When it comes time for the purchase of a computer, many people are at a loss as to what they actually need versus what some salesperson is trying to sell them. We want to make that process easier for you, so we will break down some of the basics in this post. For the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on Intel-based, Windows PCs.
What Do You Want To Do?
This is the first question that you should ask yourself. Determining what you are going to be using your computer for will help you establish a baseline for the specifications of new computer.
Are you mainly going to be doing things like reading email, visiting websites (such as news sites, or Facebook, etc.) with maybe the occasional document created?
These are the types of questions you should answer before you start looking at computers. If you need help figuring it out, the experts at Chips Computers are always available to assist you. Whether a home or business computer, we can help you narrow down what will fulfill your needs.
Certain activities will dictate a more obvious requirement of computer specifications, such as high-end gaming, video/music editing, or a heavy usage workstation. For the purposes of this section, we are looking at a general usage home/office computer.
For general purposes (and most operating systems), the de facto standard is 4GB minimum. In typical cases this amount of RAM is sufficient to handle most mundane tasks such as word processing, simple spreadsheets, viewing photos, streaming video, and playing more basic games. For better multitasking and snappier response, 8GB is recommended.
Storage (Hard Drive)
When it comes to storage, it’s always better to have more than you need. If in doubt, go bigger. Currently for standard HDDs (conventional drives) the popular size is 1TB (1000 GB). If you opt for an SSD (solid state drive) 250GB – 500GB as your primary drive, then a 500GB HDD is a good pairing for storage.
For everyday productivity tasks, the integrated graphics processor found on many logic boards is typically adequate. However if you want to get into more graphically demanding pursuits such as high-end photo editing, video production, or gaming, you are going to need to upgrade to a dedicated video card (GPU). GPUs can range from less than £100 to several hundred Pounds depending on what type of performance you desire. (we recommend Nvidia Graphics)
This is the core of your computer. The choice you make here will affect the overall performance and capabilities of your computer. For the purposes of this post we will focus on Intel processors as they are arguably the industry standard.
Intel’s current processors are the basic Celeron and Pentium series and the 7/8th generation Intel Core series of CPUs – Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7.
Celeron – this is for very basic tasks, you will most computer that have one of these are slow unless they also have a SSD (Solid State Drive)
Pentium – this is Intel’s basic line of processors. They are generally for light computer use.
Core i3 – this is the entry level of the I series. This CPU is more than adequate for everyday tasks such as surfing the web, listening to music, word processing, etc. The newest Core i3 processors can even handle light or budget gaming.
Core i5 – this is the minimum standard for those doing more advanced tasks such as complicated, multi-page spreadsheets, photo editing, music production, and playing graphically demanding games.
Core i7 – this is the top end of this series. This CPU is the choice of any serious gamer or enthusiast. It should also be the choice of any professional photographer, videographer, musical producer, or any business using high end data driven software. It is also a great choice for the home user as it lengthens the amount of time before the demands of software outstrip the capabilities of your computer.
While not the thing most people look for in a computer it can be one of the most important, We recommend making sure the motherboard you get in your new computer has room for you to add more Ram, Graphics and Hard Drives in the future, We Recommend Gigabyte Motherboards as we have been using them for years with no issues and seem to keep on going when others fail.
For most people the computer case is just a box with a button on it, but it is so much more, A decent case like the Coolermaster (see pic above) range of cases can lower the temperature of your computer, and the cooler a computer is the longer it should last, cases also give you access to different types of connections like USB ports that are needed on a daily basis
Recommended Starting Configurations
CPU: Intel Pentium
RAM: 4GB RAM
Hard Drive: 500GB
CPU: Intel Core i3
RAM: 8GB RAM
Hard Drive: 1TB (or 240GB Solid State Drive)
General Business or Gaming:
CPU: Intel Core i5
RAM: 8GB RAM
Hard Drive: 250GB SSD with optional 1TB storage drive
Demanding Business, High-End Gaming, Power Users
CPU: Intel Core i7
RAM: 16GB RAM
Hard Drive: 500GB SSD with optional 1TB storage drive
The above information covers the basics of choosing a new computer. Hopefully it gives you more insight on what your family or business needs in new hardware. Like all things, computer needs like storage and RAM can vary, but these are a general guideline for picking out a new PC based on how you plan to use it. If you have further questions, feel free to give us a call, email, or use the form on this website to contact us! We are always available to help make your technology easier!