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Yesterday, I told you all about my old HP Pavilion Slimline s3700y SFF computer, and why I decided to retire it from Linux use, and buy a different computer to replace it.
As my regular readers know, because I’ve said it many times, whenever I’m in the market to buy anything, I always research the heck out of it before I ever open my wallet.
And that’s exactly what I did when I looked for a computer to replace the Pavilion.
Two nights ago, and all day yesterday, I spent a total of about 15 hours, doing research at several different Web sites.
Here are some of the factors that I took into consideration:
- New vs. Refurbished — Knowing that it would be more cost-effective, and having had a great experience with my other refurbished computer, I knew that I wanted to buy a refurbished computer, instead of a new one.
- Form Factor — Because this “new” computer will be running in our living room, I wanted to find a small one that would run quietly.
- CPU — At first, I began looking at computers with 64-bit, dual-core CPUs, but then realized that it would be worth paying a little more for one with a quad-core CPU. I ended up researching and comparing computers that had 64-bit, 2.4 GHz and 2.66 GHz quad-core CPUs.
- Type of RAM — I preferred computers with DDR3 RAM, instead of older, slower DDR2.
- Installed/Maximum RAM — I wanted a computer that came with at least 4 GB of RAM, and would be expandable to at least 8 GB in the future.
- Brand — I considered only Dell Optiplex, Dell Precision, and HP business-class computers.
- Seller — I considered several, including Newegg.com, Walmart.com, Amazon.com, and several online sellers who sell only refurbished computers.
- Expandability — I was only interested in the ability to add more RAM in the future, if needed. I didn’t care about adding more hard drives, additional video cards, or other expansion cards.
- Hard Drive Size — I didn’t care what size the new computer’s hard drive would be, because I’m going to remove it and store it in my desk, in case I ever want to reinstall it before I sell the computer to a Windows user in the future. For now, I’ll just install one of my spare hard drives into it — and then install Linux onto that. In fact, I only need about 8 GB of hard drive space for Linux, because I store all of my data on my Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.
- Price — I was hoping to spend as little as possible. As my research progressed, I settled on a budget of $120-170.
- Return Policy — Every seller that I considered would be willing to give me a refund if the computer turned out to not meet my needs, but some would charge a “restocking fee” and nearly all of them would require me to pack up the computer and pay to ship it back to them, and then wait for a refund.
- Linux Compatibility — Twice, I thought I had found “the perfect computer,” but then changed my mind after doing more research and learning that others had had problems installing or running Linux on it.
That last bullet point is the type of thing that often happens when I’m researching a purchase — as I learn more about my choices, my research becomes an iterative process that I often have to redo several times. In fact, during the past few days, I probably researched and compared well over 100 different refurbished computer offers, and learned things that caused me to completely restart my entire research process over from scratch, at least 5 or 6 different times.
So it turned out to be “an exhaustive search” (pun intended) that kept me awake until 3:00 AM two nights ago, and continued to keep me busy most of the day yesterday.
But I’m very happy with the final result. The computer that I ordered last night is:
A Refurbished HP 6000 Pro Small Form Factor (SFF) PC with the following:
- 2.66 GHz, 64-Bit, Intel Core 2 Quad Processor
- 4 GB DDR3 RAM, expandable to 16 GB
- 320 GB SATA HDD
- DVD ROM Drive
- Onboard Graphics — Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500
- 240 Watt Power Supply — Active PFC
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Windows 7 Professional and Recovery Partition on hard drive
- USB Optical Mouse and USB Keyboard
- One Year Parts and Labor Warranty
- Price: $146.51, Including Free Shipping
Most online stores charge that much, or more, for the dual-core (2-core) processor version of this computer, and they charge about $50 more for the quad-core (4-core) processor version that I’m getting. I was only able to find a couple of online stores that sell the exact same computer that I’m getting, with the exact same quad-core processor, for about the same price.
For me, the deciding factor was Walmart’s return policy. Even though I bought it through the Walmart.com Web site, if I’m not happy with it, for any reason, I can return it to my local Walmart store for a full refund, just like I had to do with a different refurbished computer almost four years ago.
Update, February 22, 2016: According to UPS, my “new” computer will be delivered three days from now — this coming Thursday.
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