Buying a new computer is never an easy task especially if you have not bought one recently or are not that familiar with the newest technologies and jargon. Then there are some sales people (not all) that try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge on computers and offer you a system that you do not need, hopefully this guide will help you avoid that.
This guide will walk you through the things to look for when buying a new desktop computer, some things you may not have even thought mattered but may in the future. We will try and avoid the jargon and give clear explanations of the things to look for.
At the end of this guide you will find a PDF that gives you the basics to look for so you can print it off and take it with you when looking to buy a new computer.
This is probably not something that many people think about when buying a new computer but there are a few reasons that you should think about it. There are mainly 2 types of case, a slim line and a full case. Most people go for a slim case as it saves space but I would always recommend a larger case.
Advantages – Much smaller and compact
Disadvantages – Very limited for upgrades in the future (extra hard drives, Optical drives, cards etc), Power supply limited and difficult to replace if damaged. Not designed for gaming or anything more than basic use (air flow is limited and power supply tends to be low wattage for graphics upgrades additional hardware)
Full size case
Advantages – Leaves plenty of room for future upgrades, better air flow, better power supply (easy to replace upgrade), Generally more things like USB ports, esata ports
Disadvantages – Bulkier and takes up more room.
This could be a post only about processors but I will try and keep this short. Intel tend to be the more expensive of the 2 processors but are also considered the better performing processors. If you can afford it I would always recommend going with an Intel processor. At the end of the day there are fans on both sides. Nowadays I always purchase Intel after having a couple of problems with 2 previous AMD processors so I will only speak about Intel as they are the processors I am most familiar with.
There are now 3 main processors when buying an Intel computer.
I3 – The I3 processor is the cheaper of the 3 processors and is designed for the basics. If you are using your computer for nothing more than browsing the internet, emails and some word processing and spreadsheet work that the i3 processor is probably adequate for what you want to do.
i5 – The i5 is the midrange processor and is more powerful than the i3. If you want to do more than the basics and can afford the extra cost I would always recommend going for the i5 not only for the speed increase but also as a way of future proofing your computer for a few more years
i7 – This is the performance processor of the Intel range and is perfect for gamers, video editing enthusiasts and other high performance applications. The i7 is costly but is worth it if you want top of the line performance.
What processor speed do I need?
When it comes to processor speed without getting too technical the more the better. The higher the speed the faster the performance. For example a 3.2GHZ processor is much faster than a 2.2GHz processor. The higher you can afford the faster your computer will perform.
Memory is one of the most crucial parts of the system. The more memory you can get the better. Don’t confuse the memory with the hard drive as many people do. A hard drive is used for storing your data and the Memory or RAM is used for processing data.
With Windows 7 you want to be looking at a minimum of 3GB of RAM but the more memory the better. Unless you are using it for heavy gaming or extremely memory intensive applications you don’t really need more than 8GB and some people even think 4GB is plenty for most users. Again get as much as your budget allows but don’t go for overkill.
It may not surprise you to hear that the larger the better again. The hard drive is the place where all your data is stored from programs to your photos and music. If you are someone who stores a lot of photos and music then this is something you need to think about. Most drives will come with a minimum size of about 250GB which for most people using it for everyday basics is more than enough.
Hard drive upgrades are relatively cheap so if you are looking to play games store many photos and music files you may want to look at a minimum of 500GB and the price increase over a 250GB drive should only be small. Alternativly you could always buy a portable external hard drive to store your photos and music on like the Western Digital 1TB My Passport Portable Hard Drive