Help! What Computer Should I Buy?

Guide to Buying Your Next Computer

Everyone loves getting a new computer, but everyone also dreads the thought of treading down the endless isles of the nearby tech superstores with dozens and dozens of choices. Let alone being asked over and over again if you need help (and you’re not even sure what to ask for), so you just say no and keep looking for one of those computers to just jump out at you and yell Take me home! But that never happens, does it?

Now think of another scenario. One where you know what you need when you walk in that store. You know how much you’re going to spend. You know the right choice for you.

We’re here to help you with that. The following guide will help you reach that end result. The answer to the now age old question; What computer should I buy? We’ll review a number of questions, that will help lead you to your decision. Ready to start your ¬†journey? Let’s go…

Step 1 – Understanding your Needs

The first step in your journey to really getting the computer you need, is to identify what are you wanting to do with that computer? What are your expectations? What are your needs? Do you just surf the web? Maybe a little email? Write a few letters? Or do you need a PC capable of handling the latest photo editing software? Or even more intense, video editing? Take a moment now to write down the things you intend to do with this computer.

Step 2 – What Apps will you need

Now that you have your intentions laid out, we need to decide what programs or apps are necessary to achieve what you need this new computer to do. What do you use on your current computer? Are those apps still successfully meeting your needs? Or do you need to update to a newer version? or replace it with a different app? We need to understand the requirements of the software you need, in order to guide you to choosing the right hardware to not only run the software, but run it with enough speed that it helps you be successful, not bogging you down. For more help on identifying the programs you use, read here. After you figure out the major applications you’ll need, you’ll want to look at that apps website and locate the minimum or recommended requirements. Google can also be your friend in this research. Looking to run the latest Photoshop on your new pc? Google: Photoshop minimum requirements. We’re specifically concerned with Processor (Speed and # of Cores) and RAM.

Step 3 – RAM and Processor

Now after identifying the requirements, I suggest you at minimum quadruple the RAM, and double the Processor. What is RAM you ask? Read more about it here. If the manufacturers minimum is a single core processor at 1Ghz speed, and 1Gb of RAM, I would highly recommend going with at least a 2Ghz dual core processor and 4Gb of RAM. Remember, we not only want the software to run (meet minimum requirements, albeit it will be excruciatingly slow), we want it to be fast. We want it to help us, not hinder us. Plus, this isn’t the only thing we’ll be doing on this computer at a time. We’ll need to account for that also. If your intention is to surf the web, write some emails, and maybe a few documents here and there, a simple 2Ghz dual core processor (Such as in Intel Core i3) with 4Gb of RAM will be sufficient. However, if you’re doing some heavy photo or video editing, cutting edge games, etc, you’ll want a bare minimum of 8Gb of RAM (more likely 12Gb or 16Gb), with a Quad Core processor (Such as the Intel Core i5 or i7).

Step 4 – File Storage

Next on the hardware list is file storage. Here we have two basic choices:

  1. Lots of storage, but average performance (speed).
  2. High performance, but little storage.

The major difference in these to options is the type of hard drive. A standard hard drive can hold gobs of information. These drives are up in the Terabytes (1Tb = 1,024 Gigabytes) of storage. The new player to the game is Solid State Drives, also known as SSD’s. These are super fast, but for the price you get a fraction of the storage space. If you’re just surfing the web and not pushing the limits of your PC, a non-SSD (standard drive) will certainly do the trick. It will hold more data (pictures, movies, documents, etc), and its cheaper. However, if you’re pushing your PC by gaming, photo/video editing, etc you’ll want that extra boost in performance. Go with the SSD drive, and then supplement that with an external hard drive for storage.

Step 5 – Portable or Permanent?

The next item to decide on is whether or not you’ll want your new computer as a desktop or laptop. Do you want to be able to take this computer with you? or will it be in a fixed location and not be moving? The big difference being cost. The same hardware in a desktop is considerably cheaper than it would be in a laptop. Performance wise, there is no discernible difference between the two, as its all about the hardware you choose to go with. The extra benefit to a laptop (aside from it being portable), is that you CAN use a normal mouse, standard keyboard, and even your own larger desktop monitor with it. So essentially it can be both a desktop and a laptop. But again, that flexibility will increase the cost.

Step 6 – Operating System

Now that you know what you need the computer for, what software is essential, and what hardware you need, you’ll need to decide on what Operating System you’ll want to go with. Whether it be Apple and its OSX Operating Systems (OS), Microsoft and its Windows OS, or a Linux based OS. Most likely you’ll want to stick to the current OS you are already using and already used too. But choosing now will determine what options you have regards to computer manufacturers. If you’re going the Apple route, you’ll only have computers made by them to choose from. Where as with Windows there are dozens of different manufacturers to choose from.

Step 7 – Manufacturer

Now, unless you’re going with Apple, choosing a brand or ¬†manufacturer is about the hardest thing to do. For every good story you hear about one manufacturer, there are two bad ones to go with it. They have also been bought and sold so many times over the years that the old faithful manufacturer is now a bottom the barrel choice. What you’ll need to do is some research on manufacturer reliability ratings, warranty options, technical support/customer service and cost. Let’s face it, at some point we’re all going to have to contact Customer Service for an issue. Having a solid customer service team is worth shelling out a couple extra bucks for, unless you like troubleshooting and fixing your own issues.

Step 8 – Know your budget

The last step in the quest to find your perfect PC is to know your budget. Compare the specs and various manufacturers to find one that meets your needs and fits your budget. Sometimes you can sacrifice and go with a lower rated manufacturer to reach the level of specs you need and fit your budget. Using the knowledge you’ve gained from reading this article, review Amazon, or your favorite retailer for the computer that fits your needs.

Questions? Feel free to comment below!

Tech Coach Albert

Albert Dutra, the creator of The Tech Coach and owner of AlbertD Photography is here to help my friends and followers gain more knowledge with the software and tech devices they use on a daily basis. Learn how to use various applications and gadgets to help save time, money and most of all, getting frustrated.

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