Most of us remember the first day we bought our first computer. Maybe 12 years ago, a Pentium IV with 256MB memory. A lot of things have changed since then. Computers are much more advanced and cheaper. Also there are way too many options now. Do I need a laptop or will a tablet work? Buying a new computer or upgrading is undoubtedly an exciting experience. But in many cases that excitement can very quickly fade away if you don’t do your requirement analysis of your computing demands before buying one. The computer technology moving ahead in a lightning speed. Choosing from a vast number of available choices may be a daunting task. This article will try to assist in choosing the best available option for you.
Modern computers have module based configuration. That means you can build a functioning system by adding different parts from different manufacturers. So in case one component fails or needs further upgrade, it’s not necessary to change the entire system. You only have to replace that faulty component. Say, the graphics card that you currently have won’t let you play newly released computer games. You can solve this problem by replacing the current graphics card with a new one that has more processing power and higher memory. Everything else remains same.
It is true that while selecting a new computer you might get overwhelmed by the huge volume of tech decisions that you will have to make. You might be wondering how much random access memory (RAM) you will need, which generation of the processor to select or what type of VGA card to choose from? What type of display you would prefer, how much space do you want in hard drive (HDD). There are too many concerns that it’s hard to decide and where to begin.
But don’t worry, there is a simple solution to all of these. All you have to do is answer four basic questions:
What would you do with your computer?
Spend some time thinking what kind of applications and software you will need to run in your computer. This will make it is easy to decide what features you need to have in your computer. If your intention is only to do basic tasks like browsing the internet, sending and receiving emails, running office-friendly software like MS Word – then here is good news for you. Most computers, even the low budget ones, will be more than enough to meet your requirements. But be careful, some tablets may not be able to run applications like MS Word or PowerPoint.
If your intention is to buy a computer that can handle the basic tasks along with playing some basic games, watching movies, listening to music, sharing files across a network, then you might consider buying an entertainment computer. This system needs bit more hardware power. It might include a larger storage capacity (hard drive) to store all your movies and music, bigger screen, better speakers and maybe a sound card for high quality music. But they don’t necessarily have to be expensive. Most of the entertainment computers are known as all-in-one computers now a days.
Would you call yourself a hard core gamer? Then you might want to purchase a gaming computer with best possible configurations. This type is generally more expensive. A gaming computer will not only have a good screen resolution but also a high end graphics card, a strong processor and a fast hard drive. Keep in mind that you may need to buy some controlling accessories to fully enjoy your gaming experience.
You may not be a gamer but for some tasks you need to have a high performance computer. High definition video editing, 3D graphics, animation, sound & music processing or some complex computer programming often requires a system with high level of processing power. This system should include powerful Intel CPU, lots of memory and a larger faster hard drive. You will also need high end graphics card on this to free up the computers RAM.
What type of device are you looking for?
Before you buy you need to think about what kind of device is perfect for you. If you are a sound artist working in a studio you would probably need a device that can be synced with your other sound studio devices. A desktop with good processing power can be a perfect match. But for a real estate agent or salesperson the mobility of the device is very important as usually they are on the move all the time. Plus they don’t need a high performing system for tasks such as PowerPoint presentation or sending emails. A tablet computer will suit them perfectly. So you need focus on what kind of device will fit with your requirements and lifestyle.
A typical desktop computer has a monitor (CRT, LCD, LED etc.), mouse and keyboard, a case that contains CPU (processor), motherboard, power supply, hard disk, optical drive etc. If you don’t require portability, a desktop computer will be the best option. These are bigger machines, but can deliver higher performance and value for money. Desktop computers are very flexible in regards to making changes to its configuration. So if you are a hard core gamer, you can easily buy a latest graphics card, AMD processor and more RAM and enjoy newly released games.
Laptop on the other hand, is a lighter and portable option for you if you require high mobility. The most noticeable features of laptop are a rechargeable battery, compact design and option of regularly carrying and using it in different locations. Like desktops, laptops can handle powerful applications too. Technically a laptop has the same components of a desktop computer but in smaller modules.
In terms of popularity, laptops are the first choice among people. There are all sorts of laptops available in market starting from very basic ones to the high end gaming laptops. Now a days special processors are manufactured for laptops which are ultra-portable and generate very minimal amount of sound and heat.
Netbooks are a sub group of laptops with smaller screens of typically 8 to 12 inches and weigh about 1 kilogram. Their main purpose is to do some basic typing jobs and accessing web-based applications. Most of them have low performing atom processors, 1 to 2 GB of RAM, no optical drive and less disk space. The small size of netbooks make them extremely portable and the battery survives up to 10 hours. They are cheaper than average laptops.
What hardware features are more important to you?
If you are not a big fan of olives, what do you do when you order a pizza? You ask the waiter to avoid olives on your pizza. Maybe add a bit of extra cheese because you like cheese. Finding the best computer is quite similar to that. You need to fine tune the components of your computer that will provide you with your desired performance and possibly save you some money as well.
The first thing that should come into consideration is how powerful processor do you need? If you are a light user, then a basic dual core processor will do your job. In reality, even the low end computers now have CPUs with dual core processors. Be smart with your choices. Like Intel’s latest Haswell processors comes with superb graphics and visual performance. So you can save on the extra cost of buying a separate graphics card.
Some people stress too much on RAM. And there is a common misconception that if you buy a bigger RAM, your computer will run faster. Well, that’s not right. You need to have a good processor too in order to get better performance. These days though, even a low budget computer should have 4 GB of RAM. That should be enough for all your basic needs. But if you want to buy a high end computer than you can upgrade your RAM even as much as 16 GB.
The storage capacity of the hard disk drive really depends on the user. Some of us like to collect movies and save them in our computer hard drives. But others would watch it on a DVD and never really copy it to the hard drive. So when it comes the right size of a hard disk drive – it’s really up to you. Portable hard drives are becoming widely popular these days and you can use them if you need some extra storage space.
If you have a bigger budget, then go for a solid state drive (SSD) rather than a HDD. SSD performs better and can help your computer with faster boot.
Now, if you want to play high end games on your computer, the choice of good graphics card would be very crucial. There are a number of choices from different manufacturers. You need to check the latest trend before buying one. Follow the gaming forums and see which graphics card will fit you best.
And the last but not the least, whatever you are doing on your computer, a good quality monitor is very important to enjoy the whole viewing experience. LED monitors are becoming more popular and they are available in cheaper prices. If you have a laptop you can still use a bigger LED screen for better viewing and high resolution graphics.
How much are you willing to spend?
Money matters. If you have the money you can go and buy Alienware laptop for $4000. Or if you are on a tight budget then maybe you have to settle on a $400 Netbook. Spend your money wisely. The idea is to walk out of the computer store with the best performing computer without blowing up your budget. So do your research, think what you need and ask questions.
Focus on the technical specifications rather than on brand names. Be sure to collect proper documents for warranty. Ask the salesperson about the coverage of warranty and whether or not you will be covered if you travel overseas.