Looking to buy a new PC? You have probably see the adverts in the JB Hi-Fi catalogue, Dick Smith or on the Dell Website mentioning all sorts of numbers and abbreviations. Forget all that nonsense. Here is what you need to know when buying a new computer.
The first and most important decision when buying a new PC
Think about what you are going to do with your computer. Are you going to travel with it? Are you going to use it to play graphic intensive games? Are you going to use it for the kids to do homework or are you going to use it mostly to surf the Web and send/receive emails?
What you use your computer for determines what computer you buy.
Laptop or Desktop or Tablet?
The form of your computer is really up to you. Tablets are great for convenience however aren’t good if you work with graphics or need to type a lot. If you aren’t going to travel with your computer then a desktop is what you need.
What the heck is Core i7?
Your choice of processor has a big effect on how quickly your computer will run. The most common laptop and desktop processors are made by Intel and are divided into three families; Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7; i3 is the least expensive and least powerful and i7 the most expensive and powerful. It is unlikely that home and small business users need Core i7 processors unless performing specialist tasks such as large scale data processing.
The number of cores is important if you use processor intensive tasks: CPUs run instructions in serial in a core. Multiple cores therefore allows for multiple serial instructions to be run in parallel.
I use an i3 on my laptop (no need for a powerful processor for developing WordPress Webites) and an i7 on my desktop.
How much RAM to choose?
Good quality RAM is very important and makes a difference to the speed of your computer. The amount of RAM too is critical. Don’t get anything under 8GB RAM even for the most basic computing.
GPU and Graphics Cards
A graphic card encases the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and graphics memory (like RAM). Performance graphics cards used to be the domain of gamers but this has changed. Particularly if you use multiple large displays on your computer you need a good graphics card (probably with at least 2GB memory).
Nowadays many software applications use GPU processing in addition to CPU processing for faster computing (GPUs allow for parallel processing whereas CPUs are suited for serial processing).
Get a good Graphic Card as it’s worth the money. Nvidia and ATI (by AMD) make popular good GPUs.
Hard Drive choices
The amount of hard drive space you need is really dependent on your specific needs. If you use a tablet then you are limited with choices but with laptop and desktop computers there are all sorts of sizes of hard drives.
There are two common categories of hard drives; Solid State Drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD). An HDD stores data on rotating disks (often called platters). An SSD uses flash memory. SSDs use less power and are faster whereas HDDs are less expensive.
Whether to choose an HDD or SSD comes down to your budget.
Operating System choices
Besides Apple OS and Windows there aren’t other popular choices (besides Chrome OS which comes with Chromebooks and some computers come with Linux distributions such as Ubuntu). I love Ubuntu but for most people, Windows8 is probably best.
Much of the so-called Ant-Virus trial-ware is unnecessary and a waste of space. Windows comes with Windows Defender and SmartScreen which is really good and all you need.
Should I buy Microsoft Office?
No. LibreOffice is free and is a far better productivity suite. LibreOffice may be downloaded via torrent so is super-quick to download.
Which Internet Browser to use?
What Email Application?
If you don’t use Google Apps or Gmail for your Email then you should be. Google Apps/Gmail is accessible via your Internet Browser however if you insist on having an Email Application then Mozilla Thunderbird is the one to go for.