Buying Your First Desktop? Top 10 Essential Points You Mustn’t Miss

By soumitra, Gaea News Network
Thursday, March 19, 2009

images-computer-purchaseComputers have now become an indispensable part of living. If you have decided to buy your first one, this is the best time to buy them. They more powerful, smaller and cheaper than ever. But it is not an easy thing to make the decision. The specification sheets of a computer configuration may seem like Greek to anyone new to this world. Let us help you get out of this trouble. Take a look at this guide and make an informed decision of computer purchase.

1. Processor

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This is a chip that “computes” the data. Processing speeds of a computer depends on how good your processor is.

Brand/Model : There are many processors available from AMD and Intel. AMD Athlon and Intel Core 2 Duo are the latest processor series. They have their Pros & Cons but generally AMD processors costs much less with a little bit downhill in performance. If you are going to get a budget PC AMD is a good choice. Personally I prefer Core 2 Duo processors as they provide very good performance as far as I have experienced.

Clock Speed : It is the frequency of a clocking signal which synchronizes the processes in the CPU. They are measured in GHz. Generally, higher GigaHertz denotes higher speed. 1.8 GHz is the standard in today’s market.

2. RAM

This provides temporary storage for the programs running on your computer. The more programs you want to run at a time, the more RAM you’ll need.

Capacity : If you want to use your computer with normal workload, you may opt for 1 GB RAM. But getting yourself a two gigabytes (GB) of RAM is reasonable as you’ll be prepared for greater memory requirements of future softwares. You’ll need more higher capacity RAM if plan to do hardcore gaming.

Technology : DDR2 is the present standard for RAM. They have reasonable speed. DDR3 RAM are costlier and provides more speed. XDR is another upcoming technology.

3. Hard Disk

This stores your data even when your computer is turned off. This is analogous to your filing cabinet where you store your documents, audios, videos, pictures etc.

Capacity : 160 GB is enough capacity in todays perspective. But if you need to store more movies/videos in your computer you need to buy larger capacity hard disk. You may opt for a 500 GB or a 1TB (1TB=1024GB) Hard Disk.Depends upon the purpose for which you are buying it actually. If you have a lot of data to store, you better for go for a big sized HDD.

Technology : There are two types of connectors available for your hard disk : SATA and PATA. I recommend SATA hard disks because it is a new technology and works faster than the later but costs nearly the same.

Speed: There is another aspect regarding the rotational speed of the spindle of the hard Disks. The 5400 RPM Hard Disks are slower. I prefer 7400 RPM hard disks. They provide the optimum speed and performance though higher RPM hard disks are available in the market. Ask your vendor about this and you will get your answer.

4. Monitor

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This is the display device of a computer.

Size : The size of a monitor is measured from corner to corner i.e. diagonally. For normal viewing purpose 17 inches has become the standard size. If you want to use your computer for watching movies or playing games, you can get a larger size monitor of 19inches or 21 inches.

Resolution : Higher resolution means greater details are visible in your screen. For a good quality monitor it should be 1400 X 900. In larger size monitors, higher resolution is expected.

Technology : There are two types of monitors available CRT and LCD. The LCD monitors costs more but the costs are dropping down at a very fast rate. LCD Monitors save much desk space and the displays are far better than the CRTs.

Response Time :
Look for higher refresh rates in monitors. The response time should be 8ms or lower. You should get yourself a monitor with 5ms or less response time if you play games, otherwise the pictures may look muddy.

You may well like to read our guide to buying a good LCD TV or top 10 LCD monitors to have an idea.

5. Optical Drives

These drives provide the capability to play or record onto disks such as the CD and DVDs. A DVD burner will come in handy for various reasons in future. SO make sure you have one. DVD burners are available aplenty but you should look for multiformat DVD burners that supports both +R/RW and –R/RW formats.16x should be the ideal speed. If you want to play Blu-ray disks you need to get a Blu-Ray Drive.

6. Graphics

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If you do not have fascination with graphics, the onboard graphics chip will do for you. They borrow memory from RAM and are suitable only if don’t play a game other than mineseeper. You must pay attention to the Video card if you are going to play 3-dimensional graphics games. There is wide variety of cards from ATI or Nvdia that you can choose from if you want a card but then the choice has to be based on the performance, memory space, output connectors and the version. If you plan on doing any serious gaming or video editing, then spring for the top of the line GeForce 280 or ATI’s HD 4800 series with at least 512-megabytes of dedicated memory.

Note: If you are a game enthusiast, you may like to have a look at top 10 gaming PCs as well.

7. Ports

swsixperipherals

USB Ports are the slots on the computer where you plug in printers, scanners, memory devices, cameras, etc. You want to be sure the computer has enough of them to connect a few of those peripherals simultaneously. If you plan on watching HD movies (from Blu-ray or downloaded files) on a TV, consider getting a computer with an HDMI output, which is the standard Hi-Def connection.

8. Keyboard and Mouse

I think you know what keyboard and mouse is! They should be comfortable and durable as well. If plan to use your computer from the couch (!) you may try out a Wireless keyboard or mouse. I don’t prefer Bluetooth connections as they are not so reliable. You may buy 2.4 GHz or IR for wireless connections.

9. Communication

This is needed to connect your computer wirelessly with other devices or network. You perhaps seen something like 802.11 a, b, g, n in some spec sheet of Wireless Connections. Remember that 802.11n is the latest and greatest, 802.11g is the standard and 802.11b is the original standard. 802.11a does not need to be discussed. There are other connectivity options such as Bluetooth which will let you connect your headset or mobile phone for data transfer. Again, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max there are some basic features of today’s desktops. We hope your desktop is coped with that.

10. Operating System & Other Softwares

If you are buying a Mac you’ll get Mac OSX. Otherwise there is Windows XP which is the industry standard, but can be a security nightmare. Windows Vista is bloated and slow. There is the dark horse Linux which an be infinitely customizable but is difficult to use for the novice.
Other Softwares include image editing software like Photoshop or music editing Acid. You may also opt for free versions like Picassa or Audacity.

Conclusion

Other than the points mentioned above, before buying a computer you must verify that the manufacturer does provide good customer support and at least 1 year product warranty. Happy buying!

Discussion
March 27, 2009: 3:49 pm

[...] needs to look for certain things before he invests into anything. While our article, Top 10 points to keep in mind before you buy your first desktop was accepted pretty coolly by others, we thought of following it up with a re-search on laptop. [...]

March 19, 2009: 4:12 pm

[...] Computers have now become an indispensable part of living. If you have decided to buy your first one, this is the best time to buy them. They more powerful, smaller and cheaper than ever. But it is not an easy thing to make the decision. The specification sheets of a computer configuration may seem like Greek to anyone new to this world. Let us help you get out of this trouble. Take a look at this guide and make an informed decision of computer purchase. Read more at gadgetophilia.com [...]

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