New computer recommendations

Updated 5/6/23:

Since you’ll likely be spending the next 5-10 years or more with your next computer, please take a few minutes now to make an informed decision about what to look for in a new computer and accessories – and get the best deal. 

Our recommended minimum new computer specifications are:

  • Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 5 processor or better. For an Apple Mac computer we recommend getting Apple’s “M” series processor rather than an Intel processor.
  • 8 GB RAM or more
  • 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD) or larger
  • Please read New Computer Buying Guide for more detailed information.

We don’t recommend trying to save money on a refurbished computer. Typically they won’t last as long as a new computer, and are less secure due to unpatched processor flaws and some cannot be upgraded to more recent secure operating systems.

We’ve seen the best reliability with HP and Dell brands. Keep in mind that cheaper laptops and all-in-ones typically only have a vertical screen resolution of 768 pixels, whereas higher quality and clearer screens are 1080 pixels or higher.

Click on the links below to view recommended computers meeting the minimum recommended specifications noted above at the respective retailer’s website. Some models may be available in-store. If you come across a good deal elsewhere, remember to look for specifications that are a minimum of what’s listed above.

Desktop PCs:

Best Buy – Dell, HP – SSD PC Desktops

Costco – Dell, HP Desktops – make sure hard drive is SSD or HDD+SSD

HP Store – Desktop computer towers with SSD

Dell – Desktop computers & All-in-One PCs with SSD

Laptop/Notebook PCs – regular price differences are due to variances in screen size, processor (speed), screen resolution and 2-in-1 convertibility:

Best Buy – Dell, HP SSD PC Laptops

Costco – Dell, HP – SSD PC Laptops

Apple Mac:

Best Buy – iMac desktop

Best Buy – MacBook laptop

Costco – iMac desktop

Costco – MacBook laptop

Apple – iMac desktop – select Apple M1 or M1 Pro/Max chip

Apple – MacBook laptop – select Apple M1 or M1 Pro/Max chip

Custom-built computers

If you need a computer custom-built for gaming or business needs, we recommend contacting our friends at Technology Center.

The pros and cons of Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings

Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings are part of its initiative to phase out the use of third-party cookies for tracking and advertising purposes. According to Google, these settings are designed to enhance user privacy while still allowing relevant and personalized ads. However, some critics and users are skeptical about Google’s claims and prefer to opt out of these settings.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings, gathered from 2 different AI Chatbots – Google Bard and Microsoft Bing:

Pros according to Google Bard Chat AI:

  • Increased privacy: Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings offer users more control over how their browsing data is used to serve targeted ads. By default, Chrome will group users’ browsing history into topics and share these topics with websites, which can then use them to serve targeted ads. However, users can now opt out of this feature entirely, or they can choose to exclude specific topics from being shared.
  • Improved transparency: Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings also make it more transparent to users how their browsing data is being used to serve targeted ads. Users can now see the topics that Chrome has identified them as being interested in, and they can also see which websites have requested access to their topics.
  • Potential for better ad experiences: Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings could lead to better ad experiences for users. By limiting the amount of data that websites have access to, Chrome could help to reduce the prevalence of intrusive and irrelevant ads.

Cons according to Google Bard Chat AI:

  • Potential for reduced ad relevance: By opting out of Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings, users may see less relevant ads. This is because websites will have less information about their interests to use when serving ads.
  • Potential for reduced ad revenue for publishers: If more users opt out of Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings, publishers may see a decrease in ad revenue. This could lead to some publishers being forced to reduce the quality of their content or even shut down altogether.
  • Potential for privacy concerns: Some privacy experts have raised concerns about the fact that Chrome is still collecting some browsing data, even when users opt out of its new Ad Privacy settings. They argue that this data could still be used to track users across the web.

Overall, Google Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings offer users more control over their privacy, but they also have some potential drawbacks. Users should carefully consider their own privacy needs and preferences before deciding whether or not to opt out of these settings.

It is also important to note that Chrome’s new Ad Privacy settings are still under development, and it is possible that some of the potential drawbacks may be addressed in future updates.

Pros according to Microsoft Bing Chat AI:

  • The Ad Topics feature uses your recent browsing history to detect what topics you’re interested in and show you ads related to those topics. Google says these topics are deleted after four weeks and you can see and edit the list yourself. This may improve your online experience by showing you ads that are more useful and interesting to you.
  • The Site-Suggested Ads feature lets individual sites you’ve visited suggest ads for similar products or services on other sites. You can also manually block individual sites from doing this. This may help you discover new or better options for your needs or preferences.
  • The Ad Measurement feature lets different sites and advertisers share information about how well their ads are doing. Google says this information is aggregated and anonymized to protect your privacy. This may help advertisers improve their ad quality and relevance, which could benefit both them and you as a consumer.

Cons according to Microsoft Bing Chat AI:

  • The Ad Topics feature is still a form of tracking, even if it’s based on your browsing history rather than cookies. Some users may not want Google or anyone else to know what topics they’re interested in or what sites they visit. Some users may also find the ads annoying or intrusive, especially if they’re not accurate or relevant.
  • The Site-Suggested Ads feature may also be seen as a form of tracking, as it allows sites to follow you across the web and show you ads based on your previous visits. Some users may not want sites to have this power or influence over their choices. Some users may also prefer to see a variety of ads rather than the same ones over and over again.
  • The Ad Measurement feature may pose a risk to your privacy, even if Google says it’s anonymized and aggregated. Some users may not trust Google or other parties to handle their data securely or ethically. Some users may also object to having their online behavior monitored and analyzed for advertising purposes.

It’s your personal choice

Whether or not you choose to turn off Chrome’s Ad Privacy settings, you still have the option to use other web browsers occasionally or exclusively to help you manage third-party ad tracking and cookies. Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers have blocked third-party tracking cookies for a few years.

For more information on Google Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox and Ad Privacy settings, see this Bleeping Computer article.

It is this author’s opinion that if you’re on a web page that’s going to show you ads anyways, they might as well be relevant to my interests.

How to save money on your wireless cell phone service – use an MVNO

If you’re paying too much for wireless cell phone service, consider switching to using a MVNO instead. A wireless MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) is a company that does not own its own cellular network but instead leases network capacity from a major carrier. This allows MVNOs to offer lower prices than the major carriers, as they do not have to invest in building and maintaining their own networks.

AT&T, Dish Wireless, T-Mobile and Verizon are the 4 local wireless carriers that build and maintain the cell tower network and infrastructure, but dozens of MVNOs resell service on those networks for often a cheaper price.

Some of the more popular MVNOs, and the network(s) that they use

  • Consumer Cellular – AT&T or T-Mobile
  • Spectrum – Verizon
  • Mint Mobile – T-Mobile
  • Visible – Verizon
  • Cricket – AT&T
  • Metro – T-Mobile
  • Red Pocket – AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon
  • TracFone – Verizon
  • Boost Mobile – AT&T, Dish Wireless
  • Google Fi – T-Mobile

Pros to switching to an MVNO

  • Lower cost than the major carriers
  • Payments for service are at the beginning of each monthly term – no long-term contracts that are tied into purchasing a phone at a large discount
  • You can usually use an existing modern phone, as long as it’s no more than a few years old.

Cons to switching to an MVNO

  • Lower priority data in areas and times of network congestion
  • Generally lower or no phone subsidies (no free phones, you pay for the entire cost of the phone in advance)
  • International roaming is not included or an add-on expense
  • Customer service is limited to phone or chat only – there are no local stores to visit for help *

* This is where we can help.

If you need help deciding on which MVNO to choose, setting up or troubleshooting your wireless service or device, porting your phone number out from your existing wireless carrier, or transferring data to a new smartphone, contact Computer Techs for in-home service.