I think most people would agree:
Buying a new computer can be a daunting and confusing task.
Making sense of computer specs and the latest technical jargon is difficult and time consuming.
Or is it?
Well, it turns out, with just a basic understanding of 4 simple things, you can get exactly what you need…
…and stay within your budget.
In this quick article I’m going to explain what you need to know before shopping for a computer, tablet, or phone.
The 4 Things You Need to Understand Before Buying a New Computer
All computers and devices are made up of numerous individual components. But there are really only four that you need to understand when making a purchase.
Processor or CPU
The processor is the engine of the computer and is responsible for making an unimaginable number of calculations every second. Processors operate at speeds measured in gigahertz (GHz). 1.0 GHz is slow and 4 GHz is very fast. Processors also have multiple cores which amount to separate engines driving different tasks simultaneously and independently. Some CPUs divide each of their cores into 2 threads. Threads function similarly to cores, however they split the resources of a core and thus are not as fast as actual cores. In other words a CPU with 4 threads made up of 2 cores will not perform as well as a CPU with 4 cores. The splitting of cores is known as hyper-threading.
RAM or Memory
RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB). When you open an app or program on your device it is loaded into RAM. The more programs you run at one time the more RAM you use up. Some programs, such as picture editors and games use large amounts of RAM. Other programs like Chrome or Word use very little RAM. When all of a computer’s RAM is used up it will slow down dramatically and it might even crash.
GPU or Graphics Card
Graphics cards (GPUs) are responsible for drawing or rendering the images that appears on your screen or monitor. GPUs are essentially CPUs that are dedicated to visual stuff. Like CPUs, they also operate at speeds measured in GHz. Most computers and devices do not have separate (discrete) GPUs. Instead they are built-in to the CPU. This is okay assuming you will not be doing picture or video editing, or playing games.
Storage: HDD or SSD?
A computer’s files and data are stored on either a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD). Storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB). 1,000 GB is equal to 1 TB. HDDs have enormous capacity (1 to 4 TB), but are very slow. SSDs have much lower capacity (128 GB to 512 GB), but are lightning fast.
What It All Boils Down To…
A CPU with 2 cores and 4 threads running at 2.0 Ghz or more, such as Intel’s i3 processors, is perfect for most people’s needs. Step up to an Intel i5 if you are a gamer, but not the i7. They are a waste of your money because they will be bottlenecked by the CPU. Games do not use more than 4 cores. The i5 series of processors offer 4 cores without hyper-threading. If you will be editing pictures or video, or doing content creation you will benefit from the hyper-threading offered by the i7 CPUs which have 4 cores and 8 threads.
The average person will not use more than 8 GB of RAM and therefore will never know the difference if they buy a computer with 12 or 18 GB. If you are a gamer or a media content creator, then you might look at getting 12 or 16 GB of RAM.
Nearly all AMD and Intel CPUs have GPUs built-in. Most users will not utilize the additional resources offered by a separate (or discrete) GPU. However, if you will be gaming or working with 3D virtual environments your discrete GPU will be the most significant component in your computer.
I recommend a computer with atleast a 256GB SSD for most of my clients. There is also the option of having one of each and that is well worth the money for people requiring lots of storage space. You can put your enormous library of pictures and videos on the HDD and everything else on the SSD.
Assai Tech: One Place For All Your Technology Needs
Do you have more questions? Feel free to contact us at (360) 797-1150 for a free personalized consultation and tips to maintaining your PC. Also, visit Assai Tech and find more helpful resources and discover how we can simplify your life and bring you the tools to get things done.