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What to look for when buying a Desktop Computer

Updated on May 10, 2012

Desktop Computer

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her are some components to take into account when buying a computer


Computers are machines with many components. Each component does a specific job. So when buying a computer, you should take into account what you are going to use it for. Are you going to use it for word processing? Are you using it for gaming or Graphics Editing? Take into account these things because the specifications you need will depend on its use.

Processor. The Central Processing Unit or the CPU – it is where most computations take place. The faster the Processor, the faster it can process data. Today there are many types of processors. There are the Intel core 2 series, the Intel i series and AMD processors. Basically, the newer the technology i.e. second generation I processors, the faster the computer will be. Look for an i7 with 3.0GHz or faster clock speeds if you want really fast computing speeds.

RAM. The Random Access Memory or RAM is where the computer temporarily stores data used for computing. Before data are processed by the processor it is temporarily stored in the RAM and the data after the processing is stored in the RAM. Any data needed to be accessed at lightning speeds are stored here. If you want to be able to switch between two programs really fast, you need high memory. Having a very low RAM can also impede the performance of a processor. If you have two cores, you should have at least 2 GB of RAM. For gaming computers, get at least 4 GB of RAM. Also note the type of RAM. There are what we call DDR2 and DDR3. Of course, DDR3 is the latest. Get the latest for best performance.

Graphics Card. The graphics card controls the display of your computer. Games usually rely a lot on graphics cards to have a great display so your gaming experience will also be great. Some Computers have built in or integrated graphics – they are poor in performance. Get computers like these if you only need it for office work. It won’t do great with games. Search the internet for the latest video cards. Brands like AMD Radeon and NVIDIA are very well known across the gaming industry. Graphics cards also helps speed the pre-render display when using graphics programs like Adobe After Effects. In a nut shell, the better the graphics card, the better your display and effects will be.

Display. For your display, get something other than a CRT or a cathode ray tube monitor. Those CRTs are ancient and use a lot of power and they damage your eyes. Choose a display that suits your needs. For gaming, a 1360 by 768 is good enough. Larger displays require better Graphics cards. If you are working on designs, get larger screen displays. You can even get two monitors where one monitor shows the design and the other shows the pre-render result. That can speed up your work.

Hard Drives. Hard drives are where you store all your files. For word processing work, small drives are good enough. Gaming requires a bit more and graphics work needs a lot – the files you work with are really large. Once I made a 5 second animation in Adobe After Effects and the rendered video file is 700mb. If you like gaming or work with graphics, consider getting a 1Tb -1 terabyte or 1024Gb that is 1,099,511,627,776 bytes. And by the way, there is a trick manufacturers use to make their drives look “big.” They define a Tera Byte as 1000 Gigabytes and 1 Gigabyte as 1000 Mega bytes. Computers don’t think that way. It’s always 1024 bytes for a kilobyte, 1024 kilobytes for a Megabyte and so forth. That’s because computers only understand binary and 1024 is 2 to the power of 10. Plus they, the manufacturers do not subtract the space the system uses to index the files. So the actual useable space versus the displayed size is only about 90%.

Other Miscellaneous Stuff. Of course, don’t forget about USB ports. It should have at least six. Power supply units should be able to give off at least 600watts. There should be a DVD ROM capable of burning CDs, DVD5 and DVD9 and for the latest tech, get the one that can also read and burn Blu-ray discs. Get the one with an optical mouse not the one with a track ball. Track balls date back to the Stone Age and you need to always clean the wheels inside it. UPS or uninterruptable power supply is an AVR and battery which regulates the non-constant power you get from power outlets and saves you from losing your work during a power outage – also gives you time to save and shut down. Keyboard should have soft keys to keep you comfortable. And there should be a LAN card for networks.

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