Desktop PC Buying Guide
Buying a desktop PC is often more complicated than just picking the one that has the fastest processors. There are many considerations regarding the monitor, the additional facilities embedded in the form of hardware, the memory size,and so on. Let's take a closer look at the factors you need to consider before finalising the best choice for your requirement.
There are many types of processors available in the market that offer varying speeds and are suitable for different functions. Which one would fit the bill primarily depends on what use would you put your desktop PC to. For instance, in case you want to use your PC for regular office or personal tasks like checking mails, watching movies, etc., a regular Pentium IV dual core processor would do, but in case you want more power, a Core 2 Duo version or the AMD Athlon 64X2 or higher processor is the one that you should be looking for. Fast processors are great for those who would be using their PC for gaming purposes or working on heavy applications for designing and animation, since these require a considerable high amount of processing power to function properly.
The next consideration you need to bear in mind while purchasing a desktop PC is its memory, or the hard drive capacity. Simply put, the more memory a system has, the more data it can store. This data can be in the form of anything – files, videos, data, etc. All the latest PCs come with more than 200GB of memory, which is, quite frankly, a LOT of space to fill. However, depending on your needs you can always go for a higher configuration. For instance, a regular user would not even consume 100 GB of hard drive space even with some movies and videos stored, while an office user with large databases or animated files, or someone who uses the computer extensively for entertainment purposes might even find 500 GB space a bit too less!
Installed memory is directly related to the processing capacity of your computer – the more installed memory, or Random Access Memory (RAM), as it is technically called, your computer has, the more number of applications you can run simultaneously without the PC getting slow. Also, the operating system you would be having on your PC has a huge impact on the kind of RAM that is going to be sufficient. For instance, users buying a PC that would be used on the Windows Vista platform need to have at least 1 GB RAM for the PC to function properly, although a higher RAM always makes things better. As is with the hard drive, users with more extensive applications like gaming or designing require more installed memory, to the tune of 4GB or more.
The interface between a computer and a user, monitors are having more choices than ever since the last 2-3 years. The latest and most affordable till date have been the LCD screens, with any size between 15”-19” serving just fine for regular users. Many also connect their PCs to TV screens with a bit of tweaking in the hardware settings of the latter, to enjoy a bigger screen size. Another vital point to consider in this regard is the resolution. The standard is 1024 by 768 pixels, with a higher version requiring a more advance graphic card, which probably explains why having a larger screen isn't such a bright idea.
The latest motherboard can offer you more advantages than might be visible, in the form of faster processing, hi-definition audio, as well as a fantastic graphical interface. One must procure a PC having a motherboard suiting to his/her requirements, and make a list of what is higher on the priority list to ensure that the motherboard has enough provision to support the same. Further, there are separate motherboards for Intel and AMD processor chips, depending on which one you want to go for.
All the images generated on a computer screen are largely dependent on the graphic card in terms of the quality. And while gaming users must take a dedicated graphics board for the purpose, other users would do just fine with integrated graphics cards which are common in budget PCs. However, just as a precaution for the future, one must take a PC that has a motherboard with an additional slot for another graphic card to be added, should the need arise.
Trivial as it may sound, a good case can be of great help while one is having the computer serviced or upgraded, and reduce the risk of sensitive components getting damaged in handling during opening the PC. The latest cases allow for tool-less access to the internal components, with hard drives placed on sliding trays and color-coded wires and cables for connectivity. Furthermore, in case you want to keep the system for some years, there must always be room for future expansion, like extra hard drive and installed memory slots.
An essential part of a desktop PC that allows you to access information on CDs or DVDs, removable storage drives are available in many options – with the more advanced Blu-ray also making an entry into the domain. But just before you consider DVD and DVD-R (rewritable) drives obsolete, bear in mind that these are still a very affordable option. Single layer rewritable DVDs can store upto 4.7 GB of data on a single disc, while the dual layer version can store double the same, i.e., 8.5 GB. This type of media is best for recording movies or home videos and archiving them. Further, in case you are thinking that DVD drives are only for DVDs, they can also very easily play, and in some cases, write, regular CDs as well.
A not-so-essential requirement, you would certainly want to have the option of a good pair of speakers for that occasional movie viewing if the PC is for personal usage. One can also have a dedicated sound card installed for surround sound, as well as connect the system to an advanced set of speakers, preferably with a sub-woofer, for an excellent sound experience.
Although the latest PCs either incorporate the Windows 7 or Windows Vista platforms, a user can also go for an older version of the OS, depending on the requirement and comfort factor. To re-emphasize on the fact, the hardware configuration would also vary accordingly, with the latest operating systems obviously requiring a higher configuration. Interestingly, a seemingly OK configuration for the latest OS would work wonders with an older version, offering fantastic speeds. So, be decisive in what you choose, since if you have a limited budget, and older operating system might be the perfect choice.
Be sure to keep all the above-mentioned points in mind while you go ahead to buy a desktop PC for yourself that suits your requirements to the optimum levels.