A lot of people are overwhelmed by the choices that are available when buying a new system. Desktop or laptop, Intel or AMD, how much RAM? I get asked the whole shebang. Well, here are a few of my thoughts on what I would look for if I was buying a new computer...
First and foremost, be sure it has LOTS of RAM. RAM, or Random Access Memory, is where all the data your CPU needs, or has used recently, gets stored. Storing data in RAM is much faster than storing it on the Hard Drive. New Solid State hard drives are faster than the current most popular type, called SATA drives, but even solid state drives aren't as fast as keeping your data in RAM.
Think of your RAM as the top of your desk, and your hard drive as your filing cabinet. If you have a really small desk, you end up shuffling a lot of papers. When your desk gets full, and you decide you need something from your filing cabinet (your hard drive), you have to look through what's on your desk, decide what is least important to you at the moment, pick it up and go over to your filing cabinet. There, you have to find an empty drawer where you can put the papers you're not using, and put them in there. Now, you have to find the data (papers) you need, and bring them over to your desk so you can work on them. This running back and forth to your filing cabinet takes up a lot of time. The same goes for your computer, when it has to access data that's not currently in your RAM. The hard drive is the slowest part of any modern computer.
Now, if you have a bigger desk (more RAM), you can have more information readily available to be worked on, meaning fewer trips to the filing cabinet (hard drive).
Hard drive space isn't really a factor in buying computers any more, as most systems now come with drives that most users will take years to fill. Whatever size hard drive the system comes with is probably plenty.
I personally am more partial to Intel chips over AMD. The new i-series chips are great. My favourite machine is currently running an i7 Intel chip.
Most video, or graphics, cards are now built right into the motherboard. If you're going to be doing a lot of gaming, I'd recommend getting one with a lot of vRAM (video RAM). You'll have to do some homework if you want a higher end video card, as the choices out there now are endless. If all you're going to use your system for is surfing the net, email and solitaire, you can stick with whatever video system the computer comes with.
Last but not least, is whether you should get a desktop or a laptop. That will depend on what you're planning on doing with the system. If you're going to want to travel a lot, then by all means go with a laptop. If it's going to sit in a room somewhere and never move, then desktops are where the value is at. I find that not only are desktops typically cheaper, they tend to last longer than laptops for a variety of reasons - the most obvious being they aren't getting banged around in your luggage when you travel.
Thanks for reading! Hope this helps you with your next computer purchase.
Until next week, I'm Computer Dave
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