Midrange computers are amazingly cheap

Published on 2009-08-24

Last week, my advisor had me spec a new computer for myself since I'm moving to a new office. I decided to go with a Dell Vostro with the following:

The total price was only $600. I was shocked. This is much better than the machine I have at home, an aging iMac. My advisor was also surprised and ended up ordering three of them.

The only catch here is that the machine is not really upgradeable. 4 GB of RAM is normal these days, but the motherboard doesn't support any more than that. The integrated graphics can't drive dual monitors, although I'm sure I can find a cheap NVIDIA GPU that does. Processors can't really be upgraded between generations; I'm sure this thing won't be able to use a Nehalem chip.

Ultimately though, is upgradeability really that important anymore? Certainly if the system cost $1500+, I would want some room for expansion so there would be a few years before I (or my employer) had to buy a new one. But at $600 for a good mid-range system like this, the desktop computer is almost disposable.