I came across a post by Mr. John Scalzi on page 1 of Hacker News yesterday. Mr. Scalzi described his thought process in not buying a new computer to replace his now-old desktop. First, he described the problem with his current desktop:
My desktop computer has been slowing down a bit recently, and my graphics card is now several years old and questionable for a number of new games I wanted to play, and my C drive recently informed me it had only 5GB of space left on it.
With apologies for the spoilers, he ultimately decided to clean his storage and uninstall unneeded programs in lieu of following through on his order of a likely-overpriced desktop machine from Alienware. While I am all for refurbishing old computers and installing lightweight Linux distributions on them, there is a better path for a primary machine: Build one. I have built three computers for my own use (2011, 2014, and my current computer in 2020). I also recently helped my good friend and colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, build a computer for his family. In building a computer, one can carefully choose each part and ensure maximum repairability. If there is a hardware failure, it is easier to repair if you installed the hardware yourself. Mr. Scalzi explained why he did not build his own computer:
I have neither the interest, or, frankly, competence, to build my own (I’ve tried it before, it ended… poorly)
My fine-motor skills are lacking and in the universe of people who have build their own computer, my knowledge is not necessarily top-of-the-line. But I was able to do it with minor blood loss (all of my computer builds, including the one that I helped Victor with, end with a little bit of blood loss). There are now more guides than ever on building computers, including plenty in video-form. Moreover, some retail sites like Newegg and Micro Center have tools to help buyers ensure that their parts fit together correctly. With just a bit of research and a few hours of work, you can build a dependable and repairable desktop computer for every use-case. I certainly recommend it over buying some pre-built computer that is not designed to be easily modified.
Of course, if you do not need a new computer and your old computer technically works, it is worth cleaning things up (as Ms. Scalzi did) and, depending on what you use the computer for, considering a lightweight Linux distribution (which I did with my 2011 build).