Why the Idea of Second-Hand PCs and Gadgets Appeals to Me
As I’ve already mentioned in “A Glance at Kaby Lake Processor from behind the Desk”, I’ve been considering my desktop system upgrade coming spring. I’ve been choosing between Kaby and Skylake processors, comparing their specs and such and then my thoughts inevitably went back to the times when I bought my very first Microsoft based PC.
Now, this was a pathetic hand-me-down in some ways. Bulky, greyish and as heavy as hell. But it had two indisputable advantages to me. It came cheap and it had the display and a keyboard and mouse set to go with. The display was also a cumbersome cube, the ELT one, which back in 1998 was a hot thing, really. And when I write ‘hot’, I mean it, because you could warm your hands over it on cold days. It was cackling when turned up and radiates a stingy smell of plastic after three or more hours of work.
The previous owner had installed the CD-drive in this PC but mercifully didn’t add up its cost to the final quote. Fresh from college and having just landed myself a job, I couldn’t afford a brand-new system. But I badly needed one and this PC was just a heaven’s gift. Or so I thought, hauling it back to my apartment.
In a month or so my PC wouldn’t boot. And since then my geek’s career started. The following week saw me calling for computer help every day. Every single day. It went like, I press the power button, the PC won’t boot, I call for a help, a man comes, press some buttons and after a successful reboot leaves. On his last visit I surreptitiously put down everything he was doing and next time just repeated the steps. Oh, magic! It worked! The problem was, the motherboard was too old and the system wanted for a hard drive every time it booted. So I had to enter BIOS every time I powered my desktop.
The video card was the second to get busted. It turned out, the card kept losing the pin connection and it took a heaty kick to click her back in place. So, my everyday routine went like, I press the power button, read No Signal on the screen, unscrew the side panel of the PC tower, push the videocard back in place, press Delete key to enter BIOS and define the Boot Device, boot Windows. I subscribed to several geeks’ forums and bought myself a nice set of screwdrivers (I had to use a kitchen knife to open the PC body for the first time).
The thing was, I wasn’t afraid to bust anything or ruin my computer, because it already was old and tampered with. I explored its possibilities and hardware, and little by little came to love the computers and everything that come with them. And I still love them. Had I bought a brand new PC from the store, I believe, I’d have remained an apprehensive end-user, who panics every time his system hiccups. When I earned enough to afford myself a new system, I sold this one to some other man. The last I heard about it, it worked as a home server. You see, it was not quick enough for heavy jobs, but it still could store files. Pentium II, 256 MB of HDD, 128 MB of RAM, God bless it.
I remember my first PC with a pang of nostalgia. Due to my experience with it, I’d learnt enough to know that the best PC is the one you get assembled to you or assemble yourself. But the trends in modern PC world make me sad. We’re being cut off from tweaking and upgrading out systems. It’s like with cars, you see. Once it took Bertha Benz a garter and a hatpin to get her car going. Back in 1970s and even 1980s it took you a toolbox and a parking lot to fix your ride if there was nothing serious with it. Nowadays one needs a computer to test the engine, the electrics and what not. You open your hood and stare in with a cryptic expression on your face trying to see where’s the demon, who gets your car going, lives. I’m not saying that fixing a car was just a piece of cake, but you could learn what to do in an emergency if you set to it.
With PCs the process is subtler, though. If you look up the reviews and such, you’ll see that laptops, tablets and especially hybrids take up the largest segments of the market. Even laptops now come with soldered CPU and RAM. You can’t upgrade and sometimes, you can’t open the case. I’m writing this article on Asus X540S. To get to an HDD and RAM drive I got to remove the motherboard first as it’s parked the other side about. On my previous ASUS of K50 series there was a trap door in the bottom to get an access to the RAM at least.
So, the only way, I’m saying it again, to get what you want is to assemble the desktop. The best way to start, from my experience, is to get yourself a nice second-hand PC and fiddle with it. You won’t become an engineering genius, but you’ll get to know how it’s made and what it does and why. You’ll achieve and advanced user level and feel more at home with all these gadgets which come your way.
And of course, don’t get rid of your old PCs. You can hand them over to others, or find people who will do it for you. Like we at iGotOffer.