Purchasing a new computer can seem like a daunting task. With a little research and preparation buying, that brand new computer can be a piece of cake!
The first consideration when purchasing a new computer is the intended use of the computer. A computer used to created high-end graphics and 3D renderings will have different specification from one that is used to create word processing documents and send email. When selecting a computer try to envision what the computer will be used for in the next couple of years and base the purchase on future goals. By anticipating future needs the system will be useful for several years instead of only a year or two.
Regardless, of the intended use of the computer there are considerations that should be taken into account. Listed below are some areas that should be researched and explored before purchasing a new computer. Since computer technology is always changing the outline is a baseline for research, opposed to exact technical specifications.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The CPU is the “brain” of the computer. The two most popular makers of CPU’s are Intel and AMD. A faster CPU has better performance but a higher price tag while a slower CPU has lower performance with a lower price tag.
The memory is where the operating system and programs are stored for processing. The more memory available in a computer the better the performance. While memory can always be added in the future, it is recommended to purchase a computer with more memory then anticipated. For basic usage it start with at least 256MG but 512MB is recommended.
The hard drive stores the operating system, programs and user files. Though it is possible to add a hard drive in the future, it is better to plan for anticipated disk usage. Graphics files, games, videos and music take more space then word processing or spreadsheet files.
There are two standard types of monitors available – CRT and LCD flat panel – that range in size from 15” up to 30”. The CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors are the most associated with computers, as they have been around for years. More recently, LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors have become popular but are also more expensive. LCD flat panels, though more expensive, make an attractive choice as they are thinner and take less desk space.
Most manufacturers include a keyboard and mouse with the system. There are additional keyboard/mouse choices available such as ergonomic design and wireless.
DVD or CD Drive/Burner
The computer can include either DVD or CD drive or burner. In either case, a basic drive will only allow the media to be played while the burner will allow the creation of DVD’s or CD’s. In addition, there are also combination drives that include a DVD/CD player or burner in one unit. It is recommended that at least one recordable drive be installed in the system for data backup purposes.
The selection of a video card depends on the use of the computer. If the computer is going to be used for gaming or graphics design then selecting a top-of-line video card, with additional memory, is crucial. For applications such as word processing or surfing the Internet a standard video card works fine.
Each manufacturer provides a different warranty and each warranty varies depending on the channel used to purchase the computer. Things to look for in a warranty:
- Length of warranty
- What is covered?
- Is phone support provided?
- Where does the repair occur? Does the computer need to be shipped somewhere?
When a computer is advertised at a price that seems to be good to be true, make sure to read the fine print. Many computers that are advertised with a low-price do not include monitors, adequate memory or software packages such as MS Office. Once these features are added the price increases quickly so make sure everything is included.