How to Choose a Good Computer

Quality hardware can make your life so much easier!  Here are a few tips on how to choose a good computer for your needs.

  1. Identify what it’s going to be used for – This first step in getting a good computer is to identify what you are going to actually be using it for.  A super-fast computer is great, but just because it can run spreadsheets like a champ doesn’t mean it can run your favorite game.
  1. Identify the important parts – once you know what you will be using it for, you need to understand what specs are important for your needs – and which ones are not. Here is a quick breakdown on what to look for:
    1. Processor – multi-core processors allow you to process more machine code than a single-core processor.  What this means is if you are doing a lot of processing like 3D design programs, gamming, video editing, etc. you’ll want more cores.  For most home and office work that deal with email, documents and playing some tunes, lesser processors will do the job just fine
    2. Memory (RAM) – Memory or RAM helps the computer temporarily store things for quick and easy access. If there are certain applications, you’ll be running on your computer, look at the manufacture’s recommendations.  For home and office use, 8-16 GB of memory should be good in most circumstances.
    3. Video Cards or Graphics Cards – The graphics card is a little bit like RAM – it allows the computer to temporarily store and retrieve data very quickly.  The processing it does is designed for rending graphics.  So, for gamers, video editing, or 3D design work – you’ll want to make sure the graphics card meets the manufactures recommendations.  For basic home and office use, the standard on-board graphics cards will usually be more than enough.
  1. One thing to consider – if you plan to run more than two monitors, make sure you know the capabilities of the graphics card.  You may need to upgrade if it can’t handle the number of screens or resolution (1080p, 2K, 4K, etc.)
    1. Hard Drive – In my opinion, the hard drive is the most overlooked piece of technology in a computer.  People want big.  Bigger = better!  Well, not exactly…bigger just means more storage; it doesn’t always mean better performance.  A large SATA hard drive will give you oodles of cheap storage; however, it will be at least 4 times slower than a solid-state drive (SSD). What this means is 4 times longer waiting for things to load. My recommendation, understand your real storage needs and almost always opt for a solid-state hard drive. They will save you time, and they are very affordable.  There are some good reasons to get large slow disks, but they are far and few between.
  1. Keep in mind there are different types of SSD hard drives, so do your research beforehand to make sure you get the right one!
  1. Don’t forget the software – Once you’ve identified the right specs, don’t forget to make include the software to make sure your computer can actually do what you need it to do.  Adobe products, MS Office, Windows Operating System, etc. sometimes are forgotten about until they are needed.
  2. Warranty…good or bad? – The last thing that usually comes up when purchasing a computer is the warranty.  Should I get it or should I not?  This really depends. I usually tell my clients that if that machine were to go down today, how much money would you lose every day while it was down?  If it is a lot, I’d recommend getting a good warranty on it. If it’s very little, then maybe you roll the dice and go without, or go with a basic warranty.  If you’re using the computer for business, I typically recommend getting, at least, a mid-tier warranty.

    The other thing to consider is if the computer is high-end, ($3000 or more) consider a good warranty. It will protect your investment and if something were to break, the cost of that one part may exceed the cost of the warranty. This is not a hard and fast rule, everyone is different in terms of what they are comfortable with, but this is how I generally approach the warranty discussion.

Here to help- i.t.NOW is here to help.  If you have questions about what hardware is right for you or your business, give us a call.  We can make some recommendations based on your need and make sure you get a machine that is a good fit.