computer leaving it at work. Do you leave work at work? And do you go home and not think about it anymore? Are you one of those types of workers? So at that point, you probably need a desktop.

But if you’re very mobile, if you’re working some from home, you’re working from the office, or maybe now your reality is working at home all the time. Maybe you’re on the go. Maybe you bring work home with you, right? Maybe your eight hour day isn’t just your complete day. Maybe you’re packing up and you’re figuring out a way when you’re home. So that’s a laptop, right? And there’s a lot of choices in there. You can do a tablet-type laptop. You can do a standard laptop that we’ve had for a long time. But really your workflow for what you do with that PC and would it be advantageous for you to bring it with you or leave it behind, are the questions you want to answer.

Mike: I think a lot of us are probably doing a little bit more of the work outside of the office and probably taking that computer home with us, I would imagine. So what is-

Dave: You know, Mike, the big thing now is can you sit at your patio, right? Can you sit outside at your patio?

Mike: Oh yeah. Right. Absolutely.

Dave: It’s nice weather now, right?

Important Apps and Software

Mike: Yeah. I know. I totally agree. And people are doing that and they’re working at the same time. I don’t know how much they’re working on their patio, but it’s a good point, though. So what type of applications or software we are looking at, Dave, that’s important for people to be mobile and on the run, so to speak?

Dave: Well, really what I mean by that, Mike, is take an asset, take an inventory of everything you use. That’s going to help you determine the type of machine that you’re going to need as far as how much speed processing, how much memory, how much storage you need. So these are key things. And usually, if I just do like some email and word processing, I need an entry-level machine. But for your average business user, they need a little bit of step up. Then you have your power users. You just really need to think that through because it’s like buying a car. If you’re buying a four-cylinder car and you’re on the road all the time, you need to get places, you’re going to have a terrible experience. You don’t rent a car that’s a four-cylinder if you need some oomph to it.

Mike: That’s a good point. That’s a good point. So that in addition to the right system itself. I think a lot of people don’t know about CPUs. We don’t know about these systems. I mean, we want everything to be fast and quick. We want it done yesterday, right, Steve? We just want it immediately all the time.

Steve: Yeah, we do, and customers don’t want to really hear, “Do you need something less?” Less isn’t a word you really want to hear when you’re purchasing, but maybe you do want to hear that it’s a little less money, Mike, right?

Mike: Sure.

Steve: We use a simple nomenclature that comes from Intel which are the primary processors that are in computers. So i7s are the high end, right? Think of not only do you have really high requirements, you want the best, but really money is kind of not really a consideration. We’re going to spend the money to get the best. I5 is that really sweet spot right in the middle where you’re going to get almost that really great performance for a little less money. So, really, that spot right in there where you’re getting value.

And then i3s are a machine that maybe, for a company-wise, does it needs to just be over in the corner where a couple of people are just checking email. Its requirements are less. There’s not as much expected of it.

But those are the nomenclature that we follow. Do you need an i7? Do you really need everything that we can get and put in one box? Or do you just need an i5 where the price is right and it’ll still do what you need to do.

Dave: I always tie it to the car and people get it. I always talk about the i3s like the four-cylinder. It gets you there. But then the i5 is the V6. That’s what most people drive. And then I say, “If you want to be a turbo, you want to hit the pedal, you want to be, it’s the i7.” I choose you for your CAD users, your controllers, executives, people doing high-end desktop publishing.

Mike: Sure. Yeah.

Dave: But it costs more money.

Mike: Yeah. Well, that makes sense. I think when it comes to memory and storage space and what they call RAM/memory, I mean, I think a lot of people want to get as most as they can because, obviously, there’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing on that computer, whether it’s the desktop or the notebook. I mean, there are a lot of things that are open at one time and we just don’t want it to slow down. So I guess we have to figure out the right amount of RAM, as they say, the memory, and how big a hard drive do you really want, you know?

Dave: The memory-

Determining Computer System Based on Needs

Steve: So, Mike, a lot of that is about what are you going to be doing on the computer? So just a little while ago, we talked about how to move around. That’ll determine whether you need a desktop or a laptop. So from there, what are you going to do? When we’re talking to a customer, if a customer is talking to us, it’s important to tell us that you’re going to be doing QuickBooks, right? Or you’re going to be doing a CAD program, right? Or you’re going to be doing graphic design. Those choices, what’s your actual workflow on the machine itself, we’re going to help you decide, do you need to really spend all your money on huge amounts of memory?

Or maybe you don’t need as much memory, but you need slightly better graphics within the machine, a graphics card or a laptop that has graphics. So a better processor, the most process that you can have to run QuickBooks. Those are really the determination that stuff can get a little arcane and we get that, but really what you’re going to be doing on it. List the applications that you have to have, and list the applications that you’re in all day long, and then tell that and speak about that so that we can size the machine for you.

Mike: Steve, what is the standard hard drive that people are looking for these days? I mean, I’m sure it’s gone up quite a bit.

Steve: Yeah. So these days, you always want to get an SSD. There’s almost no reason to get the old, what we call platters, or the spinning drives.

Mike: So that’s the solid-state drive.

Steve: Yeah, solid-state drives are what you would get nowadays. And they come at a base level. Right now, they’re coming at 250 gigs and you can get larger sizes from that. You can go 500, you can go a terabyte, you can go two terabytes. Okay. And again, it’s easy to just go, “I should get two terabytes.” It’s easy to just say, “I should have 32 gigs of memory and I should have an i7.” It’s easy to do that but really you can talk about what your needs are. If you’re not saving a lot of stuff to the hard drive, if you’re just working in the cloud all the time, do you need all that storage?

On the other hand, if you’re a graphic designer who’s saving a large amount of data and files, then maybe you do.

Mike: That makes sense, yeah.

Steve: So all of it is your workflow.

Dave: Each one of those components, Mike, as Steve just said, you can have a PC at $500 or 3000. You go from a 256 solid-state drive to a two terabytes, probably talking 6, $700. It’s a big difference, but it really depends on your workflow. But I see too many clients right now still getting the regular drive. Shorter money but it’s a big mistake because you need your drive to perform. You need to be more reliable so solid-state is the only thing we recommend.

Mike: But, Dave, are we getting more in the habit of not storing everything on the actual hard drive and using the cloud more obviously?

Dave: Great point there, Mike. You still need to run your applications. A lot of your stuff is saved locally, that’s why I use the 256 seems to be the sweet spot. But as Steve alluded to earlier, it depends what you might have local. But a minimum of 26 and then from there, it depends what you do.

Mike: Boy, one terabyte seems to me like you could use it for a lifetime, I would imagine. That’s a lot of space to fill up, I think.

Steve: Mike, you’d be amazed at the number of customers I come across who one terabyte is even close to enough.

Mike: Really? Wow.

Steve: Oh yeah.

Dave: It’s like your garage or attic. You just keep on adding pictures and files and email from 20 years. They don’t let anything go.

Mike: Well, then you got to get the junk specialist to come out there with a dumpster and do that. Any final words, guys, on what else do I think about when looking at the new computer systems?

Dave: Just on your peripherals, which is a big part of it. Make sure you have what you need. Invest so the user has a good experience. Most people have two, three monitors now, especially working from home. I couldn’t have a regular printer. I have a multifunction which allows me to print, to copy, to scan, to email, as much stuff I need to do. And one of the most important parts is I’ve seen many clients just in pain when they know their hard drive is gone. Have a backup, Mike. We always talk about backup.

Mike: Dave, I heard your printer starts your coffee machine in the morning. Is that true?

Dave: Sure close.

Mike: I mean, you’re so advanced that your printer just does the coffee thing.

Dave: It does it all for me. It delivers it, it scans it, it emails. I’m drinking it right now.

Mike: Yeah. What were you going to say, Steve? I’m sorry. I interrupted you.

Expert Advice for Choosing a New Computer System

Steve: No. So give some thought to the upgrade. Maybe this is a time and place where people don’t want to spend money. They’re a little bit worried about extra spending. It’s not that they’re not spending money, but extra spending. But there’s some real value to getting a new machine. Okay. There’s some real value to getting the experience. Think about it. If your work literally is, regardless of your profession, if it’s done through the computer screen, then having a good experience using that is really important.

And you gain a lot of benefits just through the migration. While it might be painful, going to a new version of Windows is always good. Getting the newest versions of whatever software you use is always good. And then having that snappier, faster experience just makes it better. So really give some thought to whether it’s a good purchase right now. If you’re focused on staring through that screen at home and still trying to be part of the company, then getting a new machine… Or maybe you’re self-employed and you’re doing that, having a good experience is worth it.

Mike: Well, you guys, you got-

Dave: Like I always say, it’s like driving a 1986 Pinto or getting a 2020 Mustang. Step up.

Mike: Yeah. Well, you guys had to drag me through Windows 10, but I’m well appreciative of that now.

Dave: And the laptop.

Mike: Sounds good. Hey, PCG, Portsmouth Computer Group can really help your business get the right systems for your staff. So you can call them up at 603-431-4121. That’s 603-431-4121. Convenient locations in Portsmouth and Dover, Manchester, Portland, Maine. You can visit them at They know what they’re talking about. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been in business a long time and they’re doing it right. Thank you, guys. Always good to talk to you on Tech Tuesday. Enjoy the week, enjoy the weather, and stay healthy my friends. We’ll talk to you next week. Thank you for joining me today.