Buying Guide to PC’s

Here are 6 things you should consider when buying a PC:

1.) Memory: Listed as MB or GB (1000MB). The more memory the PC has the faster it runs. Interestingly enough, the more memory a computer comes with is usually proportional to an increase in the speed of the processor. I recommend at least 1GB of RAM (Random Access Memory) because the current Windows Operating Systems require and use up to half of that. If you plan to play graphically intense video games, get 2GB or more and think about getting a video card with at least 256MB of memory as well.

2.) Hard Drive: Listed as GB as well as referencing RPM. This is the amount of storage available for your PC. You will need at least 60GB for normal use and at least 100GB if you will be storing pictures and/or video. You should make sure that the hard drive is 7200 RPM (cheaper PC’s will be 5600 RPM). This is the speed that the disk spins, the higher the rotations per minute (RPM) the faster your data is accessed.

3.) Operating System \ Software: I recommend the Windows XP Operating Systems. Make sure that the fully licensed installation discs are included with the PC. This is important if you ever need to fix your PC. If there will be more than one user on the PC, Windows XP Professional will allow each person their own account and settings. If you will be hooking this PC up to your surround sound or television, then consider Windows XP Media Center.

Make sure that at least a basic version of Microsoft Office is included and make sure that the fully licensed installation CD’s are included.

Another reason to make sure you get fully licensed installation CD’s is because you are paying for them. You pay extra to have these with your PC but many manufacturers don’t give you the installation CD’s hoping that you will buy them if there is a problem. These installation CD’s cost around $150-$300 each. Dell offers the CD’s for around $5 at the time of purchase and this is worth it.

4.) Anti-virus software: I hate to recommend anti-virus software because it takes up so much of the PC’s system resources (such as RAM) and causes the computer to run extremely slow as a result. Anti-virus software also gets in the way of some normal use features of your PC such as connecting to websites and checking email, etc. Windows XP and the Internet Explorer browser (included with XP) have a fair amount of anti-virus protection built in. If you decide that you must have anti-virus software, I recommend Norton over McAfee. McAfee has too many pop ups and interferes with every feature of your PC.

5.) Monitors & Printers: I can’t imagine why anyone would get anything less than a 17″ LCD (I prefer 19″ or Widescreen LCD’s). For the few extra bucks, you gain a lot of extra desk space. If offered, get an LCD with the hard protective finish (easier to clean) sometimes known as “Briteview” or “Clearview.”

If a printer is included in the price, take it. Otherwise, purchase this separately as there are at least 6 things you should know before buying a printer.

6.) USB Ports: Practically every peripheral device known to man uses USB to power and connect to the PC. Make sure you have at least 6 USB ports including at least two on the front panel of the PC Tower. Your keyboard, mouse and printer will take up 3 of the USB ports in the back. The front can be used for USB memory sticks and synching your iPod or other devices.

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