“The Best”: There is little practical value to buying “the best” when purchasing new computer hardware. No matter how much you spend or how fancy your system is it will still be ready for replacement in three to four years. Many dentists believe that if they just spend the extra money for high quality today they will have a system, which will last for a lifetime. This may be true when buying a chair or an autoclave. It just doesn’t work when buying computer hardware.
Value Curve: Hardware prices tend to fall along an S curve. You will get the most for your money if you buy on the shoulder of the curve as shown in the diagram below.
If you choose to buy at the top of the curve you will often spend two to three times as much. You will not get twice as much performance and it will not last twice as long. Generally it may extend the life of the hardware about six months before replacement is required. Replacement will be needed not because the computer is worn out, but because it will no longer perform adequately with current software. A good policy is to plan on replacing one third to one fourth of your computers every year. For a typical office with six computers you should replace one or two every year. In that way the cost is spread out over time and the office always has an up to date system. The other factor is that a better computer will run the software faster and allow for more add ons.