How to buy a computer

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It is an exciting time. You are ready to buy a new computer! Many people are excited to get a new computer for their home or business. Buying a new computer allows you to do so many things this day and time. Most new computers have extremely fast processors even in the mid to lower end as well as plenty of memory and decent video cards to go along with it. Just a few years ago, your dollar wouldn’t buy nearly as much hardware power as it will today.

Many struggle with decisions and technical requirements and specifications when they are looking through ads as well as online stores to determine the best computer for their needs. That can be somewhat difficult with all the many options that are available.

What is the first step in determining what to look for in a computer?
It might sound fairly obvious, but the first step in buying a computer is to determine what you want to do with the new computer. Answer the questions below and record your answers.

  • Am I going to simply use this computer to browse the Internet and maybe edit documents?
  • Do you spend much time editing pictures or even videos?
  • Do you like to play the latest 3D games?
  • Do you encode music, let’s say into MP3 files from CDs?
  • Do you want to use this computer as an entertainment workstation, perhaps watching DVDs or other videos that you have downloaded?
  • Do you like to run several programs all at the same time or do you simply run one program at once and don’t do a lot of multitasking?

The questions above will give you a good start on deciding what you are wanting to do with your new computer. For instance if you are simply wanting to surf the Internet and occasionally edit documents, you don’t need the fastest processor, a lot of memory, or even the latest video card. Lower to mid range hardware will suffice for these requirements.

However, if you are an avid gamer or edit a lot of music or even video, you will probably be disappointed if you go with lower end hardware.

After you have a general idea of what it will be used for, then how do I equate this with actual hardware?

The table below will help you to have some general requirements in mind for what you want to accomplish with your new computer.

Atom or Celeron Processor Dual Core Quad < 2 GB Memory 2-4 GB 4-8 GB 8GB + Video < 256MB 512MB > Video 1GB> Video 2GB+ SLI/Crossfire
Internet Surfer + documents X X X
Moderate Power user X X X
Power user + some 3d Games X X X
3D games often and multimedia apps X X X X
Heavy 3D games and Video editing X X X