What Should you Look for in a New Computer?



This is one of the questions that I deal with at least weekly. Here’s where I usually start answering… First you have to ask yourself what you want to do with a computer. If your goal is email and internet access, most ANYTHING sold new today is much more than sufficient to the task. It will be hard to find something that won’t work for you. If you want to work with office documents, spreadsheets and other text files, you’re still looking at just about anything currently on the market. But what if you want to do some gaming or get into video or music editing?


Now things are getting interesting. For just watching videos, listening to music you will be fine with most anything. But, for playing 3d games, editing video, editing audio you are going to want to look for more processing power. You’ll need to look at multicore processors (for instance the Intel Core duo processors.) Memory will also be an issue in this case. 1GB is about where they bundle these days, you may want to push towards 2 GB for the more demanding uses.

Vista is preinstalled on most all PC’s geared towards home users. It IS still possible to get XP, look at Dell.com or the business area at HP. It’s also possible to look at some of the smaller local shops that custom build systems for users. So, if you want XP still you have options (until around June-July of 2008). One other note is that with XP, you will be able to do a bit more with less powerful hardware sa the overhead of vista seems to be a bit greater than XP.

Hard Drive space is usually sufficient if all you want to do is deal with text. If you want to work with video and audio look for as much hard drive space as you can afford. (It might also be worth it to think about additional external drives to duplicate(backup) your data.)

Optical drives – these days multi-dvd rw drives are real common, you should be able to write most any cd, dvd format from this drive, good for backups.

Floppy disk. The venerable floppy drive is on the way out and only available by request most places. If you have old data on floppies go ahead and transfer it to something else and skip buying a floppy drive.

Video card. The only place this will really matter is 3d applications. 3d immersive video games require beefy video cards, so do some desktop apps like google earth or CAD drawing software.

Hopefully you have a better idea of what you need to look for in a new computer.

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