Buying a computer is an important decision, whether doing so for yourself or for a loved one this holiday season. Rushing out and getting the first thing you see may have huge ramifications later on. You want something that is just right and will last for years to come. You want something that seems like it was designed with you in mind. With that said, here are some considerations to make when you are in the market for a new computer.
Desktop or Laptop?
This depends on your working style and environment. The rule is quite simple: if you rarely work out of the office, get a desktop PC. If you need to work at home, on the go, or at client meetings, then go for a laptop. It’s worth noting that desktops are generally cheaper than laptops at similar specifications, have a longer usage life, and make for easier changing or upgrading of components. Laptops, on the other hand, are very portable due to their compact size, they consume less energy, and they offer a more flexible user experience.
If you want a computer that loads programs in a flash, completes tasks almost instantly, and runs smoothly at all times, then we recommend you invest in the strongest processors available. The performance of a processor is determined by its number of cores and speed, so the bigger the number, the better. Processors with two to four cores will often suffice for most users. However, if your tasks involve rendering high-definition images, animations, graphics, and analysis, then for optimum results it makes sense to get a processor with more than four cores.
Random Access Memory (RAM) allows your computer to perform multiple tasks at once without a hitch. Just like processors, the amount of RAM your computer has will determine how fast it will run when you work on several programs simultaneously. Nowadays, standard computers come with 1-2GB of RAM. However, we advise you to get at least 4GB, or even 8GB, of RAM so that you can navigate smoothly between tasks such as email browsing, Internet surfing, and working on word processing documents and spreadsheets.
The bigger the hard drive, the more space you have to store files. If you plan on using your computer with no peripherals, you’ll want to choose a computer that offers the biggest hard drive. But remember that you can always purchase an external hard drive to transfer or store files if your current hard drive is running out of space. Another thing to consider in a hard drive is its spin speed. Modern computers usually have 5400rpm or 7200rpm drives, the latter being more efficient. The faster your hard drive disk is spinning, the quicker data can be transferred to and from it.
Picking an operating system is a big decision when it comes to choosing a new computer. You’ll probably want to stick with an operating system you’re already familiar with, since it can take some time to adapt yourself to a new OS. Here are some of the popular options available on the market:
Most people will just go for either Windows or Mac OS, because the complexity of Linux and Ubuntu mean they are not popular among everyday users.
If you are in the market for a work PC, you will probably look for a standard, vanilla, run-of-the-mill PC from Dell or HP. These devices function well for daily business activities. However, if you want something with a little more pizazz and power for entertainment purposes, consider ordering a custom-built PC or building one yourself. There are many considerations to be made, but if you want something on which to play games or run any type of power-hungry 3-D program, buy or build a computer with a powerful video card in it. This rules out Apple products, of course, as their devices come “as-is,” but the amount of customization for a PC is staggering. The benefit of a custom PC is that you can set a budget and adjust your purchase accordingly. Having a PC that is tailor-made for you is a great feeling, and if you build it yourself, you will earn a sense of accomplishment.