Not sure what you mean by this, and the facile answer would be "when you need one" or "when the old one doesn't meet your needs anymore." On the other hand, the best time to buy a computer is when they are on sale. Generally, since you are a student, the smartest time to begin looking for a computer is during the back-to-school period, assuming you can wait until then, when computers are on sale
This means you need to determine precisely what you will be doing with your computer besides a lot of term papers. The more intensive the applications you will be using, the greater the RAM,CPU, and HD storage will be needed. With this in mind, prepare a list of minimum requirements you would want in a computer; a little research on the NET can help guide you. Many retailers, for example, have quides; these also will often let you check off selections and run a side-by-side comparison of features and quality.
Narrow your selection down to a few models and brands within your price range, then monitor the newspaper adds, comparing these with on-line retailers (hint: always check resellerratings.com for customer ratings of a on-line company).TO LAPTOP OR NOT TO LAPTOP
Again, usage should determine the choice. Naturally laptops are very portable, especially usefull for note-taking in class, but unless electrical outlets are abundant in the classroom, they are limited by battery life.
They are kewl.
But they also require constant alertness because of theft or phsical damage.
On the other hand, a tower will provide you with more data storage and, all else being equal, more computing power. A Comp Lit major might prefer the laptop, while the graphics designer or the architect student would probably prefer a regular tower.
If you are going to be doing a lot of computing activities on the go, then get a laptop; if you will be doing work primary at one home location, then invest in a Tower where you will bet more "bang for the buck."
Perhaps some of the college students amoung our membership will have additional advice.
Edited by jgweed, 29 April 2005 - 02:39 PM.