I Need a New Computer… What Should I Get?
“I need a new computer… but what should I get?” Have you ever asked this question? I have been approached with this inquiry more times than I can remember by someone hoping to probe my brain for an answer. Most often, my reply is either, “How do you know you need a new one?” or “What are you going to use it for?”
In many cases, the computer someone already owns could be perfectly fine for what they need if given a minor upgrade or two. However, at other times, purchasing an entirely new computer is the only way to go. So, which of these solutions is right for you? Well, the ultimate deciding factor is in knowing what you are going to use your computer for.
The reality in all of this is that the road to a good purchase can begin by talking to someone (a relative, a friend, a friend of a friend of a friend…) who has a well-grounded understanding of computers. In most cases, this person should be able to give you some good sound advice. The next step will be to take that advice and do some light research on your own.
Here are some things to consider when conducting your research:
1. Windows or Mac?
Which of these have you used before and what do you feel most comfortable with? The bottom line is that you should most likely stay with what you are most familiar with, unless you are really dissatisfied with it.
2. Do you need a desktop or laptop?
Straight to the point with this one, you can get more for your money with a desktop, but you obviously lose the portability of a laptop. The other thing to consider here is that, when needed in the future, a desktop will be much easier to upgrade, thus saving you more money down the road by avoiding the need to purchase an entirely new computer.
3. What processor do you need?
This one can get complicated and you may want to consider relying entirely on the advice of a computer professional. Otherwise, look for information on clock speed and cores. Keep in mind that a processor is the brain of the computer, and the faster it is overall, the faster your computer will be.
4. How much RAM do you need?
RAM is all about speed and multitasking. With more RAM, your computer will be able to handle more processes at once and handle them more quickly.
5. How much storage space do you need?
You can never go wrong with having extra hard drive space, but if you don’t think you’ll need it, you could go for a smaller drive that runs at a faster speed, or even a solid state drive. In turn, you’ll be able to access your data more quickly, and if needed, you could always add more storage later with a secondary internal or external drive.
6. Are graphics a big deal?
Here we go back to one of our original questions, “What are you going to use it for?” Typical office work? Browsing the internet? Watching movies? Playing games? The answer is pretty simple. You don’t need high end graphics to check email, create documents, or browse Facebook. But you may want to watch a movie in 4K resolution, or play a game that has very high graphical requirements. Two terms to look for here are “integrated” and “dedicated.” The short of it is that dedicated is generally going to be the higher performing of the two.
7. What ports and peripherals will you need?
Going to be using a printer? Think you may eventually need an external storage drive? Considering connecting to your big screen TV? Own some Bluetooth headphones? Be aware of the most common connections like USB, Firewire, eSATA, HDMI, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, and think about the things you may be connecting to your new computer and how they will connect.
8. Where should I get it?
Shop around and be patient. Computers are expensive, so don’t rush into something you may regret later. Also, don’t decide strictly on cost alone, but consider spending a little more to get a better computer. Doing this could mean that your new computer will be around (and more useful) a lot longer.
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Michael Childress has had a love for working with computers ever since the days when he was allowed to use the Texas Instruments computer in his fifth-grade classroom. He now has a lifetime of experience with computer systems, and over 15 years of experience as a PC technician. He hopes to instill in his students a desire for knowledge and understanding of not only computers, but technology as a whole and how it can be beneficially applied to the many aspects of their lives. He, his wife Kerrie, and two sons Macon and Kallen make their home in Gaffney, SC. Michael also enjoys singing, songwriting, audio and video production, movies, playing games and spending time with his family and friends.