How to Buy a Computer When You’re A Beginner
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So you need to buy a new computer, or you’re buying your first computer… and you don’t know where to begin. All the components names seem like another language! Hard drives, gigabytes, processors, memory… it all sounds like jibberish, right? It can be very confusing, but once you get a handle on what each base component is, it will be much easier for you. Believe me, I’ve been in your shoes. Let’s jump right in! I’m going to explain each one in simple, understandable terms, so you can purchase confidently and not look clueless, which is something NONE of us want! I’m also giving you a FREE printable checklist of basic features you can use when you go to purchase!
PC vs. Mac
There are two types of computers: PC, or personal computer; and Mac. PC computers are made by a variety of manufacturers: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Asus, Lenovo, Acer… are just a few. Mac computers are made solely by Apple. Both have the same basic components: hard drive, memory or RAM, processors, and operating systems. The operating systems are different from each other and each processes the software in different ways. Most Apple/Mac users are dedicated to the Mac. PC users like PCs but some work on Macs as well. I haven’t worked on a Mac computer, but I do have an iPad and iPhone, both made by Apple, and I LOVE both of those devices. Everyone tells me that I would really like a Mac as well.
Processor: The processor is the brain of the computer. It tells the hardware and software what to do. A fast processor is important because there is always a lot of things going on at once. This is one of the components that can become obsolete in a short time period. Most computers are considered “old” 18-24 months after they’re manufactured.
RAM: Also known as the memory. The RAM is the electronic component that actually holds the instructions to run your computer and run the software. A computer with a high amount of memory is a good thing. Otherwise, your computer will run slowly.
Hard Drive: The hard drive is the electronic component that stores the software loaded onto your computer. Programs such as Microsoft Office, web browsers, accounting programs, and the operating system for the computer. Also, the data generated by your software programs is stored on the hard drive as well. Most data doesn’t take up much space, but the software themselves do. Currently, most computers start with 1T or 1 terabyte of storage space. The average business computer would have the storage capability that is 3-5 times larger than that due to the amount of data they generate and the size of their business software.
Operating System: The operating system is the “general manager” for your computer. It coordinates what gets done and keeps it running in an orderly efficient way. Apple uses iOS for its operating system. PC’s run on Windows operating system, made by Microsoft. One is not better than the other; they just perform the processing different from each other.
Laptop vs. Desktop
This is really a personal preference. Most laptops can do everything that a desktop can do, they’re just portable, despite the laptop having the processing hardware inside of it. There is a large variety of laptops to choose from. Different sizes and features. Some have touch screens and convert to tablets, others are geared toward online gaming or media creation. Newer desktop models have larger monitors, touch screen monitors, or have integrated monitors and towers (the box that has all the electronic hardware to run the computers). Consider what you’ll be using the unit for and that will help determine which style to purchase.
So… what do you buy? If you’re looking for a basic computer to have at home to do some internet surfing, watch a few YouTube videos, and emailing, pretty much any simple model, either laptop or desktop will work for your needs. All of the computer manufacturers put together packages with all the basic components in it that would work perfectly. Just choose your price range and go.
If you are looking for a more specialized unit for doing heavy media processing (graphic design, media streaming, online gaming), then you might look for a laptop or desktop that is geared toward those requirements. A faster processor and more RAM will be two factors to look for. This is the style of laptop and desktop that I like. Dell makes a great gaming unit called Alienware. I have an Alienware laptop that is 4-5 years old and is still in pretty good shape. BUT…. this new Alienware laptop is on my lottery list for sure!
Many times, building your own computer is the best option. My brother draws architectural plans and requires an exceptionally high amount of RAM and needs a very fast processor. He purchased the components individually and physically built his unit himself. He able to upgrade items as he needs them. Building your own takes a fair amount of knowledge about how a computer works though, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner. As much as I know, I don’t think I would give it a try either! LOL
Soooo, hopefully, this gives you a little more knowledge and confidence when you head out to purchase your new computer. It’s more simple than you realized, isn’t it? Computers are really fairly basic. You’ll be snapping up a new laptop or desktop in no time!! AND… if you have a recent high school grad, a new laptop makes a great gift when they head off to college! Check out THIS post on the perfect grad gifts! When you do go to buy a computer, send me a message! I would love to know how you do!
Oh…. and before you go, don’t forget to download your FREE printable checklist to take with you!!