Year-end sales and tax returns often lead to boosted sales in computers. But purchasing a new computer can feel overwhelming. The technology changes quickly and the jargon can be confusing. Here is an explanation of what you want to consider when looking at getting a new home computer.
Central Processing Unit: The faster the CPU (central processing unit), the faster your computer can complete tasks. Currently, the i5 and i7 for Intel are the best choices for average users. The i9 is likely too expensive for the value, but the i3 is pretty low end. The number of cores tells how many parts are doing different functions, so getting a CPU with multiple cores is a good thing. The CPU is really the backbone of the entire computer and an inferior processor is going to limit any other features you get. Start with a robust system.
Storage/Disk Space: The disk space on your computer is what stores your information. There are both solid state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD). The SSD is far faster than HHD and purely electrical (no moving parts). You want to get a drive that is at least double the amount of space you are currently using, with most getting 500GB or 1TB (1,000GB) of storage. You can also get external drives that plug in when needed and store information or pictures in a second location as a backup or to free up space on your computer.
Memory (RAM): To support newer OS and programs, you will want at least 8GB of RAM. This is how your computer operates temporary tasks quickly. If the RAM is used up because the computer too many things are running at once, a temporary working space has to be set up in the storage system. Too little RAM and you will notice the sluggishness. You can’t have too much and there are options for 24GB, 32GB, 64GB or more.
Operating System: Whether you are going with Mac or Microsoft, you will want to make sure you get an updated version on your system. For MS, Windows 10 offers Home or Professional versions. You really only need the professional OS if you are joining your computer to a corporate network. The operating system is going to dictate a lot of the programs you can use, the control you have as the computer administrator and the interface you are working with on the computer.
Support: You can get warranty protection when you are purchasing your machine. You will want to look over what the fine print says and what the warranty includes. A one-year warranty is enough in most cases—just something to make sure the computer isn’t wired wrong. A security system for anti-virus protection is also something you should have included. Some of the excellent AV systems include, Panda, MS, Trend Micro, Bitdefender, Webroot, ESET and F-Secure. Watch out because many anti-virus software is subscription based and you will only be given one year of a subscription before you have to decide if you are going to pay for the security service or not.
Extras: Depending on what you want to use the computer for, you will want to consider what extra features come with your system. The optical drive is going to include CD, DVD, Blu-ray or a combo. Some computers now aren’t including drives at all since so much is downloaded, but buying an external drive is relatively cheap and plugs in quickly when you need it. Some computers come with special graphics cards for gaming or art programs. Many computers now offer WiFi connectivity, but not all provide a hardwired port for a direct internet connection. The programs you need are another point to consider and some computers will even come with some software pre-loaded. Most computer deals are really going to try to wow you with the “extras” you receive. Most of the time, the extra software is only going to be a subscription for one free year. One year after the computer is purchased, you may lose your access to those programs and have to pay to get them operating again on the computer.
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