So you’re in Perth and you’ve got a laptop that needs repairing – is it worth keeping or should I replace it with a new one?
How do I decide when to replace my laptop?
Most people wait til something goes wrong, then get a quote for repairs. That’s a pretty sensible approach. If your laptop’s running slowly, or you need more powerful processor, get a quote on an upgrade before buying new. Everyone loves a shiny new laptop, but maybe you’d rather repair it and fund a return ticket to Europe? Our advice: at least get a quote.
Is there a formula for repair or replace on laptops?
Yes. We use this rule of thumb. If a new one is less than twice the cost of a broken one, get a new one. You’ll get a new warranty and twelve months’ peace of mind. But wait, there’s more.
What are the hidden costs in buying a new laptop?
You will need to reinstall all your software from discs or downloads. Do you have all the discs and licenses? Definitely? If not, you’ll have to buy the software again. Microsoft Office costs around $400 so if you don’t have the original disks, re-do the calculation, adding that cost to the purchase price.
REPLACE if BRAND NEW LAPTOP + replacement software is less than twice the repair cost. But wait! There’s more.
How much time does setting up a new laptop take?
Rough estimate, assuming you’re super-efficient and live next door to the Apple Store: two hours to research and buy.
Average time to set-up a new laptop with all your data, network connections, printer connections and such: 4-6 hours. So maybe seven hours all-up. What’s your time worth? Well, it should be worth more than your hourly rate of pay and at least half what you bill your time at, so if you’re on $80K a year, we calculate that at around $60/hour.
So the formula might be:
REPLACE if BRAND NEW LAPTOP + new software + $420 is less than twice the repair cost.
Why are laptop repairs different for gamers?
The repair or replace decision is different for gamers. If you’re a gamer, you’re probably excited about the improvements in processing speed you will get from a new rig. Everyone else should chill. Your performance on a spreadsheet is not going to jump with a new box. Workplace laptops have barely shifted in practical performance.
Is a new cheap laptop better than an expensive old one?
Don’t confuse the two. Specifications matter, and if you’re pricing a new one, make sure it’s as good as the one you’re discarding. New high performance laptops are expensive. If you have a good quality older laptop, your likely repair bill will be a few hundred versus at least a couple of thousand to replace.
My laptop is running slow. Is that a reason to replace it?
If your laptop is five years old and chugging along, what would you pay to have one that runs lightning fast? $250? Let’s modify your formula:
REPLACE if BRAND NEW LAPTOP + new software + $420 is less than twice (the repair cost + $250).
There’s another way of doing this. If you’ve got an old budget laptop you should get a GO FASTER quote for a new Solid State drive. These are dramatically quicker than what you’ve got. That quote may include more RAM.
In that case:
REPLACE if BRAND NEW LAPTOP + new software + $420 is less than twice (the repair cost + GO FASTER QUOTE).
Often people forget how long it took to get the laptop to the point where it’s completely customised and personalised. That familiarity leads to good productivity.
What if I only need a new screen?
A new screen is way, way cheaper than a new laptop. LCD screen replacements are very cost effective these days, even with high-priced laptops like HP’s X360 range or Lenovo Yogas. It’s far cheaper to replace the broken screen than replace the notebook and only a couple of hours turn around.
What’s quicker? A new laptop or a repair?
Managed IT services are notorious for spruiking ‘replace over repair’. Why? They have no infrastructure in-house to work at a motherboard component level. And if they sell you a new laptop they can also charge for time spent transferring data and setting up the laptop. When you factor in data transfer and setup, ‘repair and return’ is usually quicker, particularly with screen replacements.
At Computer Mechanics, we’re in the business of repairing – it’s in our interest to keep that cost down so you don’t replace. However, we regularly advise people to kiss a loyal friend goodbye.
Hope that helps you make your decision. Happy to help with further advice.
A closing thought:
What do I do with my old laptop?
Less new laptops = less toxic waste. Please don’t throw your old laptop into landfill. Computers in the bin are an environmental disaster. We send all our broken components to an electronic waste service for recycling.