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What Computer Do I Need?

When it comes time for the purchase of a computer, many people are at a loss as to what they actually need versus what some salesperson is trying to sell them. We want to make that process easier for you, so we will break down some of the basics in this post. For the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on Intel-based, Windows PCs.

What Do You Want To Do?

This is the first question that you should ask yourself. Determining what you are going to be using your computer for will help you establish a baseline for the specifications of new computer.

 

  • Are you mainly going to be doing things like reading email, visiting websites (such as news sites, or Pinterest, etc.) with maybe the occasional document created?

 

  • Are you going to be editing photos or video? Creating complex presentations or accessing large databases?

 

  • Are you going to be playing resource-intensive games or watching a lot of streaming video?

 

  • Is this going to be a work computer with heavy daily use?

 

These are the types of questions you should answer before you start looking at computers. If you need help figuring it out, the experts at Geek Easy Computers are always available to assist you. Whether a home or business computer, we can help you narrow down what will fulfill your needs.

What’s Next?

Certain activities will dictate a more obvious requirement of computer specifications, such as high-end gaming, video/music editing, or a heavy usage workstation. For the purposes of this section, we are looking at a general usage home/office computer.

RAM

For general purposes (and most operating systems), the de facto standard is 4GB minimum. In typical cases this amount of RAM is sufficient to handle most mundane tasks such as word processing, simple spreadsheets, viewing photos, streaming video, and playing more basic games. For better multitasking and snappier response, 8GB is recommended, but more RAM is always better. Especially with newer operating systems like Windows 10 and Mac OS 10.12 Sierra.

Storage (Hard Drive)

When it comes to storage, it’s always better to have more than you need. If in doubt, go bigger. Currently for standard HDDs (conventional drives) the popular size is 1TB (1000 GB). If you opt for an SSD (solid state drive) 250GB – 500GB as your primary drive, then a 500GB HDD is a good pairing for storage. See our previous article on SSDs & HDDs.

Graphics

For everyday productivity tasks, the integrated graphics processor found on many logic boards is typically adequate. However if you want to get into more graphically demanding pursuits such as high-end photo editing, video production, or gaming, you are going to need to upgrade to a dedicated video card (GPU). GPUs can range from less than $100 to several hundred dollars depending on what type of performance you desire. Check back for an upcoming article on GPUs.

Processor

This is the core of your computer. The choice you make here will affect the overall performance and capabilities of your computer. For the purposes of this post we will focus on Intel processors as they are arguably the industry standard.

 

Intel’s current processors are the basic Pentium series and the 7th generation Intel Core series of CPUs – Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7.

 

  • Pentium – this is Intel’s very basic line of processors. They are generally for light computer use.
  • Core i3 – this is the entry level of the series. This CPU is more than adequate for everyday tasks such as surfing the web, listening to music, word processing, etc. The newest Core i3 processors can even handle light or budget gaming.
  • Core i5 – this is the minimum standard for those doing more advanced tasks such as complicated, multi-page spreadsheets, photo editing, music production, and playing graphically demanding games.
  • Core i7 – this is the top end of this series. This CPU is the choice of any serious gamer or enthusiast. It should also be the choice of any professional photographer, videographer, musical producer, or any business using high end data driven software. It is also a great choice for the home user as it lengthens the amount of time before the demands of software outstrip the capabilities of your computer.

 

Recommended Starting Configurations

Budget:
CPU: Intel Pentium

RAM: 4GB RAM

Hard Drive: 500GB

 

Everyday:
CPU: Intel Core i3

RAM: 4GB RAM

Hard Drive: 1TB

 

General Business or Gaming:

CPU: Intel Core i5

RAM: 8GB RAM

Hard Drive: 250GB SSD with optional 1TB storage drive

 

Demanding Business, High-End Gaming, Power Users

CPU: Intel Core i7

RAM: 16GB RAM

Hard Drive: 500GB SSD with optional 1TB storage drive

 

The above information covers the basics of choosing a new computer. Hopefully it gives you more insight on what your family or business needs in new hardware. Like all things, computer needs like storage and RAM can vary, but these are a general guideline for picking out a new PC based on how you plan to use it. If you have further questions, feel free to give us a call, email, or use the form on this website to contact us! We are always available to help make your technology easier!

 

me_smile Adonis Pointer is a photographer, a collector of vintage razors, and a certified technology geek!
Adonis has been involved in computer technology since well, a LONG time! He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the industry from sales to repair to training to consulting. As the Social Media Manager he writes the majority of the posts on the Geek Easy Computers blog.

 

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