Buying a computer can be very expensive. It’s an investment, and you don’t want to plop down a lot of money for something that ends up not suiting your needs. Before you purchase, here are nine tips to help you choose the right computer for you.
- Laptop vs. Desktop
One of the biggest questions people have when buying a new computer is “laptop or desktop?” A laptop is great if you’re on the go. You may consider a laptop if you’re a student or a business professional, and you plan to use it for school or work. However, desktops can have better hardware at a lower price. Desktops are great for gaming, or if you’re looking for a cheaper option you don’t have to carry around.
- Apple vs. PC
Choosing between an Apple and a PC can be difficult, but it comes down to a few questions. Are you on a budget? If you’re on a budget, an Apple product is not the way to go, as these computers are often more expensive. If your computer breaks, who is going to fix it? PCs can be repaired by nearly anyone, but an Apple product must go to an Apple store or be shipped off for repairs. PC vs Mac Test addresses all of these questions and more to give you an answer and a reason for your decision.
- Processing Power
The processor is the most expensive part of a computer, and it’s the most important thing to consider. The higher the processor, the better your computer runs. If you plan on using your computer mainly to check your email, you don’t need a high-priced, amazing processor. However, if you intend on editing music, graphics, and videos, or if you’re a gamer, you might want to spend a bit more on a processor. The more cores and the higher the gigahertz (GHz) the better.
- Random-Access Memory
Random-access memory, or RAM, is the short-term storage your computer uses while you run programs such as Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Office, and more. The more RAM you have, the better, but it can become costly. Again, what you plan to use your computer for plays into how much RAM you need. If you plan on using it for Microsoft Word or checking your email, you don’t need to drop a lot on RAM. However, games and programs such as Adobe Creative Cloud require a lot of RAM to work effectively.
- The Hard Drive
There are two different types of hard drives on the market: solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). Solid-state drives allow you to boot up your computer and access information quicker, but you cannot store as much. HDDs are less expensive and can hold quite a bit of information. Most computers are equipped with 500GB to 1TB, but HDDs can easily grow to the 4TB range. Figure out how much of your hard drive you’re currently using to determine how much you need on your new computer.
- Store vs. Online Purchase
You can buy a computer at a local store such as Best Buy, or you can purchase one online. If you are unsure of what type of computer you need, you may consider going to a local store that has knowledgeable sales people. When you buy online, you have more variety to choose from, but you need to do a lot of research. Once I bought a computer online, and the power supply and graphics card failed. Buying online can save you hundreds of dollars, but do a lot of research before you purchase. Great online stores include New Egg and TigerDirect.
- Warranties or Support Plans
Many stores, online and local, offer extended warranties or support plans for computers. Most customers get a one-year warranty with their computer when they purchase it, but if you’re accident prone, you may consider buying an extended warranty and a support plan. If you have little computer knowledge, the plan will also help you in the future if you experience an issue.
- Extras, Extras
When you purchase a computer, you can often purchase extras such as USB hubs, software, additional monitors, and more. You may feel pressured to buy these extras, but you don’t have to—all of it is optional. Think about whether or not you’ll use it if you buy it. Microsoft Office is extremely useful if you plan on using your computer for work or school, but if you’re a gamer, there are free alternatives that work great.
- Brand Name or Not
Many people will tell you to purchase a computer that has a name. Sometimes name brands are better than little-known brands, but not always. Some brands created a name for themselves based on certain features or characteristics, such as Toshiba being nearly indestructible. With that being said, don’t get hung up on the brand of the computer. Effective branding is precisely why Apple computers are so expensive—the name. Most people agree that custom built is better, but if you can’t have one custom made, look at the parts and the manufacturers for the parts. Name brand computers are also notorious for including programs that are unnecessary for the average user.