Computer – What to buy

What kind of computer should you buy?

This is a significant investment. You want to ensure you spend well and what you buy will last a long time. You want it to do what you bought it for and do it reliably, well and responsively. Most people later discover things they want to do with it that they did not anticipate when they bought it. So, buying higher power and capacity is likely a good strategy.

There are two types of computers: Notebook (AKA Laptop), and Desktop. There are two kinds of environments: Microsoft Windows-based, and Apple. There are 2 billion computers in the world. 94% are Microsoft Windows-based. That’s a big clue.

There is a third type to consider:  Chromebooks.  Chromebooks are not Windows computers. They have nothing to do with Microsoft.  They use a system developed and maintained by Google.  They are strictly laptop designs.  The important differences to understand are:  It is really an online computer that is relatively useless offline.  Little is stored locally on the computer.  Most is stored on Google servers.  The programs you use are Google programs that are very similar to Microsoft Office.  They tend to be less expensive than Windows laptops.

Apple computers are completely proprietary. Consequently you will pay a lot more for the computer and everything to do with it.  Technical support is hard to find and expensive.  Inside an Apple computer, the components are almost all the same as in Windows computers.  They are not better computers.

Apple and many of it customers have the mistaken idea that Apple computers are not subject to viruses and hackers.  That is completely false and even dangerous. The reality is that because of the predominance of Windows systems, hackers/virus writers focus on that segment.  However, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from focusing on Apple. Some do.

Do not consider a notebook computer unless you really need to use your computer in different places. They cost more, do not last as long, and are slower.

So, if you are going to buy a Windows-based computer, you have a lot of choices. You may have read or been told that they are all about the same. That is simply not true. There are vast differences! The worst will give you slow performance and not be satisfactory to you for half as long. The best will be satisfactory to you for years to come. The most interesting part about this is that there is little to no difference in the price you will pay. There is a lot to know about what is and should be inside a computer.

“Computer manufacturers” are really assemblers. They buy components from a pretty limited variety of real manufacturers. Each component manufacturer has a range of products that vary from low to high cost. Some are much better buys than others. So choosing the right components is really important. The components must work together to be most effective and even if just one of them is not right, your new computer will never work well, and it is unlikely an upgrade can fix the problem.

You need to find someone who you can trust to guide you. Beware of people who think they know a lot and do not.  It is very difficult to know who to trust.

The best strategy is for you to spend time learning at least something about what makes better components.  A key component is the processor itself.  Learn how to evaluate which ones are faster.  For example, an Intel processor has a model code such as core i5 4325.  The i5 is likely faster than an i3 and slower than an i7.  The 1st digit of the last set of numbers tells you which generation it is.  In this example the 4th generation.  I use the Passmark system for estimating the power of a processor.  Google “cpu benchmark” then the processor designation (for example core i5 4325):  and you will get a score.  You can use this score to compare processors.  In many cases, significantly more powerful processors are available in some models at little to no difference in cost.  In others the price differential can be huge for little consequential value

Find out how many slots your computer has for memory and how fast that memory is.  Disk drives (AKA hard drive) are so large that it is unlikely you will ever use it up, so its size doesn’t likely matter much to you.

You want your system to have at least 4 gigabytes of memory.  Eight would be significantly better.  Very few people will ever use more than 8.  The sweet spot is 8 gigabytes

Once you learn some background, you will be in a much better position to evaluate the person who is offering you advice.