3 April 2013 by Permi Krishna
There are several things to consider when looking for a desktop computer. Why are you buying a computer? Is cost more important than power? How important is warranty? The answers to these questions tell you what you can buy and what you need to buy.
Several components work together to make a good computer. They are:
-The processor also called the CPU. It runs the programs you use on your computer. Intel and AMD are the main processor manufacturers. It can be hard to compare the two company's processors, but usually AMD is slightly behind Intel's technology. Processor speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz) and more is better.
-RAM is Random Access Memory. It is where data is stored while waiting for the processor to use it. RAM is faster than the hard drive so storing data and programs in RAM while waiting for the processor to call for it. More RAM means more data where the processor can get to it quickly.
-Video processors can be on the motherboard (onboard) or can be on a video card. Using a video card is better than onboard video because a video card has its own RAM.
-Networking is almost a necessity today. It is the only way to connect to the Internet or other networks. Ethernet networks are very common, but wireless networks are improving in both speed and security.
-Storage is important, especially if you have a lot of music or video files. Most hard drives are still magnetic disks, but Solid State Drives (SSD's) are getting larger
and cheaper. Right now traditional hard drives still beat SSD's for price and capacity, but SSD's are often faster.
-Optical disks have changed a lot over time. Today the most common drives are DVD burners, but Blue-ray is catching up. Both may be obsolete in a few years as cloud storage becomes more popular.
What Is It For?
What are you going to do with a computer? If you are creating and editing video the requirements are very different than if you are doing research online. For a good experience editing video or playing high end games, you need a mid-to-high end system with:
-Intel i5, i7 or Xeon processor
-8 gigabytes RAM or more (more preferred)
-2GB or more video card
-Wireless-N and/or Gigabit Ethernet
-Large hard drive (1 terabyte or more)
-Blu-ray player and/or burner
-DVD burner (optional if have Blue-ray burner)
For surfing the web and online research a basic system from Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or another retailer will do everything you need, though spending a little more will get a computer that will last longer before requirements for Internet video and multi-media content make it obsolete. That system might look like this:
-Intel Pentium dual core processor
-4 gigabytes RAM
-Integrated graphics (on the motherboard, share system RAM)
-500 gigabyte hard drive
-DVD burner or Blue-ray player
The high-end system can cost two thousand dollars and up, but it is a system that will not be obsolete for a while. The low-end system can cost less than $500, but can be frustrating to use for any video work or gaming that is graphics and processor intensive.
Cost vs. Power
It is nice to say, "Money is no object," but for most of us, it is. A high-end video workstation or gaming system can easily cost $2000 or more. A basic no frills system can be under $400. The low-end system will do almost everything the high-end system will, but much, much slower. If you want to work on video or 3D graphics, you need the best system you can afford. Less expensive will mean longer time to render video, but it will still work. High-end video games are another matter. A low-end system might not play at the best video settings and respond slowly to commands you give it. Like video, high-end
games require the best tower desktop you can afford.
If you are comfortable troubleshooting computer problems, restoring the operating system and replacing hardware components, you might not worry about the warranty. But having some sort of warranty is a good idea. The big names - HP, Dell, and Apple - have basic one-year warranties with the option to extend if you want. The warranties differ between manufacturers, so know what is covered before you decide what computer to buy.
Finding the best tower desktop for your needs takes a little work, but it is well worth it. With a little thought and research you will get a computer you know is the best computer for your situation.