Our household desktop computer went kaput two years ago. One day we were storing and retrieving pictures and mp3s on the hard drive and the next it was gone. Our teenage son used it for homework, web browsing and gaming. Otherwise, it functioned as a media repository and we had no complaints until the end.
Prior to the hard drive issue, the power supply gave out and that was replaced. When opening the box to change the power supply I added inexpensive RAM memory doubling the previous configuration. For moments, it ran fast and well. And then, once again, it didn’t. There was no video signal and unfortunately the video board was integrated in the mother board.
I took it to our neighborhood Micro Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The service personnel there were reluctant to look at the machine without first checking it in with a commitment to a $70 diagnostic fee. With a quick calculation I figured that could be as much as 25% of the cost of a new machine. If as they suggested it would most likely require a new mother board I couldn’t help feel that the diagnostic fee and cost of a new motherboard would be better invested in a brand new machine.
I went to the department with the new computers and was looking at all the available models. Nothing struck me as particularly breathtaking in terms of features and value. But I hadn’t bought a desktop in over five years. I did notice a table with refurbished computers, those models that had come off lease and were now back on the market for sale. The specifications were attractive for the prices being asked. But, I left to do some on-line research.
A week or more passed before I made it back to the store. I was returning to pick-up an on-line order for a refurbished Dell. The web site said only 1 was left but they could not confirm this and canceled the order. I entered a new order for a slightly more expensive choice which was a 2GHz Dell Optiplex with a Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor, an Intel® Extreme Graphics Video Chipset and 512MB DDR RAM (Expandable to 2GB). Microsoft’s XP Professional came preloaded. The price: $130-. Not too shabby.
The machine was in the library on the first floor next to our bedroom and the first night the noise from the CPU fan woke me up – it was LOUD! The next morning I made a promise to myself to return the box to see if I could get a quieter one. Two more nights went by until the following day when we received a hard drive failure. Fortunately, I hadn’t loaded any software except the download of Mozilla’s Firefox which I use any chance I get.
I packed up the broken machine into the packing material and then into the box with all the miscellaneous pieces of equipment. Upon my return to Micro Center, customer service retrieved a new machine and allowed me to plug in the new unit before leaving the store. It was so quiet compared to the previous one I could hardly tell it was on. If it was wasn’t hooked up to a monitor I wouldn’t have known that the operating system was loading.
The new, refurbished Dell is home now with software loaded performing homework tricks and gaming stunts. Everything is quiet and I’ll be adding additional memory from the old box and the hard drive to run as a second drive. But for now I told our son to have at because the next 90 days is the burn-in period.