Most people buy a computer to surf the Internet, send/receive mail, and occasionally work with text files or other documents. Today even the most “poor” computer can do that without problems and at very low prices. If this is all you need and you do not have pretensions, then any computer is helpful.
But if your requirements are greater, you want to edit media files and images; you need databases; you want to play the newest games... you have to think about the last generation of computers. Even if technology progresses at a rapid pace, the acquisition of a top computer can help you save money in the future because it will face (up to a time) future software demands. Maybe one of the most active segments of market sales of computers is the PC-gaming segment for computer games. Crazy users spend hundreds of dollars for last-generation graphical cards and processors, not just Dual-Core but Quad-core, to get maximum performance. Do not be fooled to play a game is not just a hobby, a passion for those who give you the money. The games industry is worth billions annually.
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But enough for now… let’s talk about the computer components and see what you have to know when you want to buy a computer:
As I said, using a computer for applications like the Internet, emails, and documents does not require a performing computer. But if you want more, the processor can do what you want.
At this point processor market battle goes on between Intel and AMD, two American companies. Intel Core 2 Duo has proved better in many tests than AMD rivals such as AMD Athlon 64 X2. Do not consider, however, that AMD processors are weak. It’s just a situation of the moment; not only once AMD was ahead of Intel. Anyways, in this case, Intel is in front of AMD, even though both processors are dual-core (dual-core – two independent processors connected in one circuit on the same silicon plate) so that processors that enable fast multitasking functions through (several operations performed at the same time) with good performance for gaming and multimedia.
If you still want a dual-core processor but do not have enough money for one of the top, you can find dual-core processors at lower prices, but usually, they fall in performance. Refurbished or used computers could be good options for a low budget.
If you are a game passionate, remember that even if a quad-core processor sounds great, one dual-core is definitely enough for most users. – Few applications need quad-core processors, and surely you will not use their full capacity.
Computer memory (an electronic component that retains information and instructions so the processor can access them quickly) is measured in capacity. If more memory is installed on your computer, the applications will run easily, and the system will work better. Memory is an essential component of the computer; without it, it will not work, the reason for which come preinstalled. However, a new memory module can be added to increase the capacity and operation speed.
A motherboard should be bought thinking of the future and, of course, depending on the facilities that it offers. The second-generation SATA connectors (which reached a transfer rate of 3 Gb / sec), high-definition sound on board, and even dual graphics cards (SLI or CrossFire) can greatly help in the present and future.
A very appreciated motherboard is Intel “Skulltrail”. Its configuration is Dual-socket LGA 771 for processors, which support Penryn chips on 45nm technology and also supports four x16 PCI Express 1.1 slots, two PCI 2.3 slots, six SATA 3.0 ports, and two eSATA ports.
But before buying a motherboard, consider all the components you want, choose the desired configuration, and then go shopping.
A good computer case could improve your day when you want to upgrade. It should let you add almost any type of new component, it should be easy to open and let you move the pieces, and everything should be properly ventilated.
If you plan to keep your computer longer, leave room in the computer case for future components. Let free slots for memory, one for another sound card, etc.
The most common cases are the ATX format. ATX specification not only indicates where you should connect the plugs on the back of the subject but also show you what source to use.
You can find different shapes and formats, such as MicroATX, NLX, and BTX (the new design seems to replace ATX, supported primarily by Intel).
A video card (graphics card)
Video card generates all images on the monitor and can be preinstalled on the motherboard or bought separately. Their main characteristic is power. The integrated graphics card typically uses the system memory to operate, while the dedicated video cards use their dedicated memory. For most users, integrated boards are sufficiently advanced; however, a dedicated video card is recommended to run games, graphics, and other multimedia programs.
If you already have a computer, find out what card fits your system before shopping. Or, if you get a laptop, try to find a plan with a PCI Express x16 slot for the graphics card. Although motherboards still use the AGP and PCI slots, they are already in the past.
The hard disk size has increased enormously in the last 12 months, with the current size reaching 160 Gb to one terabyte (1000 Gb). If planning to store large amounts of data, the higher, the better.
Today’s most hard disks are Serial ATA with 7200 rpm; gamers will certainly appreciate the Raptor X 150GB hard disk at 10,000 rpm from Western Digital.
It does not matter what it looks like, but what it does. One thing you should remember when buying a monitor is optimal resolution (at least 1024×768). For higher resolutions, you need a better video card. Remember this when you want to get a 30-inch monitor. Remember the distance to the monitor. It is not the old problem of cathodic tubes, but that you must include the entire screen with your eyes when working at the computer, otherwise your eyes will get tired very soon (and health problems could also appear).
Most people use 17 “or 19″ monitors. Another option would be a 22” monitor, especially because the price difference is relatively small compared to the 19″s.
All computers need an optical drive. Optical units are very different and could have multiple options. Unlikely that a new system will incorporate less than a DVD-ROM (read discs but not write), most plans have a DVD-RW dual-layer multiformat (read and write/rewrite CD / DVD). Look for DVD units that can write dual-layer DVDs and offer the option LightScribe Direct Disc for labeling (can burn a disc with a label).
The highest quality range of computers has Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD units. But the price is rather high (three or more from a DVD-RW).
USB devices are growing in popularity and today come to rival DVDs thanks to the advantage of mobility and increased lifetime.
In the office, the integrated sound card is probably more than enough. You’ll probably want surround sound at home, requiring a performing sound card. Prices are not high so there will be no problem to find and buy. Do not forget that you need a wet set of quality speakers for quality sound.
The new systems offer quality sound because they already have integrated sound cards with outputs of 7.1, 24-bit (32-bit internal processing), and a sound of 192 kHz.
Keyboard and Mouse
The current trend is to use a wireless keyboard and mouse, but still, many systems use USB ports. The keyboard can be simple with only basic functions or a real machine with many buttons worthy of Star Trek. Today the most known is optical (uses a small camera to detect motion and provide a much better movement).
Operating System: Linux, XP, or Vista?
For those who don’t even consider using an operating system based on Linux, I advise you to think again. Yes, there are many options to be developed for Linux, but it’s true for Windows too. Linux interface has become comparable to Windows’s (for example, try the Ubuntu distribution on ubuntu.com).
Windows XP is the best-selling operating system. Most applications were built especially for it, drivers for the components have been written, and so on…If you can, use Windows XP, but it will soon be out for sale. But do not forget to update it often. Being the most purchased system, it’s the most attacked too. And he has his problems, some even serious. Remember to buy an antivirus, spyware and use a firewall.
Windows Vista is a step forward regarding security features, including more and better than XP. It’s cool as a design, but it also eats a lot of resources. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Vista, which was supposed to be a replacement for XP, failed in its goal to make its users happy.
Look at the warranty and support offered: most problems occur (if they appear) in the first year, so one year warranty should be enough. Moreover, the better.
Do not buy additional software if you do not need them. Buy the computer operating system (if you decided on Windows), a suite of office applications, and an antivirus (free antivirus you can find online. AVG or Avast are good choices).
Look at the number of connectors. The more, the better; you will use them in time.
Buy what you need. Promotions are interesting but might not help much.
Buy a little over the minimum that you set to use the computer as much time as possible. Even if it looks like a hard disk of 160 GB is sufficient, over time, you will need a bigger hard drive. Do yourself a list with minimum configuration, and then add the extra “ingredients”.
Check the connectors for the monitor. The monitor should have DVI input if your video card has DVI output.
If you do not need it, do not buy it. Good sellers know they can attract you with various components to take your eye. Do not buy them if you do not need them immediately. The product will be half-price over a few months when required.