Guide To Buying A Computer

September 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 


Laptop or desktop? New or used or refurbished? Low or high priced?

Trying to find the perfect computer can be an overwhelming experience.  No worries. Now you have a buying guide to help you choose a computer to meet your needs.

Define Your Computer Lifestyle.

Every computer user marches to his/her own digital lifestyle.  So what’s yours? Answer these questions to find your perfect digital companion.

      • There are five basic types of users:  Home-user, Student, Business Professional, Traveler and Multi-media/Gaming Connoisseur.  Which label applies to you?
      • Are you a general purpose computer user?  Do you use it only for checking email and some document creation?
      • Are you a serial video gamer?
      • Is your computer equivalent to your sacred family photo vault?
      • Are you an at-home only user, or do you need portability?
      • Are you a student who absolutely cannot loose that 1,000-word paper you typed last night at 1 a.m.?
      • Are you careful or clumsy?   Does everything slip out of your hands?  (This is especially important when purchasing a laptop.  Sturdy aluminum covers tend to fare better for our butter-fingered friends that soft plastic casings.)

Processor
Also known as CPU, the processor is your computer’s brain. Efficiency and performance are determined by the processor clock speed and the number of cores. The two primary processor manufacturers are Intel and AMD.

Multiple core processors process more data. The number of cores can be determined by the processor name: Core 2 Duo has two cores while Phenom X3 has three cores.

Clock speed, measured in gigahertz (GHz), determines how quickly a processor can process information. The higher the clock speed, the faster the computer.

Consumer Reports suggests the following processor guidelines.

  • For basic tasks such as browsing the Web and checking e-mail, opt for a low-end dual- core processor such as the Intel Pentium Dual- Core or AMD Athlon/Turion X2.
  • If you plan to use your desktop or laptop for entertainment, such as watching videos or playing games, get a faster processor such as the Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad, Intel Core i5, or AMD Phenom/Phenom II.
  •  If you’re a hardcore gamer or plan to edit high-definition (HD) video, buy a computer with a high-end processor such as the Intel Core i7.

Memory (RAM)

The more memory (measured in gigabytes) a computer has the faster it is. On Desktops generally have between 6GB and 8GB. However, Consumer Reports finds that 4GB is generally enough memory for anything other than heavy multitasking or video editing.   Netbooks typically come with 1GB of memory.

Operating system

Mos PCs offer a choice of several versions of Windows 7, each with its own hardware requirements. Consumer Reports recommends Home Premium as the Windows 7 version for most home users.

Still need more information before deciding what kind of computer to buy?  About.com has a questionnaire to help you think through your needs. Upon completion of the questionnaire, About.com makes recommendations for a computer that meets you needs.

In addition, Frankie OnCall offers personal shopper services to help you select the digital companion made just for you!