Computer How-To: Buying A Good One

I see this mistake made far too often when people are shopping for a new computer.

Someone will call me to ask if I can help them set up their new computer. Unfortunately, they will have already started setting it up– and then realise they need a bit of assistance with email, data transfer, and etc.

If they’d rung me, before purchasing, many times I would have advised them to “get something else” rather than the computer they were considering. The reason?

computer sale sign

(The best choice is almost never

the one on sale!)

They’ve purchased a computer based on the salesperson’s recommendation. That means it’s generally over-priced and underpowered. Managers instruct their sales staff on which computers the shop needs gone. So, those are the ones “talked-up” to the customers. The customers, not knowing any better, take the advice.

I’m going to tell you a few things that will help you to go home with a better, more useful machine.

What to look for when shopping for a

good computer

The number one thing you need to look for in a computer is it’s “central processing unit”, the CPU, or brain of the machine. If the CPU is anaemic, then overall performance will suffer greatly. All other aspects of the computer reply entirely on the CPU.

But, what about, “RAM”?

Many people have been told/believe that it’s the system’s memory (RAM= random access memory) that’s critical. While RAM is important for multi-tasking, even having the maximum amount of RAM won’t help the “brain” deal with the things you’re asking it to handle. It’s the CPU that controls the speed of your data and many aspects of online interactions. It’s the CPU which “serves” and routes your requested tasks to and from the RAM.

Anything else worth mentioning?

Also of importance is the amount of storage and type of storage drive you need. The “tried & true” traditional rotating hard drive (HDD) has been around a long time and is less expensive per gigabyte (GB) of capacity. The faster, newer technology is the SSD (solid-state drive) which has no moving parts, is faster to respond, but at a price premium (currently about 3-4 times the cost of a standard hard drive). There are also quality “grades” of each (rotation or read/write speeds). Whichever you decide to buy, do NOT buy anything with less than 250GB of space. There are still computers out there being fobbed-off that have 32- 128GB of storage and that’s simply not enough space for Windows + your programs/data + Windows updates.

Final thoughts…

So, my advice is to go to the shops and have a look at their offerings. For each computer in your price-range, ask the salesperson what the CPU is. They need to be very specific. It’s not enough for them to reply, “it’s Intel”, or “it’s an i5”, for instance. There are a LOT of i5’s, of all generations, types, and speeds. A more accurate reply would be, “it’s an Intel i5-5300U, 5th generation”.

At that point you jot down the details, and then you go home to compare the reviews of those computers. The better the CPU, the better the computer will be.

Happy shopping– and don’t forget to ring me (before you open the box!) to come out and set it all up for you. I’ll have everything set up perfectly and optimised for speed and ease of use!