Choosing a new computer can be difficult and confusing. With so many specifications to wade through, brands to choose from, and practical things to consider, it can be hard to make the right choice. However, in truth, most problems can be broken down into a few relatively simple considerations. Thinking about these and balancing the outcomes will be a big help in guiding you towards your perfect PC.

What Type of Computer do you Need?

Excluding tablets, which are more of a supplement to a main PC than an alternative; computers are generally divided into two categories. Most people think of them in terms of laptops and desktops, but nowadays, these categories are less straightforward than they used to be.

What many people would call laptops could be divided into the familiar, full-featured laptops and ultra-small, ultra-light netbooks. Traditional desktops, meanwhile, have been joined by newer all-in-one PCs that combine computer and monitor into a single unit complete with touchscreen.

The first thing to think about in choosing a type of computer is simple portability. Laptops and netbooks are portable, while desktops simply aren’t. This makes them useful if you want to travel with them, or if you simply do not have space in your home to make your computer a permanent fixture. Netbooks are smaller and even more portable than laptops, but they are also less powerful and light on features. They work best if you want something easy to carry that will give you basic functions such as web browsing and office programs.

It used to be the case that desktops were more powerful than laptops. Now they are about even when it comes to average, everyday computers. This leads many to make the mistake of thinking desktops are obsolete. Why exchange one computer for a larger, heavier machine that does the same thing?

There are still advantages to purchasing a desktop Pc. Parts are much more accessible and easy to replace. This makes them more repairable if something goes wrong, and far easier to upgrade in the future. If you are interested in finding out how easy it is to upgrade your computer then check out this guide on the how stuff works website.

What Specifications do you Need?

It is a well-known fact that the amount of computing power available changes every few months and this makes it hard to keep track of specific figures.

However, there are some surprisingly simple rules that help you identify which computers are good for which purpose. The first (and easiest) fact to grasp is that higher numbers are almost always better. Faster processors, or ones with more cores, will mean your computer runs faster and can handle more tasks. A greater amount of memory (also known as RAM or Random Access Memory) will have a similar effect. Hard drive space, meanwhile, denotes how much can be stored on the computer in terms of files and programs.

What specifications you need depend on what reasons you will be using the computer. Lower spec computers are suited for simpler tasks like word processing and browsing the internet. As they will generally be cheaper, there may be no point to buying a higher spec computer if this is all you want to do, unless you are hoping for a more future-proof machine. If you want to store a lot of video or music on your machine, you will need more hard drive space but not necessarily higher spec in other areas. Tasks such as video editing, meanwhile, are more demanding. They need a computer with more memory and a faster processor.

If you want the computer for gaming, you will need the highest spec your budget allows. Games are the most demanding applications a home PC can be expected to deal with. You want a fast processor, plenty of RAM, and abundant hard drive space for installing games. You might also want to find out how much video memory or VRAM the computer has. This is a portion of extra memory, dedicated to graphics, and is therefore vital to games. If the video memory is described as “shared,” it means that the maximum is only achieved by borrowing some of the regular memory.

Gamers might also want to consider a desktop, as they are less prone to overheating and can be more thoroughly upgraded to keep up with the demands of newer games.

Where to turn for advice.

If you are a home user then you can obtain good advice from a high street specialist such as PC World or a private computer store. Business owners would be best advised to speak with their IT Support company who can provide expert advice, they can probably also provide hardware at reduced prices.

Our IT Department is a good example – http://www.ouritdept.co.uk/

Budget.

When you know what sort of computer to look for, you need to decide which is the best one within your budget. It doesn’t always pay to just get the most computing power your budget allows. This is the perfect approach for many gamers, but if you just want to browse the internet and type some documents, it could be a bad idea. You might be able to spend the same money on a better quality, more reliable computer with lower spec, or simply save some money by only buying what you need, but many people will want a balance between decent spec and good reliability. Fortunately, there are brands that offer just that. Dell, for example, have a reputation for offering good-quality machines that are not as expensive as many of their competitors.