What Should You Look For When Buying A Computer

For a novice, buying a new computer can be a bit harrowing; companies throw a lot of fancy numbers at you to try and convince you to up the number of dollars you will pour into your new device. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as it all sounds; follow a few easy principles to get the most value out of your new computer.


1. The most important things to any computer is it’s Central Processing Unit–CPU. This is the heart of the computer; it’s makes a certain amount of calculations per second that allows your computer to be fast or slow. There’s always a new-fangled CPU on the market, and since it’s the latest thing, it’s usually double the price of the second-best one. Get the second-best one; it’s usually almost as fast and only nominally more expensive than third place.

2. Up the RAM. Your RAM, or Random Access Memory, is your computer’s short-term memory–be it one gigabyte, two or four. This is the amount of memory your computer can have open at one time. Therefore, the more RAM you have, the more programs you can have open, or the more complicated programs you can use. Unlike the CPU, RAM isn’t affected by a new discovery; so get the most you can fit into your computer and your computer will last longer.

3. The bigger the hard-drive, the better. Your hard drive is your computer’s long-term memory; every program, file and picture you save on your computer is stored on your hard-drive. Simply put, the bigger your hard-drive, the more you can do. Hard-drives have gotten significantly cheaper over the years, and nowadays you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot. Also, the speed of your hard-drive is measured in RPMs like your car; the faster it can go, the faster your computer will go.

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4. Check the ports, especially on laptops. The available ports will help determine your computer’s functionality. Look around the sides of your computer. USB ports, which allow you to plug into a variety of devices such as hard-drives and printers, are rectangular metal ports with a small piece of plastic in the middle of it. S-Video, a round black port with four pin-sized holes and one tiny rectangular hole, allows you to connect your computer to a standard television or projector. Firewire, or 1394, ports allow your computer to interface with a digital camcorder. Get as many of these as possible.

5. If you play a lot of games, do graphic design or video editing, you will want to have a top-notch video card. Get one that is a brand-name like ATI or Nvidia and not installed directly onto the motherboard. These come with RAM as well, and like your computer, the more the better. If you are a musician or you want to watch movies on your computer in surround sound, you will need a good sound card as well. Creative Labs can’t be beaten in that department.