Desktop PC Buying Guide
Desktop computers are continuing to change, and while many are in the market for a more mobile device these days, most still need the power of a desktop machine somewhere in their lives. If you’re shopping for the right desktop PC to meet your needs, this guide could help.
Think About Your Budget
Before you ever get started, you’ll want to define your budget over everything else. Laying out this number ahead of time will help you narrow down the various options that become available to you. While you want to buy the best desktop you can afford, you really only need certain features for your use, so make certain that you have a number in mind before you start shopping.
Think About Your Usage Plan
What will you be doing with your new desktop PC? If you plan to do some serious gaming, you’re going to have very different needs than you might if you were simply going to be bringing some work home from the office. Similarly, editing pictures for your photography business on the side may mean you want something a bit different than you might if you were looking for a fully featured CAD workstation. Define your needs carefully at the outset so you don’t get a desktop PC that won’t do what you want it to.
As you shop, you’re going to see lots of different terms thrown about, and you only need to be familiar with a few of these. Start with the processor. You’re going to see both Intel and AMD processors available. Intel has quite a bit of backing, but AMD processors can be great for a number of applications. You want to go with a quad core processor if possible, but if you’re only looking at light applications, a dual core, like the Intel i3, should meet your needs.
Beyond the processor, you’ll also see RAM availability quoted. Short from Random Access Memory, RAM defines how your computer can run programs at the same time. The higher the number you choose, the more programs you can run at once. For most home users, 4GB should suffice, but if you’re doing quite a bit with your machine, you’ll want to consider 8GB.
The final essential quality to consider is your hard drive space. You’ll be choosing between the traditional HDD and the newer solid-state hard drive (or SSD). These have flash memory systems, similar to what you might find in today’s iPhones, and they allow the system to boot faster. They’re pricier, though, and thus not completely necessary for a home user. More storage space here is better, but you should only buy what you think you need, because you can typically expand this component.
There are many other options you’ll be faced with as you buy, like graphics cards, optical drives, and ports, but covering these basics should get you a machine you’ll love.