Choose the features that you really need
Like most people, you probably already know how much you are prepared to spend on a desktop computer, but do you know how to get everything you need and still meet your budget? What with so many different brands, different features and such an incredible number of configurations, plus the never-ending arrival of new technologies to contend with, choosing a PC is not easy! In order to help you find the best desktop computer for your needs, this guide tells you everything you need to know.
One of the key considerations for most computer users is the speed of the machine. No one wants to be waiting around for things to load, so you need to make sure your desktop has a healthy dose of RAM and a decent sized hard drive. RAM is important for when you are running software such as multimedia software or games that demand lots of processing power, so look for a PC with at least 4 GB of RAM, or even 6 GB. The hard drive is the part of the computer that stores all of your data. Again, if you’re planning to do anything other than browse the internet, it’s a good idea to have at least a 500 GB hard drive, especially if you want to download movies, play games, etc.
Also having a big effect on the performance is the CPU, known as the “brain” of the computer. For these, multi-core processors are the way to go. Look for a dual-core at the minimum, or if you are looking for the highest possible performance then only a quad-core will do.
The choice of monitor is also important, with the key things to be looking at including screen size and resolution (for picture quality), and also the number of inputs if you plan on connecting the monitor to any other devices.
The video card will also be a consideration if you are planning to play games or watch movies in HD. Many games simply won’t play if you don’t have a decent graphics card, but note that these can be expensive, ranging from around $500 for the ATI Radeon HD 4650 (minimum requirement for gamers) to almost $1,000 for a ATI Radeon HD 5850 (the real deal).
Despite what some people will tell you, there isn’t actually that much difference between the top brand names. Pretty much all computers from companies such as Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, or Compaq have similar parts. For example, the CPU is invariably either AMD or Intel, while the motherboard will almost certainly be made in China or Taiwan. Probably the more important considerations are the look and style of the computer rather than the actual name.
One brand that does stand out, of course, is Apple, whose desktops are considered the best in the business by many users. However, an Apple desktop computer will cost considerably more than other brands, and first time users may not be familiar with the software used on Apple computers, which is completely different.
Expect to pay anything between $350 for the minimum requirements, and up to $2,000 for a top of the range beast capable of playing HD movies and the biggest and best news games.
Where to buy?
Buying online can often save you money, as internet shops do not have the overheads that traditional stores have to pay, so they can afford to discount their prices. One of the best sites is BuyDirectPC, an online store specializing in desktop computers. It has an astonishing range of PCs for both gamers and business users, tons of user reviews and detailed specifications. Alternatively, for those looking for advice on their purchase, there’s nothing quite like walking into a store and speaking face to face with a customer service rep who (hopefully) knows what he/she’s talking about.