When you’re shopping for a new computer, we know it’s a bit of a minefield. We also know that some of the technical terms on the specifications aren’t very self-explanatory unless you know what you’re looking for. We’ve come up with a few things for you to think about and help you decide what you need before you buy your new computer
What are you going to use it for?
If you only use your computer for basic everyday stuff – emailing, running office software and browsing the web, most computers in the lower price brackets will be fine. If you’ll be using your computer for playing games, watching movies and sharing files and data across networks, you’d probably benefit from spending a bit more on something with higher specs.
Desktop or laptop?
Normally, desktops are cheaper than laptops, even when they have similar specs… The battery in a laptop bumps the price up and laptops have to fit the components into a much smaller space – affecting the price tag. Do you always use your computer in the same space? If you do, you could save yourself a lot of money by choosing the desktop. Obviously if you need to take your computer around with you to work on the move, a laptop is the better option. If you only need to move your computer occasionally, consider whether you can use your smartphone or tablet in those instances instead. Another thing to consider is that when you buy a desktop, unless it is being bought as a bundle deal, you will pay extra for the monitor, keyboard and mouse and speakers – though depending on your requirements, this shouldn’t bump the price up too much. If you like to keep up with advances in the computing world, a desktop is much more customisable; it’s easier to change and upgrade the components to suit your needs (this also gives the computer a potential longer lifespan). Desktops are also less prone to overheating as they have the space to accommodate bigger and better fans.
Hard drives and sizes
As all of your files and programs will be stored on the computer, you should opt for the biggest hard drive you can – this is measured in GB (gigabytes) or TB (terabytes) if the drive is particularly large. If you don’t plan to store any media on your computer, you could save yourself some money by going for a smaller hard drive. You could also consider opting for a solid-state drive (SSD) instead, which is notably faster but also comes with a higher price tag. You could consider storing your media on an external device or in the cloud to enable you to purchase a smaller drive, but going for an SSD to keep the computer running quickly all the time. If you want to be extra picky when you choose your hard drive, you can look for one with a higher spin speed – the quicker it spins, the quicker the information can be gathered from it.
Know what the processor means
The processor is like the brain of the machine. If you want a fast computer that boots up really quickly, completes tasks as soon as you start them and doesn’t lag, you’ll need the best processor you can afford. The key thing to look out for is the number of cores and the speed, which is stated in GHz (gigahertz). The speed relates to how much data it can process in how much time, so in the case… the bigger the better. A processor is a stack of cores that run at the listed speed, so the number of cores acts as a multiplier – a single core 2GHz processor is much slower than a quad core 2GHz. The higher the number of cores, the better at multitasking it will be – each core can work on a different task. If you run only one or two programs at the same time, you will probably get away with saving a bit of money on the processor.
RAM (random access memory) also affects a computer’s speed and ability to multitask. More RAM means the computer is able to keep more data close and easily accessible, rather than going through the slower hard drive for the information it needs. RAM is normally measured in GB – so the higher the better… especially if you’ve often got too many web tabs open at once!
Integrated graphics are built in to the computer’s processor and rely on the computer’s memory. A dedicated graphics card has its own processor and memory and is usually higher performing than integrated graphics. A benefit of having a dedicated graphics card, is enabling a computer to handle a higher graphic load quicker, which is better if you intend to play games or use larger and higher quality display environments… think 4k monitors or multiple monitors. For the average home user that uses their computer for web surfing, shopping, banking and the occasional bit of work; inegrated graphics are fine.
Operating system type
For the majority of users who use the computer for minimal work use, browsinf and managing media, Home editions of the operating system will be sufficient. If you need to join a domain, use Remote Desktop or Hyper-V for virtualisation, you’d need to look at Professional versions rather than Home.
Do you need any additional software?
If you need any additional software, such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, it’s worth bearing in mind that this will normally add an extra £100-£200 to the total cost. With Office, there are now several different pricing structures, dependent on the edition you need and whether you want to pay for an annual or monthly subscription, or buy it outright. It’s definitely worth doing your own researcg into what exactly you need, before you buy.
If you’d like more specific advice, or need us to order or custom build a PC for you, get in touch – we’re more than happy to help. Contact us on 01458 833900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or pop in to talk to a member of the team directly, we’re conveniently based on Glastonbury High Street in the Abbey Mews Arcade.