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!