The guide below is based on heavy generalizations and is based on our own opinions. We have produced this guide to give home users, small business, charities etc a broader idea on what they should look for in a computer when purchasing.
Of course if you are a subscriber to our IT support services then we can provide you expert advice, quotes and the best prices in the market place when you are looking to purchase new IT equipment. Call us on 01473 345305 if you are interested in this. IT Support packages start from around £18 per month.
What should I look for in a new computer?
Ultimately, depending what you want to do with your computer will decide upon on what you need in your new computer.
Essentially though it is 3 core components which will have the most input into how your computer performs.
- Hard Drive
Of course, there are others, but breaking it down to the basics, these 3 are the key ones.
Meanings of 3 core components and buying guide.
The central processor of a computer is also known as the CPU, or “central processing unit.” This processor handles all the basic system instructions, such as processing mouse and keyboard input and running applications.
Generally speaking there are 2 main manufacturers of desktop and laptop processors and these are Intel and AMD. In my opinion Intel are generally better but do tend to be a little more expensive. AMD could perhaps be used in very low end computers with a low end budget. Processor details will show a type i.e. Intel Core I3 or Intel Core I5 and also a speed i.e. 2.6Ghz. Essentially you want to aim for the highest number you can with both of these. It is very difficult to replace a processor after purchase so get it right first time round!
In computing, memory refers to the computer hardware devices used to store information for immediate use in a computer. It is defined as a volatile hardware device.
Generally speaking the key thing to look for when looking at computer specifications is the size of the RAM or memory installed. This can range from 1GB to 16GB. It may also be worth looking out for the type of RAM/Memory which is listed which often comes in the form of DDR2, DDR3 etc. Again the high the number the better quality. Memory can be relatively easily upgraded after purchase so this is slightly less of a concern on purchase.
A hard disk drive (sometimes abbreviated as Hard drive, HD, or HDD) is a non-volatile memory hardware device that permanently stores and retrieves information.
Generally speaking Hard Drives are either SSD (solid state drives) or standard SATA (Serial ATA) drives. SSD are relatively new in the market place and for a few years have been very expensive and often low in size. These are coming down in cost and increasing in size. These will improve the performance of your PC or laptop and massively improving computer loading times. Standard SATA drives will be the ones that are the default selection on most computers. With both SSD and Sata drives aim for the highest size capacity as possible (usually defined in GB i.e. 512GB or Terabytes i.e 1, 2, 5 etc). Unless you are a significant downloader or amateur photographer then 512GB should suffice in most situations. Hard drives can be upgraded after purchase but it can be a pain do so unless you are adding to your existing “system” drive and then moving your main storage of documents, pictures etc over to the new drive. This is a far easier process than replacing 1 drive for another.
The gamer, amateur photographer, music buff or high end user
Processor – At least Intel Core I7 Processor (AMD Processor’s are cheaper but perform worse generally speaking)
Memory – As much as you can get! At least 8GB but if you can get more then get it
Hard Drive – Try and get an SSD (solid state drive) if you can. If you have a lot of data stored then this may be prove costly but if you just need performance and not size of drive then opt for SSD. On a standard drive then go for at least 1TB but storage is so cheap then again why not get more. Also look out for the “spin speed”. Make sure on a desktop pc it is at least 7200 rpm or higher if you can get it. Laptop drives won’t generally be above 5400rpm.
If you are gamer then you might also want to consider your graphics card in your computer. Make sure you opt for a graphics card with at least 2GB of RAM for high end gaming.
The average user
Processor – At least Intel Core I5 Processor
Memory – At least 4GB RAM
Hard Drive – At least 512GB but as storage is so cheap why not get 1TB. Again if you have the money, go for an SSD drive which will give you faster loading times.
The low end user
If you are a low end user and want to keep budget to a bare minimum then I would still suggest opting for the “average user” specification where possible. Even with this you should be able to get a desktop pc or laptop for around £350-400. If your budget is lower than this then make sure the very minimum processor is an Intel Core I3 processor and not anything lower.
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