9 Key Things to Know Before You Buy a New Computer
Buying a computer is no easy task, and with the cost of many of the machines out on the market today, you want to make sure you’re making the right purchase so you don’t blow your money on something that stops meeting your demands within a year. Not all machines are created equal, and unless you’re pretty familiar with computer hardware, you might have a hard time determining just how unequal they are. Of course, not all computer users’ needs are equal, so you might not need certain things included in a computer that could be pushing up the price.
This guide should help you get a better understanding of what all the components of the computer will mean for you and make it easier to decide what you want, need, and which elements to prioritize so you get the right computer for you and don’t spend any more money than you must.
1. Desktop or Laptop?
This is probably one of the simplest choices to make and can have a big impact on the overall cost of your computer, including expenses that might not come right at the time of the purchase. In general, if a laptop and desktop are boasting all of the same performance specs, the desktop will be cheaper. It might not make sense, since it’s a bigger piece of hardware, but the ability to cram a lot of components into a small space and the need for a battery is what ups the price of the laptop — notice the premium paid for Apple’s thinner devices.
If you plan on having a steady workstation and don’t need to run around with your for-all-purposes device, consider getting a desktop and saving yourself some money, or spending what your budget allows and getting a computer with higher specs. An added benefit of the desktop is that it’s easier to keep cool, since there is more room for powerful fans, which will help it have a longer lifetime and maintain its performance level. Additionally, it’s easier to change out parts and upgrade components in a desktop, keeping your machine from falling behind the constantly increasing demands of the digital world.
If you often need your computer on the go, the choice is simple: laptop. If it’s only occasional and you don’t need much more than a browser or word processor, you may be able to find a cheap tablet or netbook to do the job, and could potentially afford it with the money you save by getting a desktop as your primary computer. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to buy a monitor if one doesn’t come as a bundle with the desktop.
(Note on laptop screens: If you’re planning to use your laptop for mostly work, consider a matte screen, which will have less glare and be easier on the eyes. If your laptop will be a media device, a normal glossy LCD screen should do the job.)