Friday, October 28, 2011

Buying Cheap Computers in the Philippines

Notorious cheap gadget geeks like yours truly buy only the cheapest gadgets in town or on the Internet.

Granted, that my PC absolutely needs replacing since this was really my dad's (circa 2006), I must say that I sometimes suffer from PC envy. As a result of my inherent cheapness, I can only play browser games and old DOS games that I play on DOSBox.


So I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want:


The Dell Alienware Ultra Mega Super Desktop


Which is a rather unfortunate choice since I only alloted $150 (5000 PHP) for my "NEW PC Budget". The beast above will suit every single bit of my passions and probably increase my productivity by negative 50% despite the performance upgrade. 

Why? Because I'll sure as heck only play those fancy schmancy games like the new Fallout or that Crysis thing. (They really should learn how to spell "crisis" you know).

The Games That I Want:

Crysis and Fallout 3




Games That I Play

Master of Magic






Try it, this is really fun, you get to watch pixels fly from one part of the screen and then smush other pixels to the other part of the screen.

Wait aren't you the guy who just won $1,000 dollars on Prizes.org?
Yep, indeed. I've imposed a 2 week think-it-through-you-dummy program on myself so I basically tucked the money just beside my 1 and a half foot long short sword - (haha!)

No really, even if I had the money physically with me right now, I wouldn't blow it all on just one thing no matter how much my heart is bleeding for a very fast computer. I am more intent on turning that $1,000 into something like $2,000. But as of this moment, the ideas elude me.

Win-Win Solution 
I'm a win-win solution type of guy. Basically, I'm thinking of putting up another micro business for the indigents in the neighborhood in the form of a mini micro Internet cafe/student center. I'll be giving away the spare PC that we have while I can use the "new" one.

In this way, the new owner of our spare PC will get to have a small Internet cafe business where people could pay 30 PHP to 50 PHP (roughly $1 an hour) and at the same time contribute to education.

Buying Cheap Computers in the Philippines
So, now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to actually look for a computer. My first stop is a store in Robinson's Lipa called Max Saver. (I don't have any relation with the business, except that I once bought an LED monitor there.)

There's very little way to accurately measure the performance of the machines since they provide very little information. But on first sight, their prices are really low!


Looking at this now, I can only laugh. I remember 5 years ago, when I wanted to buy a Pentium 4 PC and thought that it was the world. Back then I had to settle for the office computers in my dad's office which are mostly Celeron's. 

To my old PCs credit though, this old baby was the old PC that helped me win that international video competition so I'm not one to complain even with 512 MB of RAM. You can only imagine me editing videos for hours and hours on end using a slow machine. It was a mixture of pleasure and pain but the good thing is it did it's job and it did it's job well. 

Why Buying Computers Suck
I spent the whole day researching and researching about performance and cost. To my consternation, the way that PCs are sold both online and offline are vastly superficially misrepresented. 

It used be as easy as this:
  • Slow PC, 1 Ghz xRAM
  • Fast PC, 2 Ghz xRAM
  • Faster PC, 3 Ghz xRAM

Now, you'd have to do a lot of research on whether a Dual Core PC is faster than a Core2 Duo PC. Gahhhhh!!!

Thankfully, I've found some very useful tools to compare the performance of PCs. So far, the best that I've found and I really do recommend their website is CPUBenchmark.net. What they did, was that they provided a scoring system for the CPUs in one page so you can just do a CTRL+F to look for the model and compare its price and performance using a scoring system. 

Clicking here will take you to cpubenchmark.net
Why are really useful websites ugly? I don't know...

Using Cpubenchmark.net I can somehow gauge the performance and capabilities of a particular processor using their Passmark CPU Mark and Rank. So far, this is the only website I've seen that provides this kind of in-depth comparison. Now, if they only made their site look better then we have a winner! 

Popular computer stores/websites in the Philippines  
From the top of my head, there are only a handful of computer stores that I can spell and name without a blink. 
  1. Pccorner.com.ph - PC Corner (New computers)
  2. Pcx.com.ph - PC Express (New computers)
  3. TipidPc.com - Tipid PC (Old and new)
  4. OpenPinoy.com - Korean owned (Old computers)
  5. Sulit.com.ph - (Misc + Old computers)

But still, the way they presented their computers seems to be more inclined towards marketing rather than providing possible customers with the exact information that they need. 

I used to be technically inclined to learn all about the nuts and bolts and innards of a PC, but now time is more precious in that I wouldn't have to research about every single performance detail of a component. 

Startup Idea
I haven't seen exactly what I want, but this is my idea of a new startup that would help people buy computers and other gadgets later on. 

Basically, the website will get performance information from sites like CPUBenchmark.net. Then it will get the current performance of the PC that is currently being used. So, for instance, when I checked the Passmark CPU of my particular processor (Celeron 2.0 Ghz), I discovered that it was scored as:

233 

I then searched (via CTRL+F) for the CPU's that are being sold on Max Saver, here are the results:

Pentium 4 2.0 - 247
Pentium 4 2.4 314
Pentium 4 2.8 416
Core Duo T2350 1.86 850
Core Duo T2300 1.66 791
Core2 Duo 1.8 e4300 1056
Core2 Duo 1.8 l7700 1071

I know that it doesn't mean that since my Celeron processor has a score of 233 means that a Core2 Duo 1.8 L7700 will perform 3 times better, but it does give me a rough idea - a "guesstimate" if you will, which makes it easier to decide and makes the whole thing more pleasurable. 

Anyway, if you're a programmer and you think you can do this, I would make the interface of the website like this:


Well, not exactly like this, it still looks cluttered. But you get my drift. Buying a PC should be as easy as this game where I got the inspiration from: http://playspent.org/ 

So rather than researching for hours and hours on end, I could just answer a series of questions, which would help me choose the computer I want, for the price I want, for the performance I want and for how far it is too me. 

Just like a game. Anyway, I'm not a programmer and the idea is still very rough but this is how I would like to buy a PC. No frills just simplified information for people who are too busy to find out whether a Core 2 Duo is faster than a Dual Core. 

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