From convertible laptops to all-in-one desktops, computers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so choosing the right one for your needs implies a thorough research that should take into account a variety of factors. Computers come with numerous features and functions, so it may often be difficult to distinguish which one would be the right choice for your needs.
Laptop, desktop, or netbook?
Perhaps the first decision you have to make when you buy a new computer is whether to get a laptop, desktop, or a netbook. Each of them offers a mix of benefits and drawbacks.
Laptops – also known as notebooks, laptops are portable computers that can run on batter for up to six hours or more. Because of their large screen size, laptops are often a good desktop replacement for those who want a lightweight, portable device that can run on battery power. Laptops are, however, less powerful than desktops, and usually have less hard drive space.
Desktops – Often consisting of a separate desktop monitor and case that houses the components, desktop computers are small enough to fit on a desk, without being portable. All-in-one computers are an alternative that fits the monitor and components in the same case. Desktop computers are a suitable choice for photo and video editing, the latest games, and individuals who want the benefits of a big screen. Another benefit of desktop computers is the fact that they are upgradable.
Netbooks – Suitable for those who want a high degree of portability, netbooks usually have a screen size of around 10 inches, smaller hard drives, and relatively low power processors. Most of them do not come with an optical disc drive and are extremely thin and lightweight so you can take them with you anywhere. Unlike laptops, netbooks can typically run on battery power for up to 10 hours.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Computer
No matter which kind of machine you decide to purchase, you will have to determine what kind of processor, memory, hard drive, and graphic card you want. Below is an overview of the essential things to know about these components.
Processors – The actual brain of the machine, the processor controls all aspects of the computer and is made of millions of tiny transistors that transmit information. When choosing a processor, take into account its speed, which is measured in Gigahertz. The main processor manufacturers are Intel and AMD, both of which produce dual, quad, and octa core processors. If you require high-end performance, you may want a powerful quad or octa core processor, but if you only do light work on your computer, a dual core processor would suffice.
Memory – Not to be confused with storage space, memory refers to the temporary storage required by programs and applications to run on your computer. Also referred to as Random Access Memory (RAM), memory is measured in Megabytes and Gigabytes, and the more memory you have, the better performance you will get. A minimum of 4 GB of RAM is required to run Windows smoothly, but if you need a high performance machine, 8 GB of RAM would be a better choice.
Hard Drive – Used to store all your data, the hard drive keeps hold of all your data when the computer is switched off. As a rule of thumb, desktop computers offer more hard drive space than laptops. If you have a lot of music, media, or movies to store, look for a device that has at least 1TB capacity.
Graphic Cards – When you choose your graphic card, you need to select between an integrated or dedicated cars. Most laptops come with an integrated graphic card, which is more than enough for office work. However, if you are looking for video playback and gaming, you may want to opt for a dedicated graphics card.
Safety and Security – Both Windows and Mac computers come with a standard firewall that protects your computer from viruses and other attacks. An anti-virus package is also recommended for those who want enhanced protection for their data, especially if your machine runs on Windows, which is more prone to cyber attacks.
Extras and Accessories
Numerous accessories are available for both desktop and laptop computers, and the most common of them include printers, wireless keyboards, wireless mice, scanners, and sound systems. If you are purchasing a desktop computer, you also need to consider a monitor.
When you purchase a monitor, the most important feature to take into account is size. Common options include 15”, 17”, 19”, and 24”. Widescreen monitors have become the norm in the latest years. Other specifications to consider when you purchase a monitor include the refresh rate and the resolution of the screen. A higher resolution means that the images and text on the screen will be crisper.