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What To Look For In A Desktop Computer (A Beginner's Buying Guide)

Updated on February 22, 2014
different types of computers
different types of computers | Source

Importance of a Computer

Obviously I don't need to explain the importance of a computer in an age we like to call the 'Information Ear'. Information has become a powerful weapon and computers have become the the weapons that shoot the bullets.

Following are some obvious uses of a computer:

  • replaces the TV and radio
  • organizes your work
  • connects you to the Internet
  • multi-tasking
  • massive knowledge database
  • additional income source (online)
  • social networking
  • gaming
  • working

Those are some random tips and I'm sure you must have better reasons.So let's just to the topic at hand...

Before Buying... Decide...

Decide what?

Decide what you need the computer for? What you will be doing with your computer?

This as an important decision as any other. And this is the most important, in my opinion.

Making this decision right will save you a lot of money and time, otherwise you would spend on working on a computer that doesn't do what you want it to do and going to computer shops to replace accessories.

So depending on your needs categorize yourself into either of these options.

  1. Average personal user - this is your average day-to-day work stuff (Eg: movies, music, TV, Internet, reading, social networking, word processing, a little Photoshop and a little gaming.)
  2. Pro-Gamer - someone who buys the computer for the sole purpose of gaming (extreme games that require massive graphics and processing power)
  3. Graphic Designer - a graphic designer on a professional level with special focus on multimedia aspects (massive photo edits, video edits, 3D animations, rendering etc)

Where does your computer requirement fall within these three categories? If you want to buy a pro-gaming or a heavy duty graphics supported computer, this isn't the article for you. Chances are you already know what you want from other people in the specific industry.

So this article is targeted at the average person who needs to get their daily needs done through a personal computer.

So let's get right to it...

Google's data center server
Google's data center server | Source
Computer Brands
Computer Brands | Source

What Computer Brand to Get?

There are probably a thousand and one computer manufacturers and computer accessories manufacturers in the world and you could care less about this at the moment.

Buy a computer of a known (heard, popular) brand and you will be good. In this 21st Century I would highly doubt if any popular computer brand would sell a faulty product. The chances are very less. Not to say that there are faulty products. If you end up with such a product you're quite unlucky but still the manufacturer's warranty will take care of it all.

So don't fuss a lot over deciding on a computer brand. Buy an HP, Dell, Samsung, Apple, Asus, Acer, Intel, MSI, Toshiba and you should be OK. But please don't buy an unknown brand simply because it's 100 bucks cheaper.

Popular Brand = good quality products = high price

Watch this

Computer RAM
Computer RAM | Source

What RAM to Get?

This is one of the most common questions everybody has. How much RAM, what RAM and more RAM.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory and what it does is, it stores all the ongoing data before anything is saved to a permanent disk such as the hard disk or an USB drive. So naturally the more work a computer handles at a given time the more RAM power it will need.

RAMs come in Gigabytes (GB) now. 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB 16GB.

For an average user like yourself 4GB of RAM is more than enough. Even if you decide on a little gaming still 4GB should have you covered well enough. Kingston is a good RAM brand. DDR3 is the latest generation of RAMs available at the moment.

What Motherboard to Get?

Motherboard is the huge circuit where all the computer parts are connected to. It's like the house that holds everything together. So all your computer parts should be compatible with your motherboard. Don't worry about this a lot though. The computer shop guys will take care of this.

MSI, Gigabyte, Intel and Asus are some good motherboard brands you want to look out for.

Here I have shown you a decent motherboard. But again ask your shop assistance so that you buy a Motherboard compatible with all other accessories.

Watch this processor performance comparison

What Processor to Get?

Processor is basically the brain of your computer. The Motherboard is just a bunch of gadgets if the processor isn't there. The processor basically controls everything. So it's important to have a processor to suit your needs.

Intel processors are probably the most effective and affordable. So you can have your desired performance for a cheaper price.

I would recommend buying an Intel i5 Processor to suit all of your daily needs. It's more power than you need. But it's always good to have a little extra processing power, so that your computer won't crash and burn. Just kidding. They don't do that anymore.

Any processing power above 3.0 GHz is very good. That's 3 gigahertz of processing work done (per second I think).

What VGA to Get?

VGA stands for Video Graphics Adapter and is responsible for delivering better graphics (smooth, quality, better images, videos and games). Most computers come without separate VGA cards and use onboard graphics, which mean a part of the RAM is used as a VGA card. But that performance isn't optimal and not to mention that your RAM performance will be hindered as well. So better buy a separate VGA card.

Nvidia is a good, affordable VGA brand and if you don't game at all the first VGA I have displayed here would be more than enough for your multimedia purposes.

If you are a light gamer (Call of Duty, Sims, NFS) the second VGA would be sufficient for you. It's just $65 and should be sufficient for the games in the range I have mentioned above. However Battlefield 3 cannot be played on this VGA. Battlefield 3 belongs to Pro-Gamer category.


What Hard Disk to Get?

Well this depends on your personal use as well.

Say if you are a movie collector. Chances are you will have a lot of movies stored on your hard disk as well. In this case you would very well need a hard disk of at least 1 TB (Terabyte).

If you just listen to music, browse Internet, watch movies online and word processing you would be better off having a 500GB hard disk. But it doesn't hurt to have a 1TB Hard Disk because the jump in price from 500GB to 1TB is very much worth the increase in disk space.

Western Digital is probably the best hard disk manufacturer at the moment.

What Monitor to Get?

Monitors cost a lot compared to other peripherals. But it will give you the ability to enjoy the performance of all the items you bought above. Without a good monitor you might as well stick to your old computer. :P

Anyway, the current monitor trend is LED technology and you too are better off buying a LED monitor because it has better display and better energy saving capability. Also LCD is a thing of the past.

Also make sure to go for a HD Ready or a Full HD monitor to get the best image quality. This wil give you less trouble for your eyes. Also a 24 inch screen is more than enough for all your average needs.

Samsung is a good brand for monitors.

The one I have displayed here should do the job just fine.

So what do you think?

So that's pretty much about it. If you do have questions please comment below. And if you want hardware specifications for your needs, do ask me. I will help as much as I can.

If you like this article make sure to like it, share it, rate it and subscribe to my profile here on HubPages for more useful and interesting articles in the future.


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    • Nimesh De Silva profile image

      Nimesh De Silva 3 years ago


      I don't think that much RAM is necessary. I am an average user + a light gamer and 4GB is doing great for me.

    • kevinfream profile image

      Kevin Fream 3 years ago from Tulsa, OK

      Very comprehensive hub! For 64 bit machines, average users should really start with 8GB of RAM.