Buying a new computer can be a daunting process. There are so many different brands, models, specifications, and price points available, and it can be hard to know what will meet your needs. This article is all about breaking down the important stuff from the unimportant, and simplifying the process.
When it comes to computers, they can be divided into three main types: Desktop, Laptop, and Tablet. Here are the pros and cons and points of difference between the three options:
Computers can come in many varied price points. It is important to buy a computer that meets your needs, not just a budget ideal computer. If you purchase a computer at low end pricing, but you have high expectations and performance needs, you will be left with a computer that doesn’t meet your needs. Check the inclusions and specifications of the computer prior to purchasing.
Sometimes you will see a computer listed as an “All-in-one”, this means that the computer is a desktop unit that includes a monitor, keyboard and mouse in the sale. You may also see “2-in-1 Laptops”, these are laptops featuring touch screens that can be folded backwards and used as a tablet as well.
Other inclusions to check for include what operating system the computer comes with, and if Office or other productivity suites are included as part of the purchase price. Extended warranty is usually offered at the point of sale as an additional cost. It is always wise to read through the product details to check what extra features and inclusions are present.
Before purchasing a new computer, check that the ports you need are present. The ports will usually be listed with the specifications of the computer. If everything else on the computer is what you’re looking for, but the ports you need are not present, don’t fret, you may be able to buy a converter cable. For example, if your monitor uses an older style VGA cable but your new computer only has a HDMI port available, you can buy a VGA-to-HDMI cable and still use both devices together. For another example, if the new computer you’ve purchased has only one HMDI port and you’d like to use two HDMI monitors, you can purchase a HDMI-splitter cable and use all three devices together on the one cable. You can usually find a cable to work as a solution to your port problems, but it pays to check before purchasing a new computer.
The specifications of the computer are what you’re primarily paying for, so they’re very important to take note of prior to making a purchase. There are some key specifications to focus on when buying a new computer:
- The CPU (Central Processing Unit, sometimes simply referred to as the Processor)
- The graphics card (also referred to as the video card)
- The hard drive
- The RAM (also referred to as memory)
There are usually many other specifications listed in addition to these, but these key specifications can make or break computer performance. There is no right and wrong when it comes to the specifications, but the computer should be a good price for the specifications and performance that you’re receiving. It also pays to look at computers online before walking into a store, because it is much easier to compare specifications online rather than instore, and the range and price tends to be better online. You could save yourself hundreds of dollars by doing your homework!
There is an excellent website that allows you to compare the performance of up to three different CPUs at the same time: https://www.cpubenchmark.net/ We recommend using their free service to check any CPU you’re looking at buying to ensure you’re getting a good deal. The website also allows you to compare graphics cards, hard drives and RAM.
Data Measurement Chart
When it comes to the size of the hard drive and the RAM, yes, size does matter! So, here’s a data measurement chart for you if you’re unfamiliar with these measurements:
Most hard drives in new computers these days are in the range of Gigabytes to Terabytes, most CPUs are in the range of Megabytes, and most RAM is in the range of Gigabytes. The bigger the better, and as technology improves prices drop on existing sizing and larger sizing becomes available on the market.
The CPU, (or Processor as it is commonly referred to) is the most important part of the computer for performance. There are many brands available, but perhaps the two best known brands are Intel and AMD. Intel currently offers their 8th (and 9th generation in 2019) of CPUs: i3 (worst), i5 (middle), and i7 (best), and AMD currently offers their 2nd generation (and 3rd generation in 2019) of Ryzen CPUs. When comparing CPUs, the bigger numbers are better, for example, a 9MB Cache is better than a 6MB Cache, and 4.0GHz is better than 3.6GHz. Pay attention to everything listed for the CPU specifications and compare CPUs on offer across different computer models.
There are two types of hard drive you can commonly buy in a computer: Solid State Drive (SSD) and Hard Disk Drive (HDD). SSD is a type of hard drive with no moving parts, designed to be shock resistant and more resilient than the older style HDD. HDD is an older type of hard drive that usually features larger amounts of usable space for a much smaller price, but are far more susceptible to shocks and damage. If you have the budget room to move, we recommend SSD over HDD for their resilience.
The graphics card is the component in charge of the quality of graphics that your monitor will display (limited to what your monitor is capable of outputting). If you have high end needs such as video streaming or online gaming, you will need a good graphics card to meet these needs. If you don’t have high end needs, the graphics card will be less important to you.
The RAM (Random Access Memory) is the memory of the computer. This is important for processing speed. Pay attention to the size and the speed, and compare different specifications available.
Other Points to Consider
It won’t matter if you have an excellent graphics card if your monitor is terrible! Invest in a new monitor with High Definition screen (1080 x 1080 pixels) along with your new computer to get the most out of your experience if you’re watching videos or gaming. To safeguard your computer from a power surge, buy a surge-protected motherboard and ensure your computer is connected to that instead of an unprotected power-point. For more information about computer maintenance and keeping your computer in good condition, see our other article: https://aboutnetworks.com.au/2019/03/03/computer-maintenance-the-things-you-can-do-yourself/