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Buying a new pc can be a tedious and confusing task, especially for beginners. I've got a quick checklist that beginners (and medium level users) can use to overcome this problem. First of all, there are a plethora of brands out there. You need something that will last for a while. Apple, Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, and Gateway are all robust machines. So, for the best value, I'd stick with HP (though other brands are pretty good as well). So first, what Operating system, the pc code and user interface do you want. windows or mac? I recommend staying with windows as macs cost double the price of windows pc's, unless u are doing extreme video editing and NEED the best virus protection and durability. Then comes the form factor; laptop or desktop. Laptops are mobile and have crammed parts, and less expansion than desktops. Desktops have more expansion capabilities, bigger and upgradeable parts, but is not by any means designed for portability! Note that desktops come in large, medium, and super small space saver designs. Space saver designs face several problems similar to those of laptops. When you chose, select the processor, the thing that transfers most of the data to your pc. Remember to always choose one with two or more cores, at least 1mb L2 cache, and 1.25ghz or higher speed. AMD= money saver Intel= more performance and more money. Then comes the ram. Under no circumstances should you get any pc with less than one gigabyte of ram (1024mb). Here is a quick chart of what amount of ram to get (with windows vista, the dominant Operating System in all new pc's.

Light Users: 1GB
Medium Users: 2-4GB
Heavy users: 3-8GB
Extreme users: 4GB+

After ram comes the hard disk, where all data is installed. Here is a chart for hard disks (hdd).

light users: 80GB-200GB
medium users: 120GB-360GB
heavy users: 320GB- 1000GB (1 terabyte)
extreme users: 1TB-5TB or more

Another item to look for is video card, or the item that displays video and games images.

this is a video card chart:
web surfing and word processing: any shared card above 64mb (pulls video memory out of origial ram) .

medium usage with lots of images that move: dedicated cards at or above 128MB (has its own ram)

advanced usage: dedicated with 256MB plus ram

extreme usage: dual cards with 512MB plus ram

Optical drives aren't as big of a deal. If you just watch movies and run programs, anything with dvd rom in it will work. anything else: get a dvd burner, or for hd fun, hd-dvd or blu-ray is necessary.

Last thing is the display.

17" desktop/15" notebook is fine for most

the more you use your pc, the larger it has to be. ( i use 17inch notebook and 21inch for desktop)

hope that helps!

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Last Post by jbennet
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Yes, I would also like to add that unles you are running a server of some sort, you're never going to be able to satisfactorily (so bite me if it's not a word: I don't know) enjoy the benefits of having spents all that cash for 5TB hard drives or 8GB of RAM. Total overkill.

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Also Terabyte hard-drives are still very fragile things, and corrupt very easily because it is still very new technology. So i would go against Tb HDD's. Instead have two 500Gb HDD, because it will cost less and be more efficient. And totally agreeing with scru, you don't need that much RAM unless you are running servers!

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Excellent post forumdude123!

I do beg to differ on one note... memory size. All 32 bit operating systems can only use about 3 to 3.5 GB of memory, so installing 4 or more will not help. 64 bit OS's can take advantage of over 4 GB, but drivers are limited and it requires 64bit hardware. I personally run 2GB of DDR2 6400 in my system with Vista Business. It uses about 40% of it when idle with a few programs open. I regularly game and heavily edit video and large picture files and have never maxed out 2GB.

You have a valid point about not going below 1GB. I ran vista under 1GB and it was still not up to par.

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2gb is the max that 32 bit windows oses can use for running programs.

And dells do not stand the test of time (badly built and not upgradeable)

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32bit Windows originally uses 2gb max for programs, but tweaks out there can let u use all 4 (but it requires advanced techniques and a lot of risks).

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yeah but a single program still cant use more than 2 unless its compiled for it, the only ones that are which i know of are MS exchange and SQL server

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