Desktop Computers Buying Guide

Desktop Computers Buying Guide

Desktop Computers Buying Guide

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Home Page > Computers > Hardware > Desktop Computers Buying Guide

Desktop Computers Buying Guide

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Posted: May 31, 2010 |Comments: 0




Desktop Computers Buying Guide


Desktop computers might not be as flashy as laptops these days, but the larger, stationary computers still provide plenty of power and value for your money. Laptops might be flashier, but a good desktop computer still provides a few things that a laptop never can, such as an easy-to-upgrade system. When shopping for a desktop computer, it’s important to focus on these categories: Accessories, cost, display, future needs, operating system, and usage expectations.



One of the best things about a desktop computer is the wide variety of accessories you can use with them. Most computers now include drives for burning DVDs and CDs; if you want an older floppy disk drive, you might have to add it later, as very few new computers include such drives. If you plan on doing a lot of digital photography or digital video work, you’ll want to make sure the desktop has all of the connectors you need, whether it be FireWire or memory card slots. Finally, most desktops have Ethernet cards now, but some don’t have dial-up telephone jacks; if you need a dial-up modem, make sure the desktop model you choose has one.



Desktop computers range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the components and features included. Before you begin researching desktops, you’ll want to make sure you set a realistic budget … and then stick to it, no matter how tempted you are by some of the high-end models. If you’re looking to cut some corners on costs, you can save money by choosing a model with a low-end graphics card, as long as you aren’t planning to use the desktop for extensive video editing or gaming. Two areas where we would not recommend trying to skimp and save money are with the processor and the hard drive. Purchasing the fastest processor and the biggest hard drive that will fit into your budget will give your desktop computer the greatest longevity. Finally, even if you’re looking to save a lot of money, it’s tough to recommend buying a used computer; new desktop computers can be found very inexpensively these days, and you’ll have the full warranty option.



Depending on the desktop computer you choose, you could end up spending more on the display than on the computer itself. Large LCD screens offer great image quality, flat screens, wide-screen capabilities (16:9 aspect ratio), and lightweight units. However, LCDs are more expensive than the traditional CRT computer monitor. CRTs don’t offer wide-screen capabilities, and they are extremely bulky and heavy units. But they provide good-looking images, and you’ll save some money versus LCDs. Big displays are very handy for those who do a lot of video editing or gaming, or for those who need multiple windows open at one time. If you are going to choose an LCD monitor and you plan to watch movies or play games — anything with high-speed action — be sure you select a monitor with a low response time to avoid blurry motion problems. When shopping, be sure to know whether the desktop model you’re choosing includes a display unit with the bundle. Most stores now sell desktops and monitors separately.


Future Needs

Adding items to a laptop can be difficult, but desktops are made for upgrading and additions. And, as long as your computer has plenty of USB connectors, adding new accessories is pretty easy. When you make the initial purchase of your desktop, stick to your budget, even if you can’t afford all of the accessories you want initially. You always can add components and features to the desktop computer at a later date.


Operating System

When purchasing a computer, you’ll typically have two choices for an operating system, Windows or Macintosh. (If you’re a fan of Linux, you always can add that operating system later.) Several companies manufacture Windows-based computers, which tends to make them less expensive than Mac computers, of which Apple is the primary manufacturer. Windows computers are used in far greater numbers worldwide than Mac computers. However, with so much file sharing done via the Internet or via CDs or DVDs, you aren’t as limited as you were several years ago by making sure that your operating system matched the OS of your coworkers and friends. Mac computers seem to be stronger with video editing and other types of multimedia applications; Windows computers have long been the choice of the business world. One thing to keep in mind: Because Windows computers are more plentiful, software and hardware makers tend to focus more of their products and attention on the Windows market. Essentially, it’s tough to go wrong with either type of operating system.


Usage Expectations

Knowing how you expect to use the computer will help you when shopping. For example, if you want a smaller desktop with some portability options, you might want to choose a small-form-factor (SFF) computer. It won’t offer the expandability of a full-tower desktop case, but it does offer an advantage in smaller size and lower weight. If you want to use the unit for high-end gaming, you’ll need a high-end graphics card and a powerful, more expensive unit. If, however, you mainly want to use the desktop computer for E-mail and the Internet, you probably can survive with a low-cost unit.



If you find yourself frustrated over the technical jargon you encounter when shopping for a computer, you just need to keep a few things in mind. First, the CPU, or central processing unit, is the brains of the computer and is one area that you cannot upgrade easily later. Buy the fastest, most powerful processor you can afford. Second, don’t be swayed much by the items and software bundled with the computer. For most people, the bundled items aren’t going to meet their needs. Focus on the items you want and need. Third, buy an external backup hard drive system … and use it. After all, your personal data is more valuable than any other part of your

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