Consumer Reports – Desktop Computers

Consumer Reports – Desktop Computers

Consumer Reports – Desktop Computers

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Home Page > Self Improvement > Advice > Consumer Reports – Desktop Computers

Consumer Reports – Desktop Computers

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Posted: Jan 22, 2007 |Comments: 0
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Consumer Reports – Desktop Computers

By: Brooke Yan

About the Author



(ArticlesBase SC #95490)

Article Source: Reports – Desktop Computers

The desktop computer has become just another appliance you use every day. Replacement sales–not first-time purchases–now drive the computer market. Fully loaded desktops selling for less than 0 are common, even among established brands.


There are dozens of companies vying to put a new desktop in your home. Dell, eMachines, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard (which merged with Compaq in 2002), IBM, and Sony all make machines that use Microsoft’s dominant Windows operating system. eMachines, recently merged with Gateway, specializes in budget-priced Windows models. Apple is the sole maker of Macintosh models. Small mail-order and store brands cater to budget-minded buyers.

Price range: 0 to ,000.


The processor houses the “brains” of a computer. Its clock speed, measured in gigahertz (GHz), determines how fast the chip can process information. In general, the higher the clock speed, the faster the computer. But not always, since different chip families attain different efficiencies. Manufacturers of Windows machines generally use 1.6- to 3.8-GHz processors with one of the following names: Intel’s Pentium or Celeron, or AMD’s Athlon or Sempron. Celeron and Sempron are lower-priced processors that equal higher-priced chips in many respects. Intel now assigns “processor numbers” to its chips, de-emphasizing clock speed. Apple’s Macintosh machines use 1.25- to 2.5-GHz PowerPC G4 or G5 processors, which are manufactured by IBM. Apple has announced that they will begin a transition to Intel processors in 2006.The system architecture of some families of chips allows them to be as fast as or faster than others with higher clock speeds, so speed comparison by the numbers can be misleading.

All name-brand computers sold today have at least 256 megabytes (MB) of RAM, or random access memory, the memory the computer uses while in operation. Video RAM, also measured in megabytes, is secondary RAM essential for smooth video imaging and game play.

The hard drive is your computer’s long-term data storage system. Given the disk-space requirements of today’s multimedia games, digital photos, and video files, bigger is better. You’ll find hard drives ranging in size from 40 to 300 gigabytes (GB).

A CD-ROM drive has been standard on most desktops for many years. Commonly supplied now is a CD-RW (CD-rewriteable) drive, also known as a “burner” that lets you create backup files or make music compilations on a compact disc. A DVD-ROM drive brings full-length movies or action-packed multimedia games with full-motion video to the desktop. It complements the CD-RW drive on midline and higher-end systems, allowing you to copy CDs directly between the two drives. A DVD writer will also play CDs and CD-ROMs. Combo drives combine CD-writing and DVD-playing in a single drive, saving space. The newest in this family, rapidly becoming a common choice, is the DVD-writer, which lets you transfer home-video footage to a DVD disk, or store as much data as six CDs. There are three competing,

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