Buying a computer doesn't have to be overwhelming
When you're looking for a new computer, or upgrading your existing computer, begin the process by listing everything you'd like that computer to do, eg. browsing the internet, send/receive email, store your photos and music. Once you know what you'd like to use your computer for, you will find it easier to establish what sort of computer to buy. Some key things to remember when purchasing/upgrading your desktop or laptop computer are detailed below.
- What type of computer & which CPU (processor)? For most users a standard mid-range computer will do everything you require. Most users do not need the latest/fastest computer, the increased price does not justify the small gains in performance...but don't buy the cheapest! There are two main brands of processor, AMD and Intel. Both of these processors are great - just make sure it's a "dual-core processor.
- How much RAM (memory) should I get? Your computer memory is one of the most important components for performance. 1GB is the suggested minimum for a new computer - 2GB will ensure that everything runs very quickly.
- Will it be compatible? Make sure your existing software and hardware, like for example your camera and printer will work with your new computer.
- Graphics & video capabilities. If you use your computer for playing games, video editing or graphics applications, you should get a computer with a "separate graphics card" rather than an "inbuilt graphics" card. You won't be disappointed by slow graphics and poor image quality.
- Backup! Buy an external drive to back-up all of your valuable photos, videos and documents. They can be purchased from $150 upwards and will give you the security of knowing you won't loose your irreplaceable files.
When purchasing a laptop you need to bear in mind that many components within laptops are not upgradeable - so it's really important to identify exactly what you need before you start shopping. It can be quite mind-boggling when you're out there shopping and you're confronted with dozens of laptops - so here's a guide to help you get started...
- Size vs. Portability
When you buy a laptop, the decision you need to make is: do you want a small-screened portable laptop or would you prefer a larger-screen laptop? A portable (lightweight) laptop means a smaller screen and keyboard but easier to carry around, while the large-screen laptops are heavier but have a more comfortable keyboard and are generally easier to use.
- What type of CPU (processor)?
There are two main brands of processor, AMD and Intel. Both of these processors are great - just make sure it's a "dual-core processor".
- How much RAM (memory) should I get?
Most new laptops are being sold with Windows Vista which needs at least 1GB of RAM to function correctly - if you can afford to spend a little more you should get a laptop with 2GB of RAM.
- What other things should I get with my laptop?
Most laptops come with both a DVD burner and wireless technology - but its always worth checking the specifications just to make sure.
- Will it be compatible?
Make sure you existing software and hardware, such as your camera and printer will work with your new computer.