What you need to know about computers and scalability
This is being written for the parents of students heading off to college and need a good computer to work with, and I am not meaning a chrome book.
I had this request, from some friends, to help find a good computer for their son to use at college. I was directed to the college website, and the book store had only Microsoft or Apple computing platforms. So, I thought, I am going to find the best equipment at a good price here, after all—it was a college book store, and college students don’t have a lot of money.
I went to work comparing prices between my corporate accounts, Microsoft, and Apple. What I found surprised me. I would have thought that the Apple platform would have been a little more affordable to students, but that is really not the case. There is about a $200 – $300 dollar spread, and I know what you are thinking, “Well, who is the lowest?” It is not that simple. I only had to compare two Apple and two Microsoft models. All the models had a standard configuration. There was either an 8 Gig or 16 Gig RAM offering and there was a bigger and smaller hard drive, so you had to choose. Go small, or go big on configuration—there was no in between.
The choices in the college book store left no room for what if? Once you made your choice, that was it and you’re stuck with the model of computer you got. I know you are thinking again—so what? Between the two choices of laptop computers, Mac or Microsoft, there is no room for scaling up the computer if you need more.
It’s about Scalability:
When I was doing this research, I was bound and determined to get the best possible price, and then the thought occurred, “it’s really not about price, it is really about scalability.” Scalability is adding to a system. When the need becomes more the current system can handle—the system is enhanced to meet the new work load. In IT, we strive for good network design to be “scalable.” Why not computer systems as well?
When you buy from the college book store, the computer choices are locking the parent into a performance level that may not be good when the child needs more processing power. I say when because it is an absolute when.
With the choices the book store offered, you can’t add more to the computer system. These systems are not scalable. It is a good piece of marketing for the college. It seems to be designed to guide the parents to the most expensive model to make sure their child has the best equipment to last the 4 years. Parents are spending more money than needed at the college book store on something that is not scalable and can’t grow with the students computing needs.
With a scalable design, the laptop is configured with components that works with Windows10 to help save money. For instance, a laptop with a solid-state drive and 8 Gigs of RAM is good for most students, and that configuration is less costly. Under this design, the parents can easily add to the system if more power is needed, and the go big approach is not needed here to ensure the student has enough, more can be added later.
Laptops are kind of hard to deal with—they are not like a desktop computer. However, you can still add things to them to give them big performance increases and scale them up. The two subsystems that are relatively easy to scale are the RAM and hard-drive. This is what the college book store computers lack the ability to do. During the pandemic, many people brought their old laptops to Arnold Consulting, and we breathed new life into them just by adding the maximum amount of RAM and a new solid-state drive. One customer said, “I just got a new computer,” and her cost to upgrade was about $200.00.
Back to my friends, they did not buy either of the PC’s the school was offering. Instead, they bought a Dell Latitude laptop on my guidance. The laptop came with 4 years accidental damage support, and it came in at a lower price. The lower price was partially due to the configuration as it came with 4 gigs of RAM and a platter hard-drive.
Arnold Consulting scaled the computer to 16 Gigs of RAM replaced the platter drive and put in a solid-state effectively quadrupling the throughput from the original configuration. Even with the augmented parts, it still came in three hundred dollars less with tax.
This is a good example of system scaling. My friends got the computer for their son to use at the 8 Gig price, but scaled it with 16 gigs of RAM and a 500 Gig hard drive.
The scalability of this computer does not end there. The computer has the capability of going to 64 Gigs of RAM, and if you really wanted to the CPU, central processing unit, could be replaced with a core i7. The system originally came with a core i5. So, for a couple of hundred dollars more this upgrade could be completed. For now, the Core I5 and 16 gigs will do and the computer came in at a very reasonable price and is scalable to grow—and the key is scalable.
Call Arnold Consulting:
The systems the book store offered are not scalable and in a few years, I would be hearing, “this computer is so slow.” The computer does not slow down; the demands on the computer processing grow every day. Web pages become larger, Excel sheets are bigger, and programs offer more features through updates. With a computer that is scalable, the user can push the computer right out to the end of the failure curve, and the computer will still be productive to the end.
If you have a student heading off to college, call us. We will help you find the best computer that is scalable and give your child the best performance through their college years. We build computers that do not slow down—ever!