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PSA: Do most of your work on a computer? Then invest in a better laptop.

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AgainstAllOdds

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My laptop charger broke so I started working off my friend's laptop. I'm grateful to have a computer, but man, this thing is ruining my efficiency. It takes longer to start, switch tabs, get things done, etc.

After using it for a day, I decided to run some numbers and realized how much time and money I'd be wasting if I used this laptop vs the one I'm used to. Here are those numbers, and an argument for why you should invest in a better laptop or computer (note the below numbers are fair assumptions):

  • Hours on computer per day including work/fun: 8 hours
  • Days per week: 5 days
  • Weeks per year: 50 weeks
Therefore, total hours spent on a computer per year = 8*5*50 = 2,000 hours

  • Difference in efficiency between using better laptop and worse laptop: 5% difference.
Therefore, time lost per year by using worse laptop = 2,000*5% = 100 hours.

  • Value of time: $10 / hr (I picked a near minimum wage number just to illustrate this point)
Therefore the value of time lost = $10*100 = $1,000 per year.

  • Laptop survival rate: 3 years (based on typical extended warranty)
Therefore, the total value of time lost over the lifetime of a laptop = $1,000*3 = $3,000

And that's only at $10/hr. If you're making $100/hr, then you're losing $30,000 over the lifetime of your laptop!!

Let that sink in. That's insane.
 

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Under-Dog

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Thank you for this fantastic write up! Really puts the numbers into perspective, a lot of folks don't really believe in investing into better systems. It's crazy wouldn't you want the best tool possible? Like a contractor using Dewalt over Ryobi tools because Dewalt are built for the pros while Ryobi is geared towards the DIY guy
 

Argue

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Yup. You're right. I had an HP desktop and it was the worst computer ever. Opening different software programs took centuries. Load times, opening tabs, startup was taking forever.

I'm cheap when it comes to spending money but I forked over $1,000 for a MacBook Air. Best investment I've made. Not promoting to get a Mac but the efficiency is tremendous. Getting work done is so much faster and I save time.
 

craig1928

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My brother wanted to know why I spend 2 grand on a macbook pro when he got a laptop for $250, this is why.

It's not even that you have to wait longer, it pisses you off when it hangs, takes longer to load etc. The last thing you need is more stress because of an inferior computer.
 

Roli

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My laptop charger broke so I started working off my friend's laptop. I'm grateful to have a computer, but man, this thing is ruining my efficiency. It takes longer to start, switch tabs, get things done, etc.

After using it for a day, I decided to run some numbers and realized how much time and money I'd be wasting if I used this laptop vs the one I'm used to. Here are those numbers, and an argument for why you should invest in a better laptop or computer (note the below numbers are fair assumptions):

  • Hours on computer per day including work/fun: 8 hours
  • Days per week: 5 days
  • Weeks per year: 50 weeks
Therefore, total hours spent on a computer per year = 8*5*50 = 2,000 hours

  • Difference in efficiency between using better laptop and worse laptop: 5% difference.
Therefore, time lost per year by using worse laptop = 2,000*5% = 100 hours.

  • Value of time: $10 / hr (I picked a near minimum wage number just to illustrate this point)
Therefore the value of time lost = $10*100 = $1,000 per year.

  • Laptop survival rate: 3 years (based on typical extended warranty)
Therefore, the total value of time lost over the lifetime of a laptop = $1,000*3 = $3,000

And that's only at $10/hr. If you're making $100/hr, then you're losing $30,000 over the lifetime of your laptop!!

Let that sink in. That's insane.

I hear ya, I had to upgrade mine last year, the difference was instantly noticeable. Also I had been struggling with an ISP for way longer than I should have, as soon as I changed, my internet connection was like a speeding bullet. The amount of time wasted with a good computer on a crappy connection, is just as bad.
 

Kinematic

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Installing an SSD into ANY computer (as the boot drive) will dramatically improve the speed of the computer. Any desktop and the majority of laptops can have their hard drive(s) upgraded and there are only positives.

Sure there are other bottlenecks one might find afterwards but the SSD is the king of upgrades imo.
 

ksc23

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I ordered a 2015 MacBook Pro earlier this week to replace my 5 years old, piece of shit, "lags when streaming 720p video" laptop.

Now I can justify my purchase as an investment!
 

fhs8

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Installing an SSD into ANY computer (as the boot drive) will dramatically improve the speed of the computer. Any desktop and the majority of laptops can have their hard drive(s) upgraded and there are only positives.

Sure there are other bottlenecks one might find afterwards but the SSD is the king of upgrades imo.

This.

If anyone here gets another laptop/desktop make sure it has an SSD drive. It can't be stressed enough. I will never buy another computer with magnetic HDD.
 

Scot

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This is even more reason to trash my 7 year old brick of a laptop. Trying to create my website on Wordpress has a 1 second lag. Open more than 4tabs on chrome and cross your fingers it won't crash.

My wife has been trying to pressure me to switch to Mac.. I may look into it.


But seeing the ROI definitely makes it an incentive.
 

Andy Black

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I don't have a laptop... the negative ROI of a sore neck and shoulders isn't worth it to me. Beware tech neck guys!

Getting a second 24" monitor for my PC was a *godsend* and has not just sped me up, but means I can actually get insights I wouldn't earlier (because I can see two things at the same time without switching back and forth).

Using the Windows-Key and Arrow-Keys to move windows around instead of resizing is awesome too.

Cost of a decent 24" monitor or two? Even less than a decent laptop..
 

Under-Dog

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My wife has been trying to pressure me to switch to Mac.. I may look into it.

You wont regret it and it'll last longer than a windows
 

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fastbo

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Windows will be cheaper for the same hardware but the Mac is a far better platform for being productive. Plus very unlikely to get a virus if you follow best practices.
 

ColbyG

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Installing an SSD into ANY computer (as the boot drive) will dramatically improve the speed of the computer. Any desktop and the majority of laptops can have their hard drive(s) upgraded and there are only positives.

Sure there are other bottlenecks one might find afterwards but the SSD is the king of upgrades imo.

100% best thing you can do. I have a reasonable spec laptop, but I was considering buying a newer one that ran faster. Instead I spent $250 getting a Samsung SSD, installed it in a couple of hours and now my computer is lightening fast. It feels like a brand new computer.
 

Philip Marlowe

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This.

If anyone here gets another laptop/desktop make sure it has an SSD drive. It can't be stressed enough. I will never buy another computer with magnetic HDD.

Second SSD. Not only for speed but no moving part in a HD is better when you're on-the-go. In addition to Mac, I've had great success with Lenovo Ultrabooks. When I'm home I just plug it into a monitor.
 

Xavier X

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Windows will be cheaper for the same hardware but the Mac is a far better platform for being productive. Plus very unlikely to get a virus if you follow best practices.

At the risk of brewing a PC vs Mac debate, I don't agree with this statement.

There is nothing that objectively makes you more productive on a Mac vs a PC.
If anything, with Macs being significantly less compatible with many programs and hardware accessories, you just might be less productive.
 

thehighlander

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Second SSD. Not only for speed but no moving part in a HD is better when you're on-the-go. In addition to Mac, I've had great success with Lenovo Ultrabooks. When I'm home I just plug it into a monitor.

Yes, make sure your computer has a solid-state drive (SSD). Your operating system will boot and run quickly. Ditto for all software and data located on this drive.

You can add a SSD to your desktop PC pretty easily. For best results install a fresh copy of the operating system on the SSD.
 

Dark Water

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Before anyone considers spending $2k+ for a new gadget because of this post, consider a Chromebook for $200-$300... mine is lightning fast and much better than my previous i5 laptop. 14" screen, super long battery life, super quick to charge. I think the only reason not to get one would be needing mac/window applications, but otherwise I've found a way to get by.
 

Andy Black

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At the risk of brewing a PC vs Mac debate, I don't agree with this statement.

There is nothing that objectively makes you more productive on a Mac vs a PC.
If anything, with Macs being significantly less compatible with many programs and hardware accessories, you just might be less productive.
Yes, let's not let this turn into a PCs vs Macs debate.

Me? I hate PCs and I hate Macs.

I love Excel... which means I use a PC (I saw someone trying to use Excel on a Mac and some of the Pivot-Table functionality wasn't available).
 

V8Bill

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My wife has been trying to pressure me to switch to Mac.. I may look into it.

Just a word of caution here, if you're not used to the Mac Operating System your productivity will drop dramatically while you figure out where everything is. I did it when I was trying to learn how to build a mobile iOS app and it just slowed me down too damn much. Stick to what you know, there's very little about a mac that wants me to change over now.

SSD is a must for a new PC and always pack it with as much RAM as it can handle. SSD and Max Ram is the key. I'm also still on Windows 7 and will stay here until it becomes impossible to use (like XP and Win98 before that). I like to stick with what I know and everything opens and closes immediately with no noticeable delay. Operating systems get clogged up after a while - especially windows although with Win7 not so much. I have a friend with a windows 8 machine and (of course) it's horrible. People say "try Windows10 you'll like it" but until I can make a very good case for losing productivity while I relearn where Microsoft decided to put everything again I'm not willing to suffer. Win7 will be good for at least another 5+ years and this coming from an ex MCP. I was a huge MS fanboy. Now I'm just looking out for myself and have no interest in chasing things around trying to find where they hid it in the new OS just because they fear becoming redundant.

Yes, I understand and love Moores law but I'm not going to sell my car (which I love) and buy a new one just because the new ones are new and might be better. Mine works just fine but yes to the SSD and Max Ram.
 

letter9

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My laptop charger broke so I started working off my friend's laptop. I'm grateful to have a computer, but man, this thing is ruining my efficiency. It takes longer to start, switch tabs, get things done, etc.

After using it for a day, I decided to run some numbers and realized how much time and money I'd be wasting if I used this laptop vs the one I'm used to. Here are those numbers, and an argument for why you should invest in a better laptop or computer (note the below numbers are fair assumptions):

  • Hours on computer per day including work/fun: 8 hours
  • Days per week: 5 days
  • Weeks per year: 50 weeks
Therefore, total hours spent on a computer per year = 8*5*50 = 2,000 hours

  • Difference in efficiency between using better laptop and worse laptop: 5% difference.
Therefore, time lost per year by using worse laptop = 2,000*5% = 100 hours.

  • Value of time: $10 / hr (I picked a near minimum wage number just to illustrate this point)
Therefore the value of time lost = $10*100 = $1,000 per year.

  • Laptop survival rate: 3 years (based on typical extended warranty)
Therefore, the total value of time lost over the lifetime of a laptop = $1,000*3 = $3,000

And that's only at $10/hr. If you're making $100/hr, then you're losing $30,000 over the lifetime of your laptop!!

Let that sink in. That's insane.
Great post!

And it's not related only to PC, but to all technology.

I don't need latest iPhone, but now I buy one just to feel what most of my mobile users will be using. It's really helps in mobile web dev part when you are using device your self.
(Was having iPhone 5s for 4 years before)
Same with new popular apps - I don't really need them, but often install and try just to see new features, ideas, trends, etc.
 

ddzc

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Thanks for reminding me, I need to upgrade. I have an X1 Carbon with not enough memory to handle the thousand simultaneous tasks I've got going on. I love the Lenovos though, definitely getting a new X1 (4th gen), currently have a 2nd.
 

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AdamMaxum

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Thanks for the break down. I buy a new laptop usually once every year or 2....I know when it gets close to buying a new one when I start experiencing lag....I can't stand any type of lag. Since my business is entirely virtual it's just another tax write off anyway.
 
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Chromebook+Gsuite+SaaS apps is more tech than what most Fortune 500 companies started with.

If you have the means, more is nice, but not necessarily better.
 

mike24601

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I used to use top of the line Mac for work and PC at home, and personally prefer PC, but I've been experienced every Windows OS since 3.1. It just feels natural to me. You can go on eBay right now and for $500-600 you can get yourself either a used business laptop or a pro gamer laptop with 16GB RAM and a dual SSD/HDD setup. Even if it's four years old, it'll still be faster than most of the entry level crum on the market.
 

fastbo

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Perhaps I left out some context:
Using an integrated ecosystem is much more productive for many people, though not all. Having an Apple laptop, Apple pc for work, iphone, ipad. Everything works together. Share a file - airdrop instantly. Text messages, phone calls, notes, all your documents, everything synced automatically. I know PCs have cloud programs to do similar functions but they're all different vendors and don't have as tight integration. Replying to text messages on a laptop is much easier.
Another productivity bonus is that because the hardware and OS are locked down and managed by one vendor is that there are fewer issues related to compatibility.


At the risk of brewing a PC vs Mac debate, I don't agree with this statement.

There is nothing that objectively makes you more productive on a Mac vs a PC.
If anything, with Macs being significantly less compatible with many programs and hardware accessories, you just might be less productive.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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Wow, nice wake up call @AgainstAllOdds .

I'm a mooch when it comes to buying stuff, but sometimes it cost you more than you'll save if you are greedy.

I'm more of a desktop guy and therefore, my setup is a 2 x 24 inch monitor cockpit connected to a lightening fast station (Windows).

Every now and then when I clear my PC, back up data and just get rid of unnecessary stuff, I feel guilty.

And now I then go and read your post and all's good :)

SSD is king.

Multiple SSDs are even better.

I am running 3 stationary hard drives (1x SSD for my OS, 2x HDD for data) and one external one (HDD as a backup device) and this helps me have peace of mind.

Next investment?

Upgrade all HDDs to SSDs...

Thanks for the write up!
 

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