Ah, THIS is why the PC market is slow!

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As I age, I seem to become a bigger and bigger cheapskate. My latest money-saving exploit was to buy a refurbished laptop (my first laptop, believe it or not…) from Newegg when an insurmountable business need finally arose. I was absolutely staggered to see the prices. I was able to get a 5th-gen Core i5 with 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, 4 USB 3.0 ports, dual-band wifi, touchscreen, etc, all in an ultrabook format… for $200. I was completely gobsmacked. It even came with WIndows 10 Pro on it. The entire experience has been superlative.

I don’t think I’ll ever advise anyone to buy a new laptop again. This machine isn’t a world-beater since it has integrated Intel graphics, but my God… it’s got to be better than what most consumers have, and for a lot lot lot less. If I didn’t play games, this machine would be everything I could possibly need. And it dual-boots Ubuntu without a hitch (this post typed from 17.10).

Have these kind of machines always been available at this price? I just… good gravy, I still can’t get over what I was able to buy for so little. If this is pretty normal across the board, it would certainly explain why the PC market has slowed down… there is absolutely no reason to replace this 4+ year old machine.

Comments (15)

15 responses to “Ah, THIS is why the PC market is slow!”

  1. longhorn

    If you are really lucky you can buy a PC that's held together by screws, not glue. And thus change SSD and battery when the need arises. Or keyboard. I would like to say RAM too, but then I'm probably asking for too much.

    • Daekar

      In reply to longhorn:

      This one is a business machine. HP even makes a maintenance guide for it that shows how to replace different hardware components. They sell an extended life battery, too. I am so used to seeing the glued together stuff for the consumer market lately that I never realized they sold more practical machines for business.

  2. ins1dious

    I paid about US$ 300 for a 2013 Lenovo X240 for my primary school going daughter. Sweet 12.5" light, tough laptop with a Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. Refurbished with Win 10 Pro license also.


    The thing flies. Boots up faster than my 2017 MBP w/TouchBar ???

  3. lordbaal1

    Of course years old devices will be inexpensive. And refurbish is inexpensive. So a refurbish and years old device will be more inexpensive.

  4. wright_is

    My Spectre x360 is still held together with screws...

    The Lenovo ThinkPads we use at work are also modular and can be upgraded. I think the current ones have an M.2 slot free, for example, although we buy them with 16GB RAM pre-installed, so any further upgrade would require replacing all the memory.

  5. North of 49th

    I'm running a 6 year old ThinkPad with an SSD and 8Gb of ram and I have to agree. As the processors and RAM and SSDs become common place (no moving parts) and as Microsoft keeps reducing the overhead necessary to run Windows by either decluttering the code or by shifting tasks from the CPU to GPU, the average consumer is not going to feel the necessity to get the latest hardware for a PC - if not for perhaps the battery life.

    I think from a hardware perspective, smartphones have almost arrived at the same point if not for the battery and its longevity...

    So what then creates the need to upgrade? My thoughts, other than battery, are custom chipsets that do custom tasks more efficiently and potential security features that reduce the attack surface of a given modern threat. This is why I'm not impatient about Intel being unable to get to a 10nm processor or as concerned that Microsoft split up Windows engine development from GUI development.


  6. jimchamplin

    Quad-core Xeon E5530 with the addition of a 128GB SSD and 32GB of RAM was under $250.


    I’ve only brought two new machines since 2000, the rest have been used. This is something that I’ve recommended to folks for a long time! Isn’t it wonderful? :D

  7. Lauren Glenn

    I still have an old i7-870 in my PC because all I do is rip my purchased DVDs/BluRays and keep the drive full of media. Some web browsing, emails, etc.. it doesn't require 8 CPUs, etc. or other high end specs. This machine cost me $110


    It's 7 years old or so and parts are cheap. If I were to buy a new machine, it would probably be with older specs so it's inexpensive as I can't afford to put down $1000+ on a new PC just yet for a consumption machine. So to get what you say for $200? Looks like I need to go looking on eBay for another old PC.

  8. ErichK

    Yep, it's definitely not like the "old days" where even the upgrade from a 486 to a Pentium was a quantum leap in performance.

    • Daekar

      In reply to ErichK:

      Yes, I think that mental comparison is what really surprised me. Never in the past had I imagined that it might be a good idea to buy a PC as old as the one now on my lap... I mean, RAM practically doubled every few years and you REALLY needed to have it. I believe we are reaping the benefits of a mature market. Won't it be nice when phones get this way too?

  9. Minke

    Except, it will break down shortly. IMHO that is the main reason to get a new PC. I have 20-year-old PCs and laptops that will still start up and work reliably with their antique hardware and operating systems, and I have a stack of more recent machines purchased within the last 5-6 years that have failed in ways making it impractical to fix. It is cheaper to purchase a modern machine, but they rarely last more than 3 years or so.

    • Daekar

      In reply to Minke:

      I had considered that. I figured that there were a few factors influencing that gamble: 1, the machine was pretty premium when it was first sold so the construction should be a bit better than many I would ordinarily consider buying new. 2, it was a refurb so it could have developed problems - which may or may not have been fixed during the refurb process. 3, it's a refurb, so it's highly likely that infant mortality would not be an issue this far into the machine's life. 4, it's cheap enough that if it lasts 3 or 4 years I don't care. That would be like $50 to $67 per year for the machine. I'll buy a new one at that price. I spend 3 times that one a phone every few years.

  10. JH_Radio

    its amazing. I got HP ELITEBOOK 8560P Core I7 Second Gen, 8GB ram, 120GB SSD. built like a tank, but it has four USB 3.0 ports. fine with me. for audio editing (single track), web browsing, emails, even with JAWS (my  screene reader of choice), W7. Got it for around $300 in Nov 2014 as a referb. I know it'll run Win10 as I did the upgrade and  downgraded back to 7 so I'd have a lisence come Jan 2020 without having to pay for Windows.  Ok sure boot times and opening programs  and saving files is a little faster on my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carben 6th gen Core I7 6th gen, but not worls faster.  The Lenovo is much better for travel. but yeah its simply amazing what you can get at dirt cheap prices. I don't think there's even that much of a difference in performance on some pretty old core processors for anything that most people would use a PC for. Only thing a person needs to decide is, do they want that  chance that something could break within a year. This HP? new? sold for something like $1500 in 2011 when it came out. Older hardware is deff. not a bad way to go if battery life/light and thin doesn't matter to you. This HP sits at a house and never gets moved, so these things do not matter to me. and my god its built with steal, love it! but there is  something  supre nice about the build of that Lenovo, too. and yes, you can replace the drive/Ram/battery/Optical in that HP . this Hp has a 56K  modom and serial port. haven't seen that on any PC in ages. but rest of it is modern. /Dual band wireless N, 1GBPS Ethernet adaptor (though I don't have bandwidth nearly that high here.  Built in 2011.

    • Daekar

      In reply to JH_Radio:

      This is a perfect example. Does the average person need more capable hardware than this? No, definitely not. Every single person that works for me could do everything they need to do at work and at home with that machine. Good find. :-)

  11. JH_Radio

    Forgot to mention: I paid that 300 in Nov 2014. today,  this HP would probably be cheaper still It came with a clean image and no bloat of windows, so that was nice.

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