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Picking out a new Computer

Last week we went over the risks of owning and using a Windows 7 computer. For many that may have triggered other questions such as:

  1. What type of Computer do I need to buy?

  2. Do I need a desktop computer, laptop, or a tablet?

  3. Which Operating System?

  4. How much should I spend?

  5. What is the best computer brand?

  6. What do these Specs mean?

Choices among computers are becoming more confusing as the boundaries between categories blur. For instance, some new desktops are almost as small and inconspicuous as a laptop. Conversely, you can easily find a laptop that’s just as powerful as a typical desktop. And then there are some slightly unconventional categories, such as laptops that can be used liked tablets and all-in-one desktops that don't need a separate monitor.

Today we will break these daunting questions down for a quick and easy computer buying guide.

What type of Computer do I need to buy?

Ask yourself what you need your computer for. The main functionality of your computer will dictate the kind of computer that you need. Will you be using the computer mainly to check email and browse the web? Are you planning on doing a significant amount of office work on your computer? Do you plan on playing games on your computer? Do you anticipate using the computer to create images, music, or videos? Is your computer going to be used by everyone in the family?

Do I need a Desktop, Laptop, or tablet?

Ask yourself how tied down you want to be to a desk. Laptops are portable, and are great for students or office workers, they have also started making a name for themselves in the gaming world. Desktops are typically much more powerful than laptops, but can also end up more expensive. They also take up significantly more space than a laptop.

Laptops will allow you to work from virtually anywhere that you can charge or get a Wi-Fi internet connection. While tablets are another option for consumers they have not been made to handle half of what a Desktop or Laptop can. If you just want to play games, then a tablet may be for you.

Which Operating System?

You're going to hate me for saying this, but this just comes down to personal preference. If your business runs mainly Mac computers, having a Mac at home can make work more convenient. From initial purchase to any servicing that may be needed down the road, Apple computers are typically more expensive than an equally powerful Windows PC.

As of now, Windows are the most commonly owned PC's. For this reason alone, they have many more application and game choices to choose from.

Although these two are the most commonly available choices, you can save money by going with a Linux distribution like Ubuntu. Linux is an alternate Operating System that is free from costs, copyrights, and viruses.

How much should I spend?

Check your budget.

Chromebooks can be found for less than $200, while high-end gaming and graphics-processing computers can run into the $2000 range. Balance your needs versus your available budget. While you can find Laptops for $200-$300, I would rarely recommend a computer at that price. Typically cheaper computers are going to have less capabilities and aren't going to last very long. While this isn't true for all PC's, I have found it to be a common problem among cheaper versions. Be aware of the differences between Chromebooks and Laptops as well. While you might think you are getting a good deal on a laptop, a Chromebook has very limited online use.

What is the best computer brand?

While I may sound repeatitive, the answer to this question is too, personal preference. In my office, I like using HP and Lenovo but my boss swears by Dell. While they're all good name brand computers, it comes down to what the user wants from their computer, what features it has, and what they're using it for. If you haven't found your favorite brand yet: I always suggest a new buyer check out this list of best computers on the market. This list is updated every year with the latest and greatest.

What do these Specs mean?

Now to the most important part of picking your PC - the specs. When it comes time to start shopping around, it will be useful to know what the basic pieces are so that you can make good comparisons:

  1. Hard Drive: This is the storage for your computer. Storage is measured in gigabytes (GB). Everything on your computer will use this space. In general more storage is best.

  2. RAM/Memory: This is specialized storage that keeps temporary information. If you don’t have enough RAM, you’ll find programs running sluggishly or even crashing. 8 GB is a good baseline number for RAM. Remember that this is easily upgradeable at home as well.

  3. CPU: This is the computer’s processor and one of the more important decisions. There are two major manufacturers – Intel and AMD. AMD is typically a little cheaper than Intel for comparable performance.I have AMD at home and Intel at work, I've never been able to tell much of a difference in brand. Although you will want to look into how many cores the processor has. The more cores, the faster the processor, and the more load it will be able to handle. As a general rule, I would never purchase a processor lower than I-3.

Now that you have learned about the most important parts of a PC, it's time to start looking around and comparing the differences in specifications to their prices! While this is a fun and exciting time, it can be overwhelming. We want you to know that - as always, we are here for you! If you have any questions during this process, please reach out!

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