In the long run, buying an expensive laptop or computer can make Singaporeans waste more money.
‘Future-proofing’ is a well-known concept that even casual laptop users seem swayed by. The premise is as follows: when buying a laptop, you spend more money for the highest-end machine you can find (or afford), so you can continue using it for a longer time.
A lower-end model becomes outdated more quickly than one with higher specifications, which means more frequent upgrades. By stretching out the time period between upgrades or replacements, you’ll end up saving money in the long run.
Or at least, that’s the idea.
As you may have noticed, future-proofing hinges on many assumptions. The most obvious one being that a lower-end computer won’t be able to adequately serve your needs down the road.
However, trying to save money by spending more on expensive computer models is one of those practices that look good on paper, but ends up being terrible for you.
Here are 3 reasons why.
Technology Has Mostly Caught Up
Those of you that remember being a proud owner of a multimedia computer that could play video games, music and movies probably also remember that buying a PC used to be quite the stressful affair.
With new technologies, software, standards and advancements popping up every year, it seemed like spending more to keep ahead of the curve was the only responsible option. There was always the risk that some cool new thing you never knew you wanted (because it hadn’t been invented yet, like 3D games, thumb drives, or the Internet) would become the new way of living life.
Today, digital technology has mostly caught up, with new (sometimes competing) standards having been adopted en masse, and there are few brave new frontiers left to explore. (C’mon, the latest offerings are ultra-sharp 4K displays and VR technology, which concedes that all the average consumer really wants is to watch Netflix all day long.)
Because most necessary digital technology pretty much comes standard nowadays, the need to stay one step ahead isn’t really there anymore. In today’s digital scene, ‘future-proofing’ simply means planning for digital storage needs, instead of taking calculated bets on which new technological wonder they’re gonna come up with next.
One possible exception though is if you want to play the latest video games on the highest settings, all the time. But even then, the only thing you really need to accommodate are the graphical demands.
Warranties Don’t Last Long Enough
Another reason why future-proofing may not be a good idea: your warranty on your expensive computer doesn’t last long enough.
The most critical and expensive components of your computer are the CPU (processor), GPU (graphics card) and the HDD (hard drive). Needless to say, the higher-end computers come with more costly versions of these.
The problem is, warranties for these parts don’t last quite long enough, and when they fail, you’ll have to spend a pretty penny replacing them.
For example, nVidia offers up to 3 years warranty on their graphic cards, even for the high-end GeForce 980 Ti, which costs over a thousand dollars. As does AMD, the other leading supplier of GPUs.
Similarly, most major manufacturers of CPUs and HDDs offer warranty periods of up to 5 years only.
The short warranties on the most costly parts of your machine reduces the period of time you can expect to use your machine. (Warranties are made to cover products until they are expected to fail, not beyond that.)
This defeats the aim of saving money in the long run - a S$4,000 computer could break down at around the same time as a S$2,000 one. And as if that wasn’t enough, it will cost more to repair.
You Don’t Need Your Computer That Much Anymore
Today, we primarily use personal computers for work and personal entertainment, and technology has advanced far enough for mass market offerings to comfortably meet the needs of the average consumer.
Between our desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, we have all the computing power we need to answer emails, join a virtual meeting, Whatsapp our colleagues, check Facebook, post Instagram pics, read the news, swipe candies into place and binge on Netflix.
This also means that we have more ways and devices than ever to meet our personal entertainment and work needs.
Because our reliance on one singular personal computer has lessened, it also means it is less critical to have the ‘latest and greatest’. You only need a machine that will work well enough - and even then, only when you really need to use it.
And there we have it. With a lack of any critical changes in digital technology (at least for the time being), short warranty periods and an abundance of options to accomplish everyday tasks, paying more for higher PC capabilities than you presently need will be a waste of money.
If you must spend on a high-end laptop, consider using a credit card like the Standard Chartered Unlimited Credit Card so you can get cash rebates from your purchase. You can find more cash back credit cards at SingSaver.com.sg.
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By Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.